I hope everyone was able to stay safe over the weekend during the snowstorm. It seems the forecast turned out ok with the heaviest snow occuring north of Marathon county. Rhinelander reported 4.0 inches on Saturday. Wausau only had a half inch. I suppose winter enthusiasts might be getting excited about the possibility of a long snowmobile, ski, and ice fishing season. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but Winter has not arrived yet. I know there is a good amount of snow on the ground in the northern half of the area, but this week and next look fairly mild. As of now, it looks like the will not be any major outbreaks of cold air for the next couple of weeks, which would take us through early December.
What about the rest of the Winter? As we detailed last month, the official CPC Winter forecast does not indicate a greater chance of colder than normal temps or greater snowfall for Wisconsin. Officially, the CPC is saying we have an equal chance of being above or below normal. In contrast, the computer models continue to show a little better than equal chance that we will have harsher than normal Winter conditions (the possibility of more cold and snow). As an aside, some other outlets, such as the Farmer’s Almanac and Accuwx, have issued forecasts calling for a very bad Winter with a lot of cold and snow.
Go here to find the latest monthly computer model outlooks issued by the CPC. Interestingly, the forecast for the month of December is for equal chances of above or below normal temperature and precipitation, yet for the entire Winter (Dec-Jan-Feb), the models are indicating a greater chance of colder than normal temps with above normal snowfall (for most of Wisconsin). In my mind, this would mean the Winter might get off to a slow start but then turn much colder and snowy for January and February. Personally, I would like to have it the other way around. I would rather get the bigger snow storms and cold waves out of the way in December and early January and then have milder conditions by February.
In any case, it looks like mild conditions for this week, including high temps near 50 for Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, and above normal conditions for much of next week, so Winter enthusiasts will have to temper some of their enthusiasm. Even though the weather will be warmer, overnight low temps in the 20s the next couple of nights should ensure that Granite Peak has a few runs open this weekend as planned. Be sure to check the Granite Peak website , before making plans. With the milder conditions, the first ice might not develop well until sometime during the first week or two of December.
Now just a couple of follow-ups on some Space stories you might be interested in and that I have mentioned previously in the blog. The Mars Science Laboratory is scheduled to launch on its mission this Saturday, the 26th of November. It is the biggest and most sophisticated rover to be sent to Mars. The rover is the size of a small car and weighs about 1 ton. Hearing that it weighs a ton makes me worried that it might get stuck in the martian sand. The last two rovers experienced quite a few instances where they had trouble getting stuck. Hopefully the wheels on this behemoth (officially name Curiosity) are big enough to keep it “afloat”. Keep your fingers crossed that everything goes well. The success rate of Mars mission is a little less than 50%. In fact, just 2 weeks ago, a Russian Mars mission was lost when it got stuck in earth orbit – probably due to a mechanical or computer failure.
Also on the forefront of private space travel, the company Blue Origin recently successfully launched and landed their vertical take-off/landing spacecraft. This company has been much more secretive about its designs and plans in the past. It is nice to see them release a video. I am unsure when and/or if they plan to take private astronauts (and payloads) to the edge of space or into earth orbit.
In the event that a much desired robotic mission is sent to Jupiter’s moon Europa, there is an increased chance of finding signs of life after an analysis of the planet’s exterior showed there could be liquid water lakes much closer to the surface that thought in the past.
Have a nice Monday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
This post was written by jloew on November 21, 2011