Another amazingly snowy winter for the U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:18 PM GMT on February 11, 2011

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As northeast Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas dig out from the two feet of snow dumped this winter's latest epic snowstorm, it's time to summarize how remarkable the snows of the past two winters have been. So far this winter, the Northeast U.S. has seen three Category 3 (major) or higher snow storms on the Northeast Snowfall Impact (NESIS) scale. This scale, which rates Northeast snowstorms by the area affected by the snowstorm, the amount of snow, and the number of people living in the path of the storm, runs from Category 1 (Notable) to Category 5 (Crippling.) This puts the winter of 2010 - 2011 in a tie for first place with the winters of 2009 - 2010 and 1960 - 1961 for most major Northeast snowstorms. All three of these winters had an extreme configuration of surface pressures over the Arctic and North Atlantic referred to as a negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO). In this situation, the band of winds that circles the North Pole weakens, allowing cold air to spill southwards into the mid-latitudes.

In the past twelve months, we've had six major Category 3 or stronger storms on the NESIS scale, by far the most major snowstorms in a 12-month period in the historical record. Going back to 1956, only one 12-month period had as many as four major snowstorms--during 1960 - 1961. New York City has seen three of its top-ten snowstorms and the two snowiest months in its 142-year history during the past 12 months--February 2010 (36.9") and January 2011 (36.0"). Philadelphia has seen four of its top-ten snowstorm in history the past two winters. The Midwest has not been left out of the action this year, either--the Groundhog's Day blizzard nailed Chicago with its 3rd biggest snowstorm on record. According to the National Climatic Data Center, December 2010 saw the 7th greatest U.S. snow extent for the month in the 45-year record, and January 2011 the 5th most. December 2009 had the greatest snow extent for the month in the 45-year record, January 2010 the 6th most, and February 2010 the 3rd most. Clearly, the snows of the past two winters in the U.S. have been truly extraordinary.


Figure 1. The six major Category 3 Northeast snowstorms of the past twelve months. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center.

A cold January in the U.S.
January 2011 was the coldest January in the contiguous U.S. since 1994, according to the National Climatic Data Center, and ranked as the 37th coldest January in the 117-year record. Despite the heavy snows in the Northeast U.S., January was the 9th driest January since 1895. This was largely due to the fact that the Desert Southwest was very dry, with New Mexico recording its driest January, and Arizona and Nevada their second driest.

A cold and record snowy winter (yet again!) in the U.S. does not prove or disprove the existence of climate change or global warming, as we must instead focus on global temperatures averaged over decades. Globally, January 2011 was the 11th warmest since 1880, but tied for the second coolest January of the past decade, according to NASA. NOAA has not yet released their stats for January. The cool-down in global temperatures since November 2010, which was the warmest November in the historical record, is largely due to the temporary cooling effect of the strong La NiƱa event occurring in the Eastern Pacific. This event has cooled a large portion of the surface waters in the Pacific, leading to a cooler global temperature.

Some posts of interest I've done on snow and climate change over the past year:

Hot Arctic-Cold Continents Pattern is back (December 2010)
The future of intense winter storms (March 2010)
Heavy snowfall in a warming world (February 2010)

Have a great weekend, everyone, and enjoy the coming warm-up, those of you in the eastern 2/3 of the country!

Jeff Masters

Snow and icicle sun (emilinetdd)
Snow and icicle sun
Cardinal City (dypepper)
Another exciting day for me, shooting the Cardinals in the Snow!
Cardinal City

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Quoting Orcasystems:


You do not personally attack members.. specially one of the smarter young members.


Killer whales rock.

Good night
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Quoting EnergyMoron:


what he is apparently saying is that he wants to preach to the choir...

a conservative scientist has no choir and is seeking converts :)


Could you put this post in simpler terms please?

or could someone translate lol
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Quoting TomTaylor:
wait are you saying i made someone leave?


I believe he may be talking about me

STL made an attack on a respected member of this blog... he does not get a free pass because he is one of the GW Zealots.

If one the non believers had made the same attack.. I would have done exactly the same thing.

You do not personally attack members.. especially one of the smarter young members.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting TomTaylor:
wait are you saying i made someone leave?


what he is apparently saying is that he wants to preach to the choir...

a conservative scientist has no choir and is seeking converts :)
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Quoting JFLORIDA:
Well when you quote a personal attack it just makes it worse. I dont think its funny when good posters leave and we are left with people that don't BELIVE a good portion of science.
wait are you saying i made someone leave?
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Quoting TomTaylor:


I'll quote him when I want to (though in the future, I'll try not to quote him as much, because some of his posts are just not worthy of a response). Go ahead and ban me if you'd like, it's not going to remove his posts from the blog lol


blow the guy's argument away:

4618 waycross houston texas

so what do the solar panels look like compared to surrounding roofs? and what about the rest of the roof?

this is from space folks...
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991. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Seychelles Meteorological Services
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #17
CYCLONE TROPICAL INTENSE BINGIZA (05-20102011)
10:00 AM Reunion February 13 2011
=====================================

At 6:00 AM UTC, Intense Tropical Cyclone Bingiza (953 hPa) located at 15.7S 52.6E has 10 minute sustained winds of 90 knots with gusts of 130 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west southwest at 3 knots.

Hurricane Force Winds
=====================
30 NM from the center

Storm Force Winds
==================
55 NM from the center

Gale Force Winds
===============
85 NM from the center

Near Gale Force Winds
======================
110 NM from the center

Dvorak Intensity: T5.0/5.5/D1.0/24 HRS

Forecast and Intensity
============================
12 HRS: 16.3S 51.4E - 80 knots (CYCLONE Tropical)
24 HRS: 16.4S 49.6E - 70 knots (CYCLONE Tropical)
48 HRS: 17.4S 46.2E - 30 knots (Depression sur Terre)
72 HRS: 19.2S 44.3E - 25 knots (Depression sur Terre)

Additional Information
======================

The system is tracking slowly, waving along a globally west southwestward axis but is expected progressively accelerating within the next 24 hours. Last microwave imagery shows an eroded eye in its northern part and infrared pattern is not so good within last night. 37 ghz microwave SSMIS F17 1242 PM UTC and F16 0239 AM UTC reveals dephazed low and upper level circulation center but seems to be dubious thanks to WINDSAT. This worst signature is probably linked to a less favorable equatorward low level inflow in relationship with the relief of Madagascar. System should also not intensify so high as previously forecast before its landfall over eastern Madagascar, still expected Monday between Masoala Peninsula and Sainte-Marie Island likely near Antanambe. The system should rapidly decay inland as it moves westward However, at the end of the forecast, synoptic pattern on Numerical Weather Prediction fields is favorable for a recurvature towards the southeast (strong mid level ridge to the northeast). There is some uncertainities about the timing of this recurvature. If it moves over the Mozambique Channel, Bingiza has the potential to re-intensify before moves back overland but it remains inland the system could eventually dissipate.

BEFORE THAT TIME THE THREAT IS GETTING STRONGER FOR THE EASTERN COAST OF MADAGASCAR AND IT BECOMES VERY IMPORTANT FOR UNHABITANTS OF THIS REGION TO CLOSELY MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF THIS DANGEROUS SYSTEM.

The next tropical cyclone advisory from Seychelles Meteorological Services will be issued at 12:30 PM UTC..
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Quoting JFLORIDA:
There went a good forth of the decent posts. Hope he changes his mind.

Tom next time you quote him im ignoring you too.

Some kid that is always wrong in here with regard to climate, and is so arrogant as to disparage a FIELD of scientists has no right to disparage anyone and be quoted in my book.

I need to ban some folks too.


I'll quote him when I want to (though in the future, I'll try not to quote him as much, because some of his posts are just not worthy of a response). Go ahead and ban me if you'd like, it's not going to remove his posts from the blog lol
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Quoting TaylorSelseth:


Well, the way it's looking "adaptation" means the death and mass migration of 100s of Millions of people in the Tropics, and people in the Temperate areas will not be too happy with "adaptation" being letting in 100s of millions of Africans, Middle-Easterners, Indians, SE-Asians, and Hispanics based on the anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe right now.


I understand your position. Yah, Casa Juan Diego and the Houston Catholic worker rocks, which should give you an idea of what I think of the anti-immigration crowd

Oh, and the majority of my family is naturalized US citizens.
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Quoting Levi32:


How is that a personal attack? He was actually banned from this blog and another time recently from the WU site for personal attacks on other bloggers. I brought it up because he was hypocritically accusing another blogger of violating community standards.


Calm down it's not a big deal. But saying "People remember you for worse" is certainly not a nice thing. That's the only point I was trying to make...Michael was obviously offended by it, and wrote whatever it was that Orca picked up on.

Look can we just drop this? It's seriously not even a problem

I really don't give a ----, let's move on.
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Quoting Levi32:


People remember you being banned twice for worse, Michael.


If the statement is true it is not a personal attack, but is in the realm of backbiting, railing, etc.
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Quoting EnergyMoron:


Impressive answer.

I will argue against engineering climate and rather for adaptation.... probably will be dead when that question is for real but my kids need to be able to know what the issues are when this happens.


Well, the way it's looking "adaptation" means the death and mass migration of 100s of Millions of people in the Tropics, and people in the Temperate areas will not be too happy with "adaptation" being letting in 100s of millions of Africans, Middle-Easterners, Indians, SE-Asians, and Hispanics based on the anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe right now.
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Quoting TomTaylor:


post 883 if you must know.


That is not an attack.. that's a statement of fact.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting RecordSeason:


We really do need to get those africans modernized.


Sorry, do need to document this comment.

Unacceptable.
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Quoting TomTaylor:


post 883 if you must know.


How is that a personal attack? He was actually banned from this blog and another time recently from the WU site for personal attacks on other bloggers. I brought it up because he was hypocritically accusing another blogger of violating community standards.
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Quoting RecordSeason:


I also love the strong corelation between life expectancy and CO2 produced per capita, so bring on the CO2 as well. Hopefully we can get those CO2 levels up high enough to double or triple average world life expectancy again.


Uh... I am not quoting the racist part of your comment... but since when is 80 twice 50?

Energy brings prosperity and prosperity is good; I have a lot of sympathy for what I think conservatives are trying to say....

I have zero tolerance for racist comments coming from a multiracial family.
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Quoting TomTaylor:

It was no more of a personal attack than Michael had on you.

Point is, even if I found it for you, everyone's definition of a personal attack is different.

in my opinion, you were talking down to michael...and when michael "attacked" you (as orcasystem's said) it was really only in response to you talking down to him.


...so no it wasn't really an "attack"

But neither was michael's on you.

Orca, let's not play the finger pointing game


Talking down and arguing points is one thing.. its expected on here.

BUT, this statement is an direct attack:

See comment 945 for the obvious explanation; poor Levi doesn't know what he is talking about (because he can't think - of course!).

STL is well known for this type of statement.

I am aware of Levi's qualifications.. trust me.. he can think. I have no idea what qualifications STL has, other then a history of this type of comment, for which he has been banned for before.


Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting Levi32:


People remember you being banned twice for worse, Michael.


post 883 if you must know.
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It's half past midnight in Fargo and it's still 29F out. Might hit 40F on Thursday before the cold front comes through according to the GFS.
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Quoting TomTaylor:

It was no more of a personal attack than Michael had on you.

Point is, even if I found it for you, everyone's definition of a personal attack is different.

in my opinion, you were talking down to michael...and when michael "attacked" you (as orcasystem's said) it was really only in response to you talking down to him.


...so no it wasn't really an "attack"

But neither was michael's on you.

Orca, let's not play the finger pointing game


I debate scientific points on this blog. I do not personally attack someone with insults and unnecessary down-talk and slander that is intended to deflate a person's reputation.

As for "finding it," you hardly need use up any energy at all to simply look at the previous page of comments and quote the post which you refer to.
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Quoting TaylorSelseth:
I'll guess 1.5C, but only because we start engineering the climate to keep it from going past the 2C danger level.


Impressive answer.

I will argue against engineering climate and rather for adaptation.... probably will be dead when that question is for real but my kids need to be able to know what the issues are when this happens.
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Quoting Levi32:


Show me where I personally attacked anybody on this blog. I dislike being accused of such a thing with no evidence.


You didn't, I went back and checked.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting Levi32:


Show me where I personally attacked anybody on this blog. I dislike being accused of such a thing with no evidence.

It was no more of a personal attack than Michael had on you.

Point is, even if I found it for you, everyone's definition of a personal attack is different.

in my opinion, you were talking down to michael...and when michael "attacked" you (as orcasystem's said) it was really only in response to you talking down to him.


...so no, you didn't really "attack" Michael

But neither did michael's to you.

Orca, let's not play the finger pointing game
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Quoting weatherboy1992:
I'll bite. 1 C warmer in 2040 than 2010.
I'll guess 1.5C, but only because we start engineering the climate to keep it from going past the 2C danger level.
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Quoting TomTaylor:


...no levi attacked michael first a page back.

But levi attacked michael because michael said something about recordseason.

But then again, it seems everyone has attacked RecordSeason, he's practically asking for it.


Show me where I personally attacked anybody on this blog. I dislike being accused of such a thing with no evidence.
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What I would like to find is some simple data from the IPCC scenario projections for the 21st century: annual global average temperature, so that I can graph it.

The only data I have found is the massive gridded files in C format which I don't yet have the capability to use, and then it's only climatology data for 30-year periods. It would seem that I should be able to simply find the projected annual mean anomalies, considering that there are graphs posted everywhere, but no raw data accompanying them.
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RecordSeason, you should meat up with HaloReachFan.

You two would have a field day.
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Quoting JFLORIDA:



Did he - or did it go into the oceans and melting at the poles.

I dont know.

Actually we are still within his scenario C I believe.



Coal is a disaster. It is the largest mercury polluter in the US. How could we get to a point where one in six women of childbearing age in the US has enough mercury in her blood to cause a birth defect or learning disability.


Coal we agree on.

From your response I think you accept my premise (not explicitly stated but equivalent with my -2F error bar) that Mother Nature might be a bit more forgiving than humans?

We do not fully understand the feedbacks.
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Quoting RecordSeason:


Not only did you make up false data about events from before relevant instruments were invented, but now you take the liberty of also lying about the claims of your opponents, and even lying about current events?


Your hypothesis about the behavior of my solar panels and my backyard is contradicted by the evidence.

Repent now...

or join the solar hot water provider...

who actually had to settle with the government for making false statements on efficiency.

Seriously.
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Your second direct personal attack on a Blog member.. I wonder if we will get the same response as the last time.


The science is also not stated correctly. Since H2O feedback is kinda what I follow most closely (well, since there is a lack of carbon cycle chemistry on the ocean side of things)...

how about...

our best estimate is that the "water vapor [interaction] is"... non-negative.

i am a moron... i don't know.
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Your second direct personal attack on a Blog member.. I wonder if we will get the same response as the last time.


...no levi attacked michael first a page back.

But levi attacked michael because michael said something about recordseason.

But then again, it seems everyone has attacked RecordSeason, he's practically asking for it.
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Quoting JFLORIDA:
"Alarmist" is thrown around a lot but it really isn't a good term to parrot considering the history and accuracy of those using it.

And realistically what is already happening especially when also considering ocean acidification and also pollution:



All freshwater fish in the United States that have been tested recently have been found to be contaminated with mercury.

In addition some salt water fish sold at US markets has recently been found to have mercury levels that could be considered unsafe:

Undercover Fish Testing Reveals Mercury at Three Times Federal Limits
January 18, 2011


Stop using coal is the solution to the mercury problem.

I like Hansen. Nuclear, efficiency, stop using coal. The Hansen program. He is not an alarmist. Yet, even in 1988, he overpredicted the temperature rise...

Hansen 1988
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Quoting MichaelSTL:


See comment 945 for the obvious explanation; poor Levi doesn't know what he is talking about (because he can't think - of course!).

Also, as for water vapor, well, that is pretty well constrained to be positive:



Indeed, it has to be, or the Earth would be darn chilly right now (of course, it is only a feedback, it can't do anything by itself)! Deep ocean CO2? Yet another scary thing to ponder (along with all of those methane hydrates), and including that would almost certainly increase the expected warming even more (albeit non a very long timescale given the deep ocean warming lag time).


Your second direct personal attack on a Blog member.. I wonder if we will get the same response as the last time.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting MichaelSTL:


Yah, and what happens if the permafrost methane hydrates in Siberia go?

Um, as an optimist, we going to find a way to produce them and use them and store them.

Yes I have already posed this as a problem.

On this blog even.
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Quoting Levi32:


The constant CO2 control run is funny. It still shows an increase, and an unrealistically constant slope. It makes one wonder how much of the natural climate cycles those models are really modelling well.


Precisely the point. I am into modeling myself and it is amazing garbage in garbage out. This does not mean modeling is worthless; quite the contrary (it is simply garbage but in the recycle world garbage is treasure!).

While prudence dictates following the best estimate of the time...

Prudence also dictates that we know nothing (hence are morons) and we don't understand the forcings.

Water vapor feedback and deep ocean CO2 content are the biggies right now.

The coral reefs are dying (or perhaps migrating) owing to man's CO2, that is clear.

The carbon cycle is the carbon cycle.
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Quoting RecordSeason:
You could at least try sticking to data from periods where, oh I don't know, data actually existed...


That's exactly your problem RecordSeason, data does exist.

These graphs aren't created out of nothing.
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.