Wednesday, March 04, 2015


The Weather Channel loves to terrify people by making weather, especilly winter weather, seem as scary as possible. But as Miles Grant at the Brad Blog notes, even the Weather Channel's website is acknowledging that this year's cold and snowy winter hasn't been cold and snowy throughout the country -- in the West, in fact, it's just the opposite:
The winter of 2014-15 has been so exceptionally and persistently warm across the western third of the United States that more than 20 cities have tied or broken all-time records for the warmest meteorological winter (Dec. 1 through Feb. 28/29) on record.

A number of cities clinched the record several days ago as they outpaced the previous record-warm winter by such a large margin that they would have had to see subzero temperatures not to end the winter with the new winter warmth record.
The cities include Las Vegas, Sacramento, and San Francisco.

Sure, ou'll say, those guys are having record warmth. But what about the record cold in the East? Well, as it turns out, it's not record cold:
In case you're wondering, few if any cities in the East will have their coldest winters on record despite a series of high-profile blizzards and record cold waves -- mainly because December was relatively mild.
(Here in New York, we're going to have a nice snowfall in the next 24 hours, but we'll be in the 40s all next week.)

Grant also notes the following:
* In ... Oregon, Portland broke its winter warmth record and Salem topped 50 degrees every day in February, the first time that's ever happened.
And The Salt Lake Tribune reports Salt Lake City had both its warmest and least snowy winter on record....
Here's a map for you:

That's courtesy of Andrea Thompson at Climate Central, who, late last month, expalined why this might be happening:
The reason for the warmth out West is an area of high pressure off the coast that [Daniel] Swain [an atmospheric science PhD candidate at Stanford University] dubbed the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge back in 2013 for its incredible persistence as a feature in the atmosphere -- week after week, month after month.

What’s keeping the ridge around for so long is something scientists, including Swain, are actively looking into. So far, there are three main theories, Swain said: One is that it’s just random chance in a chaotic atmosphere, though Swain says the longer the ridge holds on, the less likely that is. Another is the idea that the amplified warming across the Arctic is lessening the temperature difference between pole and equator that fuels the jet stream, causing that river of air to meander more wildly and become stuck in certain patterns.

The most favored explanation for now, though, seems to be the extremely warm waters across the Pacific Ocean, particularly just off the West Coast, which can give rise to high pressure systems -- and hold them in place. “At least part of the answer lies in the Pacific,” Swain said.
So warming at the poles and/or in the oceans may be causing these patterns.

The problem -- and this seems like some sort of cosmic joke the gods are playing on us -- is that the evidence still supports the argument that there's warming taking place over the planet as a whole, but for the last two winters there's been seemingly excessive cold and snow in the part of the most powerful country on earth where a disproportionate percentage of its citizens live, namely the Northeast, the Midwest, and the rapidly growing South. We have all the people. We have all the U.S. media. We have the nation's capital and, if you include the South and the Midwest, we have the nation's most influential politicians. We think our experience is universal. But we aren't the entire planet. We aren't even the entire country. Yet our experience colors how the powerful and influential United States approaches the climate question.

We had a bad winter in 2013-2014 -- that's when a lot of us in the Northeast learned the phrase "polar vortex." But (as I noted at the time) it was warm elsewhere -- for instance, it was summer at the time in Australia, and it was an extremely hot summer.

By the end of 2014, this was what temperatures looked like for the year:

The globe is overwhelmingly red, i.e., warm -- but there's a huge area of blue right where we live.

Warming is real. But it's as if there are trickster gods who don't want us to believe that.


Victor said...

Mother Nature is tricky, and always was.

Now, however, when we're face with a potential global environmental weather catastrophe, DC keeps getting snow.

It should have been called "Global Weirding," instead of "Global Warming."

Sure, the cause of the "weirding" is "warming" - but, try to explain that to a non-science believing Christian, or politician.

But, at least they might acknowledge that, yes, the weather is getting weirder.

Yastreblyansky said...

Maybe Inhofe ought to go home once in a while and look for a snowball there. Temperatures aren't that high this year, but the state is stuck in extreme to exceptional drought, obviously tied to global warming.

Anonymous said...

"Warming is real. But it's as if there are trickster gods who don't want us to believe that."

You mean those "trickster gods" who have stopped global temperatures rising for 17 years! And that despite CO2 being pumped out in unbelievable amounts in east Asia.

Anonymous said...

I read a long time ago that the east coast of the US would be colder as a result of climate change because the Gulf Stream, which keeps the region moderate, will be shifting away. I haven't heard anything about the GS shifting yet, tho'.

Dark Avenger said...

2014 Officially Hottest Year on Record

It’s official: 2014 has taken the title of hottest year on record. That ranking comes courtesy of data released Monday by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the first of four major global temperature recordkeepers to release their data for last year.

The upward march of the world’s average temperature since 1891 is a trademark of human-influenced global warming with 2014 being the latest stop on the climb. All 10 of the hottest years have come since 1998.

The average temperature was 1.1°F above the 20th century average according to JMA’s data. That edges 1998, the previous warmest year, by about 0.1°F.

One big difference between 2014 and 1998 is that the latter was on the tail end of a super El Niño, which has the tendency to spike temperatures. In comparison, 2014 was the year of the almost El Niño.

Instead, record warmth in other parts of the Pacific as well as the hottest year on record in Europe were some of the main drivers in fueling the heat. Joe Romm of Climate Progress also notes that heat in Australia early in the year and California’s hottest year further contributed to the heat.

Seasonal temperatures also paint a picture of a planet that didn’t get a break. Spring, summer and fall were all record-setting hot. Last winter was the only season not to set a record, and even that was still the sixth-warmest winter.

A shift in the Gulf Stream would affect Europe more than America:

That's the paradoxical scenario gaining credibility among many climate scientists. The thawing of sea ice
covering the Arctic could disturb or even halt large currents in the Atlantic Ocean. Without the vast heat that these ocean currents deliver--comparable to the power generation of a million nuclear power plants--Europe's average temperature would likely drop 5 to 10°C (9 to 18°F), and parts of eastern North America would be chilled somewhat less. Such a dip in temperature would be similar to global average temperatures toward the end of the last ice age roughly 20,000 years ago.

Victor said...

The idiot up above, has his truthiness story, and he'll stick with it no matter what facts he's shown.

He'll just double-down on the "TEH STOOOOOOOOOPID!!!!!

Dark Avenger said...

He certainly lives up to the latter part of his nom de guerra, you have to hand that to him.

Paul said...

I have lived in Seattle for a decade now, and cannot remember a more sunny or mild winter. Yet we've had record rainfall, in bunches, just like when I lived in the South. Usually it just rains here all the time, very lightly. Now we get downpours or sunshine.

1) Yay!(?)
2) Doomed.