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Is atmospheric blocking causing our cold spell?

It’s no secret that cooler weather has been impacting us here in mid-Missouri, but did you know that our cold spell is impacted by weather over the oceans?

Dr. Anthony Lupo of the University of Missouri's Atmospheric Sciences Department told the ABC 17 Stormtrack Weather Team about climate blocking, an atmospheric pattern that can have huge impacts on our weather here in mid-Missouri that Dr. Lupo has been studying for about thirty years. Blocking happens when an area of intense high pressure blocks off portions of the atmosphere causing areas of lower pressure elsewhere.

“And blocking typically occurs over the oceans which is why we don’t commonly talk about it for our weather. It’s frequently over the Atlantic or the Pacific, and of course, the reason it interferes with our weather is that it’s on such a large scale that it forces troughing. That troughing happens over the USA which will typically mean colder weather.”

A trough is an area of low pressure compared to the area around it. Blocking is currently contributing to our cooler weather across a large portion of the United States. 

latest upper level winds

“We’ve seen blocking actually in both the Atlantic and the Pacific since the beginning of April. That’s allowed a trough to kind of settle over the center part of the USA and it will probably stick around for another week. We’ll probably see cooler weather next week and some models are even thinking of snow.”


Does this weather not convince you that climate blocking is impactful? Think back to that polar vortex we had a few months ago. You guessed it, that was blocking as well. 

Insider Blog / Video / Weather Video

Maddie Est

Maddie Est appears on ABC 17’s weekend evening broadcasts. She grew up in St. Louis, and her passion for weather originated from a young age thanks to all the different weather that St. Louis receives. She is currently studying Atmospheric Science at the University of Missouri.


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