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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A weather note of no interest to anyone but me, lol...

Cold dry air mass has been slow to moderate over Gulf South, but certainly rising to above avg temps by late week as broad ridging builds overhead... Will be interesting to see how much the warmth will spike up our February mean temperature value by month's end - currently one of the coldest with 41F MT locally thru today, running 15F below avg...

Note: Had an unusual (for SE LA) combination early Sunday morn of freezing temps, heavy frost AND freezing fog! The freezing fog was the 2nd in past 3 days here - and I doubt I've witnessed it but maybe 5-6 times in my 6 decades observing wx... It lifted out by daybreak...

Houma LA KHUM obs Sunday Feb 13 2011 -

5:50AM 28.4F 30.41" / 30.42" clear 7.00 miles /
4:40AM 30.6F 30.39" / 30.40" ice fog < 0.25 miles / 200ft ceiling
4:00AM 31.1F 30.40" / 30.41" ice fog < 0.25 miles / 200ft ceiling
3:40AM 31.1F 30.40" / 30.41" ice fog 0.25 miles / 200ft ceiling

This was Houma area's 25th Frost, 19th Freeze this season, both well above avg numbers... Last year set the record on frosts with 28 (personal obs), while all-time daily freeze record is 22 set in Winter 1995-96...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1549. Grothar
Quoting TaylorSelseth:
LOL, you owe me a new keyboard, I spewed my pop all over it!!! (j/k!!!)


Actually, I froze this winter. Reminded me of Norway in summer. LOL
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25369
1548. bappit
Quoting JohnTucker:
Proxy records Levi, are like the gnat study on that One lake in Alaska you tried to extrapolate the entire climatological history of earth (source - "WUWT" ironically enough) from last night.

Sorry, can't help it. Levi did that?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting washingtonian115:
I havn't like seen you in ages.I was wondering when an old member was gonna show up.


Wait, just saw this. Who you calling ....


excuse me


Okay, had to read back to see what you called me.

Yea, who you calling old?!?!?! :)

And now, really

exit, stage >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Orcasystems:


Old would be Grothar :)
Umm unless your talking about just being a Member :)
Ha!.As in old I meant a member.Even thouh some Newbies are all right.
Quoting Grothar:


Dan has given us some of our funniest moments here. I for one have stayed away a lot due to the 'take-over of the blog by a few during peak hours. We never hogged the blog, did we Dan??
Oh! and let us not forget the funny pictures they posted of the sites number one infamous bloger.And I remember the time cyclone oz posted the clown pic.To hilarious.
Quoting BahaHurican:
Yeah... to the right of the Bahamas on the map.... :o)

As opposed to one who's been a member for a long time.... lol

@ Taylor... thanks for the pics. Particularly the aerial one gives a greater scope of the town... and as 4 the snow shovelling... feel free to keep all that cold white stuff 2 urself.... no, really! :o)
Yes that and the fact that they havn't shown themsevles very often.
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1545. Grothar
Quoting Orcasystems:


Old would be Grothar :)
Umm unless your talking about just being a Member :)


I knew you couldn't pass that one up! Probably couldn't hit those keys fast enough. And for the last time, I am not OLD, just extremely mature.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25369
Quoting Grothar:


Dan has given us some of our funniest moments here. I for one have stayed away a lot due to the 'take-over of the blog by a few during peak hours. We never hogged the blog, did we Dan??


Never happen, and since I have hit my quota tonight.....

TTFN

:)
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Quoting Grothar:



That is just plain oxy to you! Where is GeoffWPB when you need him?


Sounds like something my wife would say. You know, when I tell her how witty I am, and she says I got it half right. ;)
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1542. bappit
Quoting PcolaDan:


I remember when, if you wanted a voice in who the governor was going to be, because they were always picked in the Democratic primary. It was a shoe-in after that.

Yep, back when the Republican party was verboten (can I say "verboten") in the South. The John Rarick think-alikes left the Democratic party when they realized people had forgotten why they were boycotting the GOP. Less competition for them over there.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1541. Grothar
Quoting washingtonian115:
I havn't like seen you in ages.I was wondering when an old member was gonna show up.


Dan has given us some of our funniest moments here. I for one have stayed away a lot due to the 'take-over of the blog by a few during peak hours. We never hogged the blog, did we Dan??
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25369
Quoting Orcasystems:


Umm I thought all of Florida was to the right?
Yeah... to the right of the Bahamas on the map.... :o)

Quoting washingtonian115:
I havn't like seen you in ages.I was wondering when an old member was gonna show up.
As opposed to one who's been a member for a long time.... lol

@ Taylor... thanks for the pics. Particularly the aerial one gives a greater scope of the town... and as 4 the snow shovelling... feel free to keep all that cold white stuff 2 urself.... no, really! :o)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


No, Don't believe a word of it. It was just a left-wing-ultraconservative, elitist "conspiracy" to keep the tourists away, so they could raise our taxes. The temperatures never dropped below 85 deg all winter. Don't believe in what you read.
LOL, you owe me a new keyboard, I spewed my pop all over it!!! (j/k!!!)
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Quoting washingtonian115:
I havn't like seen you in ages.I was wondering when an old member was gonna show up.


Old would be Grothar :)
Umm unless your talking about just being a Member :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:



That is just plain oxy to you! Where is GeoffWPB when you need him?
Yes where is he as well.And DestinJeff.I know they don't come during the off season(and for good reason)but damn they could at least pay a visit.
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Quoting Grothar:


If you lived in the right part of Florida, that wouldn't happen.
LOL u r sooo right.... lol

As a case in point:
Quoting Sergej7:
US feb. 1-11 (2011, -feb. 5)

All Link


Note on this map [ty, Sergej7] the part of FL that is one the few parts of the CONUS 2 be ABOVE average this past decade???? lol
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Quoting PcolaDan:


oxymoron ;)
I havn't like seen you in ages.I was wondering when an old member was gonna show up.
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1534. Grothar
Quoting PcolaDan:


oxymoron ;)



That is just plain oxy to you! Where is GeoffWPB when you need him?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25369
Quoting BahaHurican:
So I did look, and what I have of the Fargo area is too dark or too blurred... the best I have are from Rugby and Willison. Not exactly the same place... lol


here's a pic of Downtown in summer:

Link

and here is a pic of a Fargoan shoveling snow:



And an aerial pic in the fall:

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


No, Don't believe a word of it. It was just a left-wing-ultraconservative, elitist "conspiracy" to keep the tourists away, so they could raise our taxes. The temperatures never dropped below 85 deg all winter. Don't believe in what you read.


oxymoron ;)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Orcasystems:


Umm I thought all of Florida was to the right?


I remember when, if you wanted a voice in who the governor was going to be, because they were always picked in the Democratic primary. It was a shoe-in after that.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1530. Grothar
Quoting PcolaDan:


That's not what I'm hearing from others down that way. Think most of it was earlier though.


No, Don't believe a word of it. It was just a left-wing-ultraconservative, elitist "conspiracy" to keep the tourists away, so they could raise our taxes. The temperatures never dropped below 85 deg all winter. Don't believe in what you read.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25369
Quoting Grothar:


If you lived in the right part of Florida, that wouldn't happen.


That's not what I'm hearing from others down that way. Think most of it was earlier though.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1527. Grothar
Quoting BahaHurican:
So I did look, and what I have of the Fargo area is too dark or too blurred... the best I have are from Rugby and Willison. Not exactly the same place... lol


Do be upset. From what I remember, that is what Fargo looks like in the winter.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25369
Quoting Grothar:


If you lived in the right part of Florida, that wouldn't happen.


Umm I thought all of Florida was to the right?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting BahaHurican:
So I did look, and what I have of the Fargo area is too dark or too blurred... the best I have are from Rugby and Willison. Not exactly the same place... lol


OK I found this one.. are you sure its not just like Saskatchewan?



Fargo ND Blizzard by Jerry Reynolds

You have to be tough to live in Fargo North Dakota. Extreme Blizzards, -40 degree lows with -80 degree windchill. During the winter someone usually dies in or outside of Fargo when they get stranded in their cars. If you live outside the city, your best mode of transportation is dog sledding or as they say in Alaska, Mushing. Photos by Jerry Reynolds
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1524. Ossqss
Quoting Grothar:


Watching it too. Just don't understand the words in the songs. Perhaps it's best if I don't. And no, it is the church of the big hats.


You gotta work on that translation stuff. Just don't look it up on that Youtube thing :)


I better go......... out>>>>>>>>>>>>
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1523. Sergej7
US feb. 1-11 (2011, -feb. 5)

All Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1522. Grothar
Quoting PcolaDan:


This is the second winter in a row too. Couple of my plants that survived last year, barely with some TLC, look like they not be able to survive this year on top of last year.


If you lived in the right part of Florida, that wouldn't happen.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25369
So I did look, and what I have of the Fargo area is too dark or too blurred... the best I have are from Rugby and Willison. Not exactly the same place... lol
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Quoting Orcasystems:
t

Since we now know that almost anyone can be termed a "Scientist" you going to have to come up with a better definition as to what you call a "Scientist"

Here is what I have found...

If you study a system, collect verifiable data, form testable hypotheses about the system's properties, and evaluate those hypotheses objectively, then you are arguably practising science . Usually "scientists" are associated with the study of naturally-occurring physical and biological systems, but it is commonly assumed that human cultural systems (such as religion, politics, society, or business) can be studied scientifically as well.

Of course, it is also widely believed that "social" scientists have generally been much less successful than "natural" scientists, and the principles that govern human cultural systems remain poorly understood at best.

In practice, the title of "scientist" is almost completely unregulated, and anyone can legally claim it, regardless of education or profession. In some states, you could be restricted from using titles like "soil scientist" or "wetlands scientist" due to licensing rules.


Going by this definition... "anyone" working with the data, could be called a "Scientist"




Yes. Just like anyone can be a carpenter, or electrician, or doctor, or any other profession you'd care to name.

However, unlike carpenters, electricians, doctors, and other such professions, "scientist" is not a profession with a board certification. Typically, you are not considered a professional scientist in your field unless you have published peer reviewed research in that field. This typically happens while pursuing a graduate degree in your particular field, but that doesn't necessarily mean you need to have letters after your name to be a "professional" scientist.

Also, just because someone is an expert in one field doesn't imply they are an expert in another field, even if those fields are related. For example, just because someone has a Ph.D in astrophysics that doesn't make them an expert in heliospherics. Just because someone is a world renowned meteorologist doesn't make them an expert in climate. And just because someone is an expert at open-heart surgery doesn't make them an expert on open spine surgery.

A scientist who is published in their field is someone I listen to when it comes to their field. Someone claiming to be a scientist in their field who has not published in that field (or have had their claims discredited repeatedly by the larger scientific community) is someone I do not listen to. If that person is also someone who openly disparages, harasses, and/or insults that science community as well, then that person also becomes someone I do not respect.

Of course, this is mainly just my opinion. There is no official standard to what a professional scientist "is".
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1519. Grothar
Quoting PcolaDan:


Hey Gro, watching the Grammy's and realizing I'm not missing much in the music industry. LOL

BTW, is that for the church of the big heads? ;)


Watching it too. Just don't understand the words in the songs. Perhaps it's best if I don't. And no, it is the church of the big hats.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25369
Quoting Grothar:


I like it, the other one was kind of scary. Reminiscent of Dali.


LOL...got crossed looking at the crossed eyes....this is Igor and Julia....I thought this was the most fascinating sight....still do
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1517. Patrap
Quoting Ossqss:


She sure has grown up! I still remember you convincing me to get a dog too. We ended up with Zeus, but you forgot to let me know what happens when they grow up, and to check the feet thing. Everything got (100 lbs) bigger all the way around :)


Yeah,,but the Lub dey give is well worth it.
Give Zeus a nice pat on the Head for me.

Im Grammied out.

G'night, and stay classy wunderground.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127550
1516. Grothar
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Hey Grothar !! How ya like my new avatar.....?


I like it, the other one was kind of scary. Reminiscent of Dali.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25369
Quoting Orcasystems:


I sent BF some mittens.. tempted to send her some figure skates. Snake had snow the other day... you guys weather is just FUBAR.



This is the second winter in a row too. Couple of my plants that survived last year, barely with some TLC, look like they not be able to survive this year on top of last year.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1513. Ossqss
Quoting Patrap:
Was she a white G.Shepherd? I had a solid black one who lived for 11 years.....still miss him very much., as I know you miss Nova.

AKC ,yes..and from a Line I had since 89',she was the last of that line,Nova was.


I have a new one Now,Nola Roux


She sure has grown up! I still remember you convincing me to get a dog too. We ended up with Zeus, but you forgot to let me know what happens when they grow up, and to check the feet thing. Everything got (100 lbs) bigger all the way around :)
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Quoting BahaHurican:
I would if it was actually of ND..... lol


WHAT! you mean that's not the ND mountains?!?!?!?! ;)
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Quoting PcolaDan:


The world is upside down, LOL.


I sent BF some mittens.. tempted to send her some figure skates. Snake had snow the other day... you guys weather is just FUBAR.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1509. Patrap
..the thing about Science,it does not care if one Believes, it just is..

a recent quote from a name that escapes me.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127550
Quoting Grothar:


Yo, Dan. I wented to college too. And I am not an egotist, either. I go to church. LOL

How you doing stranger?


Hey Grothar !! How ya like my new avatar.....?
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Quoting Grothar:


Yo, Dan. I wented to college too. And I am not an egotist, either. I go to church. LOL

How you doing stranger?


Hey Gro, watching the Grammy's and realizing I'm not missing much in the music industry. LOL

BTW, is that for the church of the big heads? ;)
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Quoting Cochise111:


Help my case? I will never bite my tongue when someone attacks me personally. Sure, they can disagree with what I write, but when they insult me through the anonymity of the internet it pisses me off.


Help your case.....

Right now, a lot of people have not put you on ignore.. myself included. You will probably get a 24 for your outburst, and its deserved... and yes they can be worth it sometimes (I know, I have got 2 and don't regret either of them)

if you continue to just start pinging off people.. then other people, myself included.. just lump you into a certain group (PIA)... and put you on ignore.

You may actually have something to contribute to the Blog.. but people will never know as they have put you on ignore.

ergo: back off a bit, and live and let live.




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Quoting Cochise111:


Help my case? I will never bite my tongue when someone attacks me personally. Sure, they can disagree with what I write, but when they insult me through the anonymity of the internet it pisses me off.


Was it aimed directly at you? NO
I threw the bait out there, and you bit.

It was actually aimed at all the "know it all's" that seemed to have taken over the blog.
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Quoting Grothar:


You didn't like mine?
I would if it was actually of ND..... lol
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Quoting Patrap:
SH132011 - Tropical Cyclone BINGIZA

2km Storm Relative IR Imagery with BD Enhancement Curve

Looks like it's happening now. Wonder how bad the storm surge is in that bay whose name I used to know but have now forgotten [gotta read up my Madagascar stuff again]. I know the winds blowing right up into its mouth, which might prevent whatever surge they do get from receding as quickly as possible.... Isn't there some kind of nature preserve on that peninsula?
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Quoting Orcasystems:


I see BF had ice on the bayou again... you guys can keep that cold stuff in the deep south where it belongs. We are back to golfing weather up here.


The world is upside down, LOL.
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1500. aquak9
no prob, pat. Happy v-day old man.

Best damn roses I ever ate.
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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.