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Eric Apel
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I find this post fascinating, and as a meteorologist my first thought was, "How can I predict the trigger?" I have not looked at historical or reanalysis data yet, but I just had a look at the GFS model 06Z 12/11/2014 data. If you look at the 200 hPa winds over Asia you see that the GFS model predicts the Jet Stream will strengthen over the Taklamakan Desert around the 18th of December. Going further from there and then looking at 10 hPa temperatures we do see a sudden increase in temperatures originating in that same place then moving up toward Mongolia and further NE. Immediately following that there is an even stronger warming event that takes place but the origin is norther Iran near Tehran over the Elburz Mountains (only half the elevation of the Tibetan Plateau). However there seems to be a very weak Jet preceding that event, and in fact there is a split flow over that region during that time. I'm not yet sure what that might mean, as I'm investigating it further, but I would be interested to hear people's thoughts.
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Dec 11, 2014