Ask Don Paul: Why does it seem cloudier than usual? (2023)

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The answer about increasing cloudiness this season is unofficial, but if so, you're probably right.

Most meteorologists believe this was a season of persistently cloudy cold weather compared to normal weather.

Ask Don Paul, "Sounds like" a good term for weather?

"Shines" has become a ubiquitous term in public weather forecasting, particularly television and radio, over the last several decades.

Some folks here tend to think that dealing with persistent low-altitude stratus clouds and stratocumulus during the cold season is just Buffalo and western New York's burden. There is a grain of truth in the cloud cover surrounding Buffalo. After all, among major cities, Buffalo is the second largest city after Seattle and Portland in terms of the number of days with more than 75% cloud cover in the sky, showing a recently compiled average of 208 such days per year.

In a broader climatological sense, however, this is more of a regional question. The Great Lakes are more cloudy than most of the country from November through March because water vapor evaporating from relatively warmer lakes condenses into a cloud cover when Arctic air flows over these waters. You can see for yourself by checking out this automatic update.GO satellite image switching.

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In addition to weather features such as frontal boundaries and storm systems leading to increases in cloud cover, the direction of low-level winds is often a key factor in determining where the lake effect cloud cover heads. It turns out that the most common wind direction in western New York is west-southwest. Buffalo, downwind of Lake Erie, generally has more cloud cover than cities like Milwaukee, Detroit, and Chicago because they are less affected by sea breezes. These cities quite often have plentiful cloud cover, but it is less persistent on average.

There is another element in the Great Lakes evaporation rates that may be linked to global warming. Since warming has accelerated, open water in lakes has been more frequent than in previous decades, andThe average buffalo temperature rose 4.3 degrees in Decembersince 1970.

There are alsofewer cold nightswhen ice can form more easily.

With the exception of the Christmas weekend and the expected cold temperatures for the coming week, this was a mild winter. Relative warmth is responsible for the exceptional lack of ice on the Great Lakes,now at just 7.3%.

This decrease in ice cover is not linear, with some years still producing more ice, but the trend toward less ice on average has been well established over the past decade. With more open water, more water vapor is available to cover the clouds. In the coldest winters, greater ice cover reduces evaporation and allows for more sunshine even in the cloudiest season.

In addition to the lake effect turbidity, another phenomenon is mentionedtemperature reversalmay result in more general stratus opacity. Normally, the temperature decreases with increasing altitude. When a layer of warm air forms overhead, it traps cool, moist air beneath the warm layer, keeping the cooled water vapor condensed into a broad cloud cover.

When the lower atmosphere is stratified with an inversion, there is less vertical mixing to allow holes in the cloud cover to develop. In fact, this season we've had many days with fairly strong inversions, keeping cloud cover low and darkness longer than usual. (Inversions are easily spotted by meteorologists looking at the data sent back by ascending weather balloons.) Meanwhile, the sun's angle in the sky will increase during mid to late winter, leading to more frequent vertical mixing around the opening of holes to support. not cloudy and let in more sun.

Seasonally, on the other side of the Great Lakes climate impact, there is a reverse lake effect that occurs in late spring and throughout much of the summer. During the warmer seasons, cooler Lake Erie waters and southwesterly breezes have the opposite effect, stabilizing the lower atmosphere near Buffalo and reducing rather than creating cloud cover. Most years, Buffalo is the sunniest city in the Northeast from May through September, according to the National Weather Service.

In the meantime, if you or your doctor thinks you may have seasonal affect disorder/SAD made worse by cloudy skies,Here you will find useful informationfrom the National Institute of Mental Health on SAD and its treatment.

Don Paul: Winter will hit hard next week

No major storms are showing in the guidance until next Friday, but there will be some snow showers from time to time most days, says Paul

A colder week is coming, with a reversal to follow

After Monday's cloud cover, light snow showers and cooler temperatures, there is a certain irony that we may see more sunbursts this week than at the end of November. On Tuesday it will be very cold, around 20 degrees at most, with light winds, but a few rays of sunshine every now and then. As I've learned from Facebook followers, even those looks can be a morale boost for some.

The guidance points to more sun breaks on Wednesday than Tuesday. Unfortunately it feels cooler even when the sun is out as a strong south west breeze creates more chill (10-15 degrees) coupled with daily highs in the mid 20's.

Thursday brings aSouthwest wind blows in front of an arctic cold front. There will be more breaks in the sun with temperatures up to 30 degrees, although the wind will continue to create an uncomfortable chill.

Note the polar ridge appearing behind the cold front in west-central Canada.

This high will bring us the coldest day of winter on Friday. A bitter current from the north brings isolated light snow showers with a maximum daily temperature of almost 10 degrees:

A fairly strong breeze creates wind chill temperatures in the negative range, which poses a hazard to exposed skin.

The polar region will be overhead on Saturday bringing us more sun and less wind chill with readings reaching 20 degrees after a low of -5 to -10 which would be the coldest temperatures here since January 21st. , 2019, when Buffalo hit -4.

Now for some good news. Strong south-southwest current on SundayIncrease readback values ​​above average, with the possibility of rain and snow showers.

This marks theBeginning of a warmer pattern, with lower atmospheric temperatures returning to above average in the east and in our region. It's not about staying cool day in and day out. There will be some minor ups and downs but after departing from the frigid valley Friday through Saturday it is very unlikely we will see a return from such an extreme for at least a few weeks.

I've seen some winter lovers complain that this kind of ensemble orientation shows that winter is dead after this cold snap. For my part, I risk that the severe winter weather next Saturday will pause until mid-February in terms of temperature. Such moderation doesn't prevent a few disorienting storms in the east, nor a cooler pattern that will return later in the winter. Snowmobilers have nothing to do for this week. Ski resorts, on the other hand, will have good snowmaking conditions this weekend to look for better bases and conditions, although some deterioration will return the following week.



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