Thursday, January 18, 2007

CPC forecasting milder than normal conditions into February

The latest 30 day outlooks from CPC (US Weather Service) have been issued, and they continue to show a better than even chance of milder than normal temperatures for February over the Prairies (top image). In fact, CPC's 6-14 day outlooks are also calling for milder than normal weather for us to finish off January, so the recent cold snap we just went through may be the worst of it this month, or even this winter. (However, cold snaps will still occur, even if the overall pattern is milder than normal.. so don't put away that block heater just yet!)

The milder than normal conditions expected over the next month or so is again in sharp contrast to Environment Canada's latest 30 day outlook (lower image) which calls for below normal temperatures across much of the country into mid February ( a complete flip from their above normal forecast issued two weeks ago). This is not surprising given the the outlook was issued during our mid January cold snap, and EC's outlooks are heavily weighted to current weather patterns. They are also completely automated model-driven products with no human intervention whatsoever. As a result, EC's outlooks tend to be more of a persistence forecast (what's happening now will continue to happen) and can be poor indicators of any major pattern changes expected within the next 30 days. In contrast, CPC's outlooks have a great deal of human involvement in them, looking at overall climate patterns and influences in the near and mid terms, which can lead to more accurate long range outlooks.

Personally, I think the overall weather pattern over the next 30 days is going to favour milder than normal conditions over western Canada with below normal temperatures over Eastern Canada as the NAO turns negative and maintains a large scale trough along the eastern seaboard. For southern MB, this will mean a battle of two airmasses.. alternating between milder Pacific airmasses that will occasionally move in from the west while Arctic intrusions from the north give periods of below normal temperatures. Overall temperatures may be close to normal over the next 30 days, but perhaps more variable with mild and cold episodes balancing each other out.

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