Saturday, July 25, 2015

Preliminary 2015-2016 Winter Forecast

Hello everyone, and welcome to The Weather Centre's Preliminary 2015-2016 Winter Forecast. As always, the standard caveats of very-long range forecasts apply here; in other words, do not take this at face value. Rather, this should be interpreted as an introduction to the conditions that are probable in the coming winter, which will be built on in coming months.
As a note, this outlook will be far shorter than previous seasonal outlooks. This comes from a combination of items, which have significantly restrained my time available to work on this. However, I'm committed to putting out this product, as I have been advertising.

We will begin with a look at the sea surface temperature picture across the world.

Glancing around the globe, we see a few points of interest.

1) We do have a Moderate to Strong El Nino coming on, continuing to manifest itself in well-above-normal SST anomalies off the western coast of Ecuador, well into the central Pacific. These El Nino's tend to result in warmer than normal temperatures in the North US, cooler than normal temperatures in the South US, as well as stormy conditions in the South and East US.

2) The warm pool continues to persist in the Gulf of Alaska and entire Northeast Pacific region. This is the same warm pool that brought us severe cold in the last two winters, through the abundance of ridging along the West Coast. If this warm pool is to persist into the coming fall and winter, the threat of a third consecutive cold winter skyrockets, especially given the warm pool's geographic location immediately upstream of North America, maximizing its effects.

3) There are below-normal SST anomalies around the island nation of Japan. The Typhoon Rule states that storms and high pressure systems that occur over Japan are 'replicated' in the US about 6-10 days later. The Sea of Japan experiencing below-normal SST anomalies could hint at a stormier than normal weather pattern for that area, which could spell a stormy winter if it continues into the fall and winter.

I will not be discussing the QBO or sunspot factors in this outlook. If this were a normal outlook, I certainly would, but there are things out of my control that have simply made the prospect of such an extensive outlook unattainable. I apologize for the inconvenience, and hope you can understand.
In spite of these time constraints, I have been glancing at long range models and some other seasonal factors, so I could come up with my preliminary thoughts on the coming winter.


Pacific Northwest: Very much a toss-up. Warm pool in Gulf of Alaska could spell a hot and dry summer, while the El Nino could bring about more wet conditions. I'll lean towards a warmer and slightly drier than normal Pacific Northwest this winter, with low confidence.

Southwest: Expecting a cooler than normal and slightly wetter than normal winter, as a result of the expected strong El Nino. Have to keep an eye out for interference from that warm pool in the Gulf of Alaska, which could dry things out yet again. Once again, a low confidence forecast.

North Plains and Midwest: A Strong El Nino predicts a warm winter ahead, but I'm not completely convinced so long as the body of warm water exists in the Northeast Pacific. Still, a slightly dry, slightly warm winter is my best projection for now.

South Plains and Gulf Coast: Decent probability of cooler than normal to average temperature pattern for the winter, along with some stormier than normal activity.

Southeast: Difficult forecast for this region, as the El Nino could result in a very wet and cool winter. However, there are other variables which significantly complicate this region's forecast, namely the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, which I'm not prepared to discuss due to very low confidence. I'll side with a wet and cool winter for now.

Ohio Valley: Early projections do favor a slightly warm, slightly dry winter, and for now I agree. This is one of the less complicated forecasts (for now).

Northeast and Mid-Atlantic: This certainly has the potential to be a 'feast or famine' winter for the Northeast, in terms of snow. I do think we see around average temperatures for the winter, but I'll go ahead and favor a snowier than normal winter.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Long Range Lookout: Cooler Than Normal July Ahead

This post is dedicated to the servicemen and women who are serving our country, who have served our country, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

It appears that a cooler than normal July is on the way for the nation.

We'll begin by looking over shorter-range indicators; in this case, the Typhoon Rule.

Tropical Tidbits
The above image shows forecasted 500 millibar anomalies over the West Pacific. Here, blues indicate negative height anomalies, symbolizing a trough or storm system in the area. Oranges and reds correlate to positive height anomalies, indicative of warmer and quieter weather.
This forecast is valid for July 14th, and we see a system just southeast of Japan, making its way north and east. This system was previously a typhoon, which looks to develop in coming days further to the south. As the typhoon approaches Japan, it will curve and head out to sea. Using the Typhoon Rule, we can expect a cooler bout of weather about 6-10 days after this happens. Recognizing that this forecast is for July 14th, we can extrapolate that to forecast a cool-down around July 20th to 24th, probably spilling over those dates a bit.

However, it's also likely that the entire month will end up cooler than normal for many in the country, due to what is happening in the Central Pacific.

A quick overview of the columns, going from left to right: The date for the data, the daily barometric pressure reading in Tahiti, the daily barometric pressure reading in Darwin, the daily value of the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), the 30 day averaged SOI, and the 90 day averaged SOI.
In a nutshell, when the SOI is negative, El Nino conditions are favored in the United States in the following couple of weeks. We see that the SOI has been consistently negative since June 19th, and it's no coincidence that the United States has been predominantly cool since late June.
You can see how El Nino conditions, which are signaled by a negative SOI, make for a cooler than normal summer in the composite chart below:

Typical temperature anomalies during an El Nino summer
Since we remain in a negative SOI state this 4th of July, I'm expecting the rest of the month to end up cooler than normal for much of the country. Those in the Southeast and East could see slightly warmer conditions, however.

To summarize:

- A cooler than normal month of July is expected for much of the United States.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

An Announcement Concerning The Future of The Weather Centre

It's only been a month and a half since I signed off from here, but it seems like a while longer, no?

Since I ended The Weather Centre on our five-year anniversary of its foundation, April 26th, 2015, I've had some time to reflect, and do some work.

I've been able to take a breath, push back the keyboard, and re-energize myself after a very long five years of work. The first week or two of being away from the blog gave me a break unlike that I had experienced over the last several years.
However, particularly over the last couple of weeks, I've found myself hit at night (every other day, seemingly) with an incredible urge that I have to do something related to meteorology, in order to feel accomplished in my endeavors. I've already wrapped up my tornado research, so I've had to resort to long hours staring at my computer, never really getting much done, but still feeling that burning desire to actually accomplish something.

Then, a few days ago, someone told me that perhaps that burning desire had come about because I had stopped blogging. At first, it seemed somewhat absurd, since my tornado research needed attending to. But now that I've had time to think it over, it really does seem that posting my thoughts about the weather puts my mind at ease; the very mind I wished to put at ease when I ceased posting on this blog.

So, to confirm what some of you have been discussing over the last couple of days...

I am coming back to The Weather Centre.

This 'return' of sorts will come with a markedly different posting regimen, which I will break down below.

The articles listed below will be published:
- Over the next few weeks, I will publish my Preliminary 2015-2016 Winter Forecast. I will announce a publication date in coming days, but as I've always done, you can expect it to be at high noon on a Saturday.
- I will publish an Official 2015-2016 Winter Forecast further down the road.
- I will publish extended discussions on winter storm systems, cold air outbreaks, and other winter phenomena.

Changes will be made to the following types of articles:
- There will be severely limited, if not non-existent postings during the late spring through middle of summer.
- Severe weather and tropical cyclone postings are not anticipated, unless threatening a large portion of the U.S.

Basically, I'm trying to say that I'm coming back to The Weather Centre just to discuss what I love, which is winter weather. I don't plan on making attempts to post in the spring and summer, since I firmly believe that is what drove me to initially stop posting.
Additionally, please do not interpret this as just another ploy to mess with your emotions, given that I had already announced my 'retirement' from this blog. I take this announcement very seriously, and I hope you're still willing to hang on for the ride this coming winter.

Stay tuned for additional information and postings in coming days.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Final Farewell

(For some context, please read the most recent post, A Final Notice to the Viewers).

On April 15th, I made a decision to move from one stage of my life to the next, by announcing that I would be ceasing operations here at The Weather Centre on our five-year-anniversary, April 26th 2015. In that process, I finally lifted the veil over my age, my (lack of) credentials, and how I got started on this blog in the first place.

The response I got was very much the most overwhelming and inspiring collection of comments I have ever seen anywhere on the Internet, and possibly at any time in my life. As I read and re-read your comments, I started to really realize what The Weather Centre has become. It is not a blog; we've built it into a community unlike any other. For five years, we all contributed to teaching each other (myself included) a little more about the weather with each post, and that's something I'm extremely proud of.

As I sit here, writing what will be the final post on The Weather Centre blog, I'm experiencing a wide range of emotions. I can still remember the feverish nights spent during the April 2011 tornado outbreak, posting tornado warnings on this blog, not being able to keep up with all the warnings that kept coming out. I can still remember rushing home from school on a daily basis to check the weather models and whip up a new post on an impending winter storm. But the thing I remember most is how fun it's been, and how sad I am to see it go. However, as the saying goes:

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."
- Dr. Seuss

As I close the book on this chapter of my life and move on to a new one, I can't help but smile.

Thank you all for such an incredible five years. This has become something more than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams, and you've all been the driving force behind it. There is nothing else I can say but thank you.

For the final time,
Andrew Racki

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Final Notice To The Viewers

This is quite likely the most difficult post I've had to write in the last five years of running The Weather Centre, and I can assure you it wasn't easy actually sitting down to hammer it out, either. After all, this has been my livelihood for so long, I can't really remember what occupied the majority of my time before this.

That's why it makes me sad to announce that The Weather Centre blog will close permanently on our five-year anniversary: April 26th, 2015.

When I started The Weather Centre on April 26th, 2010, I wasn't much of a forecaster. At the time, I made the blog solely because I had an interest in weather, and because there happened to be a severe weather event on the way on April 30th of that year. My initial posts, if you dive back to look at them (example here, here, and here), were simply maps with some crude MS Paint drawings on them if even that, describing the upcoming pattern for that late April set-up.

As a matter of fact, I wasn't even much of a person yet. I started The Weather Centre blog when I was 12 years old, just rounding out 7th grade. In case you're wondering, yes, you've been receiving the musings of a teenage aspiring meteorologist for the last five years. I'll get to why I never revealed my age a little later in this post, but I'd like to go back even further.

Many of you who have read this blog likely got an interest in weather from a rather traumatic weather event. For some, it may have been seeing a tornado or hurricane on TV, or perhaps being in a tornado or a hurricane. For me, it was having The Weather Channel on the television for hours on end, starting when I was just about 2 years old. My father has always shared my interest in meteorology, but I took it to a different level, to the point of where we are today. I wanted to keep learning; I wanted to know why it stormed in some areas, and why it didn't storm in others. I wanted to know how tornadoes formed, and how they could turn a new house into splinters of wood in under a minute. I wanted to understand the hurricane, how a massive storm system could drop over a foot of rain on coastal locations, with sustained winds in excess of 100 miles per hour. 
So I did keep learning. It just wasn't in 'the conventional way'. You hear teachers in schools these days berating Wikipedia, and using the internet in general to learn. I'm living proof that such an attitude could not be more detrimental to learning. Just about everything I've discussed on this blog, from the Typhoon Rule to the El Nino to the Sudden Stratospheric Warming, I've learned over the internet. As I grew older, yes, I began to buy more meteorological books, print out scholastic journals, etc., but never feel guilty for searching online to find an answer to your math problem or something of the like.

I want to come back to my age. Over the past five years, I've had more than a few people ask me how old I am, or what my credentials are in the forecasting world. To be quite frank, I never answered those questions, because I've grown to learn that it really does not matter. I see degreed meteorologists publicly shaking their heads on Twitter, Facebook, or on other public social media at something a kid just like me may have done. One particular controversy has always been teenagers posting those ECMWF snowfall maps, which has become a pretty real problem for operational forecasters, but I digress. Nothing infuriates me more than when I see those operational forecasters putting down someone online, with no credentials, who just wants to be able to forecast weather like the pros. Why do I get so distraught over that? Take a look at this clip from The Incredibles movie, and you might see what I mean. I should add those forecasters who will publicly shame amateur forecasters are in the minority; the great majority of degreed forecasters show significant respect towards the younger generation that will follow in their footsteps.

"Not every superhero has powers, you know. You can be super without them."

Before I close up shop here, I want to go over the achievements we as a community have accomplished. 

- In five years, The Weather Centre has accumulated over 5,650,000 page views. I can safely say I would never have dreamed that so many people would have wanted to read my weather discussions, and it is such an incredible honor to have run such a successful blog.

- The Weather Centre was featured and/or mentioned on the Toronto Star, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, NPR, Yahoo, and countless other meteorological and news entities. Every one of them made me more proud to do what I do.

- We formed a community of over 3,700 Facebook fans, and close to 1,300 Twitter followers. I have found that you all are the best group of weather enthusiasts I have come across on the Internet, and it is an immense privilege to say that. I am forever grateful to have had the opportunity to converse with all of you.

- Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we proved that weather can be easy to understand. Over these last five years, I've received dozens of comments from viewers across the world, thanking me for making complicated weather phenomena normally learned in college, easy to understand.

So, for the last time, I want to extend a thank you. I want to thank you, the viewer, reading this right now, for supporting not only this blog, but me for the last five years. Thanks in large part to The Weather Centre, I have grown into a person I never thought I would become, and I'm incredibly excited to see where my life takes me next. I'm leaving not out of selfishness, but because this chapter of my life is naturally coming to a close. In the next several months, I'm going off to college to start my studies to become a degreed meteorologist, my life's dream. In addition, research projects that I began this past winter are quickly showing signs of verification. One of them, forecasting the EF-strength of tornadoes before they form, is looking very promising, and I'll need to devote a significant amount of time to improving my research, my studies, and everything else that makes life worth living. The one thing I ask of you is that you do what I've done. Go out and teach others about the weather; there are so many people that want to understand the weather but find everything too complicated. This blog provides a great resource for you to continue on.

Once again, thank you for these last five years. They've been the best five years I've ever experienced, and I'm incredibly proud to say we've accomplished the goal that's been in place since I first started The Weather Centre: to show others that weather can be easy to understand, to learn, and to share with others.

The last couple of weeks before April 26th will be mainly cleaning up some things, probably issuing some sort of winter prediction for 2015-2016 (it's only fitting, given our preliminary winter forecasts used to be issued in early June), and enjoying the ride. You'll still find me tweeting about the weather even after we close, and perhaps an occasional post on the Facebook page as well; you can follow the Twitter account at, and our Facebook page at


Andrew Racki