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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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827


Interesting Water Vapor..

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Quoting 777. sar2401:

Up to 55 here after a high of only 43 yesterday. The redbuds, tulip trees, and popcorn trees have just started to bloom, and my daffodils are now at the height of their bloom. Spring really is around the corner, hard as that may be to believe in parts of North America still buried in snow and ice.


Hey sar..
My tulip tree looks grand now..
But the Palms took a beating this winter..
All have to have their fronds clipped off in order to stimulate new growth according to landscapers locally..
I wonder how Bellingrath Gardens made out this winter..
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Quoting 775. sar2401:

Indeed. Mt. Hood is also in danger of a lahar that would have immediate effects in the Portland area. Everyone knows that California will fall off into the Pacific when "The Big One" hits, but not many are aware of the dangers to Portland and Seattle from their respective volcanoes.


The part about California falling into the sea is 100% not true
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12z JMA










Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16014
Quoting 309. DonnieBwkGA:
When was the last time Mardi Gras in New Orleans had temps in the 30s in the afternoon?


2012
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
getting warmer now sun rises in the sky crosses the line in 18 days

Up to 55 here after a high of only 43 yesterday. The redbuds, tulip trees, and popcorn trees have just started to bloom, and my daffodils are now at the height of their bloom. Spring really is around the corner, hard as that may be to believe in parts of North America still buried in snow and ice.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 16273
Quoting 769. LargoFl:


look like the SPC increased the risk..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16014
Quoting NCstu:
from wikipedia:

"Lahars have several possible causes:[3]
Snow and glaciers can be melted by lava or pyroclastic flows during an eruption.
Lava flows out of open vents and can mix with wet soil, and mud on the slope of the volcano making a very viscous, high energy lahar. (The higher up the slope of the volcano the more gravitational potential energy the flow will have.)
A flood caused by a glacier, lake breakout, or heavy rainfall can release a lahar, also called glacier run or jökulhlaup
Water from a crater lake, combined with volcanic material in an eruption"

I bolded the one I was referring to. Since the slopes of Mt. Rainier have a lot of pyroclastic material, it would be different than a landslide.

Also from Wikipedia:

"Several mountains in the world, including Mount Rainier in the United States, Mount Ruapehu in New Zealand, and Galunggung in Indonesia, are considered particularly dangerous due to the risk of lahars."

Indeed. Mt. Hood is also in danger of a lahar that would have immediate effects in the Portland area. Everyone knows that California will fall off into the Pacific when "The Big One" hits, but not many are aware of the dangers to Portland and Seattle from their respective volcanoes.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 16273
Organized storms/mesoscale convective system are expected to be ongoing over the eastern Gulf
early Thursday...and will likely move inland along the West Coast by
middle-day or during the afternoon. Despite uncertainty regarding the
strength of the low level jet...vertical wind profiles appear sufficient for
organized structures with isolated damaging wind the main
threat...but a tornado or two will also be possible depending on
degree of boundary layer destabilization and strength of low level jet. While
a marginal thermodynamic environment may ultimately serve as a
limiting factor for a more robust severe threat...a lower end slight
risk appears warranted.


.Dial.. 03/05/2014

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Quoting 762. bappit:
England still getting the North Atlantic drift starting down in Texas.

getting warmer now sun rises in the sky crosses the line in 18 days
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
Quoting bappit:
England still getting the North Atlantic drift starting down in Texas.


I wonder how (or if) I can access records from the period of the Revolutionary War, especially Atlantic Ocean conditions between North America and England. I'm reading a history of the war, and the only means of communication was fast packets. It normally took about three weeks going west and about two weeks going east, when the jet stream was in their favor. The winter of 1780/81, however, when Cornwallis was in camp at Yorktown, he send a number of urgent notes to Lord George in London requesting support from the British fleet. It was taking almost four weeks for messages to get back to Cornwallis from England as the fast packets reported they were fighting massive storms and strong winds. The exchanges between Cornwallis and Lord George became more and more confused and out of real time during the winter and into the spring of 1781. This led directly to Cornwallis deciding to surrender to Washington in October, 1781, since he felt he was being ignored and the British fleet wasn't coming to his rescue. In fact, the British fleet was mounting the biggest operation of the entire war, another instance of how weather affects war. I think the jet stream patterns then must have been somewhat similar to today, with a train of never ending storms. It would be interesting to try to confirm that, assuming there's any contemporary data available.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 16273
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770. NCstu
Quoting 767. VAstorms:


It usually takes a volcanic eruption to produce a lahar. I believe that is the definition of it.
from wikipedia:

"Lahars have several possible causes:[3]
Snow and glaciers can be melted by lava or pyroclastic flows during an eruption.
Lava flows out of open vents and can mix with wet soil, and mud on the slope of the volcano making a very viscous, high energy lahar. (The higher up the slope of the volcano the more gravitational potential energy the flow will have.)
A flood caused by a glacier, lake breakout, or heavy rainfall can release a lahar, also called glacier run or jökulhlaup
Water from a crater lake, combined with volcanic material in an eruption"

I bolded the one I was referring to. Since the slopes of Mt. Rainier have a lot of pyroclastic material, it would be different than a landslide.

Also from Wikipedia:

"Several mountains in the world, including Mount Rainier in the United States, Mount Ruapehu in New Zealand, and Galunggung in Indonesia, are considered particularly dangerous due to the risk of lahars."
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Quoting 26. Birthmark:

Oooh, aggressive. While some babble about the cold in the Eastern US, they seem blissfully unaware of the warmth in the Arctic this winter.



So even though it's cold where you are, it's very warm other places -like the Arctic.


And much of the western US as well. One of the mildest winters I've seen in Santa Fe, NM.
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Quoting 18. NCstu:
Those downhill from Mt. Rainier could see a lahar. That would be bad.


It usually takes a volcanic eruption to produce a lahar. I believe that is the definition of it.
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Quoting LargoFl:
from Miami Nws.................

I don't know what the deal is Birmingham compared to a lot of other WSO's I see posted here. They have nice graphics and very detailed forecast discussions. BMX seems to be doing heavy lifting just to update a forecast discussion when the forecast was for no rain and it's already started raining. Most of their graphics look like it was done in Paint, with squiggley lines overlaying some GIS base map. I feel neglected. :-)
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 16273
Quoting 761. sar2401:

Ah, sorry. I don't always see graphics from some people. 8^)
I've found it best to withhold criticism until I've read all the pertinent commentary. Otherwise, it's far too easy to look foolish. Know what I mean? ;-)
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.NOW...
...INCREASING CLOUDS WITH STORMS POSSIBLE TREASURE COAST...

A STALLING FRONTAL BOUNDARY NEAR LAKE OKEECHOBEE COMBINED WITH
SURFACE HEATING WILL LEAD TO A CHANCE OF STORMS FROM NEAR LAKE
OKEECHOBEE TO THE TREASURE COAST THIS AFTERNOON. ELSEWHERE
CONSIDERABLE CLOUDINESS WILL OVERSPREAD THE AREA AND THERE WILL BE A
CHANCE OF SHOWERS FROM THE I-4 CORRIDOR SOUTHWARD TO THE SPACE COAST
THE REST OF THE DAY. LOW PRESSURE WILL BEGIN TO TAKE SHAPE OVER THE
GULF OF MEXICO TODAY AND MOVE TOWARD THE STATE ON THURSDAY.

&&
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Quoting 760. sar2401:

It looks like the UKMet has the rain not far enough west and north. The local mets think that most of south Alabama will end up with somewhere around 1.5" by noon Friday. I hope so, since the last two "storms" have been total busts. I ended up with .03" yesterday, most of which occurred when I was out walking my dog. :-)
yeah i hope you get some rain from this coming system sar..good luck
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England still getting the North Atlantic drift starting down in Texas.

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Quoting Naga5000:


My comment was in response to a comment about Neapolitan's graphic showing the Sea Surface Temperature anomalies. Dr. Master's graphic is showing surface temperature anomalies, which my statement doesn't have a correlation with. :)

Ah, sorry. I don't always see graphics from some people. 8^)
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 16273
Quoting sar2401:

While the warmer water may also be a factor, I think that Hudson's Bay is not generally regarded as being in the Arctic geographically. If I'm not reading the map wrong in Dr. Master's graphic, all of the area of Hudson's Bay is either near zero in temperature departure from the norm to much below normal. It's only once we get into the waters of the Arctic Sea that we start seeing above normal departures from the norm.
Quoting LargoFl:
ukmet..................

It looks like the UKMet has the rain not far enough west and north. The local mets think that most of south Alabama will end up with somewhere around 1.5" by noon Friday. I hope so, since the last two "storms" have been total busts. I ended up with .03" yesterday, most of which occurred when I was out walking my dog. :-)
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 16273
just might be a strong storm or two here this evening as well...
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CMC



NAM


GFS
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16014
Melbourne nws................Wednesday, March 05, 2014



Posted at 10:13 AM
Increasing Clouds with Storms Possible Treasure Coast

A stalling frontal boundary near Lake Okeechobee combined with surface heating will lead to a chance of storms from near Lake Okeechobee to the Treasure Coast this afternoon. Elsewhere considerable cloudiness will overspread the area and there will be a chance of showers from the I-4 corridor southward to the Space Coast the rest of the day. Low pressure will begin to take shape over the Gulf of Mexico today and move toward the state on Thursday. A chance of strong storms is in the forecast on Thursday. There is a moderate hazard for rip currents at Atlantic Coast beaches today.
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Quoting 731. sar2401:

While the warmer water may also be a factor, I think that Hudson's Bay is not generally regarded as being in the Arctic geographically. If I'm not reading the map wrong in Dr. Master's graphic, all of the area of Hudson's Bay is either near zero in temperature departure from the norm to much below normal. It's only once we get into the waters of the Arctic Sea that we start seeing above normal departures from the norm.


My comment was in response to a comment about Neapolitan's graphic showing the Sea Surface Temperature anomalies. Dr. Master's graphic is showing surface temperature anomalies, which my statement doesn't have a correlation with. :)
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 4 Comments: 3596
from Miami Nws.................
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nws warnings getting strong again...
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Quoting 750. ncstorm:
12z CMC..I wont see the sun again till Saturday per the model as rain is forecasted till then









and then more rain


maybe not till sunday after 10
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
12z CMC..I wont see the sun again till Saturday per the model as rain is forecasted till then









and then more rain


Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16014
Quoting 716. Patrap:
Adaptations also result from behavioral changes,





lol. Good one, Pat.

But really. Don't text and walk ;)
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Area forecast discussion
National Weather Service New Orleans la
411 am CST Wednesday Mar 5 2014

Short term...

one disturbance departing and next one approaching.

Surface analysis indicates 1012 mb low in the west-central Gulf with upper low dropping into base of trough later tonight. This will draw moisture northward throughout the day for rather widespread coverage by this evening. Went fairly close to the GFS timing with rain ending by daybreak Friday. Will onset likely probability of precipitation by middle- afternoon and categorical probability of precipitation by evening...continuing through the night.



Despite cloud cover...warm air advection should allow for warming temperatures throughout the day as already underway this morning.

Long term...
warming trend takes place over the weekend with some low amplitude
ridging. Then models continue to struggle with continuity in
handling next series of short-waves. The GFS shows steep
deeepening from converging systems in the southern branch. The European model (ecmwf)
digs the main short-wave deep into Mexico before bringing a
negative tilt trough into the west Gulf. Both outcomes can be
problematic primarily along the coastal sections and Gulf waters.
Very short wavelength indicated in the European model (ecmwf) could bring the Gulf
low more northward...but at this time the GFS solution is
preferred...though with questionable confidence given run-to-run
inconsistencies.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Quoting 740. FLGatorCaneNut:


Which last hour as all I see is from 10:53am to 11:53am today, posted at MCO is that it went from 65 to 68


By the way the sun finally came out at 11:40am but yes from 10:53 to 11:53 I can see a 3 degree rise as it was still cloudy and damp.
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Quoting 743. LargoFl:
Might be supercells coming into south florida's west coast...


Thats one good ULL
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It's warming up.
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Quoting 740. FLGatorCaneNut:


Which last hour as all I see is from 10:53am to 11:53am today, posted at MCO is that it went from 65 to 68


At 11:45 it was 63 in Longwood and now it's 74 and climbing but thanks for the concern.
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Might be supercells coming into south florida's west coast...
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Just juxtaposing one of Dr. Master's entries from July 2012 against the current post:

Record warmth at the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet
By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 5:25 PM EDT on July 18, 2012

The coldest place in Greenland, and often the entire Northern Hemisphere, is commonly the Summit Station. Located at the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet, 10,551 feet (3216 meters) above sea level, and 415 miles (670 km) north of the Arctic Circle, Summit rarely sees temperatures that rise above the freezing mark. In the 12-year span 2000 - 2011, Summit temperatures rose above freezing only four times, according to weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera. But remarkably, over the past week, temperatures at Summit have eclipsed the freezing mark on five days, including four days in a row from July 11 - 14. There are actually three weather stations located at the location--Summit, Summit-US, and Summit AWS. The highest reliable temperature measured at any of the three stations is now the 3.6°C (38.5°F) measured on Monday, July 16, 2012 at Summit-US. A 4.4°C reading at Summit in May, 2010 is bogus, as can be seen by looking at the adjacent station. Similarly, a 3.3°C reading from June 2004 is also bad. Records at Summit began in 1987.


It all comes in waves..............
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Quoting 704. PalmBeachWeather:
Everything takes half a cup of coffee for me now-a-days


In 1985 I tongue in cheek defined the "coffee constant". This is a period of about 500 seconds defining the time it takes to reboot a laptop or desktop PC typically configured. It's about enough time to go to the office coffeepot and get yet another cup of "sleep substitute" It has remained about same to the early 2010s
Member Since: February 1, 2012 Posts: 19 Comments: 1933
Quoting 724. StormTrackerScott:
Warm front just lifted north of Orlando and temps have jumped up about 10 degrees in the last hour. Maybe some thunderstorms popping up this afternoon now that the sun is out.




Which last hour as all I see is from 10:53am to 11:53am today, posted at MCO is that it went from 65 to 68
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Helicity will be High over your area scott....
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Quoting 735. Patrap:
Eat Mo Chiken'


I like my Chiken nice and crispy.

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Quoting 732. StormTrackerScott:


Big rain event on the way that's for sure. Maybe some severe weather as well when the SPC folks re-evaluate things later tonight.
yes tomorrow mornings warnings may get somewhat stronger..was just looking at the MUCAPE and central and south florida are high...we'll see what happens..just hope no tornado's or waterspouts coming ashore..rain we can take.
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Eat Mo Chiken'

..Should I rest for awhile,on the side
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Quoting 716. Patrap:
Adaptations also result from behavioral changes,





I am back, glowing screen of dots.

I await your further instuctions!
Member Since: February 1, 2012 Posts: 19 Comments: 1933
Quoting 725. KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


so I guess I will have to break out the ugly stick


Naw, keep yer mirror on the Wall keep.

; )
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089

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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.

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