Will It Ever Get Really Cold in Dallas This Winter? Well, As a Matter of Fact ... Maybe?

Categories: Weather
ArcticOscillationIndex.gif
National Weather Service
A few days back the great Alan Melson, KERA's director of interactive, directed his Facebook friends to a great weather-geek (said with all due respect) site where folks are currently having a great debate about whether or not signs point to an icy deep freeze headed toward North Texas toward the middle to end of the month. Alan follows along, he tells me, because it's fascinating stuff thrown out there by meteorologists and other would-be weather forecasters. Says he this afternoon: "A couple posters there called the ice storm on Super Bowl weekend last year, a week or two in advance." So there's that.

Anyway. A few minutes ago the National Weather Service's Fort Worth forecasters posted that graph you see above, along with the note that "when the AO index is positive, Arctic air usually stays bottled up in the Arctic region, but when it turns negative the Arctic air can move farther south and at times invade North Texas." And, as you can see, the index turns negative round the middle to end of the month. Maybe.

I called Dennis Cavanaugh, a meteorologist out of Fort Worth's NWS offices, for further info since, you know, their official look-see far ahead jibes with what Alan's friends have been saying for a few days now.

"From our forecast perspective, we look at the next seven days," Cavanaugh tells Unfair Park. "That's as far as we forecast, so for the extended we look more to climate signals, like the Arctic Oscillation Index." That sound you hear in the background? He just triggered The Band Name Alert™. Sorry ... do go on.

"When it becomes negative it's talking more about the availability of cold air north of us," he explains. "In order for us to get a cold weather outbreak, cold air has to be present somewhere, and the AO going negative after the 12th suggests cold air will be present for North America and for the central-eastern portions of the country. This means there's a potential for cold air. Whether that means we will get cold air or not, that's something we wouldn't know till seven to 10 days out. For the cold air to move into North Texas we'd have to have a fairly strong low pressure system drag the cold air into North Texas, and it may not even exist now, or it may be in place somewhere on the other side of the world and at this point we're not aware of it."

He says: If you'll note the graph, it shows the AO took a downward dip at the end of October. "At the same time," he says, "a cold front came through, and highs dropped from the 80s to the 60s. It brought our temperatures well below normal."

So, then, you're saying it's possible, just not probable. Not yet, anyhow.

"There's the potential," Cavanaugh says. "As for the likelihood? It's just like if you're in a drought: It will continue to persist unless you have available moisture, and if you have available moisture it doesn't mean it's going rain. But it's one of the conditions you need for rain. For us to get a cold-air outbreak it has to be present somewhere. It won't develop out of nowhere. And right now it looks like it will be present."

Somewhere.
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11 comments
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Sa
Sa

Anybody who's lived through a winter here knows that the nice days (highs in 60s or 70s) usually come right before the ice storm.  And the warmer and nicer the weather, the worse the storm.  Don't ask me why, I just live here.

Enjoy the nice weather while it lasts, and keep your scraper handy.

scottindallas
scottindallas

why, the warm air brings moisture, the cold air wrings it out.

Rocky
Rocky

Is there any correlation between the Arctic Oscillation index and the Sasquatch migratory pattern?  Just curious.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

and how will the sasquatch migratory pattern affect my jack links eating?

gunnertec
gunnertec

So, is any actually rooting for cold weather? I'll take my 60 degree days, thank you.

scottindallas
scottindallas

I like the warm weather, however, I'm waiting on a good killing frost.  I think the outlying areas did have one, but here in the city's heat island, the Turk's Cap and other perennials haven't died off yet.  I like to let nature kill them, then come in and prune heavily and mulch heavily.  I'm still waiting.  I just need a 27-28 degree morning, it can warm up to 60 that day, but I need a hare, killing frost--we all do

Paul
Paul

Did you asked him if it will be hot this coming August? ... 8-(,)

It goes something like this ... about every two to three years we have a quite a winter with snow and/or ice, with temps in the low 20's, ... sometimes we have cool winters with rain and low temps in the 30's ... about once a decade or so we have incredibly cold winters with temps below 20 reaching down into the single digits(as in the winter of 1989/1990) and about once a decade or so we have a very balmy nice winter ...

Then there is the summer ... usually we have a hot summer with temperatures usually 95F+ for daytime highs with at least a week or two's worth of 100F+ days... every once in a while we will have a real blister of a summer ( as in the most recent one, or back in 1980)  and occasionally we will have a summer with no days over 100F.  The real killer is when the nighttime lows stay above 80F and the humidity is high.

Well, that is North Texas weather in a nutshell, so I recommend that you don't pack away those sweaters and jackets just yet and do keep the swimming trunks handy for when it stays in the 70's this winter ...

Oh and by the way ... go out and buy the windshield deicer, driveway ice melter and cover the faucets because chances are you will need to do it this winter in the next 6 to 10 weeks.

jesdynf
jesdynf

Did you have a point, Moore, or were you simply restating overwhelming scientific consensus for us?

RTGolden
RTGolden

Overwhelming scientific consensus, which, 30 years ago, was overwhelmingly telling us that we were in man-made global cooling and heading for the next ice age.  The same causes were given for the impending (but never realized) deep freeze, as are currently being given for the impending planetary frog boil.My advice, pay your bills.  Climate change isn't going to end life as we know it before the bank forecloses on your house.

Tad Banyon
Tad Banyon

1. There's a definite scientific consensus that of the next 100 coin flips, about half of them will be heads. Despite knowing that, there is no way to reliably predict that the next coin flip will be a heads or a tails. Basically, its a lot easier to know the weather pattern for the next century than the weather in Des Moines next Tuesday.2.  There was never any scientific consensus, overwhelming or otherwise, that the earth was cooling and heading toward an ice age. The most there ever was was a little offhanded conjecture by a few scientists who were all too painfully aware that they had far too little data to really say for sure one way or the other. If it seemed like a big deal at one time to anyone, blame Newsweek.

Moore
Moore

So we actually don't know much about what will actually happen later this month, could be cold or might not be. But climate change caused by man made occurrences is definitely happening. 

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