Warm or cold in the February?

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We’ve opened our presents and returned the gifts that don’t fit. We’ve changed our calendars to 2013, but one question remains for people living in South Jersey.

Will the rest of the winter be be warm or cold?

Now that we are about one-third of the way through the December-through-February stretch that most of us call winter, forecasters are placing their bets on what kind of weather they think will come.

And we want to know where the weather chips are going to fall.

Last year, we were halfway through the season that almost everyone referred to as the year without winter. But two years ago, we struggled through record-breaking snowfall after record-breaking snowfall in a freight train of storms that seemingly had no end in sight.

So, what’s on tap for 2013? Is it time to put the show shovel back in the shed?

Well, if you are a fan of warmer weather, it’s best to become buddies with the National Weather Service’s ClimatePredictionCenter.

The CPC is forecasting greater-than-normal odds of warmer weather in January for the eastern two-thirds of the United States. Forecast temperatures through Jan. 16 are expected to be above normal here in South Jersey.

Normal highs in South Jersey, according to the Weather Channel, run in the low 40s.

It’s not pool or tanning weather, but a few weeks near 48 or 50 degrees doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

The CPC is also forecasting conditions that favor warmer-than-normal temperatures for South Jersey, the Middle Atlantic States and New England though next winter.

And that makes sense since every month but November in 2012 was warmer than normal.

Sounds cool, so what could go wrong?

Well, some meteorologists are predicting a breakdown in the polar vortex which could release harshly colder-than-normal temperatures for a few weeks.

They expect the fun to begin in late January and the arctic chill of true winter temperatures could last through most of February.

The polar vortex is the counter-clockwise low pressure system that rests over the North Pole. It grows stronger during the winter months. A stronger vortex, ironically, means a warmer winter because the cold air remains trapped up north.

However, a warm up in some layers of the atmosphere could weaken the vortex. As a result, the system buckles and cold air rides south like an express train. It conquers the Canadian prairies and over runs our Midwest. Finally, it spills out east toward South Jersey.

Unfortunately, the first reasonably-accurate, long-term temperature forecasts for the end of the month won’t come out for another week or so.

But by the mid-month we should know if 2013 will be somewhat of a seasonable repeat of last year or a reminder of the snowy seasons of 2011-12.

What do you think? Will it be warm or cold?

Looking ahead

Though we will have sunny skies for the foreseeable future, temperatures will be seasonable through the weekend. Daily highs will hover near the 40-degree mark.


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