Increasing Chance Of Winter Weather In December

Good morning bloggers,

Who is ready for a major change/shift in the weather pattern?  As discussed in yesterday’s blog we are not near one of the hot spots for winter storm activity this winter. In our winter forecast we showed the most likely spots for a rather active winter, but we also talked about how these “hot” spots would likely shift south a few times and Kansas City would potentially fall into the one located near the Great Lakes and upper midwest.  We described this Upper midwest/Great Lakes long term long-wave trough as one of the main features that will return this winter many times:

This map, the example of this year’s Great Lakes/Upper Midwest “hot”spot that we exhibited in the winter forecast blog, shows a major storm that formed between October 17th and October 19th.  About a week ago we identified the cycle of this year’s weather pattern to be close to 51 days. This cycle length is still preliminary, but it has been somewhat close to this number for around nine days already.  The weather pattern, according to my theory, the LRC (Lezak’s Recurring Cycle), really becomes identified between October 1st and November 10th, but it takes until the second cycle of the pattern before you can truly get that first indication of this year’s cycle length. By the end of the year we can firm this cycle length up.  We have been waiting for this storm system to show up. The computer models have finally started picking up on this year’s LRC and this part of the pattern has been clearly modeled by the past few GFS model runs.

Here is a zoomed in version of the October 18th 500 mb flow:

When this storm developed and intensified to our northeast, Kansas City only had two days of light showers and 0.04″ of rain. That’s all it did for us.  Let’s take a look at the GFS forecast from yesterday morning and compare the 300 hour forecast to what happened around 50 to 52 days earlier in October:

The models will be all over the place in trying to predict this part of the LRC in the coming week. But, eventually they will come into focus and start narrowing in on this storm system that will occur in about ten days or so.  But, for Kansas City it may not mean much more than a few showers (rain or snow showers?) as it becomes a big Great Lakes storm. In this second cycle of the LRC 2012-2013, however, there is more potential to have some true winter weather excitement in our area as this storm develops and moves by. There is a cold air mass over Canada this time that wasn’t there in October. We should get a nice cold shot in the wake of this system and the jet stream will be stronger in this second cycle of the LRC.  We are not really near one of those “hot” spots and we will need everything to shift south, which may happen in the middle of next month.

Between now and this storm system we have another strong wave of energy that will zip past us next week, and it is directly related to a storm that did the same thing around October 14th.  That middle of October storm did bring us almost an inch of rain, but I am concerned it won’t produce that much this time through.  We will go over the latest details on these changes and look ahead to December on 41 Action News today and tonight.

Have a great Wednesday and thank you for spending a few minutes of your day reading the Action Weather Blog.  Let me know what you think of the map comparison above, and I will try to answer any questions you have as time permits today.


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33 comments to Increasing Chance Of Winter Weather In December

  • davidmcg

    Of coarse we have a better chance of winter weather in December. As we move deeper into winter the chances naturally increase. You have gotten too optimistic and added too much hype. Not being overly critical, just relevant. We are in a drought, will be in a drought. The drought of Texas/Oklahoma last year, shifted here this year. They still have a drought, which will shift here next year. So, some relief on the way a year from now, but not much. What would be interesting to discuss would be will the drought shift further north, or has it reached its northerly extreme now? We are in a world of hurt with no real moisture for months, a year now actually. We have not reached the bottom of the drought and started rebounding. That storm you highlighted won’t have much effect at all. It could negatively effect winter crops even.Not saying don’t be optimistic, optimism is good, but restrain the enthusiasm a little. We had all better count our blessings now and wait for March. If we do not get a change in March, our entire country will be a a real world of hurt. The drought of the 80’s does not even compare to where we are now. This is much worse, get out into the real world and see it for yourself.

    • hobart

      Agreed. Don’t get people’s hopes up. Moisture hasn’t panned out for us for months now.

      • Hobart,

        I am expecting it to stay mostly dry all the way into this part of the cycling LRC. I don’t believe I created hope for much moisture at all. I think I downplayed that pretty well, but after this storm zips by there is some potential.

    • David,

      Perhaps the opening line may seem like “hype” to you, but it absolutely is not in my opinion. I am just stating what will likely happen as obvious as it may seem. Yes, of course we will have an increasing chance of winter weather in December. Perhaps I should have titled this entry differently, but other than the title there is nothing else at all in there that is hyping up what I believe will or will not happen. We are in a very dry pattern, and I explain how Kansas City is not in one of the “hot” spots, and I am not even predicting anything significant here yet. Now, for Chicago and Milwaukee, they will likely get hit by one or two of these storms cycling through. I would be much stronger on my wording if we lived there, but we don’t. Do you see what I am saying? The drought is worsening and we are not in the right spot, but we still should get clipped by a couple of storm systems next month and I am expecting the snowflake contest to end before Christmas.

    • Fred Souder

      This drought, while bad, is not that bad. We had a tougher time of it in the 1980’s but that is partly due to a greater ability to withstand long periods of drought now due to better crop strains. One of the big problems that we (the US) is having right now is that more and more farmers (including us) have gotten into corn because of the price inflation caused by all the ethanol plants. Corn is a much thirstier crop than wheat or other cereals. Even in Oklahoma and SE kansas we are going to corn because of new strains of corn that are more heat resistant. Now, the last 30 years have been unusually wet, stable, and good for corn. This is not normal for the midwest. Prior to the 1950’s, it was hard to raise corn west of Iowa. There is a reason that there have not been forests here (to our west). The precipitation patterns are not stable enough or wet enough historically to maintain forests. Now that we are entering a period of more normal weather, we should be seeing a lot more extremes in the mid-west. Again, this is back to normal, not the strange consistency that we have been seeing over the last 30 years. Some climatologists say that we entered this more normal (and more variable) phase toward the turn of the century.

  • The Southeastern Missourian,a newspaper in Cape Girardeau,Is reporting the Mississippi river is to low for barge navigation….It was not long ago that the river was to high,and the levees had to be blown-up…It seems they have the “Goldilocks” syndrome….The Rivers either too high,or too low…

  • yewtrees

    Gary. This is what you said yesterday “I am still a bit uncertain as to the cycle length” and this morning you stated that “about a week ago we identified the cycle of this year’s weather pattern to be close to 51 days.” This shows how inconsistent your statement is. Secondly, if the forecast based on models are not getting right beyond a week, how do you expect us to believe a change in the forecast 300 hours away?

    • Yewtrees,

      I showed this map because yesterday’s 300 hour finally picked it out. Today’s GFS may lose it. My point is, IT WILL HAPPEN. But, what does it mean for us anyway. It means much more if you live near the Great Lakes.

      When it comes to the cycle, we are just now gaining confidence and I am sharing our thoughts with you. It may see inconsistent to you, it is just that another day or two goes by, and now I am more confident in it. I am being consistent as I am just gaining confidence.

      • Gary, I understood the meaning of your headline…Soooo many Nitpickers…I,m ready for a change from this last season….BRING ON THE NEW CYCLE !!! Have a good 1. :)

  • RickMckc

    Looks interesting, Gary. I don’t see any hype in your statements. I appreciate you “thinking out loud” and letting us know what you see as possibilities down the road. The GFS certainly has been consistent for the past couple of runs showing a major winter storm about 10 days out in our area of the country.

  • luvsno

    Gary, why go on Sports radio 810(as you just now did) and complain to the Border Patrol about what these bloggers just said. You said “I don’t even know these bloggers”.
    Seems to me these bloggers are the ones who are on here more than others. You are being way too sensitive…which is the case most times when people disagree with you on here. Why do you come back on here to respond only when you feel the need to defend yourself ?
    I saw the Blog title earlier this morning and thought the same thing after I read the blog…..where is this increasing chance? Oh, of course December always brings an increasing chance, but the title does bring too much hope/hype. I think you could have worded it differently,

    • Thank you so much! Sometimes I am just not awake enough early in the morning. And, we should all practice not taking things personally! When it comes to the wording on the blog title, I did it because I do believe our first inch of snow will happen in December, likely before Christmas which would be much more than last December. We will see if any chances show up.

      There is a LLTI as well as I am off to Cabo San Lucas this Friday. It will be nice to get away! Have a great day and thanks again.

    • I guaranty he knows me.

  • chopperHD


    Dont get too concerned with the comments. everybodys a critic these days! All too often, people just want something to complain about. I think folks forget that the purpose of this blog is to post thoughts and have fun with the discussion. Many of us appreciate you always throwing it out there and being open with your thoughts, right or wrong. Personally, I enjoy it and dont care about the critics.

    Just remember, everybody will read your posts and perceive them in the light they choose. Keep up the good work and please dont let the criticism from a few, change how you interact with the rest of us on this blog.

  • I thought this was an interesting weather story today. Never heard of an atmospheric river until now. http://gizmodo.com/5963868/what-is-an-atmospheric-river

  • mukustink

    Thanks Chopper HD as always you have Gary’s behind!

    The title was meant to grab your attention so that you will read the blog. It’s all part of marketing. You grab peoples attention by the title making it sound interesting.

    I found it odd that within 12 hours you now know the cycle length. I asked yesterday what the cycle length was and you said it’s not until early December but more like the end of December that you have a firm number. It’s all good because we know it will end up being 45-51 days give or take a day whatever fits for a particular example lol. Have a good one :)

    • chopperHD

      MUKU..it wasn’t about having having his back. It was about folks always finding something to complain about. We all make mistakes, none of us are perfect in our personal or professional lives yet we forget that and always criticize others. I like the fact that Gary hangs his thoughts on the edge despite the critics. Who cares about the headlines or marketing, Gary is excited by the weather and it shows much like you , me or anybody in their own passion. When we discuss what we love, we are compassionate…Period. Sometimes…..just sometimes….its ok to sit back and laugh and/or enjoy things without criticizing them. Life is short………enjoy the ride.

      Thats it for my soap box….Have a good one

  • mowermike

    Brett Anthony going for the the high of 73 on Sunday. You concerned about clouds messing that up? I’m thinking 76…no clouds I’m going to need some sun screen at Arrowhead Sunday in December!!

    100% chance of a white X-mas and snow on the ground by the 17th of the month…the cold is coming soon folks, get the shovels ready.

  • dogsinkc

    Ya ya, I’ll believe it when I see it…

  • cws9

    Hmmm. I entered the snowflake contest on the first day it was announced. I used the October one inch rain event as a catalyst and took a shot in the dark as to the cycle length to make my prediction. I also moved it a bit to a Monday just because it seems like our first snow is always on a Monday each year. I guessed Dec. 10th for our first one inch of snow. A total guess….we shall see.

  • The 12z GFS has a 5-8in. snow storm for the K.C. area Dec. 12…That,s something new.

  • Unstay_Bill

    “This also fits perfectly with the Heady pattern and where we are in the cycle. Remember we are sitting with a cycle length of about 52-54 days” -October 25th from Doug Heady KOAM-TV. That looks pretty close to your 51 days Gary, as you always say give or take a day or two. Only he got it a month earlier.

  • weatherman brad

    I am hoping for that 5-8 inch snow storm to land on the 20th of december, i would be so happy if it switches over to that day i guess we will see. I saw the gfs myself to, its quite interesting


  • OPKSgardener

    Gary, why is it that most of the time the 7-day Forecast that’s posted on the website is off by 1 day? Right now, Thursday is showing the temperatures forecasted for today, and Friday is showing the temperatures forecasted for Thursday. I really like the 7-day Forecast, but it drives me nuts that it’s usually wrong on the website. Is there anything you can do to correct the problem?

    Thanks! Sally OPKS Gardener

  • dogsinkc

    Gary, what I really want to know is if it gets colder around this time, will it STAY cold? I am real tired of these quick warm-ups right after.

  • olathe-snowkid

    So what are the new models showing?