Another amazingly snowy winter for the U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:18 PM GMT on February 11, 2011

As northeast Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas dig out from the two feet of snow dumped this winter's latest epic snowstorm, it's time to summarize how remarkable the snows of the past two winters have been. So far this winter, the Northeast U.S. has seen three Category 3 (major) or higher snow storms on the Northeast Snowfall Impact (NESIS) scale. This scale, which rates Northeast snowstorms by the area affected by the snowstorm, the amount of snow, and the number of people living in the path of the storm, runs from Category 1 (Notable) to Category 5 (Crippling.) This puts the winter of 2010 - 2011 in a tie for first place with the winters of 2009 - 2010 and 1960 - 1961 for most major Northeast snowstorms. All three of these winters had an extreme configuration of surface pressures over the Arctic and North Atlantic referred to as a negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO). In this situation, the band of winds that circles the North Pole weakens, allowing cold air to spill southwards into the mid-latitudes.

In the past twelve months, we've had six major Category 3 or stronger storms on the NESIS scale, by far the most major snowstorms in a 12-month period in the historical record. Going back to 1956, only one 12-month period had as many as four major snowstorms--during 1960 - 1961. New York City has seen three of its top-ten snowstorms and the two snowiest months in its 142-year history during the past 12 months--February 2010 (36.9") and January 2011 (36.0"). Philadelphia has seen four of its top-ten snowstorm in history the past two winters. The Midwest has not been left out of the action this year, either--the Groundhog's Day blizzard nailed Chicago with its 3rd biggest snowstorm on record. According to the National Climatic Data Center, December 2010 saw the 7th greatest U.S. snow extent for the month in the 45-year record, and January 2011 the 5th most. December 2009 had the greatest snow extent for the month in the 45-year record, January 2010 the 6th most, and February 2010 the 3rd most. Clearly, the snows of the past two winters in the U.S. have been truly extraordinary.

Figure 1. The six major Category 3 Northeast snowstorms of the past twelve months. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center.

A cold January in the U.S.
January 2011 was the coldest January in the contiguous U.S. since 1994, according to the National Climatic Data Center, and ranked as the 37th coldest January in the 117-year record. Despite the heavy snows in the Northeast U.S., January was the 9th driest January since 1895. This was largely due to the fact that the Desert Southwest was very dry, with New Mexico recording its driest January, and Arizona and Nevada their second driest.

A cold and record snowy winter (yet again!) in the U.S. does not prove or disprove the existence of climate change or global warming, as we must instead focus on global temperatures averaged over decades. Globally, January 2011 was the 11th warmest since 1880, but tied for the second coolest January of the past decade, according to NASA. NOAA has not yet released their stats for January. The cool-down in global temperatures since November 2010, which was the warmest November in the historical record, is largely due to the temporary cooling effect of the strong La Niña event occurring in the Eastern Pacific. This event has cooled a large portion of the surface waters in the Pacific, leading to a cooler global temperature.

Some posts of interest I've done on snow and climate change over the past year:

Hot Arctic-Cold Continents Pattern is back (December 2010)
The future of intense winter storms (March 2010)
Heavy snowfall in a warming world (February 2010)

Have a great weekend, everyone, and enjoy the coming warm-up, those of you in the eastern 2/3 of the country!

Jeff Masters

Snow and icicle sun (emilinetdd)
Snow and icicle sun
Cardinal City (dypepper)
Another exciting day for me, shooting the Cardinals in the Snow!
Cardinal City

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700. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Seychelles Meteorological Services
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #15
22:00 PM Reunion February 12 2011

At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Cyclone Bingiza (963 hPa) located at 15.6S 53.5E has 10 minute sustained winds of 80 knots with gusts of 110 knots. The cyclone is reported as quasi-stationary.

Hurricane Force Winds
25 NM from the center

Storm Force Winds
50 NM from the center

Gale Force Winds
90 NM from the center

Near Gale Force Winds
100 NM from the center extending up to 120 NM in the northern semi-circle and the southeastern quadrant

Dvorak Intensity: T5.0/5.0/D 2.0/24 HRS

Forecast and Intensity
12 HRS: 15.8S 52.7E - 90 knots (CYCLONE Tropical Intense)
24 HRS: 16.1S 51.3E - 100 knots (CYCLONE Tropical Intense)
48 HRS: 16.5S 48.4E - 30 knots (Depression sur Terre)
72 HRS: 17.5S 45.8E - 20 knots (Depression sur Terre)

Additional Information

BINGIZA is intensifying very rapidly. An eye is clearly visible on satellite imagery since this afternoon; current manual Dvorak analysis gives a raw T number at 5.5 at 18:00 PM UTC.. 3 hours mean of T-number give 5.5 and 6 hour mean gives T5.0. ADT is at 3.9 at 1730 PM UTC but with a misplaced center until 15:30 PM UTC. Since that time the center is located at the right place and raw T number is at 5.9.. so current intensity may be somewhat conservative. The system is still quasi-stationary. After its small loop of this afternoon, the system should resume tonight on a west southwestward track under the influence of the steering flow generated by the rebuilding southwestward mid-tropospheric subtropical ridge.

Available numerical weather prediction models are in good agreement for this west southwest track towards the eastern coast of Madagascar and for a landfall between Masaola Peninsula and Sainte-Marie Island on Monday.

Environmental conditions are favorable for a rather rapid strengthening of the system until the landfall (no upper level wind shear, very good upper level divergence - good oceanic potential).


The next tropical cyclone advisory from Seychelles Meteorological Services will be issued at 0:30 AM UTC..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
122100z position near 15.6s 53.2e.
Tropical cyclone (tc) 13s (bingiza), located approximately
420 nm east-northeast of Antananarivo, Madagascar, has tracked
west-southwestward at 03 knots over the past six hours. Animated
infrared satellite imagery and a 121716z 91h ssmis microwave
image show deep convective banding feeding into a 28 nm concentric
eye. The current intensity of 85 knots is based on Dvorak estimates
ranging from 77 to 90 knots from pgtw, knes, and fmee. Environmental
analysis reveals that favorable sea surface temperatures (>28 degrees
celsius) and an enhanced poleward outflow channel, associated with a
transitory mid-latitude trough to the south, has allowed for rapid
intensification over the past 12 hours. Tc 13s is currently tracking
westward along the northern periphery of a weak steering ridge building
to the south. Tc bingiza is forecast to continue tracking in a
generally west-southwestward direction and continue to intensify before
making landfall along the northeastern coast of Madagascar near tau
36. The system is expected to dissipate over the rugged terrain of
Madagascar, but there is the potential for remnants to re-develop in the
Mozambique Channel in the later Taus. Numerical model guidance is in
good agreement; therefore this forecast is close to model consensus.
Maximum significant wave height at 121800z is 23 feet. Next warnings
at 130900z and 132100z. Refer to tropical cyclone 14s (fourteen) warnings
(wtxs32 pgtw) for twelve-hourly updates.//
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26780
Quoting Patrap:
Sarcasm seems to be not widely known up N

And snow seems to be not widely known down S.

You should also probably ask Michael if he was being sarcastic.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26780
Quoting cat5hurricane:

So X2, feels good, doesn't it?

Exactly what quotes have I pulled out of context? Are you referring to quoting things you've said, or what others have said?
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Sarcasm seems to be not widely known up N

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Quoting MichaelSTL:
So much for global cooling (the ground is still covered in snow - but not for long):

Tonight: Mostly clear, with a low around 34. Southwest wind between 9 and 11 mph.
Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 59. West wind between 9 and 14 mph.
Sunday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 33. West wind between 9 and 14 mph.
Monday: Sunny, with a high near 51. Northwest wind between 8 and 13 mph.
Monday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 30. Northwest wind between 4 and 7 mph becoming calm.
Tuesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 54.
Tuesday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 44.
Wednesday: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 61.
Wednesday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 49.
Thursday: Partly sunny, with a high near 65.
Thursday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 52.
Friday: Partly sunny and breezy, with a high near 65.
Friday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 45.
Saturday: Partly sunny, with a high near 51.

(So some areas are cold - so what? That is weather, plus the strongest warm anomalies are larger than the strongest cold anomalies)

What happened to watching out for logical fallacies, such as pretending that local weather represents global weather, or that the strength of a warm anomaly over a cold anomaly represents global temperature?
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26780
METEOSAT loops show a strengthening Bingiza with good banding structure, but a little too banded with dry air laced in between bands near the core, indicating less than perfect conditions for further intensification. The storm is also still stalled out east of Madagascar and is likely starting to upwell cold water underneath itself. This could spare Madagascar a hit from a more major cyclone.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26780
Bingiza already showing possible signs of upwelling based on microwave SST data:

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26780
Typhoon 13S

UW-CIMSS Automated Satellite-Based
Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT)
Version 8.1.1
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Estimation Algorithm

Current Intensity Analysis

ADT-Version 8.1.1
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 12 FEB 2011 Time : 183000 UTC
Lat : 15:38:43 S Lon : 53:18:49 E

CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
4.4 / 970.6mb/ 74.6kt

Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
4.4 5.1 6.0

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : +2.6mb

Estimated radius of max. wind based on IR : 18 km

Center Temp : -7.7C Cloud Region Temp : -68.7C

Scene Type : EYE


Ocean Basin : INDIAN
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : PACIFIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : 1.7T/6hr
Weakening Flag : OFF
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Ill go with the Pros on a Cyclone everytime

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The good news is Bingzia isn't exploding right now. The fact that the outer spiral band is stronger than the core says a lot about how out of touch the storm is with itself for the moment. Some dry air is also starting to creep up on the SW quad.

TCHP also isn't all that impressive, which means that with Bingzia sitting in nearly the same spot for this long of a while, it opens the door for possible upwelling of cold water underneath.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26780

Hurricane Preparation 2011
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cat5.what a beautiful dog Maddie is...You can tell by looking a a dog's face their intelligence. Maddie is a smart dog. So beautiful
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SH132011 - Tropical Cyclone BINGIZA

Enhanced Infrared (IR) Imagery (4 km Mercator)

Time of Latest Image: 201102121900

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673. Xeloi
Quoting Orcasystems:
. Dr. Singer has written or edited over a
dozen books and monographs, including, most recently, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years.

Let's just say that I have a very close family member who is on the EnviSci faculty at the University of Virginia. It's well-known in the department that this guy is a complete clown who is getting unbelievable sums of money (for an academic researcher) from the oil industry. He is worse than a sell-out, much worse, because of the damage his completely fantastical claims have on the public perception of global warming.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
672. OCF
Just checked the temperature for Bartlesville, OK: 52°, a nice 80 degree warmup from that ridiculous low. I figured it wouldn't last.

I do know the difference between weather and climate.
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Bingazi has to be at least a cat 3 now
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RecordSeason.......In weather terms VIRGA is precip that does not reach the ground. I experienced hurricane Wilma that was supposed to be pretty much be nothing after it crossed the gulf into south Florida and exiting in Palm Beach county.. Wilma kicked out butt here.
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Presslord......Repeat after me .V.I.R.G.A
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ukpete2006 | February 10, 2008

Amazing footage of my visit to the Geographic North Pole in 2001 on the nuclear icebreaker Yamal that was chartered by Quark Expeditions. All footage was captured on a standard Sony home camcorder and edited in Adobe Premiere. Also featured Franz Josef Land.

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Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
Just something that struck me funny this morning.I was watching WPTV news this morning here in West Palm Beach. The adorable new weather girl kept showing the Doppler radar say that the precipitation is not reaching the ground . Maybe a little drizzle is all.
Heck, I had 1/2 inch of Virga in my rain gauge.

Cool! Those things are, like, ten bucks a pill...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Just something that struck me funny this morning.I was watching WPTV news this morning here in West Palm Beach. The adorable new weather girl kept showing the Doppler radar say that the precipitation is not reaching the ground . Maybe a little drizzle is all.
Heck, I had 1/2 inch of Virga in my rain gauge.
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SH132011 - Tropical Cyclone BINGIZA

2km Storm Relative IR Imagery with BD Enhancement Curve

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God is coming to Mardi Gras,,shes a Big Carnival Fan and enjoy's the Spring Weather every year here.

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I see the debate still continues.Have a good afternoon eveybody.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 12 Comments: 21840
Quoting Xyrus2000:

WUWT really needs a troll modifier.

At least you didn't say Nazis. I should be thankful for that.

It should have a modifier, one that bans egomaniacs from shoving their secular GW religion down peoples throats.
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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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