Snow threat recedes for now – Arctic Update

  • Vancouver Island Inland Sections Forecast - No watches or warnings in effect.

    Forecast Issued 4:00 PM PDT Sunday 22 July 2018 - Sunday night: Clear. Low 13. Monday: Sunny. High 32. Humidex 33. UV index 8 or very high. Monday night: Clear. Low 13. Tuesday: Sunny. High 34. Tuesday night: Clear. Low 13. Wednesday: Sunny. High 35. Wednesday night: Clear. Low 13. Thursday: Sunny. High 34. Thursday night: Clear. Low 14. Friday: Sunny. High 29. Friday night: Clear. Low 15. Saturday: Sunny. High 29.

  • Current Conditions
    15.6° C
    -0.7 ° C/hr
    101.97 kPa
    N/A 0.0 km/h
    gusting 0.0 km/h
    79 %
    Rain Rate
    0.0 mm/hr
    Wind Chill
    15.6° C
    Heat Index
    15.6° C
    11.9° C
    0 W/m2
    Last Updated: 4:20:00 PST
    Click to Refresh or See All Conditions
  • Day Almanac
    Day's Rain
    0.0 mm
    Day ET
    0.0 mm mm
    Rain Storm
    NotAvailable mm
    Civil Rise
    Moon Phase
    Waxing gibbous (84% full)
    Civil Set
    Day Length
    Day High
    20.3° C @ 00:00 Tdy.
    Day Low
    15.6° C @ 04:14 Tdy.
    Day High Rain Rate
    Day High Barometer
    101.97 kPa @ 02:59 Tdy.
    Day Low Barometer
    101.96 kPa @ 00:00 Tdy.
    Day Low Windchill
    15.6° C @ 04:14 Tdy.
    Day High Heat Index
    20.3° C @ 00:00 Tdy.
    Day High Wind Gust
    S 0.0km/h @ 00:05 Tdy.
    Day High Solar Radiation
    0W/m2 @ 00:00 Tdy.
    Day High UV Index
    0.0 @ 00:00 Tdy.

The threat of snow is receding slightly for the weekend as temperatures warm up just enough to make a difference. That means rain, and a fair amount of it, between today and Monday. It could still flip flop and end up with snow on Sunday but that is looking less likely now. We will just have to see.

There is chatter however of another shift of the larger North American pattern. The big dip in the jet stream allowing Arctic air to flood into Eastern Canada is going to start shifting west a bit and so might allow some of that Arctic air to come our way around Thursday. It’s a ways out.., but we will have to see what happens. Here is the view from Brett Anderson’s blog yesterday:


Once the Arctic Air has ‘recharged ‘ as he puts it, then the models have it heading back East to deliver more frigid weather to that part of the Continent and milder, wetter time for us.

Now it is nothing new that it gets cold in Canada. However, as you’ve heard here before, new research is showing that the loss of Arctic sea ice is causing unusually warm conditions in the Arctic which translates to unusually long spells of snowy weather in Eastern North America (note I did not say record cold)

This is due to changes in the upper Stratosphere where in the winter the Arctic vortex which generally looks like this: 20130125-073134.jpg
(Image from late December of Stratosphere temperature anomaly)

…. bottling cold air up there, now more often looks like this:

(Image from January of Stratosphere temperature anomaly)

As you can see the vortex has broken down, split in two and allowed warmth to flood into the Arctic and Cold to dive down into the Continents. This is being coined as the “Warm Arctic, Cold Continents” phenomenon.

Why? Well perhaps its due to the extremely thin ice?

Even at the North Pole itself, this imagery shows the ice is less than 2 metres thick. That means it is likely first or second year ice. The only old, and thick ice more than 4 or 5 metres thick is stuck along the islands of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago… and it is slowly being whittled away.

Here is an animation showing how thickness has declined, even through seasonal variations, over the past 30 years.

If the Arctic continues to lose ice volume and area at current rates, it will likely be ice free (or just a bunch of broken up slush) by September 2014 or 2015. August and October could fall as soon as 2018. These are massive changes in the amount of heat energy absorbed by our planet through the Arctic.

The effect on the weather ‘down here‘ will not be small.

(Thanks goes to Linda Brown for alerting me to recent discussion on the Arctic Sea Ice blog about the current sad, and frighteningly bad, state of the Arctic as we set up for another melt season. The posts and comments there are simultaneously fascinating, informative and disturbing and you can literally spend hours going through all of the research and data they post)