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 Niña 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:


Its remarks like that peeve me. Your telling us that you are right... and everyone else is either wrong.. or on the take to the big companies.

What are your qualifications?

I can find lots of data on the supposed "good GW scientist" that is also trashed by the "Deniers"

I won't even go into the email hacking stuff.



You might is well give up with these people, their egos are insatiable. We could all get thrown into an ice age till there is ice on the equator and they would still pridefully never admit they are wrong and still insist GW is going to destroy the earth and man is responsible...


They really are blinded by their pride, you will never get them to admit their absurd bias.

Personally I'm done with them from here on out, they are hopeless to finding honesty.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8016
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

Really?


I already know what you're trying to do by pulling that quote out of context.

The climate from 200 million years ago cannot be compared with the climate of today without making multiple adjustments. The world was a completely different place.

The climate from the last million years or so is far more relevant, as the planetary configuration has been pretty much the same. By that I mean the distribution of land masses, oceans, solar irradiance, and the atmospheric contents have remained relatively the same.

Paleoclimate from millions of years ago can lend us insight into what major factors affect global climate, but you can't do a direct comparisons with the world of today. However, the recent past is very relevant, and provides a great deal of information on what affects global climate in the Pleistocene and Holocene (modern) era. By comparing the current environment with that over the past million years or so we can get a good idea about what has changed and what impact those changes had.
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

Kinda like the Stalinists? ;)


WUWT really needs a troll modifier.

At least you didn't say Nazis. I should be thankful for that.
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Quoting Orcasystems:
August 2007
Global Warming: Man-Made or Natural?
S. Fred Singer
Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia


The fact that the observed and predicted patterns of warming don’t match indicates that the man-made greenhouse contribution to current temperature change is insignificant. This fact emerges from data and graphs collected in the Climate Change Science Program Re-port 1.1, published by the federal government in April 2006 (see www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-1/finalrep ort/default.htm). It is remarkable and puzzling that few have noticed this disparity between observed and predicted patterns of warming and drawn the obvious scientific conclusion.



S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, a distinguished research professor at George Mason University, and president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project. He performed his undergraduate studies at Ohio State University and earned his Ph.D. in Physics from Princeton University. He was the founding dean of the School of Environmental and Planetary Sciences at the University of Miami, the founding director of the U.S. National Weather Satellite Service, and served for five years as vice chairman of the U.S. National Advisory Committee on Oceans and atmosphere. Dr. Singer has written or edited over a
dozen books and monographs, including, most recently, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years.


His criticism and critiques of climate science have been thoroughly debunked, and none of his research in the area has managed to stand up to peer review. This includes his "research" that first proclaimed the ozone hole was not being made worse by man, and then his other "research" claiming that even if it was, a depleted ozone layer would not cause any harm.

Historically, he has worked for and been funded by a veritable who's who of fossil fuel industry groups and anti-environment think tanks. He was a contributing author to that travesty that came out of the Heartland Institute that was supposed to be an "answer" to the IPCC report, which was ripped to shreds by the science community.

His "research" when he was working with the tobacco and asbestos industries is, of course, completely laughable now (in a sad way).

That's not to say he hasn't made useful contributions in other areas of science. He has. But climate research is not one of them.
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Ok, before I incur wrath for posting some of this authors stuff.. what did he do wrong?

Global Warming – Man-made or Natural?
Kenneth Rundt
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26516
Quoting Xyrus2000:


If you're looking for irrefutable proof, look into abstract math. In science, anyone claiming 100% proof of anything doesn't understand science. Science has very very few absolutes. Just about every result in science is given with confidence intervals and error bars.

The fact that the climate has changed in the past and has been much warmer in the past has nothing to do with the climate now. Land masses were different, the water distribution was different, solar irradiance was different, even the atmosphere was different.

And even if comparing the world of today with the world of millions of years ago were an apples to apples comparison (it isn't), that still doesn't change the fact that our world depends on the climate we have today. Anything that risks disrupting that climate should be treated seriously, as it really doesn't take much change to turn once fertile lands into giant dust bowls and deserts. In fact, numerous civilizations have fallen as a result of just regional climate changes. We are not so technologically advanced that we are not beholden to mother nature, and only naive or arrogant people would believe otherwise.


Actually one of your better and most logical posts I have seen so far.

You make a point for "both" cases (I hate that term also), I agree 100% that Global Change is happening. What degree is man responsible.. I would have to say that he is responsible to some degree.. its one of the mathematical variables in the equation.

Is man 80-100% responsible.. I highly doubt it, as the numbers that have been quoted for the rises in temperature have not happened. Have they increased ...yes. To the extremes that some "Accredited/Accepted" GW scientists have predicted... No

Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26516
Quoting Orcasystems:


Ok, so what percentage of GW do you attribute to man?
100-75-50-25?

You have members of the CAR group on here making statements such as;

"Finally, in answer and in contradiction to something that was said yesterday, not just some, or most, but all of the 100 or so ppm of CO2 that's entered the atmosphere in the last 100 years is from the burning of fossil fuels and the clearing of land. That's pretty amazing when you think about--and also pretty alarming."

I actually respect most of Neo's postings when he doesn't go off the deep end (and no this is not a deepend posting by him). BUT, if your going to give the impression that is entirely mans fault... then you have to prove it.



Actually, this is a correct statement. Recent research using isotope analysis has shown that the additional CO2 in the atmosphere has come primarily from burning fossil fuels (the C13 to C12 ratio).

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Quoting Orcasystems:


I will believe it if you can prove to me "climate Change" is 100% caused by man. "Climate Change" is normal, as can be scientifically proved by all of you... what you have not proven, is that it is 100% caused by man, or for that matter even 50%.

Are we responsible for some of it... of course, we are one of the variables. BUT.. all data points to the fact that the world has been much warmer then it is right now... and more then once.

I do not want to see the standard CAR (Criticize, Attack, Ridicule) response from the GW Zealots either. You have offered proof.. fire away.


If you're looking for irrefutable proof, look into abstract math. In science, anyone claiming 100% proof of anything doesn't understand science. Science has very very few absolutes. Just about every result in science is given with confidence intervals and error bars.

The fact that the climate has changed in the past and has been much warmer in the past has nothing to do with the climate now. Land masses were different, the water distribution was different, solar irradiance was different, even the atmosphere was different.

And even if comparing the world of today with the world of millions of years ago were an apples to apples comparison (it isn't), that still doesn't change the fact that our world depends on the climate we have today. Anything that risks disrupting that climate should be treated seriously, as it really doesn't take much change to turn once fertile lands into giant dust bowls and deserts. In fact, numerous civilizations have fallen as a result of just regional climate changes. We are not so technologically advanced that we are not beholden to mother nature, and only naive or arrogant people would believe otherwise.
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Its remarks like that peeve me. Your telling us that you are right... and everyone else is either wrong.. or on the take to the big companies.

What are your qualifications?

I can find lots of data on the supposed "good GW scientist" that is also trashed by the "Deniers"

I won't even go into the email hacking stuff.

I'm sorry if it "peeves" you or anyone else. But the source has to be considered in things of this import. I always question the motives of anyone trying to sell me anything. Always.
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Again.. CAR... I just looked at the qualifications of the fellow who wrote that article (None).

I have no idea who Fred Singer is.. that's the truth... but if your looking for the answer to the question... there is lots of stuff like this posted on the internet.

It would appear from his resume.. Mr Singer should be qualified.


In the January 2010 edition of Rolling Stone Magazine, journalist Tim Dickinson profiled the top 17 United States "polluters and deniers who are derailing efforts to curb global warming". Below is an excerpt from the article titled "Climate Killers" about Fred Singer.

A former mouthpiece for the tobacco industry, the 85-year-old Singer is the granddaddy of fake "science" designed to debunk global warming.

The retired physicist — who also tried to downplay the danger of the hole in the ozone layer — is still wheeled out as an authority by big polluters determined to kill climate legislation.

More information Link
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Yeah, Singer is a piece of work, alright. The guy's one of those who migrated from Big Tobacco's "Cigarettes are good for you!" campaign to Big Energy's "CO2 is good for you!" campaign. He's often lauded by denialists as a climate change "expert"--though his "expertise", such as it is, is only in the eyes of ExxonMobil.

Oh, well. Denialism needs it "experts".


Its remarks like that peeve me. Your telling us that you are right... and everyone else is either wrong.. or on the take to the big companies.

What are your qualifications?

I can find lots of data on the supposed "good GW scientist" that is also trashed by the "Deniers"

I won't even go into the email hacking stuff.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26516
Quoting Orcasystems:


"THIS", is a Tropical Weather Blog... not a science site.

Have a look at the current blog entry and tell me how much tropical weather you see in there. It looks more like a serious discussion of meteorology and climatology to me. ;-)
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Quoting Xandra:

Fred Singer: When Promoting Doubt, Make Stuff Up! Link


Again.. CAR... I just looked at the qualifications of the fellow who wrote that article (None).

I have no idea who Fred Singer is.. that's the truth... but if your looking for the answer to the question... there is lots of stuff like this posted on the internet.

It would appear from his resume.. Mr Singer should be qualified.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26516
Quoting Xandra:

Fred Singer: When Promoting Doubt, Make Stuff Up! Link

Yeah, Singer is a piece of work, alright. The guy's one of those who migrated from Big Tobacco's "Cigarettes are good for you!" campaign to Big Energy's "CO2 is good for you!" campaign. He's often lauded by denialists as a climate change "expert"--though his "expertise", such as it is, is only in the eyes of ExxonMobil.

Oh, well. Denialism needs it "experts".
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Quoting Orcasystems:


I have not seen a single post on here saying GW was NOT happening. What seems to be in question is the cause, and if it can even be "fixed", by any kind of human intervention.


Oh there have been a few. Most of them are hidden though :)
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Quoting caneswatch:


It could be fixed, but only if we stop the damage sooner (20-30 years) than later (60-100 years), by whatever kind of intervention necessary.


Actually, it can't be fixed. We passed that point a while ago. We do not have the technology to fix the problem. Even if we took drastic measures now to reduce GHG production, the world would continue to warm for the next century, albeit not as much.

But we simply do not possess the technology to effectively remove excess GHG's from the atmosphere at anywhere near the efficiency required. Economically and environmentally speaking, "band-aid" solutions like deploying giant solar reflectors in space are more effective.
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Completely--and provably--untrue. I realize such nonsense is the coin of the realm over on WUWT, but it won't fly here; this is a science site.


"THIS", is a Tropical Weather Blog... not a science site.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26516
Quoting Orcasystems:
August 2007
Global Warming: Man-Made or Natural?
S. Fred Singer
Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia


The fact that the observed and predicted patterns of warming don’t match indicates that the man-made greenhouse contribution to current temperature change is insignificant. This fact emerges from data and graphs collected in the Climate Change Science Program Re-port 1.1, published by the federal government in April 2006 (see www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-1/finalrep ort/default.htm). It is remarkable and puzzling that few have noticed this disparity between observed and predicted patterns of warming and drawn the obvious scientific conclusion.



S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, a distinguished research professor at George Mason University, and president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project. He performed his undergraduate studies at Ohio State University and earned his Ph.D. in Physics from Princeton University. He was the founding dean of the School of Environmental and Planetary Sciences at the University of Miami, the founding director of the U.S. National Weather Satellite Service, and served for five years as vice chairman of the U.S. National Advisory Committee on Oceans and atmosphere. Dr. Singer has written or edited over a
dozen books and monographs, including, most recently, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years.

Fred Singer: When Promoting Doubt, Make Stuff Up! Link
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Quoting RecordSeason:
Moreover, in the historical record there isn't even a corelation between CO2 and weather or climate.

Completely--and provably--untrue. I realize such nonsense is the coin of the realm over on WUWT, but it won't fly here; this is a science site.
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

591:

Orca, I'm gonna say 99.9999%, but I don't think that's a sufficient enough answer for some. They like that nice, even rounded number: 100%.

I tried.


I can't find a single article... anywhere.. that even remotely supports that.

Thats why I was hoping someone had one.

I DO NOT disbelieve GW... only its causes.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26516
August 2007
Global Warming: Man-Made or Natural?
S. Fred Singer
Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia


The fact that the observed and predicted patterns of warming don’t match indicates that the man-made greenhouse contribution to current temperature change is insignificant. This fact emerges from data and graphs collected in the Climate Change Science Program Re-port 1.1, published by the federal government in April 2006 (see www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-1/finalrep ort/default.htm). It is remarkable and puzzling that few have noticed this disparity between observed and predicted patterns of warming and drawn the obvious scientific conclusion.



S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, a distinguished research professor at George Mason University, and president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project. He performed his undergraduate studies at Ohio State University and earned his Ph.D. in Physics from Princeton University. He was the founding dean of the School of Environmental and Planetary Sciences at the University of Miami, the founding director of the U.S. National Weather Satellite Service, and served for five years as vice chairman of the U.S. National Advisory Committee on Oceans and atmosphere. Dr. Singer has written or edited over a
dozen books and monographs, including, most recently, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26516
What's the latest on the earthquakes off Chile?
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Afternoon all.
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Enjoyed it as per usual..

alas,parting is such schweeeet sorrow.





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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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