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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Enjoyed it as per usual..

alas,parting is such schweeeet sorrow.





Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128764
Quoting Orcasystems:


Ok, maybe you can give me an answer.. and believe it or not, I actually want to know. What percentage of GW is attributed to man.

I tend to agree with NASA scientist Gavin Schmidt on this one. He was asked in 2009 what percentage of global warming is due to human causes vs. natural causes. His response: "Over the last 40 or so years, natural drivers would have caused cooling, and so the warming there has been...is caused by a combination of human drivers and some degree of internal variability. I would judge the maximum amplitude of the internal variability to be roughly 0.1 deg C over that time period, and so given the warming of ~0.5 deg C, I'd say somewhere between 80 to 120% of the warming."
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13571
LOL..



Lub yer page too Big Phish..."John"

Scrub a dub,dub





Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128764
Quoting Cochise111:
http://www.berkeleyearth.org/study

Now maybe we can receive some non-manipulated data. I'll bet NOAA is screaming about this.

Well, I doubt they're screaming. Of course, any climate "science" funded by the likes of fossil fuel titans such as the Koch Brothers and the Gettys is going to remain suspect, and rightly so. Still, I wonder how quickly such donors will cease their funding if the Berkeley data set corroborates the GHCN numbers. I also wonder whether Watts' goofy SurfaceStations.org project will send its zombie army out to "validate" the Berkeley stations if they corroborate the GHCN data.

The preliminary numbers should be out soon. It'll be interesting...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13571
Quoting Patrap:
Lordy,,....


Cant some do the Leg Work instead of being a Demanding "this and that" retentive?



Pat, stick to something you know... I am well aware of your qualifications.

I am asking someone who appears to have knowledge on the subject a legitimate question. Its actually something I want to know.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Lordy,,....


Cant some do the Leg Work instead of being a Demanding "this and that" retentive?



The Truth is out dere Mulder.


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128764
Quoting Neapolitan:

Please note that I didn't say all the warming was from man; I said the 100ppm rise in CO2 concentrations over the past century or so has been. And that's demonstrably true on several levels; for instance, isotopic analysis of the new CO2 shows it's from ancient CO2 that was up until very recently stored in oil and coal deposits.


Ok, maybe you can give me an answer.. and believe it or not, I actually want to know. What percentage of GW is attributed to man.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
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.


Please note that I didn't say all the warming was from man; I said the 100ppm rise in CO2 concentrations over the past century or so has been. And that's demonstrably true on several levels; for instance, isotopic analysis of the new CO2 shows it's from ancient CO2 that was up until very recently stored in oil and coal deposits.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13571
http://www.berkeleyearth.org/study

Now maybe we can receive some non-manipulated data. I'll bet NOAA is screaming about this.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Loop
Rapidly intensifying.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Saw Jerry and the Gang many Moons ago ,,and that song as well.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128764

Having fun in the CAR lane?




Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.......

...someone's Right turn Blinker has been on for 6 exits now.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128764
Not many Grizzlies or Orca's drilling and refining Oil and Burning it last I checked,,nor Squirrels Building coal Fired Plants either.
Maybe the Daily Smog and Pollution in Hong Kong, Mexico City and Beijing is just a figment of the imagination


How many Gigatons of Co2 does an avg Deer Population produce ?

Fossil fuel burning is a 24/7/365 Business.

Even in Vancouver

But some can believe that the Co2 Pixies and Fairies come out on the Dark side of the Planet every 24 hours while we sleep, wave them wands and POOF,,away it goes.


Phantastic.



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128764
Quoting McBill:


Well, if it's not a straw man argument, you should be able to point me to where someone has made the claim that 100% of the warming is attributable to human sources. Otherwise I'm sticking with the straw man. For the record, this is from the IPCC AR4:

"Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations. It is likely that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent (except Antarctica)."


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.

Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Climate Model Indications and the Observed Climate



Simulated global temperature in experiments that include human influences (pink line), and model experiments that included only natural factors (blue line). The black line is observed temperature change.



Global climate models clearly show the effect of human-induced changes on global temperatures. The blue band shows how global temperatures would have changed due to natural forces only (without human influence). The pink band shows model projections of the effects of human and natural forces combined. The black line shows actual observed global average temperatures. The close match between the black line and the pink band indicates that observed warming over the last half-century cannot be explained by natural factors alone, and is instead caused primarily by human factors.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128764
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.


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.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I was doing some back work on some data pernts and came across this comment from a member..and I think the summation is one that many agree upon.

Food fer thought,at least.


491. greentortuloni 8:40 AM CST on February 03, 2011



since I agree with most of Nea's thoughts on AGW (though my political views are shot gun scatttered over any spectrum you'd care to bring up), I thought I'd chime in with my predictions:

Scenario 1: Stay the same as we are:

Climate: Arctic Ice melts in 3-5 years, accelerating Greenland Ice sheet melt. Current rates of melt accelerate from 1mm/year (just Greenland) to 20mm/year. Methane release from permafrost and near land hydrates is released. Temperatures continue to climb resulting in massive changes to eco systems worldwide: coral bleaching, loss of fisheries, drought and deluge both.

Politically: Oil imports stop or slow down enourmously as a result of rising need in heavy industry in third world countries, backlash terrorism against Western oil refineries and rising prices that put casual oil consumption beyond the reach of many. (Yeah odd that but that is actually how I see it) Deulge and dought kill billions around the world through lack of food, disease, and fighting. The electric revolution comes anyway but ineffectively now. American society becomes more segregated and polarized. Financial crisis as physical and sociopolitical risk levels drive investment away innovation. Climate refugee crisis overwhelms infrastucture.

Basically, the world returns to the dark ages feudalism (in terms of isolated communities) and any idea of American dream or Norman Rockwell is trashed. Though with nice tech gadgets.


Scenario 2:

Stay the same but AGW is fixed, Deus ex machina style, let's say 10 years from now. Not necessarily Deux but for example the Chinese put up a big space umbrella to save us. Point of scenario is we continue in this path and AGW isn't a big deal.

Cimate:

Artic ice melts (irrevopcable at this point, I think). Coral bleaching, loss of many fisheries. Some flooding or coastal areas, more frequent weather changes. Loss of many species, thousands/millions die due to loss of agriculture, food price upheavals, and unsanitary conditions. Still climate refugees but not as bad as scenario 1.

Politically:
US continues to import oil. Slowly worldwide green renewable revolution takes place. People become self sufficient and understand the value of self sufficiency economically. Eventually this revolution comes to the US as well. US will be a financial wreck for generations since our only product that sells internationally is technology and we will lose that leadership thanks to 1) the law of averages (1 billion Chinese on the average will invent more than 500 million Americans given same education and entropreneurial system) and 2) the continual squashing of American science and rationality by polticians who have discovered how to sell their ideals for the votes of the ignorant. [At some point, technology will remove the need for workers or work. At that point an asset independent country with no debt will be able to survive just fine. After that point, debt will spiral out of control.]

Scenario 3:

The world comes togather, admits there is AGW and agrees on stopping AGW togather. All the climate problems of scenario 2 continue however, but the world works togather to fix the problems. Debt will still be a problem but with the anti-science climate removed politically, the US will stand a fighting chance to regain our economic independence.


*Author's note. I realize this post makes me seem a semi-nutcase. But if you remove the 'everything is magically ok' solution, making projections somehow makes everyone sound like that, I hope (at least, I hope it isn't just me). I think it would be fun, perhaps on another blog, to debate futurism re global warming because I think it is one of hte most overlooked parts of what will happen because of AGW.





Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128764
Quoting McBill:

Who has made the claim that the increase in global temperatures is 100% caused by man? I haven't. Certainly the IPCC hasn't. I can't recall anyone on these blogs making that claim.

I think what we have here is just another straw man argument.



Welcome to the CAR pool.


Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting caneswatch:
I'm just going to give my $.02, then i'll depart until the evening.

GW, whether you like to believe it's real or not, it's real. The science and the data behind it supports it. The temperature average supports it, the CO2 data supports it, the Arctic Ice data supports it. If you choose to believe it's just a hoax, be my guest. I'll probably get a lot of **** from this post, but that's ok, it's normal, especially from here.


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.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
$7.50 per U.S. gallon for gas.......in Germany and most of Europe.....but 75% of the price is government taxes.

Gas station sign says 1.43. Sounds great, huh? But this is 1.43 Euro per liter. Now you know why they drive small cars. Luckily as a U.S government employee I get it for about $3.80 per gallon. Good thing, or I would have never brought my Jeep over!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Once again,,arrogance does not change the facts,,nor the science Big Phish.


www.ncdc.noaa.gov/indicators


800,000 Year Record of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Concentrations

Carbon dioxide concentration (parts per million) for the last 800,000 years, measured from trapped bubbles of air in an Antarctic ice core. More information: Climate Change Impacts on the U.S.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128764
I'm just going to give my $.02, then i'll depart until the evening.

GW, whether you like to believe it's real or not, it's real. The science and the data behind it supports it. The temperature average supports it, the CO2 data supports it, the Arctic Ice data supports it. If you choose to believe it's just a hoax, be my guest. I'll probably get a lot of **** from this post, but that's ok, it's normal, especially from here.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MrMixon:
RecordSeason,

If I showed you indisputable proof of climate change would you believe it?





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.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
The author here does it the way Science works as well.


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
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128764
RecordSeason,

If I showed you indisputable proof of climate change would you believe it?


Quoting RecordSeason:
Patrap:

I don't believe in GW because the data does not support GW, or even "climate change".


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Reality here is easy.

Comments arent "post",,there comments.

Maybe do a Blog ENTRY,,and show us your "infallible data and science" that can maybe sway us to believe, what you believe.

Nothing you have brought has swayed anyone from the Science involved.

recordseason
Member Since: June 13, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1984



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128764
Climate Change Impacts

Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States: Report Home Page

The most comprehensive, authoritative report on Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States was released on Tuesday June 16th, 2009. This report presents, in plain language, the science and impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future. It focuses on climate change impacts on U.S. regions and various aspects of society and the economy such as energy, water, agriculture, and health. A comprehensive series of web-pages were developed that highlight the findings and major conclusions of the report and contain complete downloadable files of the report, as well as a host of additional content on climate change impacts on the U.S.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128764
Feel free to ignore the Posts of the Goofy one then.

LOL


But arrogance and ignorance are common bedfellows throughout history.


Turn yer pillow over and it will be cooler.



How do we know the Earth's climate is warming?



Thousands of land and ocean temperature measurements are recorded each day around the globe. This includes measurements from climate reference stations, weather stations, ships, buoys and autonomous gliders in the oceans. These surface measurements are also supplemented with satellite measurements. These measurements are processed, examined for random and systematic errors, and then finally combined to produce a time series of global average temperature change. A number of agencies around the world have produced datasets of global-scale changes in surface temperature using different techniques to process the data and remove measurement errors that could lead to false interpretations of temperature trends. The warming trend that is apparent in all of the independent methods of calculating global temperature change is also confirmed by other independent observations, such as the melting of mountain glaciers on every continent, reductions in the extent of snow cover, earlier blooming of plants in spring, a shorter ice season on lakes and rivers, ocean heat content, reduced arctic sea ice, and rising sea levels.



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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.