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HOME> Expert Assessments>Hazards Outlook

U.S. Hazards Outlook - Made December 12, 2017

 Days 3-7Days 8-14Probabilistic Days 8-14
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Categorical Outlooks
Experimental Probabilistic Outlooks (Information)

Valid Friday December 15, 2017 to Tuesday December 26, 2017

US Hazards Outlook
NWS Climate Prediction Center College Park MD
300 PM EST December 12 2017

Synopsis: This outlook period begins with the end of the amplified upper-level trough over the eastern U.S. The Week-1 period hazards are mostly attributed to a surface low-pressure system moving from the Pacific Northwest southeast across the continental U.S. to the Gulf Coast. Amplification to the upper-level pattern and an emerging upper-level trough building into the northwest and central U.S. are likely to be influential factors for Week-2. Persistent ridging in Alaska is expected to weaken slightly toward the end of Week-1, only to re-intensify during Week-2.

Hazards Detailed Summary

For Friday December 15 - Tuesday December 19: The day 3-7 period is likely to be a transition period in the upper-level pattern for much of the continental U.S. To begin the period, much below normal temperatures are likely for Dec 15 in the Northeast as an upper-level trough moves out of the eastern U.S. northward to eastern Canada.

High winds are likely to form over the central and southern Plains Dec 15 - 16 as a cold front moves through the region. This area could also see an elevated threat for fire weather, due to the high winds and low relative humidity values. There is a possibility for a heavy rain event across the western and central Gulf Coast for Dec 15 with the procession of the cold front, though model guidance shows a lot of uncertainty.

Heavy precipitation is forecast in the Pacific Northwest for Dec 16-17, following a low-pressure system bringing a cold front through the region. Among the model guidance, the strength of this system has weakened compared to previous model runs, so the threat for heavy precipitation (1 inch in 24 hours) has been trimmed to areas of higher elevation. This frontal passage is also likely to bring heavy snow (excess of 6 inches) to parts of northern Idaho and western Montana for Dec 16-17.

As the surface low propagates eastward, it is expected to move southeast, across the lower Mississippi Valley and Southeast. On Dec 17-18, heavy rain (>1 inches in 24 hours) is likely across the lower Mississippi Valley and Tennessee Valley, as the associated cold front moves through.

An anomalously strong surface low is forecast to move over the Aleutian Islands and along the Alaskan South Coast at the beginning of the period. This is likely to bring high winds (gusts greater than 30 knots) to the Alaskan Peninsula for Dec 15-16. As the low-pressure system moves into Gulf of Alaska, there is a possibility for heavy precipitation along the southern Gulf Coast and parts of the Panhandle.

Another low pressure system is likely to move east from the Bering Sea for the latter half of Week-1, bringing a second threat of high winds (gusts greater than 40 knots) and a threat for significant waves for to Aleutian Islands for Dec 17-18. The upper-level ridge that has been present over central Alaska will remain in the beginning of the period, continuing the likelihood for much above normal temperatures for Dec 15-16. An upper-level trough may move through in the middle of the period, bringing some moderation in temperatures, but ridging is likely to return toward the end of Week-1.

For Wednesday December 20 - Tuesday December 26: Week-2 is likely to feature an amplification in the upper-level pattern. An upper-level trough is expected to amplify over the Great Lakes region and the north-central U.S. This pattern and teleconnections upon a large 500-hpa positive height anomaly center over the Gulf of Alaska are supportive of a cold outbreak over the northern U.S. A slight risk of much below normal temperatures is posted across the northern tier of the US to the Pacific Northwest toward the middle and end of Week-2, Dec 22-26. The moderate risk of much below normal temperatures is forecast for the northern Plains and western Great Lakes region where the GFS ensemble mean indicates temperatures averaging near 10 degrees F below normal. This cold outbreak may extend the much below normal temperatures further south through the central U.S. toward the end of Week-2 and beyond.

A slight risk of heavy precipitation is forecast over the lower Mississippi River Valley, resulting from a high-pressure system off the East Coast for Dec 22-24. Southerly return flow is likely to bring enhanced moisture into the region.

Persistent upper-level ridging over Alaska is likely to continue the anomalous temperatures that have been affecting much of mainland Alaska for most of the month of December. A slight risk for much above normal temperatures is forecast throughout the Interior and western Alaska for Dec 22-26, with a moderate risk of much above normal temperatures forecast for much of the Interior of Alaska over the same time period.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, updated on Dec 5, shows an increase in areas of exceptional drought (D2-D4) from 4.88% to 5.99%, a change of 1.11% over the continental U.S. from the previous week.

Forecaster: Christina Finan


Click here to see a display of the GFS Ensemble Forecasts

Please consult local NWS Forecast Offices for short range forecasts and region-specific information.