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Don Paul: A warmup is coming – but it's not staying

If I’ve called myself the Prince of Pessimism, let’s call this article tempered pessimism, following some short-lived optimism.

There appears to be a notable warmup on the way. Look, for example, at National Weather Service HQ projected high temps for this Friday.

Warm temperatures are forecast across the nation. (Graphic courtesy of the National Weather Service)

I’ll break it down a little further, based on my 34 years of experience in Western New York.

What often happens this time of the year is a warm front pushes up from the south as the leading edge of notably warmer air, and then runs into resistance as it gets closer to cold Lake Ontario and its dense, cold air. This is especially true below the escarpment. I can envision, based on pattern recognition, a southerly flow boosting Friday high temps to near 70 around Jamestown and maybe Olean, to near 60 in the metro area, to the upper 30s or low 40s around Youngstown and Olcott. This happens most years at least once. If the southerly flow driving the warm air were stronger, I’d be more optimistic about the warm air driving farther north.

But please note: this is a high-risk article I’m composing at the beginning of the week.

When I worked Sunday night at WKBW, both the European and American/GFS models were pushing Friday temps well into the 60s even a little north of Buffalo. Today, those models have pulled back on Friday, saving the real warmer surge for during the weekend. Sometimes, in a persistent pattern such as the cold one much of the country has been locked in, that warm air never really crosses the Pennsylvania border into Western New York. Cold air to the north can be stubborn, like Billy Martin arguing with the ump.

But let’s go back to the optimistic side. Both ensembles (multiple model runs rather than a single run) of the European and American/GFS do show a warm ridge stacking up over the east at the end of the week – the European ensemble, the American ensemble and I’ll even throw in the Canadian ensemble.

So, there’s very good agreement on what’s going on around 18,000 feet up. It’s down here on the ground where things get very tricky, if cold Lake Ontario and surface high pressure air puts the kibosh on northern advancement of the surface warm front.

Apart from this potential for real warming, there is also very good agreement on its temporary nature of its staying power. I’ll just show you one ensemble on upper air by next Monday because, again, all three ensembles are in good agreement.

The ensembles show repeated colder incursions further out in time this month with brief warmups between them. We can at least take note of the probability those cold incursions will not be so cold as the one we’ve just experienced. The angle of the sun grows higher, and the supply of true arctic air will begin to dwindle, particularly because the excessive snow cover in North America will begin to dwindle.

In the meantime, the National Weather service headquarters also agrees we’ll be cooler again by next Monday, though not so cold as we’ve been.

Cooler temperatures may be back by Monday. (Graphic courtesy of the National Weather Service)

With all that, I feel obligated to leave you with something more optimistic for the longer term. The following is an American seasonal climate model. I’m none too fond of its rate of verification, but at least it offers some limited hope as we move toward late spring and summer: For June, it shows temperatures running at least somewhat above the June average. (It shows temps barely above average in May.) That warmer trend is even stronger for July, but since uncertainty increases further out in time, we’ll stick with June.

Always leave 'em hoping, if I can dig up some hopeful evidence. After all, I have to wander through the produce section at the supermarket in plain view of the restless natives.

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