Freak Weather News: The Ridiculously Resilient Ridge, What It Is, Changes it’s Undergoing, Where it's Going

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 16 December 2017



Freak Weather News
The Ridiculously Resilient Ridge

What It Is, How It's Changing, Where It Leads

New insights into the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge & North American Winter Dipole,
Weather West, December 4, 2017.

It's a "...“quasi-stationary,” high-amplitude atmospheric wave pattern..."

"... now occurring more frequently than they did in previous decades."


The Standard US Wintertime Setup

“...relatively mild southwest winds (originating over the Pacific Ocean) blow across the West Coast but harsher northwest winds (originating over the cold Canadian interior) blow across the East—producing a longitudinal temperature dipole. This “standing” (i.e. stationary) wave pattern is also the reason why California can be highly susceptible to long dry spells, even during the winter rainy season. More often than not, rain-bearing storms tend to veer northward just before reaching the West Coast due to the angled southwest-to-northeast trajectory of the jet stream as it approaches the west side of the semi-permanent Western ridge.”


The Question

"...has there really been a sustained trend toward an increasingly pronounced winter temperature dipole?"

In other words, has a "deepening" of this classic pattern "intensified," and been producing more into droughts on the West Coast and Freezing on the East?


Quick Answer

YES. And it's our fault.


Short Term Consequences
"...there has been a substantial increase in the propensity for extreme ridge/trough sequences to produce especially severe temperature contrasts across the U.S., and (to a lesser extent) an increase in the frequency of the relevant atmospheric “western ridge/eastern trough” pressure patterns themselves. Using climate model simulations, we further found that an increase in extreme temperature dipole days like those we’ve observed in recent years is considerably more likely in a climate with rising greenhouse gas concentrations than in a hypothetical climate without human influence."

Global Warming Effect: Heating in West Pac causing California Ridging?

"...the strongest evidence appears to implicate unusually warm ocean waters in the tropical western Pacific, which can trigger a hemisphere-scale wave pattern favoring an enhanced subtropical ridge near California."

"...recent warming of this particular portion of the Pacific Ocean has coincided with a considerable uptick in the frequency of persistent winter ridging near California."


Long Term Consequences

"...we found that the occurrence of these extreme temperature dipole days will soon start to decrease as winter warming accelerates across the entire United States—making it more difficult to achieve extreme thermal contrasts between the East and West."


Latest on Vast Ridge that’s formed  again in December of 2017 off California/West USA Coast


Earlier Article

Climate Change News: The Big Blocking Ridge an Existential Threat


El Nino-La Nina Information & Tracking Resources

El Nino-La Nina Tracking & Instructional Information

Track Ridging off the California Coast: North Pacific Animated Weather Map


Blob News








December 2017 Trail News


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