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 cat5hurricane:

Then no one get's to go to jail, okay. Let's get through the night without any arrests. That's always been my goal afterall. lol

Backed into a corner cowering and the infamous mom references are made in a fleeing attempt at saving face.....How original!

LOL!!!


Well I almost brought your dad into this if that helps...
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Quoting Levi32:


How can you suggest that it isn't? If we can't get an accurate read on the history of our climate, how are we supposed to know how what we are experiencing now defers from "normal?"


True. But both graphs show us far warmer than we have been. You can scrutinize it all you want, but both graphs (and every other temperature graph I have ever seen in my life) indicate rapid warming.

Care to show me a graph suggesting other wise and I'll reconsider the fact that we are significantly warmer than we ever have been in the last ten thousand years.

Otherwise, as far as I am concerned, there is no reason to think that we are not significantly warmer than we ever have been.
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Quoting JFLORIDA:
Yea tom dont repeat um, just paraphrase them if you would.

thanks,

Ignore is best here. This is anti science on a new level. Next they be burning all the geology, biology and archeology books.


One can't ignore what they thrive on.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Quoting JFLORIDA:
Quick levi cover for um - lol

Thats scary - I mean we would no nothing about the planet if all we went on was direct observation.

YIPES - Bizzaro


According to some of the proxies that you cite often, the 100-year period temperature change of the 20th century is dwarfed by the temperature swings on similar time scales in the past.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Quoting TomTaylor:


I don't. Maybe I wasn't around. Either way, I find Michael's posts (of nowadays) far more useful and contributing, than that of RecordSeason's.


I noticed that too. However, once again, I ask the question, is that really important?


How can you suggest that it isn't? If we can't get an accurate read on the history of our climate, how are we supposed to know how what we are experiencing now defers from "normal?"
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Quoting JFLORIDA:
Boy some people have been living in a cave for the last 100 years. You don't believe in climate proxies? lol..



I am skeptical when I see proxies that disagree on such a massive level as the ones being posted here on a daily basis. If they disagree so much, I have no reason to trust them. Paleoclimatological records have too many issues to count. One has to be skeptical when using them as an actual history.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Quoting cat5hurricane:

Sure. History has many instances of communism at it's finest.

I'm gonna pass though, if that's cool. Thanx :)


woah, let's not bring communism into this.

After all, I didn't drag your mom into this. lol
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Quoting Levi32:


People remember you being banned twice for worse, Michael.


I don't. Maybe I wasn't around. Either way, I find Michael's posts (of nowadays) far more useful and contributing, than that of RecordSeason's.

Quoting Levi32:


My ears perk up just looking at your graph and Michael's graph side by side:





They both show the same period, yet the trend evolution is completely different. The contradiction between the two graphs is appalling.

I noticed that too. However, once again, I ask the question, is that really important?
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

What's the matter Tom? Your not like panicking or anything because he perhaps is a bit more versed on the subject?

No, wait! That's silly thinking. Who does that?

Different perspectives are what drives the blog. That's how our system works...and I'm glad we all have the freedom to express our different viewpoints. I would hate to live in a world where I'd be thrown in jail for not conforming to others, you know.

Afterall, I have to listen to you. But, I'm okay with that.

If you don't like or agree with what he is saying, try walking away. There's always the ignore button too.


So you mean we can't lock him up? damn.

sorry, I just don't see the point of listening to him, when he isn't listening to me already.
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Quoting TomTaylor:


Ah forget it, I got time.



Have you never heard of the little ice age? or the mideval warm period?

That graph is a composite of multiple graphs all showing the same basic trends.

To question the validity is pointless, UNLESS you can show me a graph showing some form of conflicting data. As far as I know there are none.




But does the validity of the graph even matter?

That's my question to you RecordSeason, why are you getting so upset with MichaelSTL's graph? Seen too many hockey stick graphs in your life? What's got you hung up, bud?


My ears perk up just looking at your graph and Michael's graph side by side:





They both show the same period, yet the trend evolution is completely different. The contradiction between the two graphs is appalling.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Quoting MichaelSTL:
Everybody should just ignore RecordSeason.

Well, he will probably get himself banned anyway, using words like BS (spelled out; which, BTW, he is full of).


People remember you being banned twice for worse, Michael.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Quoting RecordSeason:


First you need to explain what magical tooth fairy gave you that data from 500 to 2000 years ago, 220 to 1720 years before any modern temperature scale was invented.


Let's pretend you know temperatures from 500 or 2000 years ago accurate to within 0.1c....haha, that's ridiculous. Pretend it would be.

I mean, you got no data,so you just fabricate some bullshit out of the air based on what? Not science, because "relatively modern" temperature scales weren't even invented then.

So where did you pull this crap from? Are you going to try to claim a fossil record or core sample can tell somebody the temperature to within a tenth of a degree Celsius? I hope you aren't dumb enough to try that one, because I can show some pretty obvious modern examples of how non-scientific that endeavour really is...After all, we have zoos and stuff where animals from all climates live in all climates, and microbes like diatoms and alga are usually even more adaptive than macroscopic organisms.

hey look everybody! John the Apostle apparently had a thermometer on Patmos in 90A.d., and so did Cleopatra in Egypt in 44b.c. Eric the Red obviously had digital thermometers, GPS, and a magnetic compass too!



As for your comments about CO2 vs the Solar Constant, you can try your tired psuedo-science some place else.

The audacity of these people to make up a "graph" of "world wide average temperature" across epochs when no such gauges or scales existed.

Can any of you people make a post without showing yourselves to be completely deceptive?

I mean, where did you get that crap? Did you make it up yourself? Or did you have help? Maybe you were just duped by somebody else because you believe everything without stopping to think about it?

Where is your magic fairy or time machine that gave you those world wide temperature readings you used to make that graph? Obviously you made a graph which presents itself as having at least 0.1C resolution, So let's see the data. Let's see the date and location of these thermometers and the people and organizations that operated them for the 1700+ years before they were even invented.

Everyone needs fair and equal access to these time traveling meteorologists and their records so that we can all have the "facts," instead of relying on "middle men".


Ah forget it, I got time.



Have you never heard of the little ice age? or the mideval warm period?

That graph is a composite of multiple graphs all showing the same basic trends.

To question the validity is pointless, UNLESS you can show me a graph showing some form of conflicting data. As far as I know there are none.




But does the validity of the graph even matter?

That's my question to you RecordSeason, why are you getting so upset with MichaelSTL's graph? Seen too many hockey stick graphs in your life? What's got you hung up, bud?
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Quoting RecordSeason:


First you need to explain what magical tooth fairy gave you that data from 500 to 2000 years ago, 220 to 1720 years before any modern temperature scale was invented.


Let's pretend you know temperatures from 500 or 2000 years ago accurate to within 0.1c....haha, that's ridiculous. Pretend it would be.

I mean, you got no data,so you just fabricate some bullshit out of the air based on what? Not science, because "relatively modern" temperature scales weren't even invented then.

So where did you pull this crap from? Are you going to try to claim a fossil record or core sample can tell somebody the temperature to within a tenth of a degree Celsius? I hope you aren't dumb enough to try that one, because I can show some pretty obvious modern examples of how non-scientific that endeavour really is...After all, we have zoos and stuff where animals from all climates live in all climates, and microbes like diatoms and alga are usually even more adaptive than macroscopic organisms.

hey look everybody! John the Apostle apparently had a thermometer on Patmos in 90A.d., and so did Cleopatra in Egypt in 44b.c. Eric the Red obviously had digital thermometers, GPS, and a magnetic compass too!



As for your comments about CO2 vs the Solar Constant, you can try your tired psuedo-science some place else.

The audacity of these people to make up a "graph" of "world wide average temperature" across epochs when no such gauges or scales existed.

Can any of you people make a post without showing yourselves to be completely deceptive?

I mean, where did you get that crap? Did you make it up yourself? Or did you have help? Maybe you were just duped by somebody else because you believe everything without stopping to think about it?

Where is your magic fairy or time machine that gave you those world wide temperature readings you used to make that graph? Obviously you made a graph which presents itself as having at least 0.1C resolution, So let's see the data. Let's see the date and location of these thermometers and the people and organizations that operated them for the 1700 years before they were even invented.

Everyone needs fair and equal access to these time traveling meteorologists and their records so that we can all have the "facts," instead of relying on "middle men".

Are you serious right now?

Your posting just keeps getting worse, why don't you just quit while you're ahead (it's a figure of speech - you were never actually ahead though).

There is literally no reason at all to create an intelligent response to your post.

I've given you multiple and you just turn the other way.

Just stop.
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Quoting MichaelSTL:
Hopefully this continues so the nonsense about global cooling stops (of course it won't - they will just blame El Nino for the warming, ignoring trends):



Sounds like you are blaming ENSO yourself.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Bingiza has not intensified much since gaining an eye earlier today. Upwelling of cold water from being stalled out for this long is likely the main inhibitor, and is to be expected with ocean heat content as low as it is east of Madagascar. They are likely to escape a major storm if it remains this disorganized.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Pic taken from MichaelSTL...



If anyone was curious about that cool sst spot right off the coast of Central America (or maybe the southern border of Mexico), it's caused by Tehuano_winds, causing upwelling.

The cimss satellite blog had a cool entry about it today:

http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/goes/blog/archives/dat e/2011/02/10

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Quoting McBill:

But what you posted was "Study finds Alaska summer temperatures to have been higher than today during the last 3000 years." I know that that was the WUWT take on the article but it is certainly at odds with the disclaimer from the authors. Sorry, but you and Tony seem to play fast and loose with the facts a whole lot.



No. I posted a statement of what the study found, because that is what the study found.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Quoting MichaelSTL:

Click to enlarge


Record Season, and all you other denier's look at this graph please.

Enlighten yourselves


Single-handedly shows that greater concentrations of CO2 absorb greater amounts of radiation.

This graph literally proves anthropogenic heat contribution to the global system.
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Bingiza, what a cool name lol

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Quoting MichaelSTL:


LOL, you are comparing the energy used by humans to solar energy! Greenhouse gasses are not like that!


"Humans are too puny to affect the climate" is a very old Denier talking point, it is Argument to Credulity and nothing more.

In fact, humans have been affecting the climate ever since we started wet-rice farming, read Plows, Plagues, and Peoples.
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Wow, Bingiza is looking pretty rough. upwelling must be affecting it.
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Quoting RecordSeason:
Anyway, humans aren't causing this stuff.

We would need like Star Trek or Star Wars level technology before we could begin to manipulate weather or climate on these scales.


Solar Constant 174 petawatts
Humans: 16 terawatts

Insignificant.

174000 / 16 = factor of 10875

A fluctuation of 1% in the solar constant would be 1.74 petawatts, which is still 108 times larger than the 16 terawatts humans used in 2010.

Compared to that, humans are insects.

Your stubbornness is astounding. It's as though a teacher just taught a student that 2 x 4 = 8, when the student thought 2 x 4 = 6. And then the student goes back and says, "Anyway, 2 x 4 = 6"

If you really don't want to listen, fine, but please don't try and sucker the rest of the poor folks on the blog, it's annoying.

And your energy level stuff is completely irrelevant.

Not to mention your insect analogy is horribly flawed because insects play such a crucial role in the environment. They may seem small, but they play some of the biggest roles in the environment.
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Madagascar may have caught a lucky break:

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Quoting RecordSeason:



Yeah I know...

"Only" a VEI 7...

and

Little Ice Age: Mankind is insignificant, really

"Day after tomorrow" anyone?

New York Harbor froze over. Great lakes frozen over during the summer. Armies could march across the baltic and various rivers in Europe.

yah...humans don't make this stuff happen, nor cease from happening. This stuff is a lot bigger than pathetic man.


New York Harbor Froze Over...

That is salt water. The freezing point of salt water is as low as -6f, or -21C...Sea water is probably more like 20f though.



Stop confusing yourself, and quit trying to confuse others.

Just because it has happened in the past by nature's means, doesn't mean we don't have an impact, because we certainly do have an impact on our climate and environment.

And, we are a part of nature, are we not?
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856. JRRP
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Seems we all have our own journeys !

Make it a good one! :) Gnight............ out.>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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I'm going Skiing in Colorado. Leaving tomorrow morning. I sure hope AGW hasn't killed the slopes for me.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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