When Jet Streams Wiggle

Jan 29, 2016
Super Typhoon Neogori
NASA, the Space Station


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It’s a bird; it’s a plane—no—it’s a polar vortex! AAAAAGH!


The jet stream wiggled far to the north in the West and dropped south in the Midwest, bringing cool weather. Source: European Ensembles (ECMWF MODEL)

Relax; during the third week of July, we had a cold front. It was a bit stronger than normal and reduced July temperatures between 10˚–30˚F. Around the Great Lakes, it almost felt like autumn. Actually, it was refreshing, but some people needed to slip on a sweater. If you lived in the sweltering West, you were envious.

However, in the headlines a scary polar vortex was going to slam the Midwest. Anyone who remembers last winter’s polar vortex had a moment’s pause. Was frost going to hit the garden? Were the crops going to die? Were we going to be buried in snow?

This July’s weather pattern was compare (erroneously) to last winter’s polar vortex. (Source: NASA)

No, we were hit by a cliché!

Look, it’s hard for comfortable summer weather to get any attention. This summer, weather reporting is competing with lots of scandals. Northern Canadian temperatures are really hot, but sweating Inuit or Eskimos don’t make headlines. However, the jet stream is dipping unusually far south in the Midwest. The last time this happened, it was the frigid Polar Vortex, and it was fun to be a weatherman last winter. Some weather people warned that the Polar Vortex was coming back and made headlines.

Actually, it is only a wiggly jet stream. The jet stream winds form on the boundary between cool atmosphere and warm atmosphere. Normally they tend to surge north, then south, then north again. However, early this month, Japan was hit by a category 4 super typhoon. Typhoon Neogori then swirled north and pushed a lot of hot, humid air unusually far north. The jetstream veered unusually far north, so California and Western Canada were hot. Then it plunged south, and the Midwest got a cold front.

The eye of Super Typhoon Neogori, the storm that shoved the weather patterns around. Source: NASA, the Space Station

Notice, this was not a real polar vortex, just a “ridge” or southern drop of the jet stream. It was a cool front, a bit stronger than normal. But for a few days, a wiggly jet stream sure collected some scary headlines!

About This Blog

Are you a weather watcher? Welcome to "Weather Whispers" by James Garriss and until recently, Evelyn Browning Garriss. With expertise and humor, this column covers everything weather—from weather forecasts to WHY extreme weather happens to ways that weather affects your life from farming to your grocery bill. Enjoy weather facts, folklore, and fun!

With heavy hearts, we share the news that historical climatologist and immensely entertaining Almanac contributor Evelyn Browning Garriss passed away in late June 2017. Evelyn shared her lifetime of weather knowledge with Almanac editors and readers, explaining weather phenomena in conversation and expounding on topics in articles for the print edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac as well as in these blog posts. We were honored to know and work with her as her time allowed, which is to say when she was not giving lectures to, writing articles for, and consulting with scientists, academia, investors, and government agencies around the world. She will be greatly missed by the Almanac staff and readers.

Reader Comments

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It was 52 degrees at 5:30

It was 52 degrees at 5:30 a.m., a bit chillier than I'd like, but one thing I've learned about weather --I can't do anything about it--I'm just thankful for it!!

Here in Eastern TN., it has

Here in Eastern TN., it has been the most delightful spring and summer we've seen since I have been here for 12 years. Simply ideal weather. Moving here from San Francisco, the humidity here drives me inside before 11AM. This summer, it has been very green, with rain nearly every 3 to 4 days. I might add that we have thunder storms and lightening, rather unusual for the Bay area except for this year, when I hear lightening has been acting up. What is that all about? A couple nights ago. we had a ouple storms move through here that produced a tornado and the most terrific electrical storm. That was scary and beatiful at the same time.

I live in south Puget Sound

I live in south Puget Sound in WA state. we have th best weather in the country. Can't complain.

I live in the UK and our bad

I live in the UK and our bad weather in the UK during this last winter was caused by a Jiggly or meandering jet stream that when it got to the UK stuck over us for more than 2 months giving us the wettest, windiest weather and storms not heard of since records began. I hope this was just a short Jiggle and does not get stuck over us again as we are having the hottest summer in a long while and we are loving it.

I'm from the USA state

I'm from the USA state Missouri and I know what ya talking about, except it's opposite the weather here is beautiful! Well like one day it's in the 90s then the next day the 80s!we say our state is bipolar lol! Enjoy your weather my friend!

I live in Oklahoma and the

I live in Oklahoma and the lack of extremely hot air is AWESOME! Usually it feels like you have a hair dryer on high, pointing it right at your face, up close and personal outside. My concern is whether or not we are going to have a horrific winter or not. We haven't had unusual weather extremes in a while, we're due. I lived in Houston for almost eight years in the 90s and it's an oven there too. I think Texas has more 3 digit days of heat than Oklahoma does, however, either way you slice it, IT'S JUST PLAIN HOT IN BOTH PLACES, "USUALLY" while living in Texas, I did see it snow. To me it was hilarious how the city acted. They shut down everything over, what we call in Oklahoma, a dusting of snow. :-D We didn't have much snow last few winters here and now a weird summer. I hope that doesn't mean a weird winter with a lot of snow. PLEASE OOOOOOOO!!! :'( :'( :-( :-(

It just don't come far enough

It just don't come far enough south to get into SE Alabama. It is horrible here in the summer. If I could afford it would move to some part of this country that more than two seasons (miserable and cool) A winter with snow, spring that was longer than summer, and a autumn that began August and lasted till late October.

Moncton New Brunswick

Moncton New Brunswick Canada...88F in the shade yesterday...61F this morning

After thought...I'm watching

After thought...I'm watching for the butterfly migration, a sure sign fall is on the way. Usually occurring in October, last year it started in late August...followed by a crazy amount of acorns dropping. Nature knows LONG before Science does.

Whatever it's called, it sure

Whatever it's called, it sure was delightful. The media shows scary headlines like "return of the polar vortex" or "summer freeze" to grab people's attention, that's the main problem with the media. They only focus on the negatives. How about name the headline "Refreshing air mass sweeps down from Canada" because I don't know of anybody that has complained about this weather! Admittedly there has been a lack of real sustained summer heat in the eastern US.. we've had our fair share of warm-hot days but nothing too excessive. Many folks like how we're not in an extreme pattern like recent years. I will take "seasonably hot" over "extreme heat" any day.

I'm in Texas, and it's been

I'm in Texas, and it's been "mild" here, as well. I don't think we've broken 100 yet, and we usually hit it at least once before the end of May. It's hot, don't get me wrong. It's just not Texas Summer hot. Also, our grass is still green, and that almost NEVER happens in the summer.

I live in Texas as well. You

I live in Texas as well. You are absolutely right! I have noticed all of that as well. It is nice! But a little scary


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