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:

LOL.

Yet another page from the Marxist playbook as this example so finely, beautifully illustrates that.

Pat on the back for you as well. I knew you could do it.

Was wondering if McKnightley & MrPrefect are jealous?
Where in God's Green Earth did this "Marxist Playbook" meme come from? Does the Right still see Commie Boogymen everywhere? LOL!!!
Member Since: August 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 324
Quoting twincomanche:
I must be on ignore with all the GW freaks since no one responds to my questions........or they are like ALGORE and just don't take questions.


lol I'm far from being a GW freak :)

To answer your question, no I don't have a plan because first of all, I'm just one man, and coming up with a plan would be waste of time. I'm a busy college student. Second of all, I'm just your average dude, I don't think I'm qualified to come up with a plan that saves the nations energy crisis, neither do I want to have the burden of doing so.

lol
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7310
It was gorgeous in Fargo today, got up into the 30sF and will be in the 30s for the next week. I'm hoping we will get enough snow melt to prevent a replay of the '09 Flood.

Quoting Cochise111:


Why are so many cold records being broken when the earth is supposed to be warming? That answer is beyond our capability of reasoning? We have to be members of the pseudo-scientific field of climatology to understand how global warming AKA "climate disruption" defies logic and, more important, defies the laws of physics. The answers lies somewhere in the similar question is how can someone be a liberal? There are several peer-reviewed papers (people here love that term) demonstrating that liberalism is a mental disorder, because liberalism also defies logic. Liberals wish to reward those who do not produce by taking from those who do. The global warming hoax is similar in that those who push it want to punish nations that produce and provide for the rest of the world. Climatology is a pseudo-science, because its results cannot be replicated. With all other fields of science, the scientific method is employed -- but not climatology. Current climate models cannot reproduce past weather conditions, much less future conditions. In my opinion, meteorology has taken a step backward since the introduction of computer models. In my area of Colorado, same-day forecasts are often inaccurate. Just remember, when perusing this blog you must dismiss all semblance of logic and reason. There are certain bloggers here who belong to the sect of global warming religion, and any who question their dicta are scorned ( their motives are certainly questionable). These people are the same as those who said the era of white winters was over for the US and Britain. I also recall 30 years ago when the earth was heading for a mini ice age according to these Nostradamuses. Global warming proponents scream that the earth is warming (be it by tenths of a degree), but they cannot show that increase without relying on manipulation of data or faulty surface temperature stations. Enjoy this site. Read frequently and you will be amused.
This sounds a lot like Creationist arguments about evolution not being science because the history of life is not something that can be proved by experiement. *rolls eyes*


Oh, and this is ANOTHER post showing an American-centric attitude when it comes to record cold weather "disproving" AGW.

I want to see those "peer reviewed" papers that claim that "liberalism" is a mental disorder. Your right-wing screed is pretty good evidence that your ranting is mere psychological projection, and a very offensive bit of ranting at that, calling people you disagree with "mentally ill" just because they disagree with you. I don't call you deniers "mentally ill". I may think you guys are dead wrong and deluded, but that's human nature, not psychosis.

If the deniers would give dispassionate critiques of the data I would take them seriously, but they don't, they instead engage in sophistry, personal attacks, and Argument To Credulity. Michael constantly posts the data over and over again in every thread, the data is right there.
Member Since: August 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 324
This is not a jellyfish.



This is a jellyfish.



What is this?

Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
444. JRRP
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Geez, this blog reminds me of "Welcome to the Jungle" now. It's just gone wild.
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Quoting Grothar:


I'll be here.


Grothar, you and I will be 153 years old.
I'll fly my car down to Fla and visit you. :)
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Quoting RecordSeason:
Now for some further examinations of how even solar power will produce some "global warming", if we really want to get technical and examine everything, let us examine what the world's current energy needs are. Which is to say 16 terawatts.

About 5% of human energy useage comes from hydro, and honestly there isn't a lot of room available for increasing this without blocking up rivers that are currently used for cheap means of transport. This would be bad as it would increase energy costs of transporting goods around.

So if the other 95% needs to come from wind and solar, then we need 15.2 terawatts of electricity from wind and solar just to meet current world demand for energy, neglecting the fact that hopefully 3rd world countries might one day reach at least a half decent level of technology to feed and clothe themselves without handouts from the U.S. and Europe...

So we need 15.2 terrawatts of electricity from wind and/or solar.

Well, it's difficult to "prove" but I have shown in the past that wind is practically worthless compared to solar, in terms of both energy per unit area and energy per unit cost.

Since even the most efficient combinations of carnot cycles are no more than 66% efficient, then the 66% is equal to our energy needs. Then we need to produce power plants to absorb enough energy in the form of steam to match 66% of electricity, plus the 34% of "waste heat" to be realistic.

If a 40mw plant does 9000 gallons per minute at 723f, then to make 15.2 terawatts at the same efficiency requires 3.42 billion gallons per minute at 723f.

This is equivalent of the world converting about 0.3% of the volume of the Gulf of Mexico to 723f steam each year.

These systems are already within a few percent of the theoretical limits of efficiency for heat engines.

Obviously, if the third world countries ever catch up in energy use to have a half decent level of technology, then the world's energy use will be several times higher than what it is now, perhaps 50 terawatts per year or more.

We can see that in order to produce this power through solar, which is much cheaper and more efficient than wind, we would need to vaporize an amount of water equivalent to about 1% of the Gulf of Mexico every year to 723f steam.

We cannot possibly do much more in hydro-electric for the reasons specified.

Biofuels are largely a joke, because they compete with farm land for food resources,a nd they consume valuable phosphorous which is needed for those food crops.

This leaves wind, solar, and geothermal.


Allegedly, there are large reserves of geothermal energy under the U.S., but I doubt it's as much as has been alleged. "Old Faithful" only erupts once per hour, after all, and it's certainly nothing like a megawatt class power plant.

As for proving wind is more expensive per watt than solar, it isn't impossible to prove.

Solar steam plant > photovoltaics > Wind

To get that much energy from wind turbines, you'd need several ten-millions (something like 50 million) of turbines world wide experiencing non-stop tropical storm force winds.

Where in this post did you show solar energy creates more warming than fossil fuels?

You still haven't proven that.

And where did you calculate how much heat fossil fuels are trapping. You still don't know that, so you can't say which is better if you don't know how good/bad one or the other is. Additionally you completely left out nuclear. And you assumed every solar plant operates under the same conditions. And you assumed solar energy won't become more efficient. And you assumed that heated steam couldn't be reused for heating ti reduce energy demands.

The list goes on and on. The fact is, you don't know that solar would create more warming than fossil fuels.


And if you are in fact correct, why does any of this matter? Fossil fuels WILL run out.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
Quoting hcubed:


So, natural CO2 provided 300ppm, and we've provided 85ppm. More warming from the 300, or the 85?

And, again, if that prediction of 900ppm comes true by 2100, I'll apologize to everyone. Even though I'll be about 148 years old.


I'll be here.
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Quoting bappit:

The other 300 ppm is more or less a baseline amount created by the carbon cycle. It includes the sequestration of carbon dioxide in rock and the expulsion of carbon dioxide by volcanoes.

The graph posted by Patrap illustrates the situation.



Weren't you listening earlier? Shame on you for not listening.


So, natural CO2 provided 300ppm, and we've provided 85ppm. More warming from the 300, or the 85?

And, again, if that prediction of 900ppm comes true by 2100, I'll apologize to everyone. Even though I'll be about 148 years old.
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Sorry for the outburst, my appologies to the blog. Hummm, that felt weird!

I just find the oppressive nature of things here difficult to take any longer. All I want is the truth! :) out>>>>>>>>>>>>

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8185
433. Fluid
I've enjoyed this site for years and years.

I'm sure the new format has its plusses, but I really don't like it.

I can't find things, and it feels like there is less information handy.

It would be great if both formats were available.

Thanks for listening.

-Fluid
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KOTG - that is beautiful!
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Quoting Neapolitan:

So when do you plan to submit your work for peer-review? You claim to have discovered a temperature trend that has somehow escaped the majority of climatologists and weather statisticians; if you have indeed done that, you should have no trouble finding willing sponsors.


Tell us about smoothing big fella. Cmon, how about homogenization? You tout yourself all too often with opinion and yet you run from that of which you cannot slander or character assassinate.

For the rest of you, use your plus and minus buttons. There is a band of merry men who do it vigorously for their activist cause in order to hide that of which they don't want the general populous to see from this site. Unfortunately, not many normal sane people who casually visit this site (not here all day long pushing an agenda and have an actual job) use the buttons, hence why many of the folks here are invisible to those who don't pay or set their filter to view all. Just like liberals, they tell you they care and want to help, and they shoot you in the back. Pitiful and cowardly really.

Probably why this site gains no awards unlike others who are up for another Science blog of the year award as finalists. Oh, did I say that, WUWT? LOL
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8185
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53308
Interesting post RecordSeason. Here's something I heard of recently. (It may be old hat to you.)

The JTEC.

Two comments from the story:

According to Johnson, this engine can operate on tiny scales, or generate megawatts of power.

It could harvest waste heat from internal combustion engines and combustion turbines.


Edit: another link for the same story. Lots of links out there.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5961
Ya just can't hide the physics.....

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8185
Quoting Levi32:
For those who appreciate an objective look at the current trends, here is a glance at what's going on right now.

So when do you plan to submit your work for peer-review? You claim to have discovered a temperature trend that has somehow escaped the majority of climatologists and weather statisticians; if you have indeed done that, you should have no trouble finding willing sponsors.
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"Composite Temperature Record"

Does that stand for cherry-picked temperature record? Okay, that was mean, but what the heck is the source of that? You created something, I think. Really not clear from your post. What is wrong with the data you are ignoring? Why lag temperatures when we want to know what the temperature actually is? How do we know that trends in Nino are not effects in the climate change repertory?

Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5961
422. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Tropical Cyclone Warning Center Perth
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin
TROPICAL LOW 15U
10:00 AM WST February 12 2011
============================================

At 9:00 AM WST, Tropical Low (1000 hPa) located at 21.0S 100.0E has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The low is reported as moving west southwest at 15 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T2.0/2.5/W0.5/24HRS

Forecast and Intensity
============================
12 HRS: 21.5S 97.3E - 30 knots (TROPICAL LOW)
24 HRS: 21.6S 95.2E - 35 knots (CAT 1)
48 HRS: 21.3S 92.1E - 30 knots (TROPICAL LOW)
72 HRS: 21.6S 89.0E - 30 knots (TROPICAL LOW)

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

Position poor, based on animated near-IR and persistence and aided by recent microwave imagery.

Deep convection is slowly diminishing and cloud top temperatures have warmed in the last 24 hours. Recent IR and microwave imagery shows low level cloud organisation still evident with the LLCC <.75 deg from CDO. CIMSS indicates the system is moving into weaker shear environment [<10 kt] to the south under the upper level ridge axis. SSMI/AMSRE Precipitable Water imagery suggests dry air entrainment along the western flank. Outflow remains good to the north.

Dvorak: Due to unavailability of sufficient data, unable to derive DT value at 2200UTC. MET=2.0 based on W- trend. PAT=2.0. FT based on MET and PAT. CI held at 2.5 based on constraints for initial weakening.

Forecast track based on a consensus of models continue to steer the system to the west southwest under the influence of a mid-level ridge to the south of the system. This is moving the system closer to the upper level ridge, so shear is forecast to continue decreasing during the next 12 to 24 hours. However the system is also moving into a region of cooler waters [26 degrees], so there exists only a small window of opportunity early Sunday for the system to reach TC intensity after which time the lack of ocean heat content is expected to dominate.

The next tropical cyclone bulletin on Tropical Low 15U will be issued at 7:00 AM UTC..
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For those who appreciate an objective look at the current trends, here is a glance at what's going on right now.

Instead of struggling with the differences between the major temperature data sets, a good estimate of the recent global temperature is probably to simply combine the five major data sets together (GISS, HadCRUT3, NOAA, RSS MSU, and UAH MSU). I will call this the Composite Temperature Record.

The next step is determining a recent trend, something shorter than the century time scale that can reflect what's going on with the climate in recent years. A good time scale to use is decadal, meaning periods of 10 years. The problem with these is that the largest short-term modulator of global temperature, ENSO, has a strong effect in this range. Picking a start point at the bottom of a La Nina or the top of an El Nino can severely skew the recent trend.

Therefore, I made an attempt to create an "ENSO-neutral" roughly decadal period to analyze recent temperature trends. To do this I used Nino 3.4 SST data from ReynoldsV2 and found a time period close to 10 years, ending at January, 2011, with an average Nino index as close to zero as possible. The nino values also have to be lagged by 2 months in order to account for most of the lag effect that ENSO has on global temperature. After doing this, the period I selected for this month is January, 2001 to January, 2011, with an average Nino 3.4 anomaly of -0.00021C.

The linear trend for this period is 0.0038C per year. For comparison, the 100-year trend is currently 0.0070C. Thus, the recent decadal trend has come down to almost half of what the centennial trend is, reflecting the leveling off that occurred last decade. However, taking out ENSO biases, the trend is not completely flat yet, and will depend on how temperatures evolve this decade.



Larger size if wanted
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26566

Quoting Neapolitan:
Just 2,614 hours and 21 minutes until the hurricane season starts.

Hurry, hurry, hurry...
I'm waiting with baited breath.  Someone push the fast-forward button!
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416. Skyepony (Mod)
This blog entry got me thinking.. like last year..we've kinda used up a good bit of weather extremes for the year on these blizzards. Yeah there is the spring floods & all yet. Just seems like this cold CONUS, extreme Australia, dry South America, warmer poles has been going on near 2 years. The suffrage seems to come in turns..

That heat pool building in the S Pac has had me a bit mesmerized the last month or more.
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414. beell
All things probably being at least partially applicable to a spatial analogy: physically in pattern where things must fit together using rules you increase complexity and options by orders of magnitude by moving up dimensions in observance of the base requirements.

Wow...that's just what I was thinking.
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We use 20,000,000 bbls of Oil a day in the USA

Quiz Bowl 2011 Wu style

How much is imported daily?
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127701
Quoting Neapolitan:
Just 2,614 hours and 21 minutes until the hurricane season starts.

Hurry, hurry, hurry...
So do you still think I'm a 12 year old?.Lol.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16444
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127701
408. Skyepony (Mod)
Cloudsat of that asymmetric warm core low just south of Greenland. There's a cluster of 3 Lows in that area all in the lower 940mb..
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Doesn't seem like a good night on the blog tonight.So anyone wanna talk about america's using their own resources like our oil/wind power.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16444
Quoting Neapolitan:
Just 2,614 hours and 21 minutes until the hurricane season starts.

Hurry, hurry, hurry...

its coming don't worry
before ya know it
it will be already here
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53308
Quoting twincomanche:


Pretty good for a jarhead.


Thanx,,I had the pleasure and privilege to Serve and Sail a Few Oceans and Hemispheres with some fine folks.

Blue Nose and shellback..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127701
Quoting twincomanche:


Typical. Poof someone because they say something you don't like. You have no idea who I am or my credentials to say what I say. Ignorance is bliss I guess.


No,,yer verbiage was plenty nuff to carry your position.

I was responding on another tab to your earlier post when you tossed in the Al reference.

So,,wherever ya go,there ya are
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127701
Just 2,614 hours and 21 minutes until the hurricane season starts.

Hurry, hurry, hurry...
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The Images show easily the Co2 in the Northern Hemisphere near the industrialized World centers..and less near the equator and much less populated S. Hemisphere.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127701

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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.