December Outlook

November has been very cold across much of the Eastern US, and we are on pace for one of the coldest November’s on record. This has been expected not just by us, but many meteorologists with analogs pointing in this direction. With that being said, what will December consist of?

Analogs have been such a useful tool for for predicting this upcoming winter and what will be expected for December across the Eastern US. The winters of 2002-03 and 2009-10 have stood out as the two best analogs to predict this year’s upcoming winter and this upcoming month.

Above, is what December was like for 2002 and 2009 respectively; although they differ from each other, especially in the Central US, we are leaning towards the 2002 solution. Models are not the only reason we are expecting this outcome. The MJO, which plays a big role in our winter outlooks for the United States, has given us strong confidence in why 2002 is the expected temperature outlook for December.

Above, is the current sea surface temperature anomalies, and two things stand out which scream cold December for the Eastern US. First, notice the cooler anomalies off the west coast of Australia. Those colder sea surface temperatures will suppress convection in that area and keep the Madden-Jullien Oscillation in phases 8,1, & 2. These phases are the cold phases of the MJO which will not only persist for December, but for the rest of the winter.

The other important factor, going back to the sea surface temperature graphic, are the warm waters to the south of Alaska. In the mid-lattitudes the warm sea surface temperatures will help pump the ridge which will then, downstream, cause a trough over the Eastern US.

Models, are already beginning to show the pattern that we are expecting to see for the Eastern US this December, and we continue to expect them to trend into a colder solution for the Eastern US.

Continue to follow this winter along with us as we will continue to keep you updated on what is to come.

-Alex B.


Author: Michael Griffith

I have had a passion for the weather since a very young age and am a degreed meteorologist. I have a Bachelor of Science from Penn State University and a Master's from Plymouth State University. If you ever see me out and about in the Charlotte, NC area, be sure to say hi!