Barry Lynn
Intersection of Science and Policy

Winter Cold Arrives And So Does the Rain

Icrat's Rainbow (taken near Ariel, used by permission)

It certainly has not felt like winter, although we’ve been blessed with plenty of late fall and early winter rains.

And, it certainly shouldn’t feel like winter anytime soon.  Why? Because, normally, when the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is negative our weather is dominated by a ridge of high pressure.  This means  we should expect the next few days if not next week to be above normal temperatures, and possibly below normal precipitation.

However, what was before is not what is now, and our weather is no exception.

Our Israel Winter Weather WhatsApp group has been in deep discussion and meditation, as we try to understand how we can have such a negative NAO and yet our weather should in fact become downright wintry.   Yaakov Cantor pointed out that an unusually intense blocking high pressure system is centered further east between Iceland and the United Kingdom than normal during a negative NAO event. There’s also some other atmospheric perturbations — like a trough over the Atlantic ocean that doesn’t extend as far east as normal.  It’s never obvious why, and there’s not as much cold air to “go around” as there used to be (global warming).  Perhaps the  unusually warm Atlantic Ocean waters are the culprit;  the warm waters provide “fuel” for developing storms. Yet, what cold air there is will be moving southward through Finland and western Russia, creating a deep trough of cold air that should last several days.

This means that we’re expecting periods of heavy rain from Wednesday into Friday with showers continuing until Monday when another period of heavy precipitation is expected into mid next week.  This second event is giving us a bit more concern (or is that hope?).  As pointed out by Jonathan Hoffman from our group, there’s a consensus that a bubble of cold air will move even further southward from the main trough.  What that would mean for us is still unknown, but we’re pretty confident that it will remain cold until the end of next week, and at least very rainy.

Like the snows of the past, my birthday came and went.  Actually, it came several days earlier on the date of my Hebrew Birthday and then left several days afterwards on the date of my Gregorian Birthday.  My mother still remembers it well, as I started off my life rather early in the morning, although not as early as our first daughter who was born with the first light of the day.

I was not an easy child, at least in the sense of not liking oatmeal.  I didn’t have many opportunities to not like oatmeal — because my mother is a very fast learner and cleaning oatmeal off the wall is very time consuming.  Supposedly, I used to bang my head on the floor when — dare I say — perturbed.  I didn’t always listen, which is how I stuck my big toe in the wheel of a tricycle.  My parents did tell me to wear shoes.

I remember waking up the next morning (at the age of 3) and noticing that my toe felt a lot better after the careful and kind ministrations of my parents.

I remember other things, of course, like lighting a small fire in the woods, without permission.  Being sent to my room by the sitter was not pleasant, but my parents were too upset. I remember the big snows of 1978, both of which I predicted as an aspiring meteorologist at a young age (was I the only one to predict the first?  I might have been).

Of course, there are other memories — that’s what life does to you, it creates memories.

I suppose that my most special memories pertain to canoeing on a lake with Bill Chuck as a child at “Lake Shore Farm” just as the morning dawned, my Bar Mitzvah blessing from Rabbi Robinson,  hitting a grand slam at the NASA GISS annual softball game, and meeting my wife for the first time.

There are those parent-children interactions that make you smile.  There are too many to point too — and hence can be hardest to remember without a glance back to the photo album or video.  There were also difficult times as well, and then you arrive at an age where you wonder what will be those memories you’ll cherish and how do you make sure they happen.

That’s really the question.  What do you do with your time — how do you live your days — when a “pessimist” might argue that 2/3 of your life has already passed?  Can one really change what one is doing just because the calendar has moved on and you’re moving on with it?

Someday, I’d like to take some trips to see other places, to be wowed by things I’ve never seen or not seen for a long time.  I’d like to have the opportunity to enjoy them with my wife,  and when possible, my children and their children.

I may look back one day and think to myself that I really missed opportunities.  But, I may also look back and think what beautiful children we have, and that they were blessed as well with the same.  And, maybe, if I am fortunate, I will be able to help them just as my parents did help us.

About the Author
Dr. Barry Lynn has a PhD in Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences. He has an undergraduate degree in Biology. He is a researcher/lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is the CTO of Weather It Is, LTD, a weather forecasting and consulting company.
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