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A beautiful football weekend is on tap – then winter arrives.

We are now entering first weekend of December, which should be prime time for the Misery Index and football weather excitement.  Well, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) the weather isn’t cooperating this weekend.  Its just going to be too damn nice and comfortable at every game on Sunday. So instead of trying to force something, I am going to forego the Misery Index this week.

The pleasant weather is a result of the country being stuck in what is referred to as a “zonal flow.  A zonal flow pattern is much like the Texans’ offense – not much happens and its exceedingly boring.   In a zonal flow the winds in higher levels of the atmosphere (which play a major role in the weather we see at the surface) are basically flat blowing west to east.  Interesting weather requires dips or kinks in that flow.

zonal flow

This is the zonal flow currently dominating the weather. Notice the pattern of lines across the nation aren’t particularly wavy until the very end. That dip in the Pacific Northwest at the end of this loop is our next weather maker.

Given the calm conditions nowhere will be particularly cold, hot, windy or wet, so I don’t expect any weather impacts this weekend.  However given the weather pattern change that is on our doorstep I don’t expect that to be the case for the next few weeks after this.


Right on cue with the beginning of December a mass of cold air looks to plunge in to the US next week and stick around for a while.  Remember that feature I pointed out in the Pacific Northwest in the image above.  That is the beginnings of a trough of lower pressure and dip in the Jet Stream that will open the gates for cold air from northern Canada and the Arctic to spill south.

deep trough - edited

This picture is from a forecast for late next week showing air pressure across North America.  I drew in the white line illustrating the “trough” of lower pressure that settles in across the eastern 2/3rds of the country. Additionally I drew in the arrows to show air flow around that trough.  You can see how the wind flow (ie the Jet Stream) is pulling air southwards from the Arctic.  The two areas of higher pressure, which are the peaks in the white line in the Pacific and the Atlantic will largely keep this trough in place for the first part of the month. This set up will also lead to an increasingly stormy pattern for the east coast, so NFL games for the next couple of weeks could be a bit more interesting.

So what does all of this mean locally? Tuesday afternoon or evening a cold front will come through which will usher in at least a week with highs only in the 50’s or low 60’s and lows in the mid to low 40’s.  It definitely won’t be record breaking, but it will be nice to have it actually feel like winter for an extended stretch of days.  Good gumbo weather if you ask me.

After next week the computer models continue sending shots of some pretty cold air into the US, but for now that’s too far in the future to put a ton of confidence in yet. However, if you’re like me and enjoy cold weather its an encouraging sign.

Find me on Twitter @stephenuzick

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