Winter arrived early this year, with November breaking numerous records and locking it in as one of the coldest on records. Since then the cold air has backed off, with pleasant weather headlining many days this month. While the “thaw” has been enjoyable, signs are pointing to significantly cold weather to follow us into the new year.
Historically speaking this isn’t out of the norm, as January and February are typically the coldest months of the year. However, signs in the atmosphere are pointing to the possibility of even colder temperatures arriving by January.
The atmosphere is a fluid and a subtle difference can significantly change the weather across the globe. During the winter, a primary driver of weather patterns is the polar jet and where it sets up. How deep it buckles and just how cold the air is, is ultimately determined by what’s going on in the stratosphere.
Nearly 6 miles into the atmosphere lies a river of air that sets up shop in both the north and south pole. When this air becomes disturbed (due to warming in the stratosphere) it can set off a chain of events that lead to a blast of bitterly cold air.
This was seen earlier this year when Mid-Missouri experienced one of the coldest starts to January on record.
The strength of the cold air and just where it sets up shop is yet to be determined, but with warming in the stratosphere set to occur, Mid-Missouri could experience another bitterly cold start to January.