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New Round of Snow and Ice for the U.S.; Extreme Warmth in Alaska

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 3:42 PM GMT on December 09, 2013

The calendar says we’re still a month and a half away from the peak of winter, but the winter weather gripping most of the U.S. is more typical of mid-January, as a significant outbreak of Arctic air continues to bring temperatures 10 - 30 degrees below normal to much of the nation. Following last Friday’s major winter storm that brought heavy snows and significant icing from Texas to Maine (“Cleon”), a new winter storm dubbed “Dion” followed a similar track on Sunday. The storm brought the first snow of winter to Washington D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia (the average date of the first measurable snow ranges from Dec. 14 in Baltimore to Dec. 18 in Philadelphia and Washington.) The 8.6” of snow that fell on Philadelphia surpassed the snowfall total for the entire 2012-2013 season (8.3”.) Snow and blowing snow hit four NFL games on Sunday—Lions at Eagles, Vikings at Ravens, Chiefs at Redskins, and Dolphins at Steelers—so obscuring the yard markers, that it was almost impossible for fans to tell exactly where the ball was at all four stadiums. The snow caused multiple traffic accidents that shut portions of I-95 in Philadelphia, and all planes were grounded at the airport during the afternoon. Farther west in Pennsylvania, heavy snow caused a 56-car pile up on the westbound lanes of the Pennsylvania Turnpike from Downingtown to Morgantown, after a motorist got out of his car after a minor accident and was hit and killed. One other person was injured. I-78 in Pennsylvania was also closed by traffic accidents on Sunday. More that 1/4” of ice accumulated due to freezing rains in portions of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia.


Figure 1. Pregame festivities at Sunday’s Lions-Eagles game in Philadelphia looked like a scene out of “Frozen.” Image credit: CNBC's Jim Cramer (@jimcramer)

Severe cold wave due to an unusually extreme jet stream kink
As we’ve so many times over the past few years, the jet stream is stuck in an unusually wavy configuration that is bringing remarkable hot and cold weather extremes to the entire continent. A sharp trough of low pressure over the center of North America is allowing frigid Arctic air to barrel unusually far south, setting hundreds of daily records over the past few days. Temperatures in Northern Montana were as much as 50 degrees below normal, and in portions of Oregon, the cold blast brought the coldest temperatures since 1972. One station even set an all-time cold record: Lakeview, Oregon hit -27° on December 8, breaking the old all-time cold record of -24° set on Jan. 15, 1888. Temperature records there began in 1884.

Unusually extreme ridges of high pressure set up over Alaska and the Southeast United States to compensate for the big dip in the jet stream over the center of North America. One ridge of high pressure pushed to the north of Alaska and over the Arctic Ocean, allowing warm Pacific air to bring rain and temperatures in the upper 30s to Alaska’s North Slope on Sunday—an unprecedented occurrence in December. Keep in mind that this is an area that has been in perpetual 24-hour darkness for several weeks. According to wunderground’s weather historian Christopher C. Burt, it appears that Sunday’s 39° at Deadhorse (Prudhoe Bay) is the warmest December temperature ever measured at any site on the Alaskan Arctic Ocean shoreline region. Weather records for Alaska’s North Slope go back as far as 1921 at Point Barrow. A very sharp ridge of high pressure also set up over the Southeast U.S.—Tallahasse, Florida hit 84° on Saturday, matching their highest temperature ever recorded in the month of December.


Figure 2. Jet stream winds over North America on Sunday, December 8, showed a sharp trough of low pressure over the center of the continent, allowing cold Arctic air to spill southwards into the U.S. Sharp ridges of high pressure were over Alaska and the Southeast U.S.

Jeff Masters

Winter Weather Extreme Weather

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

You can see the effect of the river/lower elevation in this snowfall map for the D.C. area.
Quoting floridaT:
HMMMMM Raining on Alaska's north slope in December. Wheres the climate change deniers today?


Their power is probably out due to an ice storm.
its snowing at my house right now in new haven,conn
Quoting 496. floridaT:
HMMMMM Raining on Alaska's north slope in December. Wheres the climate change deniers today?


And yesterday Burns, OR set an all - time record low at -30. That must have been an oversight on your part.
503. hurricanes2018 9:10 AM EST on December 10, 2013
its snowing at my house right now in new haven,conn


Good Morning; gonna call my Daughter at Yale and tell her to take pictures................... :)

Just took a look at a National map with current temps across the US. In addition to the the snow up there in the NE, temps across the US are very cold with the exception of the extreme coastal SE.

In line from North Carolina to New Orleans, temps are ranging from the high 40'-50's across that line and 70's in the Peninsula of Florida; everything West of that location (most of the Continental US) is pretty much in the freezing range and below.

Folks in sections of the Mid-West are in the teens and 20's...........As noted by Dr. Masters, this is usually typical of January-February temps.
Quoting 502. Thunderfan:


Their power is probably out due to an ice storm.


It's been discussed how Alaska gets warmer when Artic air drops down into the U.S.
It has more to do with the jetstream/weather pattern than anything else.
As soon as the pattern changes, Alaska will return to the deep freeze.

What about the record cold in Antartica? That must be proof that GW isn't happening.
That's basically using the same false mentality.
Quoting 501. Sfloridacat5:
You can see the effect of the river/lower elevation in this snowfall map for the D.C. area.


Is that for 1 year?
Quoting 504. luvtogolf:


And yesterday Burns, OR set an all - time record low at -30. That must have been an oversight on your part.


Checking the December data for ALL of the Arctic shore sites in Alaska (Barrow, Kuparuk, Prudhoe Bay (Deadhorse), Barter Island, Colville Village, Nuiqsut, Wainwright, and Point Lay) it appears the 39F reading at Deadhorse was the warmest December temperature ever observed at any site along the shores of Alaska%u2019s Arctic Ocean. Some RAWS sites along the Dalton Highway south of Prudhoe Bay measured temperatures into the 40s according to Rick Thoman of NWS-Fairbanks.

Link
Quoting 502. Thunderfan:


Their power is probably out due to an ice storm.
or there outside shoveling
Quoting 504. luvtogolf:


And yesterday Burns, OR set an all - time record low at -30. That must have been an oversight on your part.

Some tend to ignore the other side of the coin.

You can see the current weather pattern that is pushing cold air down into the United States while pulling warm air up into Alaska.
Anecdotally, it is interesting to compare the current situation to that of early December 1972 when Barrow had a December ‘heat wave’ with daily record highs occurring on Dec. 6 (32°) and Dec. 11 (29°). This happens to be when the Pacific NW and the Rocky Mountain states were experiencing one of their worst cold waves on record (like now but considerably colder). It was –40° in Butte, Montana and 21° at Eureka, California where 1.9” of snow fell, and 9” of snow fell at Redding, California (where they had 5” last Friday). Other cold temperatures in 1972 included 6° at Astoria, OR, -23° at Boise, ID. So we can see a connection here (between record Alaskan Arctic warmth and record Pacific Northwest and Rockies/Plains U.S. cold. And guess what, in Charleston, SC it hit 83° that same week in 1972 (a December monthly record), similar to the 83° measured at Savannah, Georgia last week which tied their all-time December record. In both years (1972 and 2013) a severe ice storm also affected the Texas to Kentucky region.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian
A new study for the first time found links between the rapid loss of snow and sea ice cover in the Arctic and a recent spate of exceptional extreme heat events in North America, Europe, and Asia. The study adds to the evidence showing that the free-fall in summer sea ice extent and even sharper decline in spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere is reverberating throughout the atmosphere, making extreme events more likely to occur.

The study, published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change, is the first to find correlations between rapid Arctic warming and extreme summer weather events, since previous research had focused on the links between Arctic warming and fall and winter weather patterns.


Link
So is this news? Does it mean anything? Coldest temperature ever recorded by satellite on earth. Link
Jet stream - pushing cold air down into the U.S.
Warm air up into parts of Alaska.
Quoting 512. ColoradoBob1:
A new study for the first time found links between the rapid loss of snow and sea ice cover in the Arctic and a recent spate of exceptional extreme heat events in North America, Europe, and Asia. The study adds to the evidence showing that the free-fall in summer sea ice extent and even sharper decline in spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere is reverberating throughout the atmosphere, making extreme events more likely to occur.

The study, published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change, is the first to find correlations between rapid Arctic warming and extreme summer weather events, since previous research had focused on the links between Arctic warming and fall and winter weather patterns.


Link
faster and faster
Here is the abstract of the study by Qiuhong Tang, Xuejun Zhang & Jennifer A. Francis:

The past decade has seen an exceptional number of unprecedented summer extreme weather events1, 2, 3, 4 in northern mid-latitudes, along with record declines in both summer Arctic sea ice5, 6 and snow cover on high-latitude land7. The underlying mechanisms that link the shrinking cryosphere with summer extreme weather, however, remain unclear8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Here, we combine satellite observations of early summer snow cover and summer sea-ice extent13 with atmospheric reanalysis data14 to demonstrate associations between summer weather patterns in mid-latitudes and losses of snow and sea ice. Results suggest that the atmospheric circulation responds differently to changes in the ice and snow extents, with a stronger response to sea-ice loss, even though its reduction is half as large as that for the snow cover. Atmospheric changes associated with the combined snow/ice reductions reveal widespread upper-level height increases, weaker upper-level zonal winds at high latitudes, a more amplified upper-level pattern, and a general northward shift in the jet stream. More frequent extreme summer heat events over mid-latitude continents are linked with reduced sea ice and snow through these circulation changes.

I am thinking that as these studies continue to refine over the next few years, that these extreme jet stream kinks we have been seeing in recent years are going to conclusively be connected to Artic sea ice loss.

As I have noted, these current events have happened many times in the past history of Earth but we just happen to be here at this time to witness the changes first hand.
Quoting 499. AGWcreationists:
So if the skeptics raise the cold weather in the East as a talking point, that is wrong, but AGW proponents can raise rain in Alaska as some kind of proof of AGW and that's hunky-dory.
the cold is from jet stream change that is due to warming.
Quoting 517. floridaT:
the cold is from jet stream change that is due to warming.
Check out post 511. Similar situation 40 years ago. What caused that?
Quoting 512. ColoradoBob1:
A new study for the first time found links between the rapid loss of snow and sea ice cover in the Arctic and a recent spate of exceptional extreme heat events in North America, Europe, and Asia. The study adds to the evidence showing that the free-fall in summer sea ice extent and even sharper decline in spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere is reverberating throughout the atmosphere, making extreme events more likely to occur.

The study, published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change, is the first to find correlations between rapid Arctic warming and extreme summer weather events, since previous research had focused on the links between Arctic warming and fall and winter weather patterns.


Link
the key here is "making extreme events more likely "
Quoting 489. Tazmanian:



You want snow move up N way up N and you have. A lot of snow


I grew up in MN, I've had my fair share of snow! I just think it would be cool to get some snow in NW Florida this year. It's fun to watch the locals freak out about it and try to drive in it!
It looks like that front is coming through Panama City now. We just had another batch of showers about 45 minutes ago. Preparing for the 30 degree temperature plunge that is coming.
If Arctic sea ice loss is in fact the large scale mechanism that triggers extreme northern polar jet kinks (whether in the Summer or Winter), one has to conclude that this has happened before during Global warming periods............However, the current issue is that modern human caused fossil fuel emissions, which was not an issue in past eons, is accelerating the process unlike what has happened in past eons.

That is the Rub....................
meanwhile China continues to pump out co2 .
Quoting 482. KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
it will change up the kicker is coming for the weekend sat/sun
Winter Storm Kicker.?..Sounds better than Cleon..Good morning Keep.
Riah has risen to EPIC geek status with her use of both a Batleth and a Celine Dion song in the same weather report.

As for the temp records. What is amazing to me is that THIS IS THE END OF SPRING and BEGINNING OF SUMMER!!!!! in Antarctica. The sun must be up close to 20 hours a day and the Temp is still -135.8???
How is that even possible?

It hurts to breath at -18F, It doesn't take a scientist to tell it would hurt at -135. There needs to be some other kind of temperature reference at that level. Not just skin freezing, how long would it take a can of coke to freeze solid?
its snowing outside at my house in east haven,conn
Our records are cold dominated, the Antarctic is cold dominated, Do we stand a chance of average global temperatures THIS month?
Quoting 527. hurricanes2018:
its snowing outside at my house in east haven,conn


looks like the snow shovel needs to be closer to the house !!
Florida refuses to participate in the month of December.
everything is shutting down around the midlantic states due to the winter storm today......................
ALEXANDRIA CITY SCHOOLS

2000 N. Beauregard St. Alexandria, VA 22133
Closed Today
Updated: Dec. 10, 2013 - 5:12 AM


A

ARLINGTON CO. PUBLIC SCHOOLS

1426 N. Quincy Street Arlington, VA 22207
Closed Today Unscheduled Leave Administrative Offices Open
Updated: Dec. 10, 2013 - 5:08 AM


C

CLARKE CO. PUBLIC SCHOOLS

309 W. Main Street Berryville, VA 22611
Closed Today
Updated: Dec. 10, 2013 - 5:15 AM


C

CONGRESSIONAL SCHOOLS OF VA

3229 Sleepy Hollow Rd Falls Church, VA 22042
Closed Today
Updated: Dec. 09, 2013 - 6:39 PM


C

CULPEPER CO. SCHOOLS

450 Radio Lane Culpeper, VA 22701
Closed Today
Updated: Dec. 09, 2013 - 8:39 PM


F

FAIRFAX CO. SCHOOLS

8115 Gatehouse Road Falls Church, VA 22042
Closed Today
Updated: Dec. 09, 2013 - 8:36 PM


F

FALLS CHURCH CITY SCHOOLS

800 W. Broad St. Falls Church, VA 22046
Closed Today
Updated: Dec. 10, 2013 - 5:03 AM


F

FAUQUIER CO. SCHOOLS

136 Manor Court Warrenton, VA 20186
Closed Today
Updated: Dec. 10, 2013 - 4:45 AM


F

FREDERICK CO. VA SCHOOLS

Public Relations Winchester, VA 22601
Closed Today
Updated: Dec. 10, 2013 - 5:10 AM


F

Fredericksburg City Schools

817 Princess Anne Street Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Closed Today
Updated: Dec. 10, 2013 - 5:45 AM


K

KING GEORGE CO. PUBLIC SCHOOLS

PO Box 1239 King George, VA 22485
Closed Today Code 1
Updated: Dec. 10, 2013 - 4:43 AM


L

LOUDOUN CO. SCHOOLS

42000 Loudoun Center Place Leesburg, VA 20175
Closed Today
Updated: Dec. 10, 2013 - 4:33 AM


M

MADISON CO. SCHOOLS

60 School Board Court Madison, VA 22727
Closed Today 12 month employees code white
Updated: Dec. 10, 2013 - 5:21 AM


M

MANASSAS CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

8500 Public Works Drive Manassas, VA 20110
Closed Today Code Blue
Updated: Dec. 10, 2013 - 4:37 AM


M

MANASSAS PARK CITY SCHOOLS

One Park Center Court Manassas Park, VA 20111
Closed Today Code Red
Updated: Dec. 10, 2013 - 4:37 AM


O

ORANGE CO. SCHOOLS

200 Dailey Drive Orange, VA 22960
Closed Today
Updated: Dec. 10, 2013 - 5:30 AM


P

PAGE CO. SCHOOLS

735 West Main St Luray, VA 22835
Closed Today
Updated: Dec. 10, 2013 - 5:25 AM


P

PRINCE WILLIAM CO. SCHOOLS

P.O. Box 389 Manassas, VA 20108
Closed Today Code Red
Updated: Dec. 09, 2013 - 9:36 PM


R

RAPPAHANNOCK CO. SCHOOLS

6 Schoolhouse Road Washington, VA 22747
Closed Today
Updated: Dec. 10, 2013 - 5:57 AM


S

SHENANDOAH CO. SCHOOLS

600 North Main St. Woodstock, VA 22664
Closed Today 12 month employees on a 2 hour delay
Updated: Dec. 10, 2013 - 5:11 AM


S

SPOTSYLVANIA CO. SCHOOLS

8020 River Stone Drive Fredericksburg, VA 22407
Closed Today Code 1
Updated: Dec. 10, 2013 - 4:54 AM


S

STAFFORD CO. SCHOOLS

31 Stafford Ave Stafford, VA 22554
Closed Today Code 1
Updated: Dec. 09, 2013 - 10:56 PM


W

WARREN CO. SCHOOLS

210 North Commerce Ave Front Royal, VA 22630-4419
Closed Today Code Blue
Updated: Dec. 10, 2013 - 5:03 AM


W

WINCHESTER SCHOOLS

12 North Washington St Winchester, VA 22601
Closed Today
Updated: Dec. 10, 2013 - 5:20 AM
Quoting 528. biff4ugo:
Our records are cold dominated, the Antarctic is cold dominated, Do we stand a chance of average global temperatures THIS month?
I'd say not only do we not stand a chance of being only average, it's a certainty that this, month, like every one of the last 330 or so, will be above the long-term average:

globe

...and just to see what it looked like yesterday:

globe

With the exception of Antarctica, the US is virtually the only spot on the planet experiencing profound cold; everywhere is else is at or above normal.
Quoting 524. floridaT:
meanwhile China continues to pump out co2 .



Shhhh be careful, you must remain politically correct and blame only the U.S. for polluting the atmosphere (even though healthy people can barely breathe in China from extreme pollution).

Our records are cold dominated, the Antarctic is cold dominated, Do we stand a chance of average global temperatures THIS month?




i don't think there's anyone here willing to do the work necessary to figure that one out......it's much easier to mention one cold or one warm area which unfortunately means nothing on a global scale....we'll have to wait til those with more patience and money accumulate the data and even then the outcome will be argued dependent upon which side you fall
Wash DC closings..just about everything is shut down today....Link
Quoting 532. Neapolitan:
I'd say not only do we not stand a chance of being only average, it's a certainty that this, month, like every one of the last 330 or so, will be above the long-term average:

globe

...and just to see what it looked like yesterday:

globe

With the exception of Antarctica, the US is virtually the only spot on the planet experiencing profound cold; everywhere is else is at or above normal.


People quickly forget a climate trend doesn't mean a weather pattern over their country for a month. It's a global mean over the course of years.
Quoting 530. CybrTeddy:
Florida refuses to participate in the month of December.


we got up to 75 yesterday..we are in the same camp as florida..
ST. PETERSBURG --
The Bay area's string of days reaching 80 degrees or higher will soon come to an end.

According to Bay News 9 Meteorologist Juli Marquez, after today, a cold front will drop high temperatures into the 70s for the next few days, starting Wednesday.

"We've been in the 80s since last week," Marquez said. "The cold front coming through tonight will create slightly cooler temperatures and a chance of a few afternoon showers."

High temperatures Tuesday are expected to reach 81 degrees, with lows tonight in the low 60s. Skies will be partly sunny with a chance of a few afternoon and evening showers.

Rain chances lessen the rest of the work week, and temperatures will peak in the mid to upper 70s.

Another cold front over the weekend will boost rain chances and bring cooler air early next week.
Quoting 537. ncstorm:


we got up to 75 yesterday..we are in the same camp as florida..
I had thought winter hasnt started yet..officially lol
Quoting 539. LargoFl:
I had thought winter hasnt started yet..officially lol
Sweating on my morning walk at 5:30 A.M. Geez
Quoting 539. LargoFl:
I had thought winter hasnt started yet..officially lol


well we had snow in November here..so we saw Winter make an appearance and now its on vacation..
the latest system that will impact the southwest



Quoting 520. floridaT:
the key here is "making extreme events more likely "
Brilliant! Devise a strategy that allows AGW proponents to incorporate regional short-term weather conditions as "proof" of AGW while denouncing skeptics who do the same with regional weather.
Quoting 541. ncstorm:


well we had snow in November here..so we saw Winter make an appearance and now its on vacation..


It's 50 right now in NW Florida with heavy rain moving through the area. Early this morning before the Sun came up it was 69 but the temperature has been dropping since! I'd say this cold front has reached NW Florida!
Florida refuses to participate in the month of December.
Quoting 530. CybrTeddy:
Florida refuses to participate in the month of December.


Yeah...neither does most of eastern NC. It has been t-short and shorts weather. I am sick and tired of being in the Warm sector of these storms while our friends just to the west and north get all the winter!
today has a slim chance of severe weather through the fl panhandle and northern fl....day 2 and 3....well....it just aint happening


It was 71 when I got up at 5am and it is now 60 and dropping fast. That last band of showers took the warm air with them. The sun came out but it's not helping the temps.
It was 71 when I got up at 5am and it is now 60 and dropping fast. That last band of showers took the warm air with them. The sun came out but it's not helping the temps.



the party's over for northern fl
Quoting 509. KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
or there outside shoveling
When I lived in Ohio and Alaska I would make up a sign and stick it in the front yard. It said "UNASSEMBLED SNOWMAN FOR SALE". Not too many takers , but it only takes one.
Quoting 551. PalmBeachWeather:
When I lived in Ohio and Alaska I would make up a sign and stick it in the front yard. It said "UNASSEMBLED SNOWMAN FOR SALE". Not too many takers , but it only takes one.


Kind of like the sign in the pasture along U-95... "Used Cows for Sale"

I am GLAD southern Florida is not doing winter... more than two days of cold and I run out of long pants to wear.. :)
Quoting 539. LargoFl:
I had thought winter hasnt started yet..officially lol


nope still 11 days to go at 12:11EST 21 dec 2013
I am GLAD southern Florida is not doing winter... more than two days of cold and I run out of long pants to wear.. :)

shorts are my pant of choice regardless the weather
Quoting 552. indianrivguy:


Kind of like the sign in the pasture along U-95... "Used Cows for Sale"

I am GLAD southern Florida is not doing winter... more than two days of cold and I run out of long pants to wear.. :)
I remember seeing a sign a few years ago in Calabash NC on one of the few steakhouses in The Seafood Capital of NC...I still laugh to this day... "Special of the day, COW"
Call me a skeptic......


Offshore Wind Farms Could Protect Cities from Hurricanes

Excerpt:

They concluced that the wind turbines could have sapped Katrina of so much energy that wind speeds would have been reduced by up to 50 percent at landfall and the hurricane's storm surge could have been reduced by about 72 percent, Jacobson said. It also would have generated 0.45 terawatts of wind power.
Quoting 552. indianrivguy:


Kind of like the sign in the pasture along U-95... "Used Cows for Sale"

I am GLAD southern Florida is not doing winter... more than two days of cold and I run out of long pants to wear.. :)
I also prefer my frozen grapefruit juice and orange juice in a can not frozen on the tree first

but hey if that's what ya want well
Call me a skeptic......


call you a realist....i'll read the whole article but just your excerpt is enough to make me say bull.....the turbines would not operate during a hurricane event
time to give up the snow wash its done for ya now

Quoting 557. KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
I also prefer my frozen grapefruit juice and orange juice in a can not frozen on the tree first

but hey if that's what ya want well
What scares me are the canned veggies that say on the top of the can "Best If Used By October 2018" What the heck is keeping it fresh?
Quoting 560. PalmBeachWeather:
What scares me are the canned veggies that say on the top of the can "Best Used By October 2018" What the heck is keeping it fresh?
lack of air till over time the can will let some seep in
can also discolour within the longer it sits if there is discolour discard
next system sohows at hr 96 as per 12z gfs


GFS 12 Z HR 96

Quoting 545. Skyepony:


Fascinating satellite picture showing the tilt of the earth and the night-day line! I am in awe of what we can envision from our adventure in space. Astronomers have described the tilt, but now we can SEE it.
(Ok, I may be late to the game, but this pic grabbed me).
GFS 12 Z HR 102

GFS 12 Z HR 108

GFS 12 Z HR 114

GFS 12 Z HR 120

GFS 12 Z HR 126

GFS 12 Z HR 126



gfs aint got no love for el paso


Quoting 554. ricderr:
I am GLAD southern Florida is not doing winter... more than two days of cold and I run out of long pants to wear.. :)

shorts are my pant of choice regardless the weather
LOL..For wintert i have to break out the long pants and full tee shirts lol..10 months of shorts Maybe 2 months with breaks inbetween long pants...man i LOVE florida
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
I thought wind turbines were supposed to shut down in gale conditions anyway.