I think Flagstaff is easily going to receive a foot of snow this week. I’m not sure I buy the NWS’s forecast for the majority of it showing up at the end of the week. I think there will be two serious rounds of precipitation. First between today and Wednesday. Second, at the opposite end of the week. Depending on temperatures, we could get over two feet this week.
After a drier than normal December, El Niño will get 2016 off to a wet start. The average monthly precipitation for Flagstaff in January is about 2 inches. Next week’s outlook from the GFS model at the Climate Prediction Center forecasts that amount to arrive between today and next Saturday. Multiple storm systems will move through the area over the next week.
In the 7-day total precipitation image above, Flagstaff is in the 2-3 inches of water range. After warmer temperatures this weekend, it will cool off and the precipitation will show up as snow. It could be heavy, wet snow at times. This is just the first week of the month.
Although December was dry, the total precipitation for 2015 was over 27 inches. This was 5 inches above average.
December has been low on moisture compared to normal, and near normal for the average temperature. Low precipitation in an El Niño December probably is not very unusual. I’ll have to look. But, it all changes in the start of January. A series of storms is due next week. Arizona will get plenty of moisture with seasonal normal temperatures. Enjoy this week’s sun while it’s here.
I haven’t seen any forecasts that without a high likelihood of a white Christmas for Flagstaff. As it is often the case, the exact timing and total snowfall amounts are changing in the forecast, but several inches in or around Christmas Day are very likely. The 6-10 precipitation outlook is below. I don’t see a huge storm coming to Northern Arizona. Precipitation will be strong to the north and east. Travel across the Southwest could be difficult.
Since moving to Germany last summer, I kept hearing stories about a man in Bavaria that could forecast the long-range winter weather with high accuracy. Over lunch last week, I got more of the details. Details that leave me wondering if his forecast method could work in Northern Arizona. I can’t remember anyone mentioning it to me in Arizona, but we have the necessary supplies to try it. Check out the picture below.
Does the plant in the photo look familiar?In North America, it is known as the Great Mullein. Some call it the Woolly Mullein because of its very fuzzy leaves. It’s native to Europe, but some consider it a noxious weed in Arizona.
Sepp Haslinger lives in or near a town call Bad Tolz which is at the base of the German Alps. He calls the plant a Wetterkerze, or weather candle. Bad Tolz is not far from Munich. The photo is from an article about him in the Merkur newspaper. Much like Flagstaff, the region depends on revenue from skiers and snowboarders. Therefore, a strong winter is important to the local economy. Herr Haslinger inspects the blooms on the candle-like Great Mullein to forecast the weather for the local region. He stresses it is only locally applicable. He claims a 90% historic accuracy. Like many mountain areas, the weather can very greatly over fairly short distances. Currently, he believes a white Christmas is unlikely in the region, but a long, hard, snowy winter is to follow after the New Year. I may have to try to connect with him sometime.
I am wondering if anyone has heard of this being done in Arizona? Please, drop me a note if you have.
I’m back in AZ for the next month. I’m comfortably in Phoenix for today’s expected snow. Those of you who have felt like it has been too warm and dry since mid-November, should hold on tight. It all ends. Temperatures are going to plummet. Snow is going to fall. A very large storm is possible before or during Christmas.
2 or 3 storms are on their way to Arizona. The next two weeks will be mostly, seriously, cold with occasional snow. It looks like the storm track is shifting to the south and splitting, as we expect for an El Niño winter.
Thanks to an Eastern Pacific hurricane and very strong northerly storm track, the next couple weeks will be very dry in Arizona.
The sea surface temperature and temperature anomaly animation from the Climate Prediction Center shows 3 interesting features. First, the current strong El Niño conditions in the Equatorial Pacific are clear. Second, the North Atlantic cold conditions between the UK and Canada are persisting. Last, the blob off the West Coast is slowly disappearing. Interesting animation.
I keep looking at the longer range forecasts, the GFS computer model and the Climate Prediction Center outlooks. It seems like the 6-10 day outlooks have a huge amount of variability. Last weeks snow was never clearly in any of them. One day the 6-10 would be dry. The next day it would be wet. Nothing solid. Yesterday everything had next weekend looking very wet. Today, Thanksgiving weekend looks dry.
I bet it is harder to run the models with the current conditions. There isn’t a great analog available between the Blob, El Nino and the very cold North Atlantic. So, hang on, it could be a rough ride with unexpected storms and dry periods.
The 3-month outlook from the Climate Prediction Center seems to have Flagstaff in the greater than 50% chance of above average precipitation. Southern Arizona could be even wetter.
And now, news from Munich, DE. We had our first snow on Saturday night. No real accumulation. We had an early dinner, then we went to an organ concert at Saint Peter’s Church near Marienplatz. When we came outside, huge flakes were falling. We walked across Marienplatz and went up to the Café Glockenspiel and watched the snow fall as we had dessert. It was beautiful.
The Christbaum on Marienplatz isn’t very healthy. It had a very dry summer that weakened it. It will be hard for it to make it through Christmas. The needles are falling off.
Yesterday the Flagstaff Airport reported 9.9 inches of snow which is a record for November 4. The old record was 5 inches in 1925. Also, the amount of water precipitation was a record at 0.71 inches.I think it is interesting that 10 inches of snow in early November is a record. I think it is in a range that we could easy expect with any fall storm.
Definitely a wet start to November, but I don’t think it will last. A drying trend is extending well over the horizon. Exceptionally cold temperatures are on tap for tonight.
CLIMATE REPORT...CORRECTED FOR SNOWFALL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FLAGSTAFF, AZ 827 AM MST THU NOV 5 2015 ................................... ...THE FLAGSTAFF AZ AIRPORT CLIMATE SUMMARY FOR NOVEMBER 4 2015... CLIMATE NORMAL PERIOD 1981 TO 2010 CLIMATE RECORD PERIOD 1898 TO 2015 WEATHER ITEM OBSERVED TIME RECORD YEAR NORMAL DEPARTURE LAST VALUE (LST) VALUE VALUE FROM YEAR NORMAL .................................................................. TEMPERATURE (F) YESTERDAY MAXIMUM 34 1227 AM 73 1975 55 -21 48 MINIMUM 24 1050 PM -1 1922 26 -2 31 AVERAGE 29 41 -12 PRECIPITATION (IN) YESTERDAY 0.71R 0.65 2011 0.06 0.65 0.00 MONTH TO DATE 1.64 0.23 1.41 0.60 SINCE SEP 1 6.61 4.27 2.34 4.39 SINCE JAN 1 25.03 18.46 6.57 17.23 SNOWFALL (IN) YESTERDAY 9.9R 5.0 1925 0.2 0.0 MONTH TO DATE 9.9 0.8 T SINCE JUL 1 9.9 2.3 T SNOW DEPTH 3