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Mother Nature and the April fool - 02.21.06

Mother Nature, will she play the fool again in the Northeast?

David White a knowledgeable and alert subscriber from New England has pointed out to Doc Weather that the analog year for 1997 included a spring surprise in the form of a major blizzard on April 1st that brought over two feet of snow to the Northeast that year. He asked is there anything in the patterns for this year that can come close to this April Fool's trick from Mother Nature in 1997.

Fig.1 Eclipse positions winter 2006

Fig.1 Eclipse positions winter 2006

In figure 1 we can see the pattern for the winter up until March of 2006. The two 45° jet curves from the eastern pair of eclipse points have been the site of dominant high pressure in the east for most of the winter. The lunar node, between the two points has consistently supported high pressure in the eastern part of the eclipse grid. This is shown by the blue lines and zones on the chart. This influence resulted in a predominantly zonal flow in the jet stream for most of the early winter. This also was a feature of the climate patterns in the analog winter of 1997. That year a consistent zonal flow kept the temperatures on the warm side on the continent until the March eclipses shifted the eclipse grid to set up the pattern for the blizzard of '96.

In March 97 strong zonal flow also dominated North America from January to March. In April 97 after the eclipse this shifted strongly to a more frequent meridional flow pattern that produced the blizzard. The same type of shift might be in the cards this spring (2006). Although the node earlier this winter did not give much ground in the persistent support of high pressure over the East Coast early this winter, that should change with the new positions for the jet curves. In January 2006, high pressure with the jet curves bracketing both coasts tended to keep the jet to the north over the continent. There was not a good space between them for the jet to loop to the south.(figure 1).

Fig.2 February '06 cold snap

Fig.2 February '06 cold snap

The big blizzard on the East Coast (figure 2) in February resulted from a sudden shift to low pressure on the jet curves followed by a strong shift to high pressure from Uranus that pushed the jet up in a surge pattern over the eastern Gulf of Alaska. The resulting storm brought cold air down into the Midwest. This pattern of cold air moving south was continued into the middle of February when another motion from Saturn produced a surge on the eclipse grid in the western states. In figure 2 the surge in the west and the resulting flow to the south can be seen.

Fig.3  march '06 new points

Fig.3 march '06 new points

Figure 3 shows the new positions for the eclipse grid in March 2006. The whole grid is shifted to the west. When the new eclipse points shift into position the only real chance for mid latitude blocking from the south will be from the two 45° jet curves that will then be over the Mississippi Valley. This means that when the shift happens there will be a very open space over the Atlantic to allow the east to west migration of the blocking highs that form the NAO pattern. With the grid in this configuration a space is created in which the migrating high is able to freely move from east to west. This might give that pattern more force than has been present this winter. When the NAO pattern is strong a high situates over Greenland and forces the jet stream to the south on the east coast. This often is a signal for storms from the Gulf of Mexico to make their way up the coast to New England (red curves and low pressure).

Looking ahead, in early March 2006, Jupiter will be on station at a low-pressure aspect to both of the eclipse points over the western Pacific. At the same time the lunar node will be at low- pressure aspects to the eastern eclipse points. In mid to late March during the two week period in between the eclipses, Saturn and the lunar node will be influencing the eclipse grid to low pressure values. These influences will most likely render March as a stormy time east and west across the continent. The eclipses in March 2006 shift the disturbance diamond farther to the west so that only the 72° jet curves from the western pair of eclipse points are over the northwest corner of the continent. This placement will make the 45° jet curves from the eastern pair of eclipse points the dominant ones for the summer and early fall.

So, regarding the last two weeks of March'06, this seems to be an optimum time for storms in David's neighborhood in New England like the one that just raked the East Coast from the Carolinas to Maine. This is especially the case during the last week of March as the moon transits the east coast late in the last week. So, all things being equal, the analog year points to the possibility that there might be a joke or two up Mother Nature's sleeve for New England come April Fool's day 2006.