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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published October 31 2013

Weather Talk: Recognizing pattern may help forecast heat waves

Meteorologists are slowly getting better at weather forecasting. The primary reason is that we continue to get faster computer models to run our weather models.

But ongoing research continues to find new methods of forecasting. A recent study published last month in Nature Geoscience has shown there may be some enhanced skill at forecasting heat waves by looking for a particular wave pattern at the jet stream level.

It has long been known that when the jet stream is set up with five waves around the Northern Hemisphere, the pattern tends to move more slowly. Now we know that this pattern is about four times more likely than any other to produce a Great Plains or Midwest heat wave than any other pattern. The trick is to watch the five wave pattern and foresee when the ridge is getting set to build into our area. But recognizing the pattern in advance may allow for heat wave forecasts a week or two ahead, which would be extremely helpful.


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