There is no secret that this winter has been one of the more mild/warm winters in recent memory across most of the US. Here in Raleigh, for the period 12/1 through 1/27 it has ranked as the 10 warmest on record going back 120 years. In recent memory the winter of 2006-07 has been the closest match in temperatures through that period. Interestingly enough, that winter turned colder in February with February ranking as the 37th coldest on record going back 125 years. We may be dealing with a similar turnaround this winter.
Models are beginning to agree that after another back and forth week with some cooler temperatures to begin the week and another warm-up by mid-week, we will see a cooler pattern develop by next weekend (2/4-2/5) for the South and East. The main driver to this new pattern will be the development of large and strong +PNA ridge and a developing –EPO which will serve to tap cold air near the North Pole and deliver it into Canada and then into the US. The NAO/AO is forecast to be slightly negative but the tall ridge on the west coast may be enough to tap polar air and bring a much cooler temperature pattern to the East/South with some staying power. The lack of strong blocking may argue this is a 1-2 or 2-3 week pattern change, but the reality is that with the pattern possibly taking shape around 2/4, we only really have about 3-4 weeks of real winter potential for most areas south of the Mason-Dixon line anyway so it may be enough.
Are there snow/ice chances on the horizon? Possibly, but no discernible big threat yet. The12z GFS hints at a cold air damming threat by next weekend. The 00z ECMWF and 12z Canadian also showed a threat in the day 7-10 range, but the 12z ECMWF backed off, although it is likely playing into its bias of digging too much energy into the Southwest.
In general the development of the very amplified +PNA ridge argues that we could see s/w drop down and have room to dig into the Southern Plains and lower Mississippi River Valley and possibly develop a storm system. I am optimistic that February could be interesting in the Southeast.
On another note, many of you know that I run a weather model site, http://raleighwx.americanwx.com/models.html I have ran this site for several years now on my own hardware and my own time to write the scripts and create the graphics. If you want to donate to future hardware and to help keep the site running and free, please feel free to click on the paypal donate button on the page. Thanks for using the site and reading my articles as well over the years.