Dennis’ Tidbits


November 8, 2019

Weather is all over the map!

Dennis 5McWeather thought he had some serious mood swings until the swings of the past two to three weeks from the Rockies to the Atlantic Seaboard. The record-shattering searing heat of October has been abruptly replaced by repeated visits from the Polar Vortex with record-breaking cold that is found more in midwinter. 

Two weeks ago, Nashville had a high of 98. Tomorrow it will be 29 for the high! Even Florida is getting in on the action with frost warnings as far south as Orlando and Jacksonville at latitudes 28 and 29 north respectively.

The polar vortex is a giant pool of bitterly cold air that covers most of Canada from the U.S. Border to the Arctic Circle. High barometric pressures are off the charts with central pressures as high as 1,050 millibars at 31.00 inches of mercury. In a normal year there will be at least a few visits from this polar influence especially when the northern jet stream is as tweaked as it is now. 

When the jet stream is running in mostly a west to east line with gently curving lines, the coldest air is pretty much restricted to points north of the Canadian Border. Normal or above normal temps go even as far north as the Dakotas with high temps in the 40s up there, but when the jet stream is behaving like it has been, temps can sink below zero up there and these cold fronts are plowing as far south as the Gulf Coast and even Florida.

The old weather adage of whatever is going on in the West, the opposite is going on east of the Continental Divide, often holds true. The northern jet stream treks eastward across the Central and North Pacific but when it reaches a point about 1,500 miles west of the U.S., it takes a sharp turn to the left and makes landfall way up in Alaska. Once it crosses over places like Fairbanks, it makes an abrupt turn to the south when it crosses the Rockies and points south, bringing all that frigid air with it – as a very deep low pressure trough develops bringing all kinds of hazardous weather. 

While all this madness is going on back there, it’s all quiet on the Western Front with sunny skies day after day and generally above to well above temps as a huge high pressure ridge remains anchored over the entire region – with no signs of going anywhere anytime soon. At this time, long range models going out 10-14 days see little or no precipitation from British Columbia to the tip of Baja.

With no North Pacific storms even getting close to wearing down this huge ridge of high pressure, the surf really suffers along the entire Pacific West Coast. I checked out four different webcams today including Mavericks, Santa Cruz, Point Arena, and a place called Lincoln City way up in North Central Oregon where it’s usually 8-10 feet or bigger almost daily by this time of year. 

All four spots revealed one to two-foot dribblers at the most with no relief in sight. The Southern Hemisphere is not cooperating either so it’s all about ankle snappers and shin splitters for everybody. I’ve never seen a flat spell like this one, at least in my lifetime. King Neptune must be on an extended vacation.

Have a nice weekend, ALOHA!