Cold Weather

Trick or treaters are not the only visitors we’ve had this month. Recently we had a cold air mass visit us straight from Siberia and last week it was a storm that had once been, in part, a destructive typhoon in Japan. But this week, we’ve had another visitor, one from the North Pole about 2 months ahead of the red suited one.

Record setting cold this week was due to cold Arctic air sinking down to us from the North Pole. It wasn’t just us; the colder temperatures will be felt by nearly all of the continental United States this week.

But why did the blast from Santa’s home choose October to visit us? The answer might not be known were it not for satellite technology, weather eyes in the sky looking down on the weather patterns of Earth, half a globe at a time.

gfs view

Looking down at this week's global wind pattern from over the north pole.  The darker the color, the stronger the high altitude wind.  The USA is bottom center.

Seen from above the North Pole, the view from space of the hemisphere’s wind pattern often looks like a daisy with the center over the pole and petals all around. This week, one of those petals happened to fall right across the middle of the country which means the cold arctic air was free to move down across us.

Here in Teton Valley, daily record lows were set for days in a row. It began on Sunday morning when the mercury at Driggs-Reed Memorial Airport fell to 9 degrees above zero at 6 AM, shattering the old record for that date of 18 F set in 2010. Only Florida will be spared the unusual cold as that "petal" moves eastward later in the week.

USA Forecast

This week's NOAA temperature outlook.  Blue means below average.

As we saw in last week’s Teton Valley News Weather Blog, weather moves in swirls around the world, much like the currents and countercurrents and whirlpools you see in a fast moving river. Factors like differences in surface temperature and geographical features play a tremendous role in just which way the swirls swirl. Meteorologists are only starting to understand it all, and modern methods like satellite observation and computer atmospheric modeling are really helping. This month, Teton Valley has been the recipient of a few very interesting swirls which were all well predicted. This week’s was especially tooth chattering.

Despite the current cold snap, the forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center are foreseeing a good chance of a warmer than average November, December, and January. Will things really make a shift for the warmer? Stay tuned and let us know what you’re seeing at your place on the Teton Valley Weather Facebook page.

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