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 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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1349. lhwhelk
Quoting JohnTucker:


NOAA doesn't release there's until later (may?), Dr Gray's first is here.

ATLANTIC BASIN SEASONAL HURRICANE FORECAST FOR 2011



Thanks for this link to the long-range (VERY long!) forecast. I especially like the quotation at the bottom of that page. Worth our WU bloggers taking a look at--and a hint.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Sorry.My G button isn't working properly.It's high,and grown.

No problem my friend,thanks for your input.
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1346. Levi32
Quoting JohnTucker:
You posted a link to the models BUT you haven't made a single argument AS TO METHODOLOGY. You premise was the methodology was arbitrary or completely incorrect and not worth consideration.

This is pointless, you must learn to argue a point validly you you are incorrect out of the gate.

You are already wrong in not supporting your premise.



The term validity in logic (also logical validity) is largely synonymous with logical truth. However, the term is used in different contexts. Validity is a property of formulae, statements and arguments. A logically valid argument is one where the conclusion follows from the premises. An invalid argument is where the conclusion does not follow from the premises.


Lol. I don't need to be lectured by you, friend.

It is you who are misunderstanding my argument. I am not arguing that the methodology is bad. I am arguing that the models themselves still have major issues that are often overlooked when the 21st century model predictions are considered. My point was to clarify Atmo's comparison with the hurricane XTRAP model, which he was using as a way of describing the lack of some dynamics in the IPCC modeling. I presented evidence of those lacking dynamics from IPCC literature.
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Quoting RecordSeason:
...Pointless discussion deleted for brevity...


Did I say ANYTHING even remotely suggesting that you CAN'T use those materials?

Perhaps I was being too vague, or you're really trying to make a point that you're not getting across.

For some reason, you seem to keep misinterpreting what I am saying. I'm am fully aware how photothermal cells work. I'm also fully aware of how you can make one with common household materials. However, you're claims on how they operate on not entirely correct.

It takes more than an object being black to be good at collecting thermal radiation. You also need to look at the EM and thermal properties of the object as well. A black object does NOT mean that it will convert incident visible radiation into IR, nor does an object need to visibly opaque to capture heat. For example, water is a good absorber of heat, but is transparent to visible light. At the same time, shuttle tiles are black but you wouldn't use them in a solar power plant.

It just so happens that common black spray paint is made with materials that are capable of converting visible light into thermal energy and/or capable of absorbing IR radiation. But not all dark/black materials behave this way. For example, the engine ducts and exhaust systems of the stealth bomber (along with the leading edges of the wings) uses such materials to quickly dissipate heat to reduce it's thermal signature. I've already mentioned the shuttle tiles. And black painted metal aluminum tubes would work far better for heating water than black plastic tubes.

The efficiency of your system depends greatly on the materials you use and how you construct it. You can construct a DIY system using some basic materials and black paint (as long as you meet your local construction codes), but it won't be anywhere near as efficient as one built using custom materials designed for high thermal efficiency.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
That's very far out in time.I mean who would've known the U.S would be spared from any of the hurricanes last?.That was a blessin.That all depends on if the bermuda hih will be closer to the U.S or away from us like it was last year.Also their was a lot of trofiness.So yeah it all depends on how the steering pattern sets up,and how far out the storms form.If they develope quickly like they did last year with a weak bermuda hih then the U.S will probally be spared.otta watch for those home grown storms to.
Sorry.My G button isn't working properly.It's high,and grown.
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1341. Patrap
Usually we see development in the GOM first ,,but tracks are dependent on variables ,lots of them,,from EL Nino,La Nina,to Basin Pressure and the AB High placement among many others.

Gulf Most Likely Area for Early-Season Tropical Storms
Jun 1, 2010 12:03 PM



Early Season Tracks,,


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127636
Quoting MississippiBoy:

What about the track that the storms will take,like last year they were steered away mostly from the US?
That's very far out in time.I mean who would've known the U.S would be spared from any of the hurricanes last?.That was a blessin.That all depends on if the bermuda hih will be closer to the U.S or away from us like it was last year.Also their was a lot of trofiness.So yeah it all depends on how the steering pattern sets up,and how far out the storms form.If they develope quickly like they did last year with a weak bermuda hih then the U.S will probally be spared.otta watch for those home grown storms to.
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Quoting Patrap:






The biggest contrast in this picture is the pacific side.

Last year was a very slow year on he pacific side, and as of right now it's looking to be even slower. However, I'm guessing the la Nina will fade out and we will be somewhere around neutral by the time hurrican season rolls in
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
Quoting Cochise111:


What will you say when, and if, the new Berkeley temperature station shows no global temperature increase? I, for one, can't wait for that data which should be coming out soon.

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. ;-)
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Glad to help!.It looks like It'll be another busy one.Not as active as the 2010 hurricane season though.Since theirs a La nina in the pacific,that means lower wind shear values.And sst are running above average as well.Sea surface pressures are also below average.So all in all these season looks pretty active.

What about the track that the storms will take,like last year they were steered away mostly from the US?
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1335. Patrap
Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential Home
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127636
1334. Patrap




Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127636
Any thought about this upcoming hurricane season? Will this be particularly active for the U.S. or another 2010-like pattern with take place?
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Quoting MississippiBoy:
I know it's 4 months away but what does the outlook for the 2011 Hurricane season?
Glad to help!.It looks like It'll be another busy one.Not as active as the 2010 hurricane season though.Since theirs a La nina in the pacific,that means lower wind shear values.And sst are running above average as well.Sea surface pressures are also below average.So all in all these season looks pretty active.
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I know it's 4 months away but what does the outlook for the 2011 Hurricane season?
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Is the blog working?.It doesn't seem to be moving at all.
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Quoting JohnTucker:



You are speaking in generalities and truisms.

Also the specific geographic resolution for "Its warming" - is hardly a "hurricane track" although they use many of the same mathematical mechanisms. (atmospheric levels, relationships, etc..)

And actually The models are rather incredible. I am anxious to see anyone track a hurricane as successfully.

BUT for comparison lets see the denial climate models or a successful and methodological challenge to climate science.


What will you say when, and if, the new Berkeley temperature station shows no global temperature increase? I, for one, can't wait for that data which should be coming out soon.
Member Since: February 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 324
Hey is that dude with the old guy in his avatar a Stalker?.Sure seems like one....
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Quoting Xyrus2000:


First, if you are indeed so certain of your hypothesis, you should publish a paper on the subject. If you can't get it published there there is very very very high probability that you are wrong.

Second, galaxies CANNOT be modeled as uniform disks using basic Newtonian mechanics, because they aren't. Go ahead and try to create a computer model of the Milky Way galaxy using its star/mass distribution and other physical parameters. Objects close to the core collapse at superluminal speeds while objects farther out fly off into space. The Newtonian model does not result in stable galactic structures, nor is it anywhere near accurate in modeling galactic cores. Galaxies are relativistic constructs. That's why galactic models use General Relativity, which DOES yield stable galactic formation.

Where dark matter comes from is the discrepancy between what we can see and what should be there based on gravitational observations. Dark matter is for all intents and purposes, invisible. It is non-interactive matter (a.k.a non-baryonic matter). We know it is there is because even though it does not interact with matter directly, nor emit any known EM radiation, it does have gravity. Dark matter causes gravitational lensing effects, which has been record by observatories including the Hubble Space Telescope. Typically, these lensing effects are caused by black holes, galaxies, or other powerful gravitational bodies in between us and the object we are looking at. In the case of dark matter, there is no detectable object between us and the observed object, but the lensing effect is still there.

We also have direct measurement of one form of dark matter, which are neutrinos. Neutrinos are a form of non-baryonic matter, which rarely interacts with what we call normal (baryonic) matter. We have countless neutrinos hitting us every day, and only on the rarest of circumstances will they actually interact with something. They've built several neutrino detectors Link.

The test of any hypothesis is to see whether its predictions can match observations. Einstein pretty much destroyed the Newtonian model for galaxy formation some 80 years ago. Also, your proposed hypothesis does not explain the direct observations of gravitational effects of dark matter.


Thank you.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
1324. Patrap
Tropical Cyclone BINGIZA

2km Storm Relative IR Imagery with BD Enhancement Curve,animated Loop

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127636
Wow!Levi is on a roll tonight!.Go! Levi!.Never expected that side of him.
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1322. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127636
Quoting Levi32:


Given its very slow movement I think rainfall is guaranteed to be a problem.

Yeah, I overlooked that. Madagascar is pretty mountainous too, so the orographic factor is there as well...
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1319. Patrap
Tropical Cyclone BINGIZA





Enhanced Infrared (IR) Imagery (4 km Mercator) Loop






Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127636
1318. Levi32
Quoting JohnTucker:


You are questioning the modeling methodology. Post a specific argument. Post a reference to a mechanical error.

Post the link to the more successful denial climate modeling also while you are at it.


Again, I already did. You may read it above.
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Quoting RecordSeason:
1240:

...Lot's of self-agrandizing and incorrect physics removed...


First, if you are indeed so certain of your hypothesis, you should publish a paper on the subject. If you can't get it published there there is very very very high probability that you are wrong.

Second, galaxies CANNOT be modeled as uniform disks using basic Newtonian mechanics, because they aren't. Go ahead and try to create a computer model of the Milky Way galaxy using its star/mass distribution and other physical parameters. Objects close to the core collapse at superluminal speeds while objects farther out fly off into space. The Newtonian model does not result in stable galactic structures, nor is it anywhere near accurate in modeling galactic cores. Galaxies are relativistic constructs. That's why galactic models use General Relativity, which DOES yield stable galactic formation.

Where dark matter comes from is the discrepancy between what we can see and what should be there based on gravitational observations. Dark matter is for all intents and purposes, invisible. It is non-interactive matter (a.k.a non-baryonic matter). We know it is there is because even though it does not interact with matter directly, nor emit any known EM radiation, it does have gravity. Dark matter causes gravitational lensing effects, which has been record by observatories including the Hubble Space Telescope. Typically, these lensing effects are caused by black holes, galaxies, or other powerful gravitational bodies in between us and the object we are looking at. In the case of dark matter, there is no detectable object between us and the observed object, but the lensing effect is still there.

We also have direct measurement of one form of dark matter, which are neutrinos. Neutrinos are a form of non-baryonic matter, which rarely interacts with what we call normal (baryonic) matter. We have countless neutrinos hitting us every day, and only on the rarest of circumstances will they actually interact with something. They've built several neutrino detectors Link.

The test of any hypothesis is to see whether its predictions can match observations. Einstein pretty much destroyed the Newtonian model for galaxy formation some 80 years ago. Also, your proposed hypothesis does not explain the direct observations of gravitational effects of dark matter.
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1314. Levi32
Quoting 1900hurricane:
Rainfall could be an issue if this sat estimate is correct (I have no idea if it is accurate or not.)




Given its very slow movement I think rainfall is guaranteed to be a problem.
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1313. Levi32
Quoting JohnTucker:
Again you argue the modes are the same and the methodology is failed yet provide no argument beyond hurricane tracks and short range modeling.

Argue your premise.



I already did.

Quoting Levi32:


The comparison was between IPCC projections and the XTRAP hurricane model, which is nothing more than trend continuation. That is exactly what the IPCC models look like as well with the various CO2 scenarios; a trend extrapolation. They don't look very dynamic, and do still lack the capability to properly model some of the major natural climate forcings.

For example, here are some things that the IPCC Fourth Assessment has to say about the models.
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1311. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting doorman79:
Orca, Atmo, Pat, Keep, Levi, Nea, good to see yall but tis a bit to crazy here for me. Play nice!
its been ongoing quite some time now
its becoming like to consume the blog
hopefully things will break soon
or either that really go up
either way its just a blog nothing more
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Rainfall could be an issue if this sat estimate is correct (Looks like it is IR based, and I have no idea if it is accurate or not.)


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Quoting doorman79:
Orca, Atmo, Pat, Keep, Levi, Nea, good to see yall but tis a bit to crazy here for me. Play nice!


Me.. not playing nice... I always play nice :)
Well fair anyway.
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1308. Levi32
Quoting JohnTucker:
Im not challenging the consensus or the methodology levi. You are.

I never mentioned specific models yet the attack was on the validity of modeling.


The logical fallacy of accident (also called destroying the exception or a dicto simpliciter ad dictum secundum quid) is a deductive fallacy occurring in statistical syllogisms (an argument based on a generalization) when an exception to a rule of thumb.

It is easy to construct fallacious arguments by applying general statements to specific incidents that are obviously exceptions.

Generalizations that are weak generally have more exceptions (the number of exceptions to the generalization need not be a minority of cases) and vice versa.


That's because the IPCC generalizes in their discussion of the AOGCMs by grouping them together as a whole or in major categories. I am indeed addressing IPCC modeling as a whole, not one specific model.
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1305. Levi32
Quoting misanthrope:

Sorry Sonny, but we're talking about what aggieboy calls himself, not what he actually does. Again, you want me to post the details of his life here?



You don't know them.
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Orca, Atmo, Pat, Keep, Levi, Nea, good to see yall but tis a bit to crazy here for me. Play nice!
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1302. Levi32
Quoting JohnTucker:


The first two sentences of your post are factually incorrect and/or misleading. What models - pull the study and reference the success of the actual model discussed.

If you are attacking a professional's research - name that person specifically.


The comparison was between IPCC projections and the XTRAP hurricane model, which is nothing more than trend continuation. That is exactly what the IPCC models look like as well


They are called IPCC models.

For example, they are refered to as such in the ENSO section:

"In fact, as an indication of recent model improvements, some IPCC class models are being used for ENSO prediction (Wittenberg et al., 2006). "

I'm sure you don't need me to actually justify the information posted on the IPCC website.
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1301. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting misanthrope:

And I think of myself as a technologist. I'd never refer to myself as a scientist - how about you?

BTW - sounds like you're making a threat. I thought you Canadians were peaceful folks.

maybe you have thought wrong
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Quoting misanthrope:

Sorry Sonny, but we're talking about what aggieboy calls himself, not what he actually does. Again, you want me to post the details of his life here?


??? I didn't call myself anything.

*EDIT: Oh, you didn't mean me.
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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.