Give Me A Break!

January 29, 2016
Winter 2013-2014

Winter 2013-2014

Evelyn Browning Garriss

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Having the weather woes?

If you are in the East, you are probably complaining about the cold and snow.

If you are in the West, that complaint probably sounds like bragging.

California is struggling with its worst drought on record and 55% of the lower 48 states have dry or drought weather.

It’s time for a break!

©Browning Newsletter

Here’s the good news. From East to West, a break is coming! Hooray!

It’s just a break, not the end of winter, nor the problems of winter. For a short period of time the US and parts of Canada, get a taste of normal weather before reverting to the schizophrenic winter of 2014.

For most of this year the jet stream, that fast flowing river of air that divides the cold Arctic air from the warmer subtropical air, has wiggled like a snake. It has entered North America through Alaska, flowed over the Rockies and then plunged south. This has allowed warmth to soar north in the West and freezing Arctic air to plunge south in the East. Then, when the cold air meets the warm, wet Atlantic air, it creates blizzards and ice storms. Just ask Atlanta, Georgia.

When cold Arctic air meets warm, wet Atlantic Ocean air – it can get messy! Just ask Atlanta, Georgia. Source:  NASA. Goddard Space Flight Center

However, for a while this month, the jet stream is expected to flatten. It will enter the West further south and exit the East further north. Cold winter rains can hit the Pacific Northwest and (maybe) parts of California. The Northeast and Midwest will still have some storms but the South will have a chance to get warmer. Storms will flow from west to east in a straightforward pattern, not flounder north and south.

On February 13, there was snow on every state but Florida! Source: NOAA

Remember: This is just a break. The Arctic air is extremely cold and both the North Pacific and North Atlantic have some unusually warmer than normal waters. This is the recipe for an extreme jet stream. Enjoy your rain California; it won’t end the drought. Enjoy the warmth, Dixie; you still have some cool winter weather before spring comes to the rescue.

The winter of 2014 isn’t over, so revel in the pause as long as it lasts.

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.