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 531. VAbeachhurricanes:


Yep the universe is expanding, and continues to expand at an ever faster rate. Play it backwards and what do you get? A single point.
Question for you, what created that point?
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Quoting 528. Birthmark:

I'm more of a fan of cosmic inflation. But I haven't kept up with cosmology, so probably everything I "know" is badly out of date.

Stupid progress!
For birthmark, gulfbreeze and everyone:

A Successor to Sagan Reboots 'Cosmos'
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Quoting 527. nigel20:

I can't speak much about evolution, but the evidence of the "big bang" is there. The Doppler effect can be used in this instance. We know about wavelengths, shorter wavelength is equal to higher frequency and higher pitch. While longer wavelength is equal to lower frequency and lower pitch. When light moves away, it shows up red on the electromagnet spectrum, while it shows up blue when it's approaching a source.


Yep the universe is expanding, and continues to expand at an ever faster rate. Play it backwards and what do you get? A single point.
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Night All - Stay Safe - Stay Warm - Play Nice - Do Not Play With the ICE
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Quoting 516. KEEPEROFTHEGATE:



Thank you Fine Tuning do you think that just happen by chance?
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Quoting 504. VAbeachhurricanes:


The evidence of the big bang and of evolution.

I can't speak much about evolution, but the evidence of the "big bang" is there. The Doppler effect can be used in this instance. We know about wavelengths, shorter wavelength is equal to higher frequency and higher pitch. While longer wavelength is equal to lower frequency and lower pitch. When light moves away, it shows up red on the electromagnetic spectrum, while it shows up blue when it's approaching a observer.

Stars and Galaxies shows up as red if they are moving away and blue if they're approaching a observer.
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Quoting 514. Birthmark:

Let's start with what the BB isn't. It isn't an explosion in any conventional sense.


Rapid expansion of time space and matter.
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Quoting 520. jpsb:
Yes, I am over my head on the topic of evolution, so I am going to bow out of it. Evolution happens, but we humans do not understand how it works or what drives it. Is all I am saying.

But we do!!!
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Quoting 517. Birthmark:

You don't have one? Well, my opinion of you just dropped a notch or two. :)
2 feet long and strong enough to hold my body weight would be nice :)
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Quoting 511. gulfbreeze:
Not sure what big bang is ?
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.
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520. jpsb
Quoting 512. Birthmark:

If I'm understanding you correctly, then you are merely speculating on one of the things that can improve "fitness." (I dislike "survival of the fittest", as did Darwin, btw. "Survival of the adequate" is closer to the truth in the vast majority of cases.)
Yes, I am over my head on the topic of evolution, so I am going to bow out of it. Evolution happens, but we humans do not understand how it works or what drives it. Is all I am saying.
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1635
Quoting 503. Astrometeor:


Aww, shoot. Somewhere I saw a quote that said, "If you are the smartest person in the room, leave it." I think I saw it in the March edition of Reader's Digest. *shrug* Anyways, if you think you're the smartest, bye-bye!


Yeah I was just joking. I know people who think like that though. Kinda scary.
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How long until Hurricane Season I need a storm to track!!
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Quoting 511. gulfbreeze:
Not sure what big bang is ?



Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 192 Comments: 59575
Quoting 514. Birthmark:

Let's start with what the BB isn't. It isn't an explosion in any conventional sense.
I will buy that!
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Quoting 510. Astrometeor:
Or the tailbone. One of the largest mistakes evolution made. I would so use a tail...
I would love to have a prehensile tail!
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Quoting 504. VAbeachhurricanes:


The evidence of the big bang and of evolution.
Not sure what big bang is ?
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Quoting 501. BaltimoreBrian:
How about the appendix?


Or the tailbone. One of the largest mistakes evolution made. I would so use a tail...
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Quoting 505. BaltimoreBrian:
Thanks nigel! I'm adding your article to today's daily list now.

You're most welcome! There are also major discussions about its (potential investment site) location. Economic as well as environmental arguments.
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Quoting 451. ncstorm:


No not yet..we have the Azalea Festival here in April and thats our official start to spring when you see the flowers bloom around the city..



Is that Greenfield Lake?
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Quoting 487. sar2401:

I never mentioned a "big bang" nor do I believe in it. You mentioned evolution is not true. How do you explain humans having a coccyx if we did not evolve from something which had a use for a coccyx? It clearly exists, so I'd like to hear your explanation as to why we have it.
All I was saying is I do not think we came from apes we may share coccyx bone. But I think God made us all just my opinion. Also my spelling is not one of my strong points.
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506. Skyepony (Mod)
Faxai this may be about peak..75kts. Recent terra pass.

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Thanks nigel! I'm adding your article to today's daily list now.
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Quoting 494. gulfbreeze:
Understand what?


The evidence of the big bang and of evolution.
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Quoting 497. nwobilderburg:
All we are is cosmic dust. Belief in god is just an excuse for weaker minds. None of you are as enlightened about the truth as I am. I hate being by far the most intelligent person in a room


Aww, shoot. Somewhere I saw a quote that said, "If you are the smartest person in the room, leave it." I think I saw it in the March edition of Reader's Digest. *shrug* Anyways, if you think you're the smartest, bye-bye!
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Quoting 496. sar2401:

What's deal with the "Image remove for security purposes" at the end? Is he supplying information to the DOD or some other high-security agency? Looks like a bunch of barely connected speculation to me.

Any long-range prediction is largely speculation. But using the LRC does have merit--it's worked all winter long--and the MJO is very helpful as well. Time will tell.

Quoting 497. nwobilderburg:
All we are is cosmic dust. Belief in god is just an excuse for weaker minds. None of you are as enlightened about the truth as I am. I hate being by far the most intelligent person in a room

Lol.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 34481
Quoting 480. gulfbreeze:
You think a small bone at the base of the spinal column is all you need to prove evolution and where did we come from big bang?
How about the appendix?
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500. jpsb
Quoting 472. Birthmark:

Have you looked? You might be surprised with what you find.
Clearly as the fossil record proves there is some mechanism that created increasingly complex organisms from simpler ones. I have no problem calling that mechanism evolution. However we know very little about how evolution works. I don't think "survival of the fittest" is the mechanism that drives evolution. Maybe comic rays ....... AGAIN?
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1635
Quoting 496. sar2401:

What's deal with the "Image remove for security purposes" at the end? Is he supplying information to the DOD or some other high-security agency? Looks like a bunch of barely connected speculation to me.


I thought that was what a forecast was! Would explain a lot...

;)
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Several cities in the Midwest and Northeast have had extremely snowy winters this year. The following cities are consolidated statistical areas of more than 2 million people. Let's take a closer look:

Chicago:

1) 89.7 IN. 1978-1979
2) 82.3 IN. 1977-1978
3) 77.0 IN. 1969-1970
4) 73.5 IN. 2013-2014

Will tonight take Chicago to #3?

Detroit:


1) 93.6 IN. 1880-1881 (Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter)
2) 83.8 IN. 2013-2014

I'm guessing 90". A close second.

Indianapolis:


1) 58.2 IN. 1981-1982
2) 57.9 IN. 1977-1978
3) 54.7 IN. 2013-2014

Titan underperformed but we'll see if more snow takes Indianapolis to #1

Philadelphia:


1) 78.7 IN. 2009-2010
2) 65.5 IN. 1995-1996
3) 62.9 IN. 2013-2014

Will Philly get to #2? #1 seems unlikely but 19" fell there on April 3 1915.

Note: The Mount Holly NWS office has not put in the 2009-2010 season in their archive. It's only been 4 years! I had to add the monthly totals together. Extremely unsatisfactory.

New York City:

1) 75.6 IN. 1995-1996
2) 63.2 IN. 1947-1948
3) 61.9 IN. 2010-2011
4) 60.4 IN. 1922-1923
5) 60.3 IN. 1872-1873
6) 57.8 IN. 1874-1875
7) 57.4 IN. 2013-2014

It won't take a whole lot to move NYC up several spots. We'll see.

Cincinnati:

1) 53.9 IN. 1977-1978
2) 47.3 IN. 1976-1977
3) 46.3 IN. 1950-1951
4) 45.8 IN. 2013-2014

#1 is doubtful but won't take much to take Cincinnati to #2

Columbus:

1) 67.8 IN. 1909-1910
2) 54.1 IN. 1995-1996
2) 54.1 IN. 1977-1978
4) 53.9 IN. 2013-2014

Won't take much to get Columbus OH to #2. #1 is doubtful.
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All we are is cosmic dust. Belief in god is just an excuse for weaker minds. None of you are as enlightened about the truth as I am. I hate being by far the most intelligent person in a room
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
A really good blogger I know put out this blog earlier. He uses the word "expected" in the title, but don't worry, he does note the long range uncertainty:

Major Severe Weather Outbreak Expected in Mid-March




The rain.

What's deal with the "Image remove for security purposes" at the end? Is he supplying information to the DOD or some other high-security agency? Looks like a bunch of barely connected speculation to me.
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Quoting 486. Astrometeor:


Where do YOU think we came from?


some guy showed up
dropped a couple of us off in the garden
all downhill from there
who knew



j/k
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 192 Comments: 59575
Quoting 481. VAbeachhurricanes:


Just because you can't understand it doesn't mean it didn't happen.
Understand what?
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Quoting 479. BaltimoreBrian:
Today's selection of articles about science, climate change, energy, and the environment.

Hi Brian. Major discussions are taking place here in Jamaica, on whether or not we should use coal to power a potentially large industrial park and transshipment port.

You can add this post, when next you publish your list of articles.

Coal Fire!
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Quoting Astrometeor:


Where do YOU think we came from?

I believe we were created by a higher intelligence I chose to call God. That doesn't however, mean that we didn't evolve during our long run on earth. I have no idea what a man and a woman in the beginning looked like and, so far, the Bible hasn't provided any pictures. :-)
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Quoting 488. ncstorm:


they are not intimidating to me..:)


Well, that's just great. Now I know of someone else who's not intimidated by me.

:(
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Quoting 484. ncstorm:


TA I read all of that only to find the image of where he thinks the severe potential will be has been removed at the end of the discussion due to security purposes

Probably the same general area affected by the February 20 and November 17 outbreaks.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 34481
Quoting 482. txjac:


Agree with what you say.

Just remember how I struggle/d with asking some questions. Didnt want to appear too "non-knowledgeable" and did not want to start an arguement.

Sometimes you knowledgeable, science focused, people dont realize how intimidating you can be ...lol


they are not intimidating to me..:)
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 17394
Quoting gulfbreeze:
You think a small bone at the base of the spinal column is all you need to prove evolution and where did we come from big bang?

I never mentioned a "big bang" nor do I believe in it. You mentioned evolution is not true. How do you explain humans having a coccyx if we did not evolve from something which had a use for a coccyx? It clearly exists, so I'd like to hear your explanation as to why we have it.
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Quoting 480. gulfbreeze:
You think a small bone at the base of the spinal column is all you need to prove evolution and where did we come from big bang?


Where do YOU think we came from?
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Quoting 478. TropicalAnalystwx13:
A really good blogger I know put out this blog earlier. He uses the word "expected" in the title, but don't worry, he does note the long range uncertainty:

Major Severe Weather Outbreak Expected in Mid-March




The rain.
I am expecting that and not gentle like before
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 192 Comments: 59575
Quoting 478. TropicalAnalystwx13:
A really good blogger I know put out this blog earlier. He uses the word "expected" in the title, but don't worry, he does note the long range uncertainty:

Major Severe Weather Outbreak Expected in Mid-March




The rain.


TA I read all of that only to find the image of where he thinks the severe potential will be has been removed at the end of the discussion due to security purposes
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 17394
Quoting 480. gulfbreeze:
You think a small bone at the base of the spinal column is all you need to prove evolution and where did we come from big bang?

Don't believe in the "big bang"?
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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Gust front cloud, SE Michigan
Thunderstorm over Grand Teton
Double rainbow over Old Faithful
Rainbow in Riverside Geyser