Low temperature records galore

Here a very nice site if you want to look at what weather records were being set around the country, with an example for the past few days below.  The one below were set as a gigantic blob of cold air (high pressure region) plopped down into the US, one bigger and colder than usual for this early in October.  There are a ton more low temperature records being set today.  As you know, this cold air event was well predicted in the computer models many days in advance and was blabbed about here.

Does this exceptional cold air in early October presage a cold winter?

Well, to know for sure,  sort of, we go to the Climate Prediction Center to get their best guessestimate, and then look at natural phenomena, used by folk long range weather predictors, like the height of ant cones, length of horse’s hair, etc.  The CPC’s outlook, the best info around, beats Farmer’s Almanac by quite a bit, kind of like the way my former employer’s sports football team was beaten down by Nike Team One in Duckville, Oregon last Saturday evening, 52-21; wasn’t close.  Let’s see what the CPC sees for the next few months:


Wow!  This is not what I expected to see for October, November and December  because of the current weather regime with all that record cold in the very areas where warmth was expected.

This CPC prediction suggests that the cold air now in the East is a fluke and a quite comfy, energy-conserving fall season should be observed where the low temperature records are falling today.  This CPC longer range prediction would go with an El Nino-influenced winter, but so far, the overall pattern has not looked much like one.  Of course, phenomena like the El Ninos/La Ninas, when they are strong,  are the best hat racks to hang our climate prediction hats on these days.   The El Nino we have now is pretty marginal, barely made the criteria for one; a crummy hat rack.

The above seasonal forecast by CPC was issued on September 20th and a new prediction will be issued shortly.  Usually, though, they don’t “yo-yo” much, that is, change much from one month to the next in what is foreseen for the next three months;  there’s some inertia involved.

BTW, and oddly, one of the severest winters in the East was associated with a very weak/marginal El Nino in 1976-77, a year also that included extreme drought along the entire West Coast through February.


Folk weather predictions; ant cones (are they really better?)

Now lets look at ant cones and see what we can make out of those.  Perhaps ants know something about the coming winter since they’ve been around for about 10 billion years1.  Maybe there was something in our summer temperatures and rains that “spoke to them” about the coming winter. Below, a typical ant cone of the size around now.

You know, I’m not getting a lot out of what these ants are trying to tell me about this coming winter, though, its very nice.

So, for the present, and with no strong climate signal anywhere, we have to assume that the early cold is a fluke, not an indicator of a whole winter.


A little rain is but a few days ahead, Thursday.  In the meantime there have been some nicely patterned Cirrus, Cirrocumulus, and Altocumulus streaming out of the very same system that moves over us Thursday evening.

There will be more of these photogenic clouds today and in the days ahead of the storm.  Keep camera ready!

It will be fun to have more dramatic skies and some wind with a “storm” finally.  Mods have another one a week or so later, too.


1I’m exaggerating here since the entire universe, one that began with a spec smaller than the head of a pin and yet had everything in it, is about that old.


By Art Rangno

Retiree from a group specializing in airborne measurements of clouds and aerosols at the University of Washington (Cloud and Aerosol Research Group). The projects in which I participated were in many countries; from the Arctic to Brazil, from the Marshall Islands to South Africa.