Even vortmaxes have having fun this winter…

2011 January 31

Kind of a cool feature on the 12Z run of the GFS (actually has persisted for the last few runs– figured I’d post the most recent one).

We can see our midweek storm system beginning to take shape. In this first picture we see the strong northern and southern vortmaxes (vorticity maxima) that will phase to amplify the upper level trough and spin up the low pressure center.

Vort 1

In this next slide, we see the phasing beginning to occur (cyan trough — “U” shape). The southern vortmax is being drawn northward on the front side of the trough while the northern vortmax is being dragged southward on the backside. Follow the northern vortmax.

Vort 2

We can see the trough become elongated, with the former northern vortmax drifting SW into Arizona. The vorticity signatures in the northeast are correlated with the storm system moving through on Wednesday (this forecast slide is for ~ 8 PM Wednesday night).

Vort 3

The former northern vortmax tracks a bit east and shows signs of spinning itself off from the now extremely elongated trough. We also begin to see another piece of energy diving south through Canada.

Vort 4

The former northern vortmax has now separated from the initial trough and is becoming the southern vortmax in another series of phasing. A new northern stream has dove down from Alberta to take it’s place.

Vort 5

The GFS takes this setup and spins up yet another coastal storm for the Mid-Atlantic and New England on Saturday into Sunday.

Vort 6

In other words, this piece of energy has meandered from SW Canada on Saturday down through the central US to spawn storm #1. It then slowly drifted SW away from the action into Arizona and Mexico, before moving back east to join up with one of it’s Canadian brothers to potentially spawn storm #2 a week later for the east coast of the US.

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