The State of the Atmosphere: Monday, January 13th, 2020

In our Insider outlook for the month I offered some "optimism" for snow lovers in what generally was a bleak outlook for the month on the snow front east of the mountains. My optimism is fading as the month progresses and the overall pattern proves hard to kick.

It was always going to be a "small needle to thread" to get a storm across the plains this month. January isn't typically a big snow month for the plains as the pattern dictates a more favorable set for the mountains, and a drier pattern on the lee side of the Rockies. This year appears no different, and without a number of ingredients coming into play at just the right time, it's likely to remain pretty quiet for Eastern Colorado for the foreseeable future.

It's not for a lack of an active storm track. The mountains are getting snow today:

Will receive another quick shot of snow Tuesday night into Wednesday morning:

And are likely to see more widespread snow by late in the week:

The storm track is progressive, however, and while the flow favors snow across the Intermountain west, it favors a high and dry pattern for the Plains. The European "weeklies" picked up on this pattern very well in its January outlook to end December:

Over the next 10 days much of the country is slated to see snow. That's true for the Pacific Northwest clear through New England. The grand exception to that at this moment appears to be across the High Plains and, well... the Southeast United States.

Our snowfall gamblers over the next seven days pretty much just reiterates the point:

As we head toward the last days of the month the MJO is forecast to swing through phase 7 and into 8. This would promote cooler weather across the Eastern United States (they've had a VERY warm month so far), and a generally drier pattern across the CONUS.

While I wouldn't say it's an impossibility for us to see snow before the end of the month along the Front Range, it doesn't appear as though that will come this week –– and, we'll really be working against the odds. Part of our approach coming into this month was to ride the December pattern as it appeared mostly unchanged. This so far has worked well. Perhaps that means we'll catch a storm at month's end.

Brendan Heberton

Brendan is founder of Weather5280. He is co-founder of FreshyMap, and develops software for geospatial data analysis and visualization.

Denver, Colorado
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