The following blog was originally prepared on November 24th for The Weather Channel’s Website, weather.com. But it apparently got lost in the Thanksgiving holiday shuffle and was never published, perhaps meeting the same fate that many turkeys do at that time of year. Oops. Probably a poor choice of words. Still, in the interest of resuscitating what may or may not be a dead bird, here’s the blog:
by Buzz Bernard, Senior Meteorologist, retired
I received an email with an attached photograph this morning. The photo is of a pile of rubble and a porta-potty in a downtown Hartford, Conn., vacant lot. Some would say the picture is emblematic of my career.
Actually, it’s a photograph of where I started my profession in broadcast meteorology. What used to be there, prior to the arrival of the wrecking ball, is a structure called Broadcast House. In the 1960s, it was part of a mini-empire under the umbrella of the Travelers Insurance Company that consisted of the Travelers Weather Service, The Travelers Research Center, and WTIC-AM-FM and TV (CBS affiliates).
Stu Ostro, The Weather Channel’s Senior Director of Weather Communications, likes to poke a stick in my elderly eye every once in a while by reminding me that as a kid he used to listen to me on the radio when I worked for the now-defunct Travelers Weather Service. (Thanks, Stu. Given my geezerly propensity to forget things, I certainly wouldn’t want to forget how old I am.)
If anything, I suppose, the picture serves to remind me that, like or not, I’m entering the winter of my existence just as the Northern Hemisphere is entering its meteorological winter.
Something else this morning also reminded me of the relentless advance of the seasons: the sudden frenzy of neighborhood squirrels. As my wife and I returned from bagels and coffee, half a dozen of the furry little trees rats darted in front of my car on apparent suicides missions, their mouths stuffed with nuts. They’re busier than they’ve ever been the last couple of months. Do they know something we don’t?
Maybe. A look at the extended range numerical models suggest that a good chunk of the country may be headed toward a period of colder-than-average weather as we enter December.
Climatologically, however, we can say a few things about December with somewhat more certainty than we can about the extended outlook:
The Santa Ana season in Southern California peaks.
The wet weather in the Pacific Northwest peaks–although it’s been darn rainy there already.
The fogginess in the Northwest, particularly west of the Cascades, also peaks.
Similarly, the coldest conditions of the winter west of the Cascades are likely from late December through mid-January. (For the remainder of the country, the nadir of the cold holds off until later in January.)
Speaking of cold, the hardy residents of Verkhoyansk, Russia, will enjoy temperatures routinely in the 50-below range during the long, dark month of December. Perfect for Santa Claus and his entourage. And squirrels, too, as far as I’m concerned. (Tired of them using my roof for snacks.)
Closer to home, forecasters will be watching the Yukon and Northwest Territories of Canada for any buildup of Arctic air that might have designs on the Lower 48. Temperatures in Mayo in the Yukon typically range downward to 20 below or so in December, but it isn’t until the mercury there plops into the 40-, 50- or even 60-below range that forecasters get excited about big arctic invasions spearing southward.
I’ll be keeping an eye on temperatures in Mayo, too, but I’ll also be monitoring my friendly local squirrels. Oh, yeah, I’ll be watching out for porta-potties and piles of rubble appearing in my front yard, too–could be bad omens at my age.
Photo: Former site of Broadcast House, Hartford, Conn. (Photo courtesy of David Kaplan, WTIC Alumni Group.)