DISCUSSION: When it comes to understanding the atmosphere, it is first important to understand that it is far from simple regardless of what situation is at hand. Particularly in the middle to upper portions of the atmosphere of Earth, there is a substantial degree of unique complexity at hand. This is because in the middle to upper parts of the atmosphere there is a lot of complicated interaction between various atmospheric features such as low-level jets (which provide added moisture and atmospheric instability to various regions) and jet streams (e.g., the subtropical jet stream and the polar jet stream). It often will work out such that you need the perfect “mixture” of low, middle, and upper-level atmospheric components to come together in order to form a near-perfect to perfect storm.
As we look back to March of 2019, it was quite easy to find a situation in which there was a truly classic and complicated interaction of jet streams. More specifically, it was the classic Plains blizzard which formed back on March 13th, 2019 which exhibited a unique and complex interaction between the subtropical and polar jet streams which allowed for a period of rapid intensification to unfold with the mid-latitude low-pressure system which severely impacted the central Plains states back in March. As we take a closer look at the factors which came together to allow for such a powerful system, you can see in the graphic attached above (courtesy of the Meteorologist Stu Ostro from The Weather Channel) that there were two disturbances contained within the respective jet stream features noted above which helped to facilitate the development of this powerful and historic Plains blizzard. These respective disturbances within the respective jet streams which combined to help form this truly historic blizzard and highlighted in blue and you can see how they merged to then form this powerful low-pressure system.
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© 2019 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz