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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...DISCUSSION...
UPPER PATTERN CHANGE APPEARS LIKELY THIS FORECAST PERIOD...WITH THE
ERN U.S. TROUGH DEPARTING...FOLLOWED BY THE DEVELOPMENT OF A TROUGH
OVER THE WRN CONUS. AS THIS TROUGH EVOLVES OVER THE WEST DAYS
5-6...LOW-LEVEL WARMING WILL OCCUR EAST OF THE ROCKIES BENEATH WEAK
MID-LEVEL RIDGING.

SUBSTANTIAL MODEL DIFFERENCES BEGIN TO OCCUR LATE IN THE DAY 6
PERIOD...AS THE GFS EJECTS A LEAD TROUGH INTO THE CENTRAL U.S. WHILE
THE ECMWF MAINTAINS ONLY A SINGLE LONGER-WAVELENGTH WRN TROUGH.
EVENTUAL EJECTION OF PART OR ALL OF THE WRN TROUGH SHOULD INCLUDE AN
INCREASE IN CONVECTIVE POTENTIAL GIVEN SEVERAL DAYS OF PRIOR
LOW-LEVEL WARMING/MOISTENING LIKELY TO OCCUR E OF THE ROCKIES.
HOWEVER...LARGE UNCERTAINTY PERSISTS AT THIS POINT.

Hey guys my question

Would this affect Chicago at all, or is it too early to tell?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting OviedoWatcher:
Since the site was updated earlier this month, it doesn't display properly on my PC (IE 7.0). I miss the right-most 4 or 5 characters in most posts and on 'hidden' posts I don't see the '+', '-', '!' and 'hide' buttons, as they are too far to the right. I have tried changing the font size (to no avail), but it looks like a margin formatting issue. Does anyone else have this problem?
Hey Oviedo. Most of us with this problem discovered that if we turn off the Compatibility Mode in Tools and refreshed, the blog loads properly. Otherwise, the best workaround for the time being is to go back to the original format, found at http://classic.wunderground.com .

Best of luck....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
You do realize that it's unusual to be threatened "all the time", don't you?  You and I both know exactly why people get angry with you.  I'm pretty sure you get a thrill out of it.

Speaking of which, I really would appreciate an answer to my question, but I can accept that I probably won't get it from you.  For the record, some others here have suggested that you didn't read any of those articles, but I have not.  I suspect you HAVE read some of them... but I cannot figure out why you don't want to point me towards one or two of the more convincing articles.

I believe I've been respectful and open-minded.  But I guess, for you, respect is NOT a two way street.  Pity...


Quoting HaloReachFan:


I've been threatened by the "alarmists" all the time.

I've sent emails to them.

Nothing happened.

Two way street now apparently.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting kwgirl:
Good night all. Have a great weekend. And Play NICE! That's an order from the older generation. Me:)


nooooo
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Quoting oracle28:


Development in cities has expanded. But at the outskirts of the cities, not at the heart of the city

Hey I agree with you, no skyline has changed since the 70s.



Lol, keep picking out the smallest argument of my post.

Even if the urban heat argument were the real reason we see the temp graphs going up, it doesn't really matter, urban heat is all part of global heat.

It's artificial heat, because we made it. But it's still heat in our atmosphere. You can't deny it is part of the global temperature.

Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
Good night all. Have a great weekend. And Play NICE! That's an order from the older generation. Me:)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting oracle28:


5 degrees of artificial heat was also present 40 years ago in the 1970s, and the 1980s, and the 1990s.

Right, because no new construction has occurred in the U.S. since 1970. Great point!


Furthermore, the urban heat argument doesn't make sense.

Lets say hypothetically the whole entire globe was covered in asphalt. Would that mean the whole globe is artificially 5 degrees warmer (it would be much more than 5)? No.


We are changing the surface of our planet. The heat is artificial, in the sense that we created it. However, it doesn't mean that it should be discredited from global temperatures.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
Quoting TomTaylor:


Development in cities has expanded. But at the outskirts of the cities, not at the heart of the city, where city thermometers are almost always located.

Oh, and Did you miss the part about how the greatest anomalies occur in polar regions? Did you miss the part about coral reefs? Ice cores? All not located in cities, all showing warming.

I MEAN FOR CHRIST SAKE, have you ever looked at an anomaly map??????????

99% of the time the biggest dots are over non populated areas.


Development in cities has expanded. But at the outskirts of the cities, not at the heart of the city

Hey I agree with you, no skyline has changed since the 70s.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting OviedoWatcher:
Since the site was updated earlier this month, it doesn't display properly on my PC (IE 7.0). I miss the right-most 4 or 5 characters in most posts and on 'hidden' posts I don't see the '+', '-', '!' and 'hide' buttons, as they are too far to the right. I have tried changing the font size (to no avail), but it looks like a margin formatting issue. Does anyone else have this problem?
mine is the same
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
...DISCUSSION...
UPPER PATTERN CHANGE APPEARS LIKELY THIS FORECAST PERIOD...WITH THE
ERN U.S. TROUGH DEPARTING...FOLLOWED BY THE DEVELOPMENT OF A TROUGH
OVER THE WRN CONUS. AS THIS TROUGH EVOLVES OVER THE WEST DAYS
5-6...LOW-LEVEL WARMING WILL OCCUR EAST OF THE ROCKIES BENEATH WEAK
MID-LEVEL RIDGING.

SUBSTANTIAL MODEL DIFFERENCES BEGIN TO OCCUR LATE IN THE DAY 6
PERIOD...AS THE GFS EJECTS A LEAD TROUGH INTO THE CENTRAL U.S. WHILE
THE ECMWF MAINTAINS ONLY A SINGLE LONGER-WAVELENGTH WRN TROUGH.
EVENTUAL EJECTION OF PART OR ALL OF THE WRN TROUGH SHOULD INCLUDE AN
INCREASE IN CONVECTIVE POTENTIAL GIVEN SEVERAL DAYS OF PRIOR
LOW-LEVEL WARMING/MOISTENING LIKELY TO OCCUR E OF THE ROCKIES.
HOWEVER...LARGE UNCERTAINTY PERSISTS AT THIS POINT.

I do not know what this means someone explain it to me.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Skyepony:
96S is now 14S..

Hey skye, is that the area that was off to the NW of Oz? I can't see the lat/long info on this tiny screen I'm working with 2day...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting oracle28:


5 degrees of artificial heat was also present 40 years ago in the 1970s, and the 1980s, and the 1990s.

Right, because no new construction has occurred in the U.S. since 1970. Great point!


Development in cities has expanded. But at the outskirts of the cities, not at the heart of the city, where city thermometers are almost always located.

Oh, and Did you miss the part about how the greatest anomalies occur in polar regions? Did you miss the part about coral reefs? Ice cores? All not located in cities, all showing warming.

I MEAN FOR CHRIST SAKE, have you ever looked at an anomaly map??????????

99% of the time the biggest dots are over non populated areas.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
Was I out of line?
Yep. So far outta line u were a circle....

LOL.... not really meaning that, but couldn't resist the bait... lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Since the site was updated earlier this month, it doesn't display properly on my PC (IE 7.0). I miss the right-most 4 or 5 characters in most posts and on 'hidden' posts I don't see the '+', '-', '!' and 'hide' buttons, as they are too far to the right. I have tried changing the font size (to no avail), but it looks like a margin formatting issue. Does anyone else have this problem?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting BahaHurican:
Afternoon everybody.

You know, I'm really tired of the "you say, I say", "you crud, you crudete" tone of the conversation the last few days....

Even if you're right, you can still be polite. There's too much name-calling and holier-than-thou-ing on this blog of late. Can't we talk about the weather? Earthquakes and volcanos, even? Keep your personal attacks on pple you don't like to yourself, PLEASE!!!

This constant bickering's so boring!

Besides, it's FRIDAY.... as they say, Take a fresh, man, go out of the house away from the computer, get a drink, watch a play, a movie, something that doesn't involve nitpicking on the blog....


Come on man, figure the odds of that happening. Civility is just not part of this discussion. And I thought discussing religion and politics were a bad idea. Oh, wait, those are all in this one too. Damn, we got it all - this thing does not stand a chance - no matter what you believe.
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Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
And as for you hurricanejunky.You have NO idea what JFLORIDA said to me . Do not play any games without knowing the facts....JFLORIDA ridiculed and harrassed me. I did not appreciate it. I am out for revenge. I do not like JFLORIDA. You need to investigate what was said hurricanejunly before you choose sides


I'm not choosing sides. I don't really care. It's in the past. Let it go...it's a BLOG!!! Sorry, I just try not to sweat the small stuff and a long ago comment in one of many blogs that I frequent isn't anything to hold such a bitter grudge over. Just my opinion...sorry if you disagree...
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Quoting TomTaylor:



It doesn't matter if they are recording artificial heat, because the that is where the temperature gauge's have always been. 5 degrees of artificial heat was also present 40 years ago in the 1970s, and the 1980s, and the 1990s. Yet temperatures keep on climbing, why do you think that is?

Even without temperature gauges, satellite data shows warming. Ice cores show warming. Coral reefs show warming. And most importantly, the greatest areas of temperature anomalies almost always occur in polar regions, far away from any cities.

So, the urban heat effect argument, is out.


5 degrees of artificial heat was also present 40 years ago in the 1970s, and the 1980s, and the 1990s.

Right, because no new construction has occurred in the U.S. since 1970. Great point!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Cochise111:


But my point is that NOAA is using these incorrectly-placed temperature stations as the official temperature in concluding that AGW is underway. These 1200 stations are the official temperatures according to NOAA and they are recording artificial heat. They aren't recording actual temperature of the localities. When I lived in the New Orleans area for most of my life, the official NOAA temperature gauge was MSY (the airport). Without fail the temperature was several degrees higher than the surrounding area because of its improper placement.



It doesn't matter if they are recording artificial heat, because the that is where the temperature gauge's have always been. 5 degrees of artificial heat was also present 40 years ago in the 1970s, and the 1980s, and the 1990s. Yet temperatures keep on climbing, why do you think that is?

Even without temperature gauges, satellite data shows warming. Ice cores show warming. Coral reefs show warming. And most importantly, the greatest areas of temperature anomalies almost always occur in polar regions, far away from any cities.

So, the urban heat effect argument is out.


Even if it were true, it doesn't matter because we know for a fact humans are contributing to the warmth of our planet. It has been scientifically proven.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
Question about cardinals in snow.... doesn't that bright red colour make them a more likely victim of predators?
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Global Climate Change Indicators
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Climatic Data Center



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.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129796
Afternoon everybody.

You know, I'm really tired of the "you say, I say", "you crud, you crudete" tone of the conversation the last few days....

Even if you're right, you can still be polite. There's too much name-calling and holier-than-thou-ing on this blog of late. Can't we talk about the weather? Earthquakes and volcanos, even? Keep your personal attacks on pple you don't like to yourself, PLEASE!!!

This constant bickering's so boring!

Besides, it's FRIDAY.... as they say, Take a fresh, man, go out of the house away from the computer, get a drink, watch a play, a movie, something that doesn't involve nitpicking on the blog....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good Read and free :) TGIF >>>>>

"Earth system science addresses natural and
human-driven processes affecting the evolution
and ultimately the habitability of the planet. We
must recognize that the Earth system encompasses
interactions among the atmosphere, ocean, ice, land,
biochemistry, and humanity. Humanity has advertently
and inadvertently perturbed the entire system, with
both positive and negative consequences. Thus, the
accelerated development of a monitoring and prediction
system that integrates physical, biogeochemical,
and societal processes is essential if we are to provide
quantitative information that can initiate and guide the
mitigation of, and adaptation to, future changes in the
Earth system. This paper illustrates the crucial role of
the biosphere in a complex, integrated Earth system
prediction framework."


ADDRESSING THE COMPLEXITY
OF THE EARTH SYSTEM DOI:10.1175/2010BAMS3012.1 -
In final form 13 August 2010
©2010 American Meteorological Society
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Quoting Jedkins01:


Oh I'm done from here on out, I though maybe they have hope, but they would need divine intervention at this point lol.

If someone who is physically blind thinks they have a better understanding of the meaning behind a painting, there is no way of getting through to them.

That's about how ridiculous this GW stuff is. They get backed into a corner, and get even more upset because their beloved theories might actually be wrong. In reality, its not even about GW, it about their ego.

I once heard a great thing from a friend of minds grandfather, he said "you can't ruin a man ego, rather a man's ego ruin's himself".


Pay attention to the science. The overwhelming scientific evidence has been documented over and over yet you just as soon wipe your butt with it. Why are you being so obtuse about this? Don't like being confused with facts, eh? Those of us who believe in climate change and man's role in it just want to see mankind cut the polluting as much and as fast as possible. Has nothing to do with ego. It has to do with wanting a better place to live. I don't know about you but having grown up on the Gulf Coast I can tell you emphatically that I never wanted to see an oil spill much less one of the magnitude we saw with the Deepwater Horizon. Did you enjoy that oil spill? It was totally preventable. Instead of getting on here and ranting against those of us who actually care, get mad at the people who are willfully destroying our environment. Most of the time it's for money. How is that right? I think the "Christian" thing to do is take care of the planet. What would Jesus do? He sure wouldn't be polluting the crap out of the air, land and seas. What do you think?
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Quoting MrMixon:
I think you missed my point. You are correct in observing that thermometers ALWAYS measure local conditions... conditions 100 yards away are probably different. But seriously, everyone who professionally studies weather and climate is well aware of this. This is 101 level stuff.

Moreover, this isn't an issue if your goal is to examine long-term trends. Because, even if a thermometer is consistently reporting a temperature that is 5 degrees higher (or lower) than the temperature 100 yards away, and even if you don't correct this, the instrument will still properly reflect TRENDS in temperature (i.e. - is temperature going up or down). The absolute temperature is far less relevant than the observed CHANGE in temperature when discussing climate change because, as you point out, absolute temperature is extremely localized.





But my point is that NOAA is using these incorrectly-placed temperature stations as the official temperature in concluding that AGW is underway. These 1200 stations are the official temperatures according to NOAA and they are recording artificial heat. They aren't recording actual temperature of the localities. When I lived in the New Orleans area for most of my life, the official NOAA temperature gauge was MSY (the airport). Without fail the temperature was several degrees higher than the surrounding area because of its improper placement.
Member Since: February 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 352
Currently Active Tropical Cyclones
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129796
Quoting MrMixon:
#235

If directly threatening another blogger doesn't get you banned, what exactly does?

This is beyond "debate" or "bickering".  This sort of language is a threat to violence...

Dr. Masters, are you reading this stuff?


I've been threatened by the "alarmists" all the time.

I've sent emails to them.

Nothing happened.

Two way street now apparently.
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omg........this place is crazy......and has been crazy like this the last 2 or 3 times i've logged on..........
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WunderBlogs - Standards




The WunderBlogs are a forum for our members to express their opinions and ideas about weather, the outdoors, and nearly everything. Some blogs, such as Dr. Masters' Blog, have special community standards that apply only to them.

For the blogs at large, as well as special or featured blogs, our Terms of Service apply. Please remain within the bounds of the Terms of Service. This document will strive to provide pointers for operating within the Wunderground community.

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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129796
#235

If directly threatening another blogger doesn't get you banned, what exactly does?

This is beyond "debate" or "bickering".  This sort of language is a threat to violence...

Dr. Masters, are you reading this stuff?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Surfcropper:
$4 Billion For Global Warming Research In 2011 Budget




This is literally the dumbest thing I have ever seen.



If anything, research helps public schools so people get the correct information.


wtf is wrong with people.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
Quoting hurricanejunky:


What kind of petty grudge holding is this? It's a blog for crying out loud. Is this your life or something that you take blog attacks so personally? Jeez, you'd think JFlorida came over to your house and branded you with a cow iron. Get a grip. You're not gonna do anything to anyone on here and vice versa. Maybe you should go to the WWF blog or the UFC blog or an NRA blog where the threats would blend right in with the rest of the comments. Your feeble attempt at intimidation wreaks of high school, maybe even middle school.


Attacking on a blog is no joke.
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Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
Was I out of line?


I come back for 3 minutes to get something.

Your post that I won't quote because it'll make me laugh again.

Deserves to be the post of the day.

Kudos man.


For the people wondering how old I am.

Just ask JFLORIDA

For my age.

For my address.

For my full name.

He knows all of it.
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Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
JFLORIDA...If you have any kind of memory from a few months ago when you attacked me. I responded to you that I would have your a**. I did not appreciate your attack on me, and I will not, "EVER" forget it.You have to live with my attacks because of your trying to degrading me. This girl will not let you rest in peace...You have to live with it.Got it....?? You picked on the wrong girl JFLORIDA...You best watch your step around me .


What kind of petty grudge holding is this? It's a blog for crying out loud. Is this your life or something that you take blog attacks so personally? Jeez, you'd think JFlorida came over to your house and branded you with a cow iron. Get a grip. You're not gonna do anything to anyone on here and vice versa. Maybe you should go to the WWF blog or the UFC blog or an NRA blog where the threats would blend right in with the rest of the comments. Your feeble attempt at intimidation wreaks of high school, maybe even middle school.
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JohnTucker...you have no idea. Member since 2/2/2011
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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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