It's easy to see what has been causing the brutal winter on the northeast coast and especially in Europe where this winter has been the worst in hundreds of years. Most of you may know that I am obsessed with blocking patterns in the atmosphere, I have no idea why, and sometimes it scares me. Anyway, last year the arctic oscillation reached a record minimum level and what resulted was the worst winter in the mid-Atlantic states history with blizzard after blizzard. Then this winter came around and the arctic oscillation (AO), tanked even lower! Just take a look.
The image below shows the blocking over the northern hemisphere. Just watch that persistent block over Greenland (shown as red) and how it traps the cold weather over the northeast and Europe. It's a classic negative NAO, but also the AO is causing the cold air to be displaced from the north. With this kind of setup the storm track is forced south and has to cover a larger area of the hemisphere which makes it more prone to negative tilts. A negative tilt in the jet stream typically produces massive blizzards, as we have seen.
The only problem is that we just don't know what is causing the extreme negative values in the arctic oscillation. Some speculate high latitude volcanoes, the current solar minimum, or global cooling may be the cause. Global warming is said to cool the stratosphere over the arctic, but this is the complete opposite in every way because a negative AO is caused by warming of the stratosphere over the arctic. The age of global warming could very well be a done deal.
Let's talk about our snow potentials. First one is for Thursday night into Friday, but it really doesn't look like a big deal. I was thinking 3-5 inches, but this system will come through and pivot. The pivot point on the models right now looks to be across southern upstate NY into Connecticut but that point can always change. I mention the pivot point because where it occurs is where snow totals could be up to a foot. We need to keep an eye on it, and expect a snowfall map tomorrow.
After the system rolls through cold arctic air will pour into the region, with the heart of it right over our region. As you go north, the air will actually be warmer. It's a negative tilted trough setting up and a storm could potentially get wrapped up into it.
Check back tomorrow night for details on the storm(s)