October 2009 3rd Coldest for US in 115 Years, What about the Upcoming Winter?

Written by Joseph D’Aleo



NCDC has compiled the October temperatures and it ended up the 3rd coldest in 115 years. As we have shown it was cold over almost all the lower 48. Indeed only Florida came in above normal. There is no press release out yet but it should be interesting


Click on maps and graphs to enlarge

October with a mean of 50.8F was behind only 1976 with 50.7F and 1925 with 49.4F.

Also the University of Alabama global temperature is out and it is down this month. Hadley came in late for September but it was down. The trends since 2002 continue down for both even as CO2 rise.



The cold came just a few months after a cold July where 6 states were coldest in 115 years, four 2nd coldest and two 3rd coldest.

US was not alone. In the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand had the coldest October in 64 years. Hat tip: Rod Van Koughnet, geophysicist and skeptic.

Temperatures may pop globally with the second surge in El Nino the next two months. A warm pool (depression of the thermocline) induced by a westerly wind burst last month with a negative Southern Oscillation Index has been pressing east. A prior surge had produced a first peak in El Nino in July. It weakened after with a cooling of the water in the eastern Pacific as the first warm surge was mixed out and cold water upwelling increased off South America. The same thing will happen after the El Nino comes to a second larger peak in early December. Typically in cold PDO phases, El Ninos, are truncated - that is they end early and tend to be weaker (up to moderate strength). See the similarity to other years in this post here

When you look at other years in cold PDO with a quiet sun and transition to an easterly QBO (Quasi-Biennial Oscillation) you get a cold winter especially in the east.


  A stratospheric warming is more likely in these conditions, favoring high latitude blocking and cold air intrusions. We have seen much more blocking this year in part due to El Nino, in part to low solar and in part to high latitude volcanoes (Redoubt and Sarychev). See how a negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO) correlate with winter temperatures.


 Big east coast storms for DC, New York or Boston are very likely in westerly QBO winters but not easterly. Since we will be transitioning from west to east, one might think we may still manage a few decent coastal storms and maybe a blockbuster, if the cold comes early and the QBO is slow to flip. Often in easterly winters, the snow is actually heavier south (like Norfolk).


A negative NAO though is favorable for east coast storms and snow. This graph is for Boston, New York and DC are similar.  


See more here.

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