Put this on your calendar
One of this region's most persistent amateur weather prognosticators has gone out on a scientific limb and predicted a significant winter storm for the period of Feb. 14-16.
Jim Hughes has been tinkering with weather forecasting for the region for many years, investigating what he believes are direct links between patterns he's observed in very distant events - including solar storms and "space weather" - and subsequent weather events in the Washington D.C. area.
He's had no formal training in space physics or meteorology. Nor has he ever been able to publish any of his data in a scientific journal. So he's had a hard time persuading the professionals in those fields that his theories can actually predict the weather. But he's worked hard at it for many years, taking advantage of the Internet and the wealth of scientific and observational data available now online to everyone. He's educated himself about phenomena most of us have never heard of. And over the years he's had some forecasting hits, as well as some misses.
Anyway, yesterday I received the following email from Jim, drawing a connection between past warming events at the North Pole, and "wild weather" across the country. He says we're setting up for a repeat of that pattern. I decided that the WeatherBlog finally gives us a forum where I could put him on record with one of his forecasts, and let him take the credit if the storm pans out, or the egg-in-the-face if it doesn't.
Here's what he has to say:
"An extreme stratospheric warming has been occurring at the North Pole during the past few days. Only four days have been warmer since December 1978. These were two, two day periods, in both March 1984 and February 1989.
"A warming like this will usually mean that both the Arctic Oscillation (AO), and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), are going to turn negative down the road a ways. These negative phases mean that colder air is headed for the Northeast and Mid Atlantic .
"Extreme weather patterns should follow this warming, approximately 23 days later, as usual. The jet stream will be amplified and this forecasting variable, along with several others, strongly suggests to me that the metropolitan area, in and around Washington DC, will be experiencing accumulating snowfall between February 14th-16th.
"I have been using this methodology for about a decade now. So this is not new to me. The strength of the warming can vary of course, just like the atmosphere's reaction can.
"I am definitely not relying on just these two prior extreme warming events to come up with this forecast, but they do give it some weight in my opinion.
"Here are some tidbits about the weather events back in March 1984 and 1989:
"BWI in Baltimore saw temperatures of 80/43 on March 18, 1989 but they dropped drastically on the 19th (to) 44/31. The normal is 55/34.
"Marquette, Minn. recorded a low temperature of -11 degrees below average on the 19th. Snowfall totals as high as 18 inches were recorded in some parts of the country. Parts of West Virginia received eight inches.
"The amplification of the jet stream was just as severe back in March 1984. Brownsville, Tex. recorded a high temperature of 106 degrees and Cotulla Texas set a state record at the time for March, with a 108-degree temperature. The Carolinas were hit by severe weather on the 18th and 22 tornadoes were reported there. A severe ice storm occurred in other parts of the country.
"So it looks like mid- February is going to be very interesting on the weather front."
Thanks Jim. We'll see if you're right.