The Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) is finally moving out of phase 7 and back into phase 8 this weekend. The image above shows warmer than average temperature anomalies over the Eastern United States in phase 7 with cooler than average temperatures in phase 8. You need cold air for wintry weather and with a very active storm pattern continuing, things are looking very interesting this weekend and beyond.
After a predominantly mild and wet December, it may be tempting to give up hope for the return of winter weather in Washington. As the image above (courtesy NOAA) indicates, temperatures across much of the eastern two-thirds of the United States have been running well above average the past thirty days. So what’s in store for the Washington Region over the next several weeks? Specifically, is a return to a colder weather pattern on the horizon? Meteorologists will look at variety of “teleconnections” or relationships between large-scale features in the mid to upper levels of the atmosphere that offer insights into the medium-range forecast. Four key teleconnections indicate that a significant pattern change may be in store for the eastern United States as we head into mid and late January.
1. The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO)
The Madden-Julian oscillation is a significant driver of the weather pattern and consists of eight phases, each impacting global weather by shifting the location of tropical convection in a relatively short period of time, generally during the course of several weeks. During the winter months, various phases of the MJO can signal heavy rainfall events along the west coast of the United States or even be a precursor to predicting arctic outbreaks east of the Rockies. The image below (courtesy NOAA) shows typical temperature anomalies (departure from average) across the United States associated with each phase of the MJO in the month of January.
We have been stuck in Phase 7 of the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) this month and that combined with the ongoing La Nina has been responsible for the mild, snow-less conditions across the Mid-Atlantic.
Are things about to turn the corner with Winter returning as we head into March? The image above is the latest MJO forecast from the Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) model. Look closely and you can see that we have been stuck in phase 7 (mild in the east) for much of February. We are forecast to move into phase 8, before heading into phase 1 and 2 (phase 8, 1 and 2 favor cooler than average temperatures in the eastern United States).