(Originally posted December 10th) Above, we see the 24 hour forecast from the Ocean Prediction Center (OPC), the oceanic branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This chart depicts 500 millibar forecasts, with depressions and 'L' signs in the image characterizing low pressure areas, and arcs and/or the letter 'H' signifying high pressure areas. In this forecast, we see not one, not two but THREE separate storm systems in the western Bering Sea. (If you want to get technical about it, there is only one, but eventually the other two will find their way in there.)
Those of you who have followed me for a while know that I look to the Bering Sea for estimates on long range storms. This is no exception. The folks over at the AccuWeather Forums have found a correlation between a strong storm in the Bering Sea, and a strong storm in the US 2.5 to 3 weeks later (18-21 days later).
This forecast map is valid December 11. If we take that date out 18-21 days, we end up with a timeframe of December 29-January 1: Right in the middle of holiday traffic, potentially right on New Year's Day. If this rule (called the Bering Sea Rule) is put into effect here, and these three storms follow said rule, we could see quite a stormy period in the days leading up to New Year's Day.
(The following is new information)
The reason why I bring this up is simple: This is the best forecasting tool we have at the moment. This is the Lezak Recurring Cycle (LRC) in action. Using a 53 day cycle time developed by the folks at AccuWeather Forums, I traced December 31st to November 8th. Considering the Bering Sea is in agreement at this stage, and to see a strong LP system in the Northeast in the 53 day timeframe is greatly enhancing my optimism for a big New Year's Day storm.
Now, the atmospheric pattern is not precisely the same every cycle of the LRC- the storm track will change, meaning it may not end up in the Northeast. It could hit the Plains as a very weak storm. I doubt the idea of a weak storm as the Bering Sea is onboard here, but yes, any region of the Lower 48 is still in the target range; the Northeast just has a slight advantage.