A white Christmas will be a U.S. rarity in 2011; November the globe's 12th warmest

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:26 PM GMT on December 22, 2011

Share this Blog
38
+

A white Christmas will be a rarity across most of the U.S. this year, as December temperatures have been more typical of November, and very little snow has fallen. Large portions of the eastern half of the country have been more than 4°F above average so far in December, with temperatures averaging 8°F above average over portions of North Dakota.This is quite a switch from the previous two winters, which were both much colder and snowier than average. All three winters featured La Niña conditions in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, so that cannot explain the difference. A key reason for the December warmth this year and the cold and snowy Decembers of 2010 and 2009 is a weather pattern known as the Arctic Oscillation.


Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average over the 30-day period ending on December 22, 2011. Image credit: NOAA/CPC.



Figure 2. Top: snow depth measured in the U.S. on December 22, 2011, after a month with a strong positive phase of the Arctic Oscillation (AO). Bottom: Snow depth measured in the U.S. on December 22, 2010, after a month with a strong negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation (AO). Image credit: NOAA/NOHRSC.

The Arctic Oscillation and its influence on winter weather
The Arctic Oscillation (AO), and its close cousin, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), are climate patterns in the Northern Hemisphere defined by fluctuations in the difference of sea-level pressure between the Icelandic Low and the Azores High. It is one of oldest known climate oscillations--seafaring Scandinavians described the pattern several centuries ago. Through east-west oscillation motions of the Icelandic Low and the Azores High, the AO and NAO control the strength and direction of westerly winds and storm tracks across the North Atlantic. A large difference in the pressure between Iceland and the Azores (positive AO/NAO) leads to increased westerly winds and mild winter in the U.S. and Western Europe. Positive AO/NAO conditions also cause the Icelandic Low to draw a stronger south-westerly flow of air over eastern North America, preventing Arctic air from plunging southward. In contrast, if the difference in sea-level pressure between Iceland and the Azores is small (negative AO/NAO), westerly winds are suppressed, allowing Arctic air to spill southwards into eastern North America more readily. Negative AO/NAO winters tend to bring cold winters to Europe and the U.S. East Coast, but leads to very warm conditions in the Arctic, since all the cold air spilling out of the Arctic gets replaced by warm air flowing poleward. The winter of 2009 - 2010 had the most extreme negative NAO and AO since record keeping began in 1865; a very extreme AO/NAO also developed during the winter of 2010 - 2011. But this year, the pattern has flipped. The AO has been almost as strong, but in the opposite sense--a positive AO, leading to very warm conditions over the U.S. Unfortunately, the AO is difficult to predict more than a week or two and advance, and we don't understand why the AO can vary so much from winter to winter. The latest predictions from the ECMWF and GFS models show this positive AO pattern continuing for at least the next ten days. Real winter conditions won't arrive in the U.S. until the first week of January, at the earliest. Between now and the end of 2011, the only major winter storm the GFS model expects in the U.S. will be in the Pacific Northwest, on December 30 - 31.

This week, NOAA's ClimateWatch Magazine posted an excellent tutorial on the Arctic Oscillation and how it is affecting our winter weather this year.



Figure 3. The departure of temperature from average in Centigrade during the November - December - January period during various phases of the Arctic Oscillation (AO). Positive AO conditions lead to warm winters in the U.S., while negative AO conditions lead to cold winters. Image credit: NOAA/CPC.

November 2011: Earth's 12th warmest on record
November 2011 was the globe's 12th warmest November on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). November 2011 global land temperatures were the 16th warmest on record, and ocean temperatures were the 12th warmest on record. Global satellite-measured temperatures for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere near average, the 20th or 11th warmest in the 34-year record, according to Remote Sensing Systems and the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH). Wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, has a comprehensive post on the November 2011 Global Weather Extremes Summary.


Figure 4. Departure of temperature from average for November 2011. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).

A warm November for the U.S.
In the contiguous U.S., November ranked as the 25th warmest November in the 117-year record. Thirteen states in the Northeast and Upper Midwest recorded a top-ten warmest November, and no states had a top-ten coldest November. Eight states had a top-ten wettest November--Indiana, Ohio, Missouri,Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. One state had a top-ten driest month, Minnesota. Texas had its 39th driest November on record, keeping 76% of Texas under extreme to exceptional drought as of December 13, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

A weak La Niña continues
A borderline weak/moderate La Niña event continues in the equatorial Pacific, where sea surface temperatures were approximately 1.0°C below average during the first half of December. The impacts of a La Niña on U.S. weather are well-defined. It is likely that the drought in the South, especially Texas, will continue, along with above average temperatures. The Northwest can expect cooler than average temperatures, as well as the potential for another winter with a heavy snowpack across the western United States.

Arctic sea ice extent third lowest on record
Arctic sea ice extent was at its third lowest on record in November, behind 2006 and 2010, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Sea ice records date back to 1979.

Donations sought for the East Africa famine
Weather Underground has partnered with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to help the Horn of Africa region during the ongoing famine. With the help of the Weather Underground community, we hope to raise $10,000 that will go toward helping the refugees survive the crisis. Weather Underground will match the community's donation dollar-for-dollar up to $10,000 for a total donation of $20,000. Please visit the East Africa famine donation page to help out. Ninety cents of every dollar donated goes directly to the people in need.

Posts looking back at the remarkable weather events of 2011
Deadliest weather disaster of 2011: the East African drought
Tropical Storm Lee's flood in Binghamton: was global warming the final straw?
Wettest year on record in Philadelphia; 2011 sets record for wet/dry extremes in U.S.
Hurricane Irene: New York City dodges a potential storm surge mega-disaster

This will be my last post until Tuesday. Have a great holiday, everyone!

Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 87 - 37

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12Blog Index

Quoting hydrus:
I said in my post that the image was taken from a rocket..Post# 56 is the TIROS-1 satellite image.. Did you forget to take your Geritol today Rook?..jk...really..jk.:)


I forgot to take my Prozac. Leave me alone! LOL ... OK, I'm better noooooow. .... OH! Hi, hydrus! .. When did you get here?

They are nice images. Our first look back at our planet. Truly, an amazing view. Before this we could see no more of the planet than from what we view from an airplane.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4768
Quoting Patrap:
.."and I think to myself, what a Wunderful World"...


Way to go and i thought it was flat.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hydrus:
The first images from space were taken on the sub-orbital V-2 rocket flight launched by the U.S. on October 24, 1946.

Looks flat to me............
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting allancalderini:
I see a cyclone in that picture in the north indian ocean am i correct?


One can check the archives,, as Apollo 11 Flew from July 16-24 1969.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129439
Quoting weatherh98:


tengo una clasede espanol ppara la escuela, es horible, no me gusta, no me gusta, no me gusta!!!


Just imagine yourself being interviewed for a company doing business in LAmerica and getting the position.... because of your ability to comunicate.... Learn to master Spanish.... Ahh, Include also Mandarin....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
.."and I think to myself, what a Wunderful World"...

I see a cyclone in that picture in the north indian ocean am i correct?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Trolling the laptop websites for deals.

So far, nothing that seems to make it easier to forecast next season's NS total...

[g]

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


Who remembers this? We thought we were hot stuff back then.


My Dad says we didnt think--We Knew..ha ha
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Laika, den første
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129439
Quoting hydrus:
I said in my post that the image was taken from a rocket..Post# 56 is the TIROS-1 satellite image.. Did you forget to take your Geritol today Rook?..jk...really..jk.:)


Who remembers this? We thought we were hot stuff back then.


Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27114
Earth seen from Apollo 11


From the TV transmission around 56:33 GET. Earth was reported to be at a distance of around 177 000 nautical miles at the time.

Houston comments on the ITCZ at 3:15

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129439
.."and I think to myself, what a Wunderful World"...

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129439
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


Those are images from space, hydrus. Not weather satellites but, nice images regardless. It is kinda like taking your first look in a mirror. Sadly, for me, my first look was much better than my last look. sigh .... who IS that old man?!?!?!
I said in my post that the image was taken from a rocket..Post# 56 is the TIROS-1 satellite image.. Did you forget to take your Geritol today Rook?..jk...really..jk.:)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The Nighttime Lights of the World data set is compiled from the October 1994 - March 1995 nighttime data collected when moonlight was low. Using the Operational Linescan System (OLS) thermal infrared band, areas containing clouds were removed and the remaining area used in the time series. This image is actually a composite of hundreds of pictures acquired by three of the four DMSP satellites, which operate in low-altitude polar orbits and have the unique capability to detect low levels of visible-near infrared (VNIR) radiance at night.http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/common s/6/61/Flat_earth_night.png
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting weatherh98:


tengo una clasede espanol ppara la escuela, es horible, no me gusta, no me gusta, no me gusta!!!


So is your Spanish! j/k
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27114
Quoting hydrus:
The first images from space were taken on the sub-orbital V-2 rocket flight launched by the U.S. on October 24, 1946.



Those are images from space, hydrus. Not weather satellites but, nice images regardless. It is kinda like taking your first look in a mirror. Sadly, for me, my first look was much better than my last look. sigh .... who IS that old man?!?!?!
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4768
Quoting bappit:
I may be mistaken but, satellite data was not available BEFORE 1970. This is the 30 year base period of the satellite data. Long term trends are over a 30 year period or longer.

1970 was 41 years ago.


Yes, 1970 was 41 years ago. The baseline is for the first 30 years.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4768
From the Lake Charles NWS

Percentage of Counties/Parishes covered by Drought


Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Quoting bohonkweatherman:
The Drought Prediction thru March 2012 shows drought conditions persisting or developing from Califorina to Florida, not good.


Yuck! I just saw that. Not a pretty picture.


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting presslord:


yea....but ....Who writes the weather blog?


trolls and LOTS OF CROW
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting presslord:


yea....but ....Who writes the weather blog?


Funny, dat still comes outta Boca/Jax for some reason,,
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129439
Quoting presslord:


Said I, to the Bishop of Charleston: "The Diocese oughta offer Spanish lessons free of charge to people active in parishes with high numbers of Spanish speaking parishioners...in order that we may build stronger relationships."

Said he to me: "That's a fine damned idea! And I appoint you in charge of making that happen! And be sure to enroll yourself as the first student!"

So...I'm sorta stuck....


Good luck its boring or that could be my teacher i dont know, i hate when people screw you over like that
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
Im glad we're book off of Earth on the 19th of Next December.

I've garnered nuff Fresca for a Few Years on the New Planet.


The cyclones there are Much Bigger than here definitely they say.


yea....but ....Who writes the weather blog?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Im glad we're booked off of Earth on the 19th of Next December.

I've garnered nuff Fresca for a Few Years on the New Planet.


The cyclones there are Much Bigger than here definitely they say.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129439
Quoting weatherh98:


tengo una clasede espanol ppara la escuela, es horible, no me gusta, no me gusta, no me gusta!!!


Said I, to the Bishop of Charleston: "The Diocese oughta offer Spanish lessons free of charge to people active in parishes with high numbers of Spanish speaking parishioners...in order that we may build stronger relationships."

Said he to me: "That's a fine damned idea! And I appoint you in charge of making that happen! And be sure to enroll yourself as the first student!"

So...I'm sorta stuck....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
http://test.crh.noaa.gov/lch/?n=dequincytornado

The DeQuincy tornado was the 1,881st U.S. tornado reported in 2011, but the first confirmed during the month of December, 2011

More on the Dec 20, 2011 Dequincy tornado at the addy above. Pics and stuff. A link to it can be found on the NWS Lake Charles, La. page.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting presslord:


I just started taking an evening Spanish class....give me a few weeks and maybe I'll know something ;-)
Carolina,s....CAROLINA,S!...i love them dammit...:0
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hydrus:
The first television image of Earth from space transmitted by the TIROS-1 weather satellite in 1960.


hey, Press,you and I are in dat un.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129439
The first images from space were taken on the sub-orbital V-2 rocket flight launched by the U.S. on October 24, 1946.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CybrTeddy:


no its August.


No you're both wrong, it's September 10...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting presslord:


I just started taking an evening Spanish class....give me a few weeks and maybe I'll know something ;-)


tengo una clasede espanol ppara la escuela, es horible, no me gusta, no me gusta, no me gusta!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The first television image of Earth from space transmitted by the TIROS-1 weather satellite in 1960.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The Drought Prediction thru March 2012 shows drought conditions persisting or developing from Califorina to Florida, not good.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
The Terra-forming of Sol's 3rd rock out continues on schedule.

They are now 364 Giorni Day's until the 2012 Winter Solstice.

Enjoy your Thursday evening.

Oh and, Feliz Navidad



365leap year buddy
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting weatherh98:


ESPANOL!!!!


I just started taking an evening Spanish class....give me a few weeks and maybe I'll know something ;-)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The Terra-forming of Sol's 3rd rock out continues on schedule.

They are now 364 Giorni Day's until the 2012 Winter Solstice.

Enjoy your Thursday evening.

Oh and, Feliz Navidad
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129439
Quoting presslord:




ESPANOL!!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Quoting Neapolitan:

One primary reason: uneven heating of the earth's surface due to latitude-induced variations in insolation.

If you can't speak English...please don't speak to me at all....

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting RukusBoondocks:
is it june yet


no its August.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24552
is it june yet
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Huntsville, Al. Dec. 2010.

First time I've ever seen a snow covered Space Shuttle.


Is that Santa's?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting jonger1150:


Notice also that Jeff Masters uses 1971-2000 averages as comparison. Everyone knows the 1970's were colder then the previously 100 year averages, but it makes for a more impressive comparison for him.


The 1970s were colder than the previous 100 year average? A "NASA temperature record" google image search disagrees.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting jonger1150:


Notice also that Jeff Masters uses 1971-2000 averages as comparison. Everyone knows the 1970's were colder then the previously 100 year averages, but it makes for a more impressive comparison for him.

From the source:
"Temperature anomalies for November 2011, September–November 2011, and January–November are shown on the dot maps in the following section. The dot maps on the left provide a spatial representation of anomalies calculated from the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) dataset of land surface stations using a 1961–1990 base period. The dot maps on the right are a product of a merged land surface and sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly analysis developed by Smith et al. (2008). For the merged land surface and SST analysis, temperature anomalies with respect to the 1971–2000 average for land and ocean are analyzed separately and then merged to form the global analysis. For more information, please visit NCDC's Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page."

Also: "The maps show temperature anomalies relative to the 1971-2000 base period. This period is used because it has the widest distribution for historical data, which enables more resolution (detail) for comparing region-by-region effects."
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13743
Why do some ares get colder whileothrs get warmer??

Daytime and nighttime?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormTracker2K:
With such an extreme drought in Texas I wonder how they are not having such an extreme water shortage?
It is still pretty bad here as far as not using water, i cannot wash my car, no sprinklers etc. Unfortunately the Highland Lakes west of Austin are just as dry as they were 6 months ago because the rains have been in the eastern half of the state, so the lakes are still 60 to 70 percent dry. I hope they are Wrong about a Warm and Dry winter for Texas, we get enough warm days the rest of the year, i enjoy the few cold days we get here. Happy Holidays to all from Texas
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I may be mistaken but, satellite data was not available BEFORE 1970. This is the 30 year base period of the satellite data. Long term trends are over a 30 year period or longer.

1970 was 41 years ago.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting weatherh98:
Why do some ares get colder whileothrs get warmer??

One primary reason: uneven heating of the earth's surface due to latitude-induced variations in insolation.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13743
Quoting jonger1150:


Notice also that Jeff Masters uses 1971-2000 averages as comparison. Everyone knows the 1970's were colder then the previously 100 year averages, but it makes for a more impressive comparison for him.
I know 30 year averages are the standard. I'm assuming that after this year the 30-year average moves to 1981-2010.

But what do I know.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 12george1:
I don't get it, if there is too much snow, it is because of global warming and if there is not very much snow, it is also because of global warming.
Quoting BahaHurican:
U're not getting it because u don't yet grasp that too much snow [for u] means not enough snow somewhere else. The warming of the atmosphere is influencing weather patterns by intensifying their effects as well as by shifting the patterns themselves. It'slike a scale; if one side goes up, it's because the other side went down.

The global part is really meant to mean "impacts the whole world".
Quoting weatherh98:
Why do some ares get colder whileothrs get warmer??


When global temperatures are warm, the Arctic sea ice melts to unusually low minima, causing winter extremes in the Arctic oscillation. Often, this also sets up an Arctic dipole, when both the AO and the NAO are in phase. The AO frequently creates both temperature and precipitation extremes across the US.

In general, precipitation shifts and extremes will likely increase given factors related to contemporary climate change. Evaporation increases, and this inevitably leads to increases in both floods and droughts, and sometimes in the same place: arable land. This is likely to increase food prices as well, in addition to global protests and uprisings sweeping the planet. Additionally, the natural oscillations such as ENSO, the Arctic anomalies and others, will likely increase in amplitude. A shift from the norm will incur more deviations. In general, climate in terms of temperatures may see a dampening in long-term temperature oscillations caused by solar and oceanic cycles, but extreme swings in weather conditions are likely to increase and persist.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting jonger1150:


Notice also that Jeff Masters uses 1971-2000 averages as comparison. Everyone knows the 1970's were colder then the previously 100 year averages, but it makes for a more impressive comparison for him.

No, the 1970s were nowhere in the vicinity of "colder then the previously 100 year averages"; where did you get that bit of misinformation? Or should I take a wild guess? ;-)

uh-oh

uh-oh
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13743
Why do some ares get colder whileothrs get warmer??
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 87 - 37

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12Blog Index

Top of Page

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.

Local Weather

Overcast
29 °F
Overcast