All Weather News

An Early January for parts of the US (why the temperature of falling snow is more important than “how many inches”)

11 Dec 2013, 8:34 am

Not Bitter

Some days the weather column just writes itself. Like today. Until further notice I will refrain from using the word “bitter”, after the note I received from Steve Hepokoksi in Maple Grove, MN.

“Bitter is a state of mind, and if you keep using the word, soon we all will be. I challenge you to not use the word through the entire month of January. Feel free to start now. Fortifying, challenging, piercing, tear-inducing, bracing, stinging, OMGing, cryogenic, invigorating – it doesn’t have to be a happy word. Just not “bitter”. Please?” Steve implored.

O.K. Good point, Steve. I’ve banned the word from my lexicon, for the rest of December and all of January. It’s the least I can do to help out. We’re already in a fragile state, mentally. I don’t want to pile on.

December is on life-support; the maps looks like late January, and no real improvement in our (“severe chilly”) conditions are likely until late next week. The thaw keeps getting pushed back, but it’s coming.

I may head to Deadhorse, Alaska to warm up. According to Christopher Burt at Weather Underground a recent high of 39F (with rain) was the warmest December temperature ever observed on Alaska’s arctic shoreline. Good for them.

No big storms are brewing, just a machine-gun volley of clippers, each one dragging reinforcing jolts of cryogenic chill into Minnesota.

Hey, just don’t call it bitter, OK?

* photo above courtesy of Steve Burns.

Like Something Out Of Late January. The weather maps don’t look like mid-December, but rather something out of the latter half of January, when temperatures nationwide usually bottom out. Will December wind up being the coldest month of the winter? Possible, but statistically January is the coldest month. NOAA’s 12km NAM shows the freezing line dipping as far south as the Florida Panhandle, subzero air pinwheeling across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes over the next 84 hours. Loop: Ham Weather

Winter Driving Tips – How Can Alaska Be Warmer Than Oklahoma? In yesterday’s Climate Matters we take a look at Sunday’s 30-car pile-up in southeastern Wisconsin. All it takes is one aggressive driver, moving too fast for conditions. It was a reminder that the temperature of a snowstorm is critical – the colder the storm, the greater the potential for snow compaction and glaze ice. Nothing short of a tank will provide reliable traction when there’s freezing rain on the highways: “WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over the recent cold snap and the conditions that went into a major 30 car pileup in Milwaukee. Where are the warm spots in the US? How is Alaska warmer than the Panhandle of Texas?

Snowfall Amounts From Tuesday’s Burst. A ripple of low pressure riding up along the leading edge of very cold air squeeed out more accumulating snow yesterday. D.C. missed out on the fun (this time), but there was a narrow band of 2-6″ from western Maryland and southern Pennsylvania into the suburbs of New York City. Source: NOAA.

A Celestial Wonder. I can count on Steve Burns to provide me with (incredible) imagery of both weather and astronomical events – he has a great eye, and passed along these photos taken over the weekend. One advantage of arctic air: skies are often crystal clear, making it easier to take in an aurora. He writes: “Went up around Pine City (Chengwatana SF) to take some aurora pics last night. The thermometer in my car read -22 but I got some good shots!  I’m working on a time-lapse and if it’s worthwhile I’ll send your way. Enjoy!

Severe 2012 Solar Storm Narrowly Missed Earth. Hey, I didn’t bury the good news! If you doubt that (everything) is hanging by a slender, delicate thread, check out this press release and article from The University of Colorado, Boulder; here’s a clip: “A massive ejection of material from the sun initially traveling at over 7 million miles per hour that narrowly missed Earth last year is an event solar scientists hope will open the eyes of policymakers regarding the impacts and mitigation of severe space weather, says a University of Colorado Boulder professor. The coronal mass ejection, or CME, event was likely more powerful than the famous Carrington storm of 1859, whent he sun blasted Earth’s atmosphere hard enough twice to light up the sky from the North Pole to Central America and allowed New Englanders to read their newspapers at night by aurora light, said CU-Boulder Professor Daniel Baker. had it hit Earth, the July 2012 event likely would have created a technological disaster by short-circuiting satellites, power grids, ground communication equipment and even threatening the health of astronomers and aircraft crews, he said….”

Coldest Temperature Ever Recorded On Earth In Antarctica: -94.7C (-135.8F). The Guardian has details; here’s an excerpt: “Newly analysed NASA satellite data from eastAntarctica shows Earth has set a new record for coldest temperature ever recorded: -94.7C (-135.8F). It happened in August 2010 when it hit -94.7C (-135.8F). Then on 31 July of this year, it came close again: -92.9C (-135.3F). The old record had been -89.2C (-128.6F). Ice scientist Ted Scambos at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre announced the cold facts at the American Geophysical Union scientific meeting in San Francisco on Monday...”

Photo credit above: “NASA satellite data revealed that Earth set a new record for coldest temperature recorded in east Antarctica.” Photograph: Atsuhiro Muto/AP.

Israel Gears Up For Five-Day Winter Storm. Much of the Northern Hemisphere is getting smacked, including The Holy Land. Here’s an excerpt from The Times of Israel: “…“Rough seas” and low-lying flood warnings are predicted for Wednesday, which is to see continued winds and snow in the Golan Heights and high Galilee areas, including Safed. Snowfall in those areas is expected to continue Thursday and is likely to spread to central high-altitude locations, including Jerusalem, as well as the northern Negev mountains. The central and southern areas could see snow throughout Friday as well…”
Photo credit above: “Snow at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, on January 9, 2013.” (photo credit: Louis Fisher/Flash90).
Smog Hits Half Of China, 104 Cities Severely Polluted. Here’s what happens when you don’t have the equivalent of an EPA, when economic growth trumps (everything else).Epoch Times has the story; here’s an excerpt: “The China Meteorological Administration sent out an orange alert for smog on Dec. 8, which is the third day of continuous, high-level air pollution alerts. Orange is the second most severe alert issued. Data from the Ministry of Environmental Protection shows that air quality in 104 cities in 20 provinces are suffering from heavy pollution, according to the regime mouthpiece Xinhua news agency.  Nearly half of China has been hit by smog, with the southeastern regions of China having the most severe smog conditions. All the 23 air-quality monitoring stations in southern China’s Hunan Province show “heavy pollution” on the afternoon on Dec. 8...”
Climate Stories…
Earth’s Sensitivity To Climate Change Could Be “Double” Previous Estimates, Say Geologists. Here’s an excerpt from a press release by The Geological Society: “The sensitivity of the Earth’s climate to CO2 could be double what has been previously estimated, according to a statement issued by the Geological Society of London. In an addendum to 2010’s ‘Climate change: Evidence from the Geological Record’, the statement notes that many climate models typically look at short term, rapid factors when calculating the Earth’s climate sensitivity – defined as the mean global temperature increase brought about by a doubling of atmospheric CO2. It is well known that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 levels could result in temperature increases of between 1.5 and 4.5°C, due to fast changes such as snow and ice melt, and the behaviour of clouds and water vapour...” (Image: World Meteorological Organization).
New Jersey Shore Likely Faces Unprecedented Flooding By Mid-Century. Rutgers University has the press release and links to new research; here’s an excerpt: “Geoscientists at Rutgers and Tufts universities estimate that the New Jersey shore will likely experience a sea-level rise of about 1.5 feet by 2050 and of about 3.5 feet by 2100 – 11 to 15 inches higher than the average for sea-level rise globally over the century. That would mean, the scientists say, that by the middle of the century, the one-in-10 year flood level at Atlantic City would exceed any flood known there from the observational record, including Superstorm Sandy…”Photo credit above: Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen, New Jersey Air National Guard. “The amusement pier at Seaside Heights, N.J., under attack by Hurricane Sandy.”
An Apparent Hiatus In Global Warming? It turns out the oceans, especially deep oceans, may be absorbing some of the “missing heat”. Here’s an excerpt of an abstract of a new paper from climate scientists Kevin Trenberth and John Fasullo: “…More than 90% of the heat goes into the oceans and, with melting land ice, causes sea level to rise. For the past decade, more than 30% of the heat has apparently penetrated below 700 m depth that is traceable to changes in surface winds mainly over the Pacific in association with a switch to a negative phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) in 1999. Surface warming was much more in evidence during the 1976–1998 positive phase of the PDO, suggesting that natural decadal variability modulates the rate of change of global surface temperatures while sea-level rise is more relentless. Global warming has not stopped; it is merely manifested in different ways.”

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