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 washingtonian115:
It looks as though the atlantic has not cooled off since last year.I wonder if this warm water will continue to stay in place until next year??.


Don't know if this has been said yet, but that is probably more related to la nina than this infamous *Global Warming* (even though climate change is the term most college professors use) I have personally read multiple scientific papers released in the past year or so about how strong la nina events cause Atlantic sst's to rise, despite an expected drop in world average temperatures. This is due to water's ability to hold in heat. In layman's terms the heat is transferred to the Atlantic from the pacific.
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Quoting Cochise111:


Proxy = manipulated, not actual, substitute. Been to college and beyond, friend. When 90% of surface weather stations are placed next to concrete, asphalt, jet engines, a/c exhausts, only AGW cultists can call them accurate. One doesn't need a college education to see fraud posing as science. Once again, you AGW guys are ready to insult because you can do so from a keyboard. You'd never get away with it in person.

If a person hears the truth and interprets it as an insult, that says far more about the character of the person who feels insulted than it does about the person who told that truth.
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Quoting MississippiBoy:
I know this can be a very touchy subject but what do some of you think of (gw)global warming.It sure has been cold down here in MS?


Cold spells, heat waves, active hurricane seasons, and other events such as these are meteorological events. It's impossible to blame any specific event or even series of events on global warming, as natural variation plays a stronger role in localized areas and short time scales.

What can be attributed to global warming would be long term shifts weather patterns and events. For example, the arctic has a significant downward trend in sea ice as well as a significant upward trend in temperatures over the last 30 years.

With time scales at the multi-decade level, it can be the case that any effects are recognized only in hind sight. Model predictions may not be proven accurate until 10 (and often more) years have elapsed. For instance, we've had a couple years of a new arctic weather pattern in winter, which has had some pretty dramatic effects. Climatologically speaking, a couple of years is not significant. However, if this pattern keeps up for ten years and longer, then that starts becoming climatologically significant.

As always, I encourage people to do their own research. A fair amount of the IPCC report is easily digestible for example. However, anyone claiming that a particular weather event, hurricane season, heat wave, cold spell, or blizzard is directly caused by global warming (or global cooling) isn't worth listening to.
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Quoting sunlinepr:
Wow! looking at the different cloud patterns.Compare Bingiza? to the storm near antartica.
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A cantilevered Glass House

Link
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1394. Patrap



Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory

The Ocean Chemistry Division's (OCD) research includes projects that are important both in enhancing our basic understanding of the coupled atmospheric/ocean system but also in assessing the current and future effects of human activities on the coastal and oceanic environments.



Oceanic CO2
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
After reading a lot of the "information" posted today... I'm really starting to miss JFV :(
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Quoting washingtonian115:
It looks as though the atlantic has not cooled off since last year.I wonder if this warm water will continue to stay in place until next year??.

we hope not.
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Quoting JohnTucker:


Its called a proxy record and contains thousands of data sets Friend.

In college they will teach you that.


Proxy = manipulated, not actual, substitute. Been to college and beyond, friend. When 90% of surface weather stations are placed next to concrete, asphalt, jet engines, a/c exhausts, only AGW cultists can call them accurate. One doesn't need a college education to see fraud posing as science. Once again, you AGW guys are ready to insult because you can do so from a keyboard. You'd never get away with it in person.
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Quoting Neapolitan:
The SST differences between 2009 and this year are striking to say the least:

2009 (click for larger image):

Appropriate tropical weather-related image.


2011 (click for larger image):

Appropriate tropical weather-related image.


It looks as though the atlantic has not cooled off since last year.I wonder if this warm water will continue to stay in place until next year??.
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Who told you I was terrified? I'm amused.

The thing is, the Kochs alone stand to keep raking in billions in profit each year so long as the gullible public believes the planet isn't warming. One almost can't blame them for digging deep into their own pockets to finance such a project. It's silly, of course; it's kinda like a morbidly obese man building his own bathroom scale because he doesn't believe the ones in all the various doctor's offices he's been to. But so long as the instruments are properly calibrated, the data is treated correctly, and the project as a whole is subjected to the same excruciatingly rigorous standards of quality as the current system, I'm all for it. I know many denialists are already certain the project will show much lower temps; I wonder what they'll do if the opposite happens--that is, if the warming is corroborated. Will they then admit to the truth? And will the Kochs slam their checkbook quickly shut?

It all remains to be seen...


But yet NOBODY gains for the Man-Made AGW crowd?

I find that hilarious.
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1384. Patrap
If one uses their wu mail,,feel free to ask these questions to the Blog Author in a purposeful meaningful manner,,like about data sets, and Im sure he will answer them as time permits.



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Quoting texwarhawk:
Hey Levi, if your still here. I got an Mid-Lat cyclone question. To my understanding in the tropics you want a Upper level high (anti-cyclone) vertically stacked above a surface low to allow the low to vent and continue to strengthen. But in the mid-lat you want an upper level trough located to the west of the surface low because of the Coriolis force (right?) you would want the upper level high to be to the east. If anyone else can help it'll be greatly appreciated.

The locations are correct, but it's more for reasons of upper air divergence.

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Quoting Levi32:


I personally can't wait for an independent data set to compare. I have no doubt there will be some warming shown in the 20th century, but I will be interested to see how it compares with other major data sets.


It's too bad that NOAA won't abide by their own rules and place temperature stations in areas not affected by artificial heat.
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The SST differences between 2009 and this year are striking to say the least:

2009 (click for larger image):

Appropriate tropical weather-related image.


2011 (click for larger image):

Appropriate tropical weather-related image.


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Quoting washingtonian115:
That's basically correct.But when an anticyclone is away from the center of a storm or the storm in general it can be the enemy..


Thanks. Trying to explain to a friend our homework in atmospheric science and I want to make sure I'm understanding it right.
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Quoting texwarhawk:
Hey Levi, if your still here. I got an Mid-Lat cyclone question. To my understanding in the tropics you want a Upper level high (anti-cyclone) vertically stacked above a surface low to allow the low to vent and continue to strengthen. But in the mid-lat you want an upper level trough located to the west of the surface low because of the Coriolis force (right?) you would want the upper level high to be to the east. If anyone else can help it'll be greatly appreciated.
That's basically correct.But when an anticyclone is away from the center of a storm or the storm in general it can be the enemy..
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1374. Patrap



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
Quoting RecordSeason:
...Incorrect statements about water deleted, including remarks about it's absorption spectrum...


Really? Water is not affected by any spectrum?

According to this, it's pretty clear that water is very absorbent of wavelengths outside the visible spectrum, going from mid UV up and starting from near IR down.

Also from the site:

Water vapor is a greenhouse gas in the Earth's atmosphere, responsible for 70% of the known absorption of incoming sunlight, particularly in the infrared region, and about 60% of the atmospheric absorption of thermal radiation by the Earth known as the greenhouse effect.

To further prove this, put some water in a pot and boil it. If you can, then water reacts to IR radiation. Next, put water in a cup and put it in a microwave for 60 seconds on high. If it heats up, then water responds to microwave radiation too.

As you can see from it's spectral responsiveness, water does not absorb visible light very well. It does absorb IR quite well however, so to effectively heat it up in sunlight you need something to convert the visible radiation to thermal radiation (since most of the incident IR radiation is absorbed by the ambient atmosphere), such as common flat black paint. Once this is done, the water will happily absorb 60-70% of the thermal radiation created by the paint from the visible spectrum. If you happen to be using an IR transparent container, your system will be even more efficient as the water will also absorb 60-70% of the remaining IR radiation reaching the Earth's surface that hasn't already been absorbed by the atmosphere.
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Hey Levi, if your still here. I got an Mid-Lat cyclone question. To my understanding in the tropics you want a Upper level high (anti-cyclone) vertically stacked above a surface low to allow the low to vent and continue to strengthen. But in the mid-lat you want an upper level trough located to the west of the surface low because of the Coriolis force (right?) you would want the upper level high to be to the east. If anyone else can help it'll be greatly appreciated.
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1371. Patrap




Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
Quoting Patrap:



Dun Dun duuunnn!.Watm water is makin a come back.And when we get into a permanet warm pattern watch those waters jump up.
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Quoting Cochise111:


Already in the attack mode, huh? Sorry but I can't help laughing. But are we supposed to believe anything from those who have had a lock on the data and been manipulating it for decades? I knew all of the AGW proponents would be terrified if anyone else would monitor the true temperature readings. The Berkeley group is going to use five times the number of stations that NOAA uses including the stations that NOAA conveniently leaves out. No homogenized or massaged data either.

Who told you I was terrified? I'm amused.

The thing is, the Kochs alone stand to keep raking in billions in profit each year so long as the gullible public believes the planet isn't warming. One almost can't blame them for digging deep into their own pockets to finance such a project. It's silly, of course; it's kinda like a morbidly obese man building his own bathroom scale because he doesn't believe the ones in all the various doctor's offices he's been to. But so long as the instruments are properly calibrated, the data is treated correctly, and the project as a whole is subjected to the same excruciatingly rigorous standards of quality as the current system, I'm all for it. I know many denialists are already certain the project will show much lower temps; I wonder what they'll do if the opposite happens--that is, if the warming is corroborated. Will they then admit to the truth? And will the Kochs slam their checkbook quickly shut?

It all remains to be seen...
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1368. Patrap



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
Bingiza is bringing very heavy rains to Madagascar. Has anyone heard if there's a lot of flooding or mudslides?
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Pretty likely that 2011 will be active.. however as we learned last year active does not equal US landfalls. I don't think anyone here would have expected a 19 named storm season, with 5 majors to not hit the USA.
The models are fore seeing that a El nino will form.But I think that's incorrect.Their probally picking on the warm waters creeping into the east pacific from the west pacific.I think that's false.That La nina will not break down that easly.Will it weaken in time?.Yeah I think so.But not as fast as some of the models project.So it's pretty safe to say we'll see round 2 of another active hurricane season.
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1365. Patrap
Mother Nature didnt throw the Chicxulub Meteor did she?



Mother Nature didnt build Nuclear Weapons and Coal Fired Plants neither,

Last I checked..but Ill check da Google thingee to be sure.


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1363. hydrus
Plenty of moist air in da Caribbean...Some of it over Fla...
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1361. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Seychelles Meteorological Services
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #20
CYCLONE TROPICAL BINGIZA (05-20102011)
4:00 AM Reunion February 14 2011
=====================================

At 0:00 AM UTC, Tropical Cyclone Bingiza (959 hPa) located at 16.0S 50.5E has 10 minute sustained winds of 85 knots with gusts of 120 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 10 knots.

Hurricane Force Winds
=====================
35 NM from the center

Storm Force Winds
==================
55 NM from the center

Gale Force Winds
===============
90 NM from the center

Near Gale Force Winds
======================
100 NM from the center extending up to 120 NM in the southern semi-circle

Dvorak Intensity: T5.0/5.5/S0.0/24 HRS

Forecast and Intensity
============================
12 HRS: 16.1S 48.9E - 40 knots (Depression sur Terre)
24 HRS: 16.5S 46.8E - 25 knots (Depression sur Terre)
48 HRS: 17.7S 44.0E - 25 knots (Depression sur Terre)
72 HRS: 19.6S 42.5E - 30 knots (DEPRESSION Tropicale)

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

Intensity of BINGIZA has still fluctuated for the last hours. Satellite eclipse between 19:00 and 22:00 PM UTC has failed to monitor the system, but after a slight weakening it seems that BINGIZA is re-intensifying a little. CI is maintained at 5.5-.

Heavy rain is getting on the northeastern part of Madagascar. BINGIZA is expected to pass through Masoalina Peninsula within the next hours and then make landfall Monday morning very close to Manambolosy. In the coming hours, wind gusts should exceed 50 knots within 150 km radius from the center and might exceed 80 knots within 80 km radius from the center. The area of Masoalina Peninsula, Antongil Bay, and Sainte-Marie Island are especially threatened.

Cyclonic surge in the range of 1.0 to 1.5 meters is expected between Manambolosy and Antanambe.


PEOPLE LIVING ON THE EASTERN COAST OF MADAGASCAR ARE INVITED TO CLOSELY MONITOR THE EVOLUTION OF THIS DANGEROUS SYSTEM. IN RELATIONSHIP WITH THE OVERLAND MADAGASCAR TRACK, WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO RAPIDLY DECREASE NEAR THE RESIDUAL CIRCULATION CENTER BUT HEAVY RAIN ACTIVITY SHOULD STILL EXISTS UP TO 300KM TO 400 KM FROM THE CENTER. BINGIZA'S REMNANTS ARE EXPECTED TO COME BACK OVER SEA AT WEAKENED STAGE
ON TUESDAY OR WEDNESDAY BETWEEN BESALAMPY AND MAINTIRANO. IN RELATIONSHIP TO GOOD ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS OVER MOZAMBIQUE CHANNEL, RE-INTENSIFICATION IS THEN EXPECTED.

The next tropical cyclone advisory from Seychelles Meteorological Service will be issued at 6:30 AM UTC..
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Quoting twincomanche:


And i Predict that the models will predict a bunch of hurricanes that never materialize. They do pretty good job after they are going but are still shaky when forecasting formation.

That tells you who is in control,MotherNature.
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Quoting hurricaneben:
Any thought about this upcoming hurricane season? Will this be particularly active for the U.S. or another 2010-like pattern with take place?


Pretty likely that 2011 will be active.. however as we learned last year active does not equal US landfalls. I don't think anyone here would have expected a 19 named storm season, with 5 majors to not hit the USA.
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1357. Levi32
Quoting Cochise111:


Already in the attack mode, huh? Sorry but I can't help laughing. But are we supposed to believe anything from those who have had a lock on the data and been manipulating it for decades? I knew all of the AGW proponents would be terrified if anyone else would monitor the true temperature readings. The Berkeley group is going to use five times the number of stations that NOAA uses including the stations that NOAA conveniently leaves out. No homogenized or massaged data either.


I personally can't wait for an independent data set to compare. I have no doubt there will be some warming shown in the 20th century, but I will be interested to see how it compares with other major data sets.
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1355. Levi32
Quoting JohnTucker:


Also what is the point in disparaging climate models? There is no alternative. I mean obviously we still are giving FF subsidies knowing they are at least contributing to warming, pollution and acidification.

So again friend I don't see the point of the argument you cant seem to make.


Again, you are putting words in my mouth. Nobody here is saying models are worthless and should be ignored. I am pleased that they are developing such sophisticated models. My point is that they are still very flawed and should not be relied on more than those flaws allow. I am simply pointing out the current dynamical weaknesses in the models.
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Given that the data is paid for in large part by the likes of the Kochs and the Gettys--two entities with a long history of anti-science activities (particularly the first)--I wouldn't be surprised if the Berkeley data shows that we're in an ice age, and that there's a huge glacier marching down from the Arctic that those idiot scientists at NASA and NOAA somehow missed. ;-)


Already in the attack mode, huh? Sorry but I can't help laughing. But are we supposed to believe anything from those who have had a lock on the data and been manipulating it for decades? I knew all of the AGW proponents would be terrified if anyone else would monitor the true temperature readings. The Berkeley group is going to use five times the number of stations that NOAA uses including the stations that NOAA conveniently leaves out. No homogenized or massaged data either.
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I know this can be a very touchy subject but what do some of you think of (gw)global warming.It sure has been cold down here in MS?
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1352. Patrap
I usually punt on 4th down as a rule.
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Quoting JohnTucker:
I predict there will be a Hurricane. I predict the models will give a landfall location at least once and people will be evacuated and preparations made on the basis of that model prediction.

Would anyone like to bet against me?

NOPE!!
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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.