We always try to take a longer look into the future with our discussions here in the blog, often citing other sources of extended forecasts, by following the atmospheric and ocean patterns (like La Nina and El Nino), and by examining long-range computer models. Once every month we take a tour of the Climate Prediction Center’s (CPC) long range computer outlooks. Every month the computer models are run and they crank out temperature and precipitation trends for the next 12 months into the future. NCEP (of which the CPC is part of) also runs daily forecast that stretch any where from an hour up to 16 days.
CPC February Temp Forecast
If you are a snow-lover hoping for a continuation of our recent more frequent snowfall, there isn’t a lot of hope in the latest CPC outlook. In the short term, there doesn’t appear to be much hope for significant snow through next Wednesday. In the longer term (out to two weeks) your best hope would be for a significant snowstorm to move through during the early part of February. Otherwise the CPC outlooks for the month of February indicates a greater chance of above normal temperatures than below normal temps. It also shows a greater chance of above normal precipitation for far eastern Wisconsin, but the greater chances of heavier precipitation are well off to the east of the state in Indiana and Ohio.
CPC February Precip Trend
For snowmobilers, it will be key to have some snow in early February if we want to get most of the trails open and in good condition before Spring. Once we get into late February and early March, it is tougher to keep a good base around, even when we have a heavy snowstorm. The sun is much warmer late in the Winter and melts the snow a little faster. I can only remember one Winter in the past two decades when trails – which had been closed all Winter – were opened in early March after a big snowfall.
Perhaps that is the way it will go this Winter – big snow in the Spring.
March-April-May CPC Precip Forecast
I am not sure I would be too happy with another Spring filled with late snowstorms (like last year) but the CPC outlook for the March-April-May period indicates a greater chance of above normal precipitation during this time period. In one respect it would be good because if we do not receive a lot of snow during the Winter, then we could use a little more rain in the Spring to catch up and have a good start to the growing season.
For the rest of the CPC outlook, through the Summer there are no big indications toward either hot/cold or wet/dry trends. The next trend that shows up for our area is above normal temps in the Fall.
Now a follow-up on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). I have been monitoring the progress of the telescope because it promises to deliver better images and data than even the Hubble telescope. Unfortunately, it has hit cost over-runs and was on the chopping block for a while. The latest NASA budget does include money for the JWST, but some observers still think the project might be cancelled. The projected cost of the telescope has now risen to 8.8 billion. With a price tag like that, I can see why politicians might want to cancel it. It would be a shame if it was cancelled, because it would bring some great new discoveries to astronomy, but when you are talking about billions of dollars in today’s era of insolvent government’s, projects such as these get left behind. It would be a shame of JWST was cancelled because it is already half built. It would be similar to the super-collider that was half built in Texas before being cancelled. What a waste of money! Of course, 8.8 billion dollars seems a little unreasonable as well. I know it is a very large and complicated telescope but 8.8 billion dollars!? Where does all the money go? Are they paying the engineers $200 an hour or something? Are they paying $10,000 per screw?
In another follow-up of a developing story I have been following, a U.S. led investigation has found that some Chinese solar power manufacturers are selling solar panels below cost. Given that this finding was released by one side in a developing trade war, I would be cautious of the claim. As I have mentioned before, with the growth of international trade and government involvement in alternative energy across the globe, pinning blame on one country and thier subsidies would seem to be a fool’s errand, like shooting yourself in the foot. Maye there is some very egregious unfair support that the Chinese provide their solar companies, but we shouldn’t forget that subsidies exist for different industries in every country of the world.
Have a good Tuesday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
Posted under Alternative Energy, CPC Outlook, Space
This post was written by jloew on January 24, 2012