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 Ni├▒a 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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Quoting Patrap:
Fascinating Lurking..

Pass da Tabasco, please.

(Passes it over)
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The irony of RecordSeason's post is that replacing "atheist" with "Christian", "liberal" with "conservative" and "school and college" with "church" would yield a post that would garner a lot of nods of agreement from many of the regulars here.

However, I choose to give people more credit than that.  People are complex... everyone is.  Most of us carry a mixture of traditionally "conservative" and "liberal" beliefs and very few people fit the caricatures that are too frequently used.  While it might feel satisfying to lob a personal attack at someone, remember: you reap what you sew.

Quoting RecordSeason:

What do you expect? He's clearly a hard atheist and ultra-liberal. You can damn near predict what their response is going to be from anything you post on these topics.

It's like "robo member" when it comes to these people and these topics.

They have the same BS canned responses they learned in school and college, where they were forbidden to think for themselves.

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245. xcool

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Quoting HaloReachFan:

Hey I'm not belittling anyone.

You'll notice what side does it on this blog.

Talk about the freakin' pot and the kettle. Your side seems to be belittling anyone who believes in climate change, which is backed by an overwhelming scientific consensus. Never before has anything with this much scientific agreement behind it been doubted by so many. Oh wait, evolution rings a bell. Again, your side. Get a clue. The morons who are misinforming people on this topic should be ashamed of themselves. There is nothing wrong with wanting to take care of this planet we live on and I don't understand why anyone thinks it's a bad thing to do so. Grow up.
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Quoting JupiterKen:
But -- TomTaylor, I play video games and... I'm older than you.

What is your point?

I really don't get it. I was never saying you can only be a certain age to play video games...

I was just asking what his age is. Mostly because of the way he carries himself around on this blog, he literally has so little experience in what he is talking about, and presents his arguments in such a poor manner I figured I'd ask.

And I can clearly see he's into video games, and I know the large majority of people who do play video games are of a fairly young age, so I figured I'd ask him

Why it matters? It really doesn't. But, if he would care to reveal his age, I would like to know if I'm arguing with an 11 year old. Because in all honesty, Haloreachfan presents himself no better than my 10 year old brother does.

And, if you care, I'm 17.
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239. Skyepony (Mod)
96S is now 14S..

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Fascinating Lurking..

Pass da Tabasco, please.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 139974
SPIT BALLS..........$7.50
FLAME THROWERS......$300.00
C-4.................$700.00 lb
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Dammit Jed.I know you will never sleep again ...JFLORIDA is cutting you off.I can't think of anything worse in the world.Hang in there friend.I will save you
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231. xcool

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" ...the thousands of climate scientists out there"

Really? There are thousands? Surely, you must be mistaken. No fair counting the pseudo-scientists who post on this blog.
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I think you missed my point.  You are correct in observing that thermometers ALWAYS measure local conditions... conditions 100 yards away are probably different.  But seriously, everyone who professionally studies weather and climate is well aware of this.  This is 101 level stuff.

Moreover, this isn't an issue if your goal is to examine long-term trends.  Because, even if a thermometer is consistently reporting a temperature that is 5 degrees higher (or lower) than the temperature 100 yards away, and even if you don't correct this, the instrument will still properly reflect TRENDS in temperature (i.e. - is temperature going up or down).  The absolute temperature is far less relevant than the observed CHANGE in temperature when discussing climate change because, as you point out, absolute temperature is extremely localized.

Quoting Cochise111:

But if the temp is actually 50 degrees and the placement shows 55 degrees because it's next to an a/c exhaust? Hmmm. The readings are extremely space-specific also, because the surrounding countryside temperature might be a great deal lower than the area of the thermometer.

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Was I out of line?
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Quoting HaloReachFan:
There goes MichaelSTL.

"Guys the weather is doing a wooble right now"

That is all this is.

He copy's and paste's the same information all the time.

With no avail.

No proof that man is causing this.

Time to go back to the drawing board.

Your brainpower is superior to the collective knowledge of the thousands of climate scientists out there?

Based on your astounding typing, grammar and spelling skills I think I already know the answer to that.

Try talking about something that doesn't make you look like a dipstick.
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Quoting cat5hurricane:
163: Neapolitan -

OH BROTHER. Do you even have the slightest idea how Capitalism works? The SLIGHTEST idea?

But did you ever realize that perhaps the reason you have your job and do the fun things you enjoy to do are because of our freedoms we have in this country? I mean, I can't help it, but your post on #163 regarding global warming wreaks so badly of partiality towards the very system that made this great country into what it is today.

which is the same reason he is blind about Global Warming. People like him don't live in the real world, they live in a dream world where their theories run everything, they ironically refuse to accept how the very things that run the world around them work.
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if you want to get a laugh and its cold just say "no global warming today"
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Quoting RecordSeason:

yeah, God forbid that anyone should be allowed to learn the truth or to think for themselves before people like you get hold of them.

Only idiots believe in abiogenesis.

And don't try to draw imaginary lines between abiogenesis and "molecule to man" evolution, because neither theory can stand, or have any meaning, without the other.

Abiogenesis experiments have NEVER produced anything remotely close to a life form.

If you had such an artificial life form and make it in a lab, then you have in fact proven Intelligent Design, not abiogenesis.

So the paradox is that it is completely impossible to "prove" abiogenesis by experiment, while ALL human experience easily proves that complex machines require intelligent design.

It is pretty sad that people such as yourself refuse to see such simple logic, and yet have the audacity to insult or otherwise look down on anyone who disagrees with the psuedo-science of Evolution or abiogenesis.

Yes, evolutionary theory (at least the molecule to man BS taught in text books,) and abiogenesis are psuedo-science which have no place in school or college setting.

It's really sad and pathetic that people allegedly so "educated" and "intelligent" could yet believe that something as complex as a cell could come into being through random processes.

If that foolishness is what people like you call "science" then I must say that I do not want anything to do with it. You gladly live a lie every day of your life, and are too blind to realize it.

Ironically, spontaneous generation was disproven a few centuries ago, but since atheists can't possibly accept God, they must return to worse and worse forms of psuedo-science to try to reconcile the obvious fallacies of their theories. When will it end?

Anyway, I don't expect anyone to be convinced by actual thought or truth. After all, yesterday I showed how previous 30 year periods have had just as many intense hurricanes as the past 30 years, and people rejected teh truth, even when I used official NASA data and encyclopedia data...

Apparently with "scientists" today, the "truth" doesn't matter. Just make up some bs and expect everyone else to "believe it or else".

Well said, but over course because you hurt their ego, you HAVE to be wrong!

The good news is, not all scientists stoop to the level of that junk, there are still good honest scientists out there, just the prideful ones have the biggest mouths, and try and pretend there is some sort of overwhelming consensus. No, don't speak for me, and the rest of honest science, we just continue seeking truth, while the rest boisterously try and shove their propaganda at everyone, doing whatever they can to attempt suppressing the truth and those who live by it.
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Quoting twincomanche:

My experience is that being far left or right has little to do with your mental stability. I know plenty of people that are apolitical and are as nutty as fruitcakes.

I can agree with your assessment, but are the "apolitical fruitcakes" nearly as judgmental or unreasoning? Perhaps I should have stated that the most judgmental, as opposed to "mental", are the ones that lean to the far right and to the far left, in the political spectrum. What I really find alarming is how someone can make purely political comments concerning scientific studies or even science as a field of study, for that matter. There are many excellent debates covering a wide variety of topics on this blog. I have not seen any comments from any unreasoned posters. I have not seen any posters that do not show a good degree of intelligence. Most, if not all, here show a greater degree of knowledge than I can exhibit here. Even with my limited knowledge of the subjects and my own inability to fully comprehend them I do see the fallacy in trying to interject political comments as sound scientific reasoning. The two subjects do not interact well nor should we try to induce them to do so. The only time we should try to interlace science and politics is when we are discussing political science. I do not see any other time where trying to interlace the two subjects does justice to either. Science is not based on what is politically acceptable nor is politics based on pure science. Actually, from what I have observed, over the past election cycles, is that politics is far more emotional than it is scientific.

I will still have to stand by my statement that the mental disorders associated with this nation would be largely from the most extreme of both the right and the left. These two groups both believe they are absolutely correct and that the other group is completed comprised of lunatics. In this one respect, I believe both groups are 100% correct.

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Yea well thats not an answer is it. It workls around here but really you have no experience or reasonable thinking on the matter. So yea. thanks for your input.

Making several handles and posting unreasonable innuendo doesn't make you correct. It does make me ignore you.

Anyway as I cant see the denial clowns the board took a turn for the better.

I'm not a handle-maker. Or a candle-maker. What gives you that idea?
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Quoting overwash12:
AGW science in its infancy

lol that might be an accurate representation of the current as well :)
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Quoting caneswatch:

Halo, the man is stubborn like a bull. JF just thinks he's always right and always will be, and he criticizes others for not believing what he thinks and not doing what he thinks is right. The best thing to do is to pay no attention to him at all, and move on.

Oh I'm done from here on out, I though maybe they have hope, but they would need divine intervention at this point lol.

If someone who is physically blind thinks they have a better understanding of the meaning behind a painting, there is no way of getting through to them.

That's about how ridiculous this GW stuff is. They get backed into a corner, and get even more upset because their beloved theories might actually be wrong. In reality, its not even about GW, it about their ego.

I once heard a great thing from a friend of minds grandfather, he said "you can't ruin a man ego, rather a man's ego ruin's himself".
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ORIGIN TIME - 1005 AM HST 11 FEB 2011



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AGW science in its infancy
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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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