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Weather talk: Polar jet stream may leave Plains dry for a while

Both of the past two winters, there has been a sharp divide between a cold and snowy eastern U.S. and a warm and dry western U.S. Caught in the middle, our region was cold and dry in 2013-14 and mild and dry this past winter. The dryness is relat...

Both of the past two winters, there has been a sharp divide between a cold and snowy eastern U.S. and a warm and dry western U.S. Caught in the middle, our region was cold and dry in 2013-14 and mild and dry this past winter. The dryness is related to the northwest to southeast position of the polar jet stream, coming over the top of the western high pressure ridge responsible for the western warmth, and diving south around the stalled out eastern low pressure area. This setup creates storm systems without a good moisture supply. Research points to a large, horseshoe-shaped region of anomalously warm water over the eastern Pacific Ocean with the head against North America, one arm along the Alaskan coast and the other arm pointing southwest from California. This explains the intensity of the California drought and suggests our Northern Plains weather could continue to be drier than average for a while longer.

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