Oak Hill, WV (WOAY-TV): A big event is forecast to take place about 6-10 miles above the surface over the North Pole that could have implications on our weather.
We first broke the news of a possible Stratospheric Warming Event a few weeks ago. Now, it appears imminent by the middle of this week. Standup: Winds around the Polar vortex are going to rapidly decelerate and switch directions. This occurrence often, but not always, leads to a changeable weather pattern across the Northern Hemisphere.
Today we chatted with an expert in the field of how the Stratospheric Polar Vortex could impact the weather across the Northern Hemisphere. Dr. Simon Lee, a research scientist with Columbia University, said it’s still too early to determine if there will be any impacts, but there are a few signs of what might happen.
Not every Stratospheric Warming Event is alike and produces impacts to our weather either. Digging back through the record books, a Stratospheric Warming occurred in mid-February of 2001 and 2018. The 2001 event did not have any noticeable impact on the weather in southern West Virginia. It remained warmer and less snowy than average through the rest of that winter.
However, the mid February 2018 warming did have an impact on our weather. Southern West Virginia had a cold, snowy spell with multiple winter storms between March 8 and 24. Beckley accumulated 21.6 inches of snow in March of 2018, well-above the average of 8.9 inches while Bluefield tallied 32.3 inches, which ranked as the snowiest March on record and trailing behind 1993 when we had the Superstorm of the Century in mid-March.
Dr. Lee advised the impact from these events is usually not immediate.
One useful forecast tool for meteorologists is the trend of teleconnection patterns, which gives an idea on how the jet stream or zone of fast moving air a few miles above us, will behave. The Arctic and North Atlantic Oscillation are showing strong signs of becoming negative in March, which traditionally support a cold, snowy regime in the Eastern U.S.
We’ll continue to follow the trends and have the latest 7-day forecast each day of the week.