Winter or spring?

Who knows! It’s warm in the west and really cold in the east and has been for a while, as I touched on in my last post. Meteorological spring started on March 1st, and astronomical spring starts on March 20th, the spring equinox. Most people don’t consider it spring until the spring equinox, but being a meteorologist-in-training, I’m a bit more partial to the meteorological “calendar”. I feel lucky to live in a place that has all four seasons, though spring and fall tend to be relatively short and fluctuate between mild weather and a dump of many inches of snow. I’ve been categorizing my outfit posts based on the season, and right now I can’t really tell if I should be marking them as winter or spring. I’m going to talk a bit about how the atmosphere looked the past few weeks, so if you’re only interested in what I wore, feel free to skip ahead. πŸ™‚

Below is a composite 500-mb geopotential height anomaly map (in meters) over North America from February 18 through March 6, 2014. The 500-mb geopotential height is the height at which the pressure in the atmosphere over a given location is 500 mb. The lower the height of a particular pressure level, the lower the pressure over that location. Anomalies are the departure from the mean, and in this case the climatological mean from 1981-2010 is used. The cooler colors indicate negative anomalies or lower heights, and the warmer colors indicate positive anomalies or higher heights.


Source: NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory

This image highlights the mostly positive height anomalies in the west and negative height anomalies in the east. This is consistent with climatology: ridging (high pressure) in the west and troughing (low pressure) in the east. (We did have some cold fronts move through, though, so this is a general overview.) It’s important to note that whatever is happening aloft (above the surface) may not be happening at the surface (i.e. low pressure aloft doesn’t necessarily mean low pressure at the surface).

Below is a composite 850-mb temperature anomaly map (in Kelvin) over North America for the same time period. (Kelvin is the absolute temperature scale where 0 K is absolute zero. Add 273.15 to a temperature in degrees Celsius to get temperature in Kelvin. A change of one degree Celsius is the same as a change of one Kelvin.) Where I’m at, the 850 mb temperature is about the surface temperature, but for places at a lower elevation, the 850 mb pressure level is above the surface.


Source: NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory

Look at that! We’ve had positive temperature anomalies at 850 mb on the west coast over the past few weeks while the poor midwesterners and east coasters have had negative temperature anomalies (except for those of you in the southeast).

Because of the relatively warm temperature we’ve been having here in the west lately, I’ve been wearing a lot of spring-y outfits! It’s so nice to break out of my winter uniform of sweaters, jeans, and boots.


This dark floral dress is a favorite of mine, but it’s quite short. There’s no way I can wear it without tights or leggings under it. I was actually worried all day about the “shorts line” part of the tights showing from under the dress! I’ve decided it’s too short to wear to school, but I’ll hang onto it for weekend wear. If I were to wear this outfit again, I’d likely choose different earrings, though I liked the mixed metals aspect of these earrings. The gold in the earrings kind of tie in with the gold buckles on my booties.



Dress (old): ModCloth | Tights: Hue via Nordstrom Rack | Booties: Wanted via Delia’s (exact) | Earrings (old): Forever 21 | Sunglasses: ModCloth


6 thoughts on “Winter or spring?

  1. This post was so interesting! Love how you threw some science in there πŸ™‚ Also adore how you wore such a colorful print with all black. It must feel great to be able to wear a dress again!

    That Curious Cat

    • Thank you Sam! πŸ™‚ I like writing about atmospheric science things but since the actual weather isn’t my research, I feel so unsure of what I write sometimes! I always have Chris double check everything. It feels so nice to wear dresses and not need cardigans/big coats! I can’t wait until spring is here full force.

  2. Yay. Drop that knowledge! In Indiana the weather changes like crazy so I’m always sick. I cannot wait to wear dresses again. I’m also very sick of wearing socks!

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