Winter arrived very early this year across much of the US. Per NOAA, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 39.3°F, which is 2.4°F below the 20th century average. This ranked as the 16th coldest November in the 1895-2014 record, and was the coldest November since 2000.
Here is a comparison of November vs December through the 9th. December temperatures are not as cold relative to normal. The coldest air has lifted back into central Canada.
So what does this mean looking into our winter future?
All of the factors that went into our winter weather outlook are still present and valid. Nothing has changed.
1) Central Based El Nino has developed or is developing depending on which index you use. This central based Pacific El Nino favors colder than normal temperatures across the eastern US. Note the warm pool along the equator and the smaller cool pools flanking it. The cool pools are indications of a Modoki along with warm pool extending along the west coast of North America.
2) Warmer than average water off of the west coast along with the cool pool north of Hawaii strongly favor ridging in the western US, troughiness in the eastern US. The Pacific North American Index (or PNA Index) measures this tendency. In most Decembers where the PNA is more than +1, the temperatures across the eastern US are usually below normal.
The forecast continues to favor a POSITIVE PNA into mid December.
Arctic Oscillation and North Atlantic Oscillations are indices that measure changes in the pressure patterns over each location. The AO is more of a player earlier in the winter, the NAO during the second half. If the indices are negative, the pressure patterns favor a more variable jet stream with a tendency for more cold air outbreaks.
4) The QBO (another wild card), read about it here, are stratospheric winds over the tropics which alternate direction easterly to westerly every 2 years. These easterly winds have been shown to disturb the Polar Vortex over the arctic making it more unstable. The propensity for cold outbreaks is higher across North America but not guaranteed. We monitor warming in the stratosphere over the arctic. Sudden warming can be a sign of a weakening of the jet stream and colder outbreaks. A good description of these warming events is on this site. Check out this site for more on Sudden Stratospheric Warming events and their potential effects on our winter weather.
Each one of these variables should not be overstated. One factor doesn't make-it or break-it. Our outlook is a blend of the combined influences that each one of these variables bring to the table. All told, our Winter Weather Outlook from early November still stands
ABOVE NORMAL SNOWFALL AND BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR NORTHERN OHIO FROM DECEMBER THROUGH FEBRUARY.