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Will winter come back? Weather forecast for January and February. The tongue of cold can reach Poland at the turn of January and February

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Will winter come back to Poland? The inhabitants of Western and Central Europe have been asking themselves this question since the beginning of January, when our continent was hit by a wave of unprecedented heat at this time of year. At the same time, temperatures in Siberia drop to minus 62 degrees Celsius. Arleta Unton-Pyziołek writes about whether the winter aura will come to our doorsteps.

On Friday, January 13th, in the afternoon, in five provinces, children left school feeling that this day was not so unlucky. The winter holidays have just started! It is a pity that there is no snow, even in the mountains there is not much of it. Will winter come back? – we wonder, looking at the sky.

On January 1, when a wave of heat swept over Poland and The temperature record for this month has been brokenin the valley of the Rawka river, between by boat and Warsaw, one could hear the loud clanking of cranes, as if spring was in full swing. This is astonishing, because these birds fly to Spain in autumn, where they are treated as a national asset, similarly to storks in Poland. They usually come back to us in the second half of February. However, if you can hear them in January, is the end of winter? Well, no! Migrating birds carefully watch the weather, receive signals from nature with all their senses and check how long it is enough to fly away from summer habitats so as not to waste energy and not risk their lives on a long flight to “warm countries”. They adapt to the changing world and climate, and have been doing so for 147 million years (Archeopteryx is the oldest known bird that falls within this definition).

So the clanging cranes near the capital do not herald spring. They are studying the situation, just as we are now analyzing the weather conditions over the northern hemisphere to try to answer the question of whether winter will return. There is a high probability that it will return, and the cranes will move back to the west, into the warmer Oder Valley.

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A harsh winter in Siberia

At the moment, the harsh winter stays away from us. It rules Canada and Siberia, where the temperature on Tuesday, January 10, dropped to -61.9 degrees Celsius in the village of Zilinda. The last time it was this cold there was 21 years ago. The frost wave covers all of Russia, touching Finland, eastern Belarus and eastern Ukraine. The boundary between the world of dangerous cold and mild heat runs exactly along the eastern border of Poland. The North Atlantic and Western and Central Europe are in a heat wedge.

The coldest in the world: -62 degrees in Siberia and the border between warm and cold. Model GFS.Climate Reanalyzer, Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, USA/tvnmeteo.pl

The temperature in Siberia is not so surprising, but the cause of this frost is somewhat surprising. This is because the region is in an area of ​​reduced pressure instead of being influenced by the typical high pressure at this time, which has moved to the Moscow region. The low, described by meteorologists as shallow, without great pressure drops, however, brought more frost than usual. It is a “descendant” of the polar vortex, the result of the interaction of a beautifully formed, frosty air vortex developed at an altitude of about 20-30 kilometers. It is a structure resembling a large funnel of a whirlwind in its vertical profile.

Section through the polar vortex, January 11, 2023stratobserve.com

Cold cap

The polar vortex is like a great cold cap over the north pole in the atmosphere. And just in the first days of January, this vortex was slightly shifted from the pole towards Siberia by a wave of strong heat, which entered Canada and the Canadian Arctic at an altitude of 30 km. Its core, with a temperature of -80 degrees Celsius, touched Siberia. This was enough to drop the temperature over the chilled land below -60 degrees C. A smaller low-pressure vortex formed over the region, sucking in the cold. At an altitude of 5 km, it turned into a more developed and more visible vortex of air.

January 6, the core of the vortex near Siberia. Model GFS.tropicaltidbits.com/tvnmeteo.pl

Polar vortex over Siberia on January 10. The purple-pink patch is a faint low on the ground, which turns into a more developed vortex at an altitude of 5 km. Model GFS.GFS/University of Maine

The Americans have recently experienced encounters with the polar vortex. A wave of blizzards and freeze occurred as arctic cold entered the United States through a great vortex of air, while heat penetrated strongly into the polar regions. The shifting of the cold cap once over America and once over Russia in the last two months testifies to the instability of the vortex.

Is it time for Europe now?

Over the next two months, the polar cap with its icy core is expected to be pushed up from above the pole by more energy supplies into the stratosphere, with more and more energy in the Earth’s atmosphere, fueling an increase in temperature over the Arctic and a disruption of the vortex.

The fact is that the energy thrown into the atmosphere by the “weather forge” for the globe, which is the equatorial waters of the Pacific Ocean, is currently slightly less than usual, and this is due to the La Nina phenomenon. Only a strong heat injection over the Arctic raises the concerns of meteorologists, because it brings with it a total tearing of the vortex into smaller parts, fatal for inhabitants of temperate latitudes. The Japan Meteorological Agency, constantly monitoring the situation over the North Pole, is watching the development of another wave of stratospheric warming 30 km above the ground, but the process is slow. And only the so-called “sudden stratospheric warming” breaks the vortex and wreaks havoc. According to the calculations of the American GFS model, the increase in stratospheric temperature will accelerate after January 25, sending a signal that in February the vortex may weaken and become strongly disturbed.

The temperature over the North Pole at an altitude of 30 km – real-time observationsJapan Meteorological Agency (JMA)

Forecast of temperature increase in the stratosphere according to several meteorological models. Stronger warming according to the GFS model is marked in orange stratobserve.com

Forecasters see another portion of heat

In the forecasts, high in the atmosphere in the third decade of January, another portion of warm air is visible moving towards the Arctic. It has the potential to push the polar vortex out of its lair towards eastern Canada, the North Atlantic and Europe. So the tongue of cold can reach us at the turn of January and February. After January 20, the vortex is expected to slowly slide southward, which is reflected in the temperature field forecast for January 27. The center of the vortex, i.e. the cold core with a temperature of -80 degrees Celsius at an altitude of 30 km, is to be located over northern Europe (dark blue spot on the map below). This position of the vortex gives an injection of cold air and favors the formation of great lows close to the ground, from Labrador through Scandinavia to northern Russia. In our part of the continent, there is usually an influx of heat from the south, followed by a break in the weather. So we can see a “big comeback” of winter in a truly American style!

Cold air shift forecast by GFS model. On January 27, the core (center) of the vortex may be close to Scandinaviatropicaltidbits.com

Vortex shift projected by January 27. Model GFSstratobserve.com

When cooling down

Today, the calculations of the American GFS model and the European ECMWF signal the end of early spring in Central Europe, i.e. cooling in the second half of January and early February.

There will be more snow in the coming days. The first well-developed bay of cold can be seen in the forecasts as late as January 29, sliding down from the Arctic, over Finland, Belarus and Ukraine. The tongue of cold is about to touch the eastern regions of our country.

What’s next? A severe winter would be brought by the breaking of the polar vortex, but its slipping into our region would be enough to cause strong weather turbulence, snowstorms and frost. However, after their passage, the expansion of the high pressure over north-eastern Europe usually takes place in the cold air. In February, this baric system usually sends us drier air from over Russia, where the temperature likes to drop below -10 degrees Celsius. So there are many signs that winter weather will return.

Tongue of cold at the end of January – temperature field forecast for January 29 at an altitude of 1.5 km, cold runoff in the Russian lowland. Model GFS.wetter3.de

Author:Arleta Unton-Pyziołek

Main photo source: Adobe Stock/tropicaltidbits.com

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