The Fight for Fall

January 29, 2016
Boxers

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The US and Canada are in for a real battle this autumn.

Think of it as a battle of the heavyweights. In the north corner of the ring, it’s the Arctic Oscillation. Its punishing blows can knock you out cold. In the west corner lurks the El Niño. Don’t let the name, which means “little boy”, fool you. He can come roaring out with a cold punch to the South and hot and heavy in the North.

The El Niño is weak but may pack a warm punch later. SOURCE: NASA Earth Observatory

Oh, and just to make the battle even more interesting – in the east corner is the hot Atlantic. This battler has been the past champion, dominating the ring, baking the US with scorching hot temperatures. The champion is not going to give up easily.

On Saturday, September 22, the opening bell rang and autumn starts. The battle to see which forces shape this fall’s weather will begin. In short, the hot dry summer is finally dragging to a close and a stormier fall is about to begin.

Let’s pretend that there is a ringside announcer. He is sizing up Round 1 – the opening week of autumn.

  • The Champion, the hot Atlantic still controls the ring. The US is still warm and dry, but it looks like he is getting tired. Some cooler temperatures are entering the South.
  • The cold Arctic Oscillation is entering the ring. Those winds that trap polar air north are weakening and some cooler air is surging into the Great Lakes and the Midwest. Already we are seeing snowflakes over the Great Lakes. The AO won’t do much this round, but he is shaping up to be a real contender. This winter will be colder than last winter.

Last year had a warm positive Arctic Oscillation, but this year a negative AO may bring in the cold. SOURCE: NOAA

  • The El Niño has not officially begun. (Scientists wait a number of weeks for temperatures in the tropical Pacific to remain warmer than 0.9˚F before they officially declare an El Niño has begun.) We are seeing only a few small blows from the “little boy”. He’s bringing some rain to Texas and the Southern Plains. Expect him to start growing stronger and peaking in November and December.

Expect an epic battle and a very messy fall. The warm waters of the two oceans will clash with cold winds from the north. It’s hard to know which weather factor will triumph. However, if the US gets some rain and cooler temperatures, we will all be the winners. 

 

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 articles. 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.

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