Record Cold in a Warming World

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:58 PM GMT on March 04, 2014

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An impressive blast of Arctic air has toppled more records for all-time March cold over the Eastern U.S., in the wake of the major snowstorm that brought 4 - 8" of snow from Missouri to Maryland. Fresh snow is very efficient at radiating heat to space, and the 3.8" of snow that fell in Baltimore on Monday helped drive the temperature down to 5°F on Monday night, tying the city's all-time March low temperature record set on March 4, 1873. The temperature eventually dipped down to 4°F Tuesday morning, breaking the March record. Atlantic City, NJ, which got 5.5" of snow on Monday, also set a new all-time cold record for the month of March on Monday night, when the temperature fell to 2°F. The previous all-time low for the month of March was 3°F set on March 4, 2009. Official records for the Atlantic City area date back to 1874.

At least five other cities have set or tied all-time March cold temperature records during the current cold wave:

Charlottesville, Virginia set an all-time March low of 1°F Tuesday morning (previous record: 7°F on March 4, 1943.)

Billings, Montana set an all-time March low of -21° on March 2, 2014 (previous record: -19°.)

Pierre, South Dakota set an all-time March low on both March 1 and March 2, dipping to -20° (previous record: -19°F on March 11, 1998.)

Flint, Michigan set an all-time March low of -16° on March 3 (previous record: -12°.)

Rockford, Illinois tied its all-time March record low of -11° on March 3.

At least five U.S. cities have set records for their coldest winter on record, as detailed by wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt in his latest blog post. He has not yet compiled a list of cities that have set a record for their warmest winter on record during 2013 - 2014, but I know of at least two: Las Vegas, Nevada, and Tucson, Arizona.


Figure 1. Departure of surface temperature from average as diagnosed by the GFS model at 00 UTC March 4, 2014. A negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation (AO) allowed cold air to spill southwards out of the Arctic over the Eastern U.S., bringing temperatures up to 36°F (20°C) below average. Compensating warm air flowed northwards into the Arctic underneath a ridge of high pressure over Europe. Data/image obtained using Climate Reanalyzer™ (http://cci-reanalyzer.org), Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono, Maine.

How can a planet that is warming experience record cold?
This week's impressive cold blast brings up the question: How can a planet undergoing "global warming" experience record cold? Well, it's a big planet, and the weather has naturally crazy extremes. We expect to see many locations experience all-time daily and monthly cold records each month. It's just that the number of these cold records will be outnumbered by all-time heat records, when averaged over the globe, and over decades. It is called Global Warming for good reason! A 2009 study led by Dr. Jerry Meehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO found that in the U.S., the ratio of the number of record daily highs to lows was near 1:1 in the 1960s and 1970s, but had increased to more than 2:1 during the decade of the 2000s, due to our warming climate. The ratio for the 2010’s was approximately 2.4-to-1 for daily records, for the four years 2010 - 2013, as explained in detail at Guy Walton's wunderblog. If "business as usual" emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide continue this century, this ratio of record highs to record lows is expected to increase to 20:1 by the year 2050, and 50:1 by 2100. So, even on planet experiencing extreme global warming, we will still see a few record low temperatures in the 22nd Century.


Figure 2. Ratio of record daily highs to record daily lows observed at about 1,800 weather stations in the 48 contiguous United States from January 1950 through September 2009. Each bar shows the proportion of record highs (red) to record lows (blue) for each decade. The 1960s and 1970s saw slightly more record daily lows than highs, but in the last 30 years record highs have increasingly predominated, with the ratio now about two-to-one for the 48 states as a whole. ©UCAR, graphic by Mike Shibao; data from a 2009 study led by Dr. Jerry Meehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO.

Two Years Ago: Summer in March
When we do break all-time heat records in the current warming climate, we should expect that some of these new records will crush the old records in phenomenal ways. That was the case during the astonishing U.S. record-breaking "Summer in March" heat wave just two years ago, in 2012. It was the warmest March on record for the contiguous U.S., 8.6°F above the 20th century average for March, and 0.5°F warmer than the previous warmest March in 1910. Of the more than 1,400 months that have passed since the U.S. record began in 1895, only one month, January 2006, had a larger departure from its average temperature than March 2012. Every state in the nation experienced a record warm daily temperature during March, and 25 states east of the Rockies had their warmest March on record. An additional 15 states had monthly temperatures ranking among their ten warmest. All-time March records were broken at 290 stations, with some stations breaking their all-time March record four times. There were 21 instances of the nighttime temperatures being as warm, or warmer, than the existing record daytime temperature for a given date. Four stations broke daily records by 30°F or more.


Figure 3. "This is the kind of sunset that you can expect to see in July, not in March. 77°F when I took this," said the caption on this wunderphoto taken on March 17, 2012 in Windom, Minnesota by wunderphotographer sally.

Jeff Masters

Apostle Islands Ice (walcek)
You drive on 3-ft. minimum thick ice for a couple miles out to these islands on frozen Lake Superior. (Saves on kayaking workout)
Apostle Islands Ice
Frozen Silence (RevMac)
No one else was out walking a very popular Nashville park on a frozen ice and snow storm day in early March.
Frozen Silence

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Quoting 680. fmbill:


It sounds like you are talking about adaptation, not evolution. Huge difference.


Adapting is if I get used to cold weather, hot weather, etc. because my body adjusts to it.

Evolution is a slow process by which biological changes comes about in response to outside sources or at least I think that's a short, basic difference between the two.

Evolution is definitely real, the actual results for how it came about, and why gets a bit foggier, but just because evolution so far can't explain entirely for sure how it happened, doesn't mean we should then throw out Evolution.

That's like saying we should stop using computer models, and stop forecasting in general because some things can't be known yet, it doesn't make sense.

Throwing out an entire scientific theory because it can't explain everything and mystery is involved just doesn't make sense. In fact, its defeating the whole purpose of science, its ok to say we "don't know" yet about things that well, we don't know. But that doesn't make a particular study a failure because its incomplete.

The goal in science is just that, to improve, to learn more, and to solve what's unsolved, not to quit because we don't know everything, which can't be achieved by humanity anyway.
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Quoting 680. fmbill:


It sounds like you are talking about adaptation, not evolution. Huge difference.


I disagree..
Sounds like Naga is talking evolution not adaptation..
Maybe re-read might help..
I mean no harm..
Just trying to help a bit.. :)
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Quoting 678. VR46L:


Yeah its really not a storm forecast is it ?


No it doesn't have any irregularities that I see..
It's wording imply's average to me..
If it were odd or they were having difficulty with it they almost always dictate that..
New Orleans is practically the same wording..
Different forecast summary author..
But virtually the same..
Not expecting anything out of the ordinary..
For now anyway.. :)
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Quoting 604. Naga5000:


No, the proof is everywhere. Evolution is merely the change in allele frequency over time. A very simple example is the Florida Beach Mouse that can be found on the north Florida coasts and southern Alabama. "the altered coloring in the beach mice evolved over time from the older, darker forest mice. The changes were caused by changes to the agouti protein, found in all vertebrates, which controls pigment-creating cells called melanocytes. The research showed that without agouti, these mice would be jet black." Link Without these changes over time, black mice would not survive on a white beach as they would be easy to spot by predators.

One of the larger misconceptions about evolution is the claim we came from monkeys. That is completely inaccurate. Evolution says we shared a common ancestor a very long time ago.

I hope this example provides some better understanding.


It sounds like you are talking about adaptation, not evolution. Huge difference.
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Quoting 674. ricderr:
latest enso update issued by NOAA

notice the big shift in verbage around page 27

The CFS.v2 ensemble mean (black dashed
line) predicts ENSO-neutral through the N.H.
spring 2014 followed by El Niño starting in
August-October (ASO) 2014


Your right ric..
They are calling for El Nino Starting in the August to October time frame..
Thanks for sharing the updated PDF on that..
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678. VR46L
Quoting 673. pcola57:


Good Morning VR..
My NWS discussion for my forecast area..

The Lows are predicted to be average..


Yeah its really not a storm forecast is it ?
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Uh-oh guys the SPC is going all in, the dreaded "See Text" is up for tomorrow!


Have your hurricane kits ready, stay at home and stay away from windows and doors, if you have generator, make sure its fueled. It is preferred that you have a safe room, shelters should be opened, and know your evacuation routes...

Boarding up windows is encouraged if you have time.
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Quoting 668. weathermanwannabe:
Water temps for the Hurricane Season this year are not going to be an issue as Gulf temps in the central Gulf are already nearing 80 and I suspect that the same is true for waters around Florida and parts of the Caribbean. However, with the climatology of 1-2 Atlantic storms overall in June and July, and if there is no significant time lag in El Nino conditions (which actually materialize) impacting Atlantic-Caribbean sheer values, we might see a pretty quiet season until late-August to early September. Then again, we could see an early season monster spin up somewhere near the Gulf.

Just too early to know and I would certainly take the May pre-season forecasts (with low probability regardless) with a big grain of salt.

Happy Ash Wednesday for those believers (and our Brothers and Sisters from LA still recovering from Fat Tuesday).
yes, the waters around the SE US are already pretty nice:

GFS
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s it 2015 already


is that when some are predicting that for florida?
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latest enso update issued by NOAA

notice the big shift in verbage around page 27

The CFS.v2 ensemble mean (black dashed
line) predicts ENSO-neutral through the N.H.
spring 2014 followed by El Niño starting in
August-October (ASO) 2014
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Quoting 651. VR46L:


The only thing is are they going to be actual storms or just areas of low pressure moving across Florida , But I guess I am picky !


Good Morning VR..
My NWS discussion for my forecast area..

The Lows are predicted to be average..
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Check out this timelapse of the storm that came through Sydney today.

Epic storm rolls over Sydney
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Quoting 669. ricderr:
Get'em out of the way now instead of Hurricane Season, which is only 87 days, 14 hours and 18 minutes away.


no way baby...think 2004 and 2005 combined.....cat adjusters had better gear up
is it 2015 already
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Quoting 577. TropicalAnalystwx13:
It's been quite a while since eastern Atlantic sea surface temperatures were this cold:



Bust in sight
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Get'em out of the way now instead of Hurricane Season, which is only 87 days, 14 hours and 18 minutes away.


no way baby...think 2004 and 2005 combined.....cat adjusters had better gear up
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Water temps for the Hurricane Season this year are not going to be an issue as Gulf temps in the central Gulf are already nearing 80 and I suspect that the same is true for waters around Florida and parts of the Caribbean. However, with the climatology of 1-2 Atlantic storms overall in June and July, and if there is no significant time lag in El Nino conditions (which actually materialize) impacting Atlantic-Caribbean sheer values, we might see a pretty quiet season until late-August to early September. Then again, we could see an early season monster spin up somewhere near the Gulf.

Just too early to know and I would certainly take the May pre-season forecasts (with low probability regardless) with a big grain of salt.

Happy Ash Wednesday for those believers (and our Brothers and Sisters from LA still recovering from Fat Tuesday).
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667. jpsb
Quoting 656. hydrus:

Do you see another Arctic front getting into S.E. Texas this year?
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Quoting 643. hydrus:
Actually, Florida is getting off easy .3 days ago had Florida gettin lasted with gales and severe weather.
yes but the low hasnt formed yet and they are waiting to see just how strong it gets before updating our warnings..tonight or tomorrow morning will tell i guess..
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Quoting 656. hydrus:
HIYA HYDRUS..Yes some of the models are predicting some heavy rainfall totals before this storm is all over with..
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Quoting 655. hydrus:
Still looks windy for some folks.
nice surge of warm air to the west in top image

we are finally into the lighter blues
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658. jpsb
Quoting 645. washingtonian115:
The local mets are making it seem winter is over.AGAIN!..They didn't learn the first time did they?.I had a co-worker come up to me and ask "I thought they said spring was coming and would be here to stay".I laughed because the whole entire D.C area had a nice reality check.
As long as that jet steam is diving down into the US winter is not over.
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657. VR46L
Quoting 653. hydrus:
It no doubt will be interesting if Nino arrives. With the weather patterns being unusual as they have been, we may see strange occurrences..Wait and see.


Well , I doubt we will have as insipid a hurricane season as last year in the Atlantic !
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Still looks windy for some folks.
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Dr. Greg Forbes
21 hours ago
Thur Mar 6 - thunderstorms and isolated severe thunderstorms in the FL peninsula as a wave of low pressure and cold front move through. Low-level winds look pretty weak, suggesting that this could be a marginal threat situation. TORCON - 2 north and central FL

Fri Mar 7 - no severe thunderstorms, but a chance of a morning thunderstorm in south FL and elevated thunderstorms in eastern NC and SC. TORCON - zero
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Quoting 649. VR46L:


Thanks Hydrus , Must look that stuff up , It seems to be dominating the blog these days ,with nearly everyone seems to be wishcasting for it ,
It no doubt will be interesting if Nino arrives. With the weather patterns being unusual as they have been, we may see strange occurrences..Wait and see.
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651. VR46L
Quoting 627. StormTrackerScott:


Notice how one storm after another crosses the Gulf and then FL.


The only thing is are they going to be actual storms or just areas of low pressure moving across Florida , But I guess I am picky !
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The next ENSO Diagnostics Discussion is scheduled for 6 March 2014. To receive an e-mail notification when the monthly ENSO Diagnostic Discussions are released, please send an e-mail message to: ncep.list.enso-update@noaa.gov.
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649. VR46L
Quoting 642. hydrus:
Here..This will give you everything...NOAA...Link-- Scripps page..
Link


Thanks Hydrus , Must look that stuff up , It seems to be dominating the blog these days ,with nearly everyone seems to be wishcasting for it ,
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53811
Quoting 521. BaltimoreBrian:
I consider it a waste of time to debate evolution and the origin of the universe with someone who doesn't know what the big bang is. When you understand the concept of ekpyrosis I'll take you seriously. Over and out.


Relativity I understand, ekpyrosis, not so much.
A. Einstein
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Jeff M - thank you for doing such a concise job of explaining how it can be so cold, when the planet is getting so warm.

Especially in America, we have trouble remembering - or even believing - that America is not the world.

Copernicus would have understood.

Again, Thanks

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The local mets are making it seem winter is over.AGAIN!..They didn't learn the first time did they?.I had a co-worker come up to me and ask "I thought they said spring was coming and would be here to stay".I laughed because the whole entire D.C area had a nice reality check.
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heavy rains are coming for florida and the Southeast

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Quoting 633. LargoFl:
might be a rough time for us here when that line hits the coast....stay alert folks...........
Actually, Florida is getting off easy .3 days ago had Florida gettin lasted with gales and severe weather.
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Quoting 641. NCstu:
Thanks guys! So which zones are used to identify an event?
Here..This will give you everything...NOAA...Link-- Scripps page..
Link
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641. NCstu
Thanks guys! So which zones are used to identify an event?
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Quoting 639. Naga5000:


Beat me by seconds! Curse you HYDRUS! :)
My typin has improved...aaahhhh..sweet victory....I give ya a head start next time..:)
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Quoting 637. hydrus:
One reason is the Pacific is extremely vast and deep. Dividing into regions helps to track water temps at different areas and depths.

Climate variability is often measured by comparing the observed conditions to the long-term mean conditions. The mean state of the tropical Pacific ocean is identified by both its surface and subsurface characteristics, each of which exhibit considerable evolution across the eastern half of the tropical Pacific during the course of the year.Throughout the year the ocean surface is warmest in the west and coldest in the east. The largest difference between the two regions is observed during September and October when temperatures in the eastern Pacific reach their annual minimum. Temperatures across the central and east-central tropical Pacific then normally begin to increase during December and peak in April, while temperatures in the extreme eastern Pacific normally begin to increase during November and peak in March. In contrast, sea surface temperatures across the western tropical Pacific and Indonesia remain warm and nearly constant throughout the year.


Beat me by seconds! Curse you HYDRUS! :)
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Quoting 636. NCstu:
OK guys nino question. What do I need to know about the different zones? I almost always here about nino 3.4, but why do 1 and 2 get left out? And why is that area chopped up in the first place?


"There are four region based indices used to monitor the tropical Pacific: Nino 1+2 (0-10S, 90W-80W), Nino 3 (5N-5S, 150W-90W), Nino 3.4/ONI (5N-5S, 170W-120W) and Nino 4 (5N-5S, 160E-150W). In addition, a 'hybrid' index called the Trans-Nino Index (TNI) which uses the Nino 1+2 and Nino 4 regions, is used. Values are derived using areal mean standardized anomaly SSTs from a prescribed climatological period. To be classified as El Niño or La Niña even, a set of criteria must be met. Usually, 3-to-5 month smoothed values must exceed some criteria for a specific period. A list of events is available. Link"

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Quoting 636. NCstu:
OK guys nino question. What do I need to know about the different zones? I almost always here about nino 3.4, but why do 1 and 2 get left out? And why is that area chopped up in the first place?
One reason is the Pacific is extremely vast and deep. Dividing into regions helps to track water temps at different areas and depths.

Climate variability is often measured by comparing the observed conditions to the long-term mean conditions. The mean state of the tropical Pacific ocean is identified by both its surface and subsurface characteristics, each of which exhibit considerable evolution across the eastern half of the tropical Pacific during the course of the year.Throughout the year the ocean surface is warmest in the west and coldest in the east. The largest difference between the two regions is observed during September and October when temperatures in the eastern Pacific reach their annual minimum. Temperatures across the central and east-central tropical Pacific then normally begin to increase during December and peak in April, while temperatures in the extreme eastern Pacific normally begin to increase during November and peak in March. In contrast, sea surface temperatures across the western tropical Pacific and Indonesia remain warm and nearly constant throughout the year.Info and graphics from NOAA.
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636. NCstu
OK guys nino question. What do I need to know about the different zones? I almost always here about nino 3.4, but why do 1 and 2 get left out? And why is that area chopped up in the first place?
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Quoting StormTrackerScott:


Notice how one storm after another crosses the Gulf and then FL.


Get'em out of the way now instead of Hurricane Season, which is only 87 days, 14 hours and 18 minutes away.
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Quoting 612. LargoFl:
thurs night friday morning is going to be rough....
While Fl is looking at a potential severe wx threat, NC is looking at a freezing rain threat... Raleigh discussion:...DEWPOINTS ARE FORECAST TO DROP INTO THE MID 20S IN THE
WESTERN PIEDMONT AND THE WETBULB FREEZING LINE PUSHES SOUTH TO THE NC/SC BORDER... MODELS HAVE TRENDED TOWARD A BETTER CHANCE OF FREEZING RAIN...BUT CONFIDENCE IN THE PREDOMINATE PRECIP TYPE AND POSSIBLE ACCUMULATIONS IS STILL LOW GIVEN SOME OF THE SMALL DIFFERENCES IN THE SURFACE/850MB LOW TRACK AND WESTERN EXTENT/STRENGTHEN OF THE WARM NOSE.
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might be a rough time for us here when that line hits the coast....stay alert folks...........
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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.