Winter Weather 2023 23 – A first look at the forecast for winter 2022/2023 shows the clear influence of the third annual La Nina phase. It will change the direction of currents over North America and the Pacific Ocean, extending its reach to the rest of the world. But a new oceanic anomaly is emerging that will also play a role.
To understand the winter season, we need to understand that there are many “drivers” of the weather. Global weather is a very complex system with many large and small climate influences. First, let’s take a look at what this La Nina really is and what impact it will have on the 2022/2023 winter season.
Winter Weather 2023 23
Below is the 11/10 winter La Nina print pattern. Blocked high pressure over Greenland and the North Pacific with low pressure and cooler air moving from the United States to Europe. This is what every winter lover in Europe and the USA hopes for every winter. But we will see if we can find similar trends in the first forecast for winter 2022/2023.
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Oceans cover more than 70% of the Earth’s surface and play an important role in the Earth’s climate system. You can see the air-sea interaction in the image below. It’s quite complex, but you can see a two-way system with many small and large factors.
The key here is the word “bidirectional.” For example, we sometimes look at ocean anomalies and how they affect our weather in the long term, and ocean anomalies also affect the weather.
Tropical trade winds are an important link between oceans and weather. They can mix the surface layers of the ocean and change surface currents and sea temperature. This can then lead to changes in the distribution of precipitation and pressure.
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But what are trade winds? The trade winds are steady and persistent, blowing toward (and along) the equator in both hemispheres. In the image below you can see the prevailing global winds, with the trade winds highlighted in yellow and red.
Therefore, it is very important to know that although the oceans can have a direct impact on the climate, they are also changed by the weather.
Several marine areas around the world are important in one way or another. There can be monthly, seasonal or decade-long anomalies in the oceans. Sometimes they can tell us something about what will happen in the future.
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Given the recent ocean anomalies, we have identified two key global regions where we are currently monitoring developments in winter 2022/2023. Each of them has its own role and importance in different areas and time horizons.
The focus is on the El Nino Southern Oscillation, or ENSO for short. This is one of the most well-known oceanic oscillations, with a particularly strong influence in winter.
On the left side (red field) you can see the Dual Mode Index (DMI). It fluctuates depending on the temperature difference between the eastern and western Indian Ocean.
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We will briefly cover both regions with basic information, analysis and forecasts. We will also look at the historical patterns associated with these anomalies and what they could tell us for the winter of 2022/2023.
ENSO is the abbreviation for “El Niño Southern Oscillation”. In this region of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, warm and cold phases alternate. Normally a phase change occurs about every 1-3 years.
The cold phase is called La Nina and the warm phase is called El Nino. We are currently in a La Nina phase and are entering the third year, which is rare.
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ENSO has a significant impact on tropical precipitation, pressure patterns and the complex exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere. With each new phase of development we experience large-scale pressure changes in the tropics. With some delay, these changes affect circulation in the rest of the world.
The image below from NOAA Climate shows a typical circulation during the cold phase of ENSO. Air sinks into the eastern Pacific, creating stable, dry weather. At the same time, the air is rising in the Western Pacific, where there is a lot of precipitation and low pressure.
In this way, ENSO influences significant tropical rainfall and pressure patterns, thereby affecting the ocean-atmosphere feedback system. Through this ocean-atmosphere system, the influence of ENSO spreads worldwide.
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Below is the latest surface analysis of the tropical Pacific. Cold anomalies can be seen over the marked ENSO regions. It is currently an active La Nina entering its third year phase.
La Nina occurs with strong trade winds, which can tell us a lot about global circulation as a whole. So we can use these anomalies as an “indicator” to determine the current state of the global climate system.
Below you can see the last two years of ocean anomalies in the ENSO region. You can see the first La Nina event in 2020 and the second annual La Nina event in late 2021. The third annual event is expected to take place in fall and winter 2022/2023.
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To better understand the evolution of ENSO, we created a video showing La Nina anomalies from late spring through summer. The video below shows the cold ocean anomalies in the equatorial Pacific. Watch for “waves” throughout the region as trade winds push surface water westward.
Below is an ECMWF analysis/forecast chart showing the long-term forecast for the main ENSO region. La Nina conditions prevail in fall and winter. However, La Nina is expected to weaken early next year, with El Nino possible later in the year.
The Combined Ocean Forecast Model shows cold anomalies in the Pacific in late fall and early winter. As you can see in the picture, another area of interest is marked to the west.
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The first effects of these ocean anomalies are usually seen in the changing current. A jet stream is a large and powerful stream of air (wind) at an altitude of about 8-11 km (5-7 miles).
It flows in a west-east motion around the entire Northern Hemisphere, interacting with pressure systems and shaping our surface weather.
Below is an example of a winter jet in the winter at an altitude of approximately 9 km/5.6 miles. You can see the jet curved downward over the middle of the United States. It curves upward over northwestern Europe. Such a formation brings cooler weather to the eastern United States and stormy winter weather to Iceland and the British Isles.
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The jet stream is an important part of this story. This is one of the main ways La Nina can more directly alter weather patterns, particularly in North America.
Historically, the most characteristic effect of the cold phase of ENSO is a strong blocking high pressure system in the North Pacific. This typically directs the polar jet downward over the northern United States.
The following figure shows the average course of past La Nina winters. We can see a strong pressure system in the North Pacific and a low pressure area over Canada and southwestern Europe.
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The circulation of a strong high pressure system is driving the development of a low pressure area over Alaska and western Canada. It bends the flow downward between two pressure systems.
Looking at the temperature analysis for the same winters, we can see a cold area of anomaly beneath the flow in western Canada and northern United States. There are also several cold anomalies in Europe, although these are not directly attributable to La Nina.
You can see this redirection of the nozzles in the image below. The figure shows the average position of jets during La Nina winters and the resulting weather over the United States and Canada.
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The changing water flow brings colder temperatures and storms from the polar regions of the northern and northwestern United States and warmer, drier weather to southern parts.
In the northern part of the country, we are experiencing more frequent colder and wetter events as jet streams direct storm systems in that direction. However, this could block some of the southern US and create warmer, more stable weather with fewer storms and cold fronts.
If we look at the precipitation pattern, we can see more precipitation in the northern half of the United States. Most cold fronts and storm systems during the La Nina winter move there. The southern United States typically experiences drier conditions.
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But speaking of winter and jet lag: what does that have to do with snow? Well, the jet shift also changes the snowfall potential as the pressure systems take a different path.
Colder air is more readily available in the northern United States, which also increases the likelihood of snow when moisture is present. Areas like Alaska, Canada and the north/northwest of the US will benefit from more snowfall. Graphics provided by NOAA-Climate.
After passing Canada and the United States, the jet stream enters the North Atlantic. Different paths can lead from there. Much depends on the general circulation patterns and existing pressure systems in the Atlantic.
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Here La Nina could lose its direct influence on Europe, as regional weather systems in the Atlantic play an important role. However, changes usually still have a significant impact