Weather Whiplash Brings Siberia to Florida

October 19, 2022

WFLA Tampa:

The coldest air since last February is hours away from reaching the Tampa Bay area and it has traveled very far to reach it’s destination – all the way from Siberia.

Now that may seem like an exaggeration. But meteorologists have a tool to track the origination of airmass. It’s called the NOAA HYSPLIT model and when you run it backward, you discover where an airmass came from. 

In this case, the air started a week ago across Siberia, headed down through Alaska, then Canada. Now, with the help of a strong cold front, it’s moving into Florida. So it’s not an exaggeration to say the air you are inhaling this week comes from the Arctic!

This HYSPLIT image shows the trajectory. Of course the air moderates the further south it moves.

It is not uncommon in winter for airmasses to originate in the Arctic. Although it is certainly early for this type of cold, with temperatures in the Bay area forecast to run 15 to 20 degrees below normal through Thursday morning – readings more typical in January.

With the pattern so upside down across the U.S., Tampa will find itself in rare territory Wednesday with a high temperature several degrees above that of Calgary, Canada!

An early season pattern, not unlike a Polar Vortex, has developed across the Great Lakes. It is associated with a very extreme jet stream pattern, pumping warm air northward along the West Coast and plunging cold air southward in the east.

Below, today’s temp images from the University of Maine.

Above, temeperature anomalies, below, polar vortex.
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