The State of the Atmosphere: Sunday, February 16, 2014

Half of February in the Books; Where Do We Go from Here?
Feb 2014 Temp AnomaliesWith more than half of this shorter-than-normal month already down, it is prudent to look back on the conditions we've experienced over the past approximately two weeks, as well as look forward to what may be in store for us for the rest of the month.

Looking at temperature anomalies through the 14th of the month, we see that nearly two-thirds of the nation has experienced well below-normal temperatures, with the only exception being the southwestern quadrant of Colorado, the desert southwest in general, and Florida. This month has generally featured a mean trough over the eastern half of the nation, with an active storm track for that part of the country.

While the mountains of Colorado have generally done very well in terms of snow over the past two weeks, conditions over the Colorado plains, including the Denver metro area, have been much drier. The dry conditions are due primarily to downsloping winds off of the Continental Divide. Denver (at DIA) has only recorded 2.5" of snow so far this month, and is currently running a very cold 9.3 degrees below normal for the month-to-date.

Currently we're running below normal for both temperatures and snowfall. But what does the rest of the month have in store for us? I've taken a closer look at the medium- and long-range guidance and I can say with reasonable confidence that, as a whole, the rest of the month will probably feature below-normal precipitation (few, if any, chances for measurable snow over the next week) with above-normal temperatures. Also, the position of several modes of climate oscillation we monitor (PNA, AO, among others) gives me a reasonably high degree of confidence for this forecast. (The CFSv2 temperature forecast for the rest of the month is seen at right.)

While there are several disturbances set to bring colder air to the area, the events will be tame and transient in nature. In all probability, they may just bring our temperatures back to seasonally normal levels through the weekend, before temperatures may begin to moderate again by around February 24 -- though the EURO and GFS currently disagree on this.Also, this colder air mass will be moisture-starved, so unlike many cold fronts that have gone through this winter, little snow is currently expected out of it. Models have flip-flopped over the last week or so on handling this, so we'll keep a close eye as we head into the start of the work week.

While snow-lovers like me may fret over the next week or two, there are some early indications that our fortunes may change in March, which is climatologically Denver's snowiest month. Some long-range modeling offers hope for colder than normal conditions possible over the eastern two-thirds of the country, and possibly including Denver. Look for a March outlook later this week.

Until then, enjoy this spring-like reprieve through the middle of the work week!