Winter Weather

by Judith Curry

In Atlanta right now, we have about 2″ of snow, overlain by freezing rain, a classical “winter mix.”  The whole city is pretty much closed down (including Georgia Tech).  This is a fairly wimpy storm relative to what I used to encounter in Boulder or Chicago, but dealing with weather is relative to what you have adapted to.  Madhav Khandekar from India posts at Pielke Sr.:

For last two weeks or about most of north and central India are witnessing cold wintry weather; some places in Kashmir and the Himalayan foothills have low temperatures at -5C to -20C! This is cold for India, since most houses are not insulated, not heated (except some small room heaters in north India) . . .

So what’s going on with the weather?   Do holiday blizzards provide more signs of global warming, as per this article in Time?   Or is this just “weather roulette,” what happened to come up this year in the chaotic coupled ocean atmosphere system?  Well regardless of what greenhouse warming is doing to our climate or whether we have recently seen a climate shift, there are roulette-like elements to how the weather systems actually play out in a given season and location.

How predictable is winter weather?  Based upon my experience of providing weather forecasts for a client in the energy sector using the ECMWF forecast system (which I regard as the best forecast system currently available), there is pretty good predictability out to one week for specific weather systems.  There is also some longer term predictability in the system associated with ENSO, the AO/NAO, PNA, and MJO.

This winter we have been in La Nina conditions, spiced by predominantly negative AO/NAO (which reached extreme negative values in mid December) and a PNA index that was negative from mid Nov to mid Dec, and is now hovering around neutral.  The combination of these indices have a strong control on the winter weather patterns in the northern hemisphere.

Seasonal predictability of winter weather

The basis for predictability on subseasonal (weeks) to seasonal (months) time scales is the ability to predict certain teleconnection modes that influence regional and global circulation patterns and hence storms and regional variations in surface meteorological conditions.  The particular teleconnection modes of greatest relevance on these timescales are the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)/Arctic Oscillation (AO).  While these are viewed as independent teleconnection modes, there are relationships between these modes, whereby the MJO influences ENSO and ENSO modulates the MJO, with resulting storm track shift and NAO/AO response.

Predictability on these time scales of surface weather and extreme events is greatest for regions that are influenced by the MJO, ENSO, PNA, and the NAO/AO.  Further, predictability in a particular region varies seasonally.  The summertime MJO has a dominant control on the active and break period of the Asian monsoon, and also hurricane activity in the Pacific, Indian Ocean, and North Atlantic.  Winter weather in the northern hemisphere is dominated by the NAO/AO and PNA patterns.

Winter forecasts

So the bottom line is that starting around Dec 1, you can get a pretty good picture of what the winter weather will look like for the next two months.  So why have there been such spectacular failures in some recent seasonal forecasts?  In particular the UK Met Office has been taking alot of heat over its prediction in 2009 of a “barbecue summer” and this year for not making public its forecast of a cold winter.  There are two parts to the forecasting issue:  how good the models are, and how to extract useful information from ensembles.

In terms of how good the models are, again in my experience, the modeling system that is currently far superior is ECMWF.  There is good news on the seasonal forecast model front.  Over the course of the next several months, substantially new and improved seasonal forecast products will be released by NOAA CPC (CFSv2; available Jan 18) and ECMWF System-4 (available sometime in the next six months.) The NOAA CFSv2 represents a substantial change to all aspects of the forecast system, including all components of the model, the data assimilation system, and the ensemble configuration.  The ECMWF System-4 includes changes to model parameterizations and the ocean model and an increase in resolution.

Statistical forecast methods

In addition to the global models, there are statistical forecast methods that have been developed for specific regions.  Most recently, Judah Cohen has received a lot of publicity for his statistical forecast for winter weather over the U.S.

One of the challenges with statistical forecast methods is that the statistics are non stationary.  In particular, in the face of a climate shift (which has arguably occurred sometime over the past decade), the statistical relationships will undoubtedly be different.  The various teleconnection indices (e.g. ENSO, NAO/AO) have multidecadal variations associated with the PDO and AMO. The analogue for our current situation (warm NAO, cool PDO) was last seen in the 1950’s, where we might find some analogues to our current weather patterns.

99 responses to “Winter Weather

  1. Thanks for that analysis Dr. Curry. Very interesting.

    I find it also interesting that the horrible flooding occurring in Australia right now last happened during the cool phase of the PDO on top of a La Nina year. (1974) Lots of warm water has been pushed up to the NE coast of Australia and of course that produces the storms and the floods as that ocean warmth (i.e. energy) on the coast of Australia needs to be dispersed somehow and hence…we get the flooding.

    One thing of interest this winter is the extreme warmth in the Labrador Sea, both in air temps and in water temps (and of course lower sea ice). There have been some longer term (multi-decade) studies showing the Labrador current is being slowly overpowered by the warmer Gulf stream. This is being measured by the growth factors of certain corals in the water there. What does this have to do with winter weather in the northern hemisphere? I suspect, if indeed there is a longer term warming of the Labrador sea and atmosphere in the region, it will affect winter atmosphereic circulation patterns over parts of the N. Hemisphere.

  2. So the bottom line is: that weather does change, it is difficult to predict, and potential human caused changes are probably making it even more difficult to come up with reliable models that can predict more than a few weeks into the future.

    This further strengthens the position that the key issue regarding long term human caused climate change is for cities and regions to have reasonable preparations for the protection and maintenance of infrastructure. There are no climate models than can reasonably accurately predict what the weather will be like in a specific area years from now. In spite of this, people like Tobis and others wish to implement massive changes to the US economy for a potential problem that they can not even clearly define.

  3. How do we treat, comment on, and think about, if 2 week to two month predictions from models are as they are, 1000-year predictions?

    Is modelling over a much larger span of time more reliable, or less?

    What useful information does this modelling furnish, if any?

    • How do we treat, comment on, and think about, if 2 week to two month predictions from models are as they are, 1000-year predictions?

      Think about it this way –
      If you’d lived in, say, 800 AD and had the predicti0n capability that’s available today, would it have predicted the LIA? Or the MWP?

      I’m not gullible enough to believe so. Others may be.

      • would it have predicted the LIA? Or the MWP?

        Of course not. Even to a dedicated AGW’ur like me, this one is obvious.

        It would have predicted the so-called LIA and the putative MWP.

      • It would have predicted the so-called LIA and the putative MWP.

        That statement is precisely why I’m a sceptic. It tries (unsuccessfully) to erase over 100 years of science in a lot of different fields with absolutely no evidence just to justify AGW. With that as a foundation, AGW is on really shaky ground.

        Hell, even Mann has admitted the “possibility” of the MWP – and the LIA is indisputable. Read Fagan’s book “The “Little Ice Age”. It’s probably in your local library.

      • An “ice age” or, more precisely, “glacial age” is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers.

        The LIA is properly called a so-called ice age. In my example the climate model is telling the reader of its output that the climate model is not foolishly calling a cooling phase that in no way meets the definition of an ice age an actual ice age, it’s a so-called ice age.

        On this stuff about Mann admitting the possibility of the MWP, do you have a link to whatever that is all about?

      • Only the High Priests of AGW deny the existence of the RMP and the MWP as they both refute the notion that today is unprecedented.

        Other sciences see the evidence they both happened.

      • You’re hair-splitting about definition. Your choice, but the common term, apparently even among scientists is Little Ice Age (LIA). And the LIA doesn’t actually meet your definition, but…..

        To reframe the question I asked : would present day models predict a several hundred year “cold” period following a several hundred year warm period over the next 1000 years if they had been used in 800 AD – with no pre-existing knowledge of what was to come?

        And the answer is……..?

        Keep in mind that we’re talking about the period prior to what’s commonly agreed to as the “start of global warming” due to human emissions of GHGs. And that present models (with the presently used inputs) fail to predict even mild cooling periods. They apparently do model “through” through those cooling periods to produce outputs that “resemble” long term smoothed observations. But from my POV those models do NOT actually model anything, but are simply tuned computer programs that simulate the long term smoothed curves.

        Oh yeah, Mann. No, because frankly, I don’t give damn what he says now. The man lied to the world once – I wouldn’t trust him if he said the Sun was gonna come up tomorrow.

      • JCH’s points notwithstanding, we know models are tuned backwards, so if applied in AD 800 they might be more likely to be right about past times than future ones I believe, even given that we haven’t got data from the so-called LIA and the putative MWP.

        Which is totally missing your point, and a stretch of logic to boot.

        I’d say as a thought experiment, it’s moot. We can’t know the answer in any way we don’t already not know the answer to the current question.

      • We can’t know the answer in any way we don’t already not know the answer to the current question.

        If you’re trying to say “We can’t know the answer”, my reply is “yes”.

      • Bart R – I borrowed “so-called LIA” and “the putative MWP” from a paper written by James Hansen and Gavin Schmidt.

      • JCH

        Mine was the stretch of logic, to be sure, as I was applying your points in a novel time-warpy way. Your debate with Jim Owen stands well on its own.

        And given that none of us so far is alive and keeping global weather records for a millennium, Jim Owen’s contribution doesn’t add to any examination of the question I’m pondering, other than to point out the obvious and tack on some loaded terms with the transparent intent of begging the question.

      • When have they denied the existence of the LIA and the MWP?

      • The very existence of the MWP would invalidate the Hockey Stick, because the HS was supposedly based on “unimpeachable paleoclimatological data” and “new and wonderful (read: magical) statistical techniques”. So the MWP had to be denied, erased, eliminated with extreme prejudice, as the expression goes.

        The LIA was taken as the beginning of the temp record simply because it provided a wonderfully convenient place to maximize temp increases. They ignored, of course, the fact that the temp record started prior to the LIA and that temps were higher. That would have minimized the temp rise, which would have been terribly inconvenient for the story line. It’s called “cherry picking”, JCH.

      • from a paper written by James Hansen and Gavin Schmidt.

        Yep, the top High Priests of AGW, I would expect no different from those two. And the have the gall to call us “deniers”.

      • @Bart –
        You asked:
        What useful information does this modelling furnish, if any?

        I answered – by setting the conditions on what, in some quarters, what might be called a “war game”. Or a “What If…?” game. It’s useful in many ways for many, many purposes. So I’m amused by your contention that:

        Jim Owen’s contribution doesn’t add to any examination of the question I’m pondering, other than to point out the obvious and tack on some loaded terms with the transparent intent of begging the question.

        The answer to your question is the answer to that “What If…?” game.
        Not my problem if you don’t understand what just happened.

      • Your reply is disingenuous. We all know that as a conceptual representation of current understanding (depending on your point of view, that current understanding is wrong, by the way), the model is a useful “what if” tool. But that is not how the results of these “what if’s” get spun in the media, is it? The “what if’s” turn into “predictions”, don’t they. And that is why the UK Met Office is in such a pickle.

      • While I agree with your point, there’s nothing disingenuous about the answer. The question was:
        What useful information does this modelling furnish, if any?

        Given the initial/boundary conditions proposed, I think we might agree on the output of the “model” (no useful information) , so that shouldn’t be a point of contention.

        How the media would spin it is an entirely different matter. Personal opinion is that they wouldn’t understand either the question or the answer, so they’d either ignore it or attack it as just a game. Which, in truth, it is. But a useful game, nonetheless – if properly interpreted. :-)

        Note that I’m talking ONLY about this “one” example. Other games/models with other initial/boundary conditions will return different results. The same game/model with other initial/boundary conditions will also return different results.

        All of which is moot because there was no power to run a computer in AD 800 – and I won’t be volunteering to climb into the time machine.

        And the answer is – yes, I’ve set up far more complex games/models before.

  4. Bill DiPuccio

    If the recent cold and snow are a result of anthropogenic global warming as some have claimed then:
    1. It is a negative feedback (the snow line and the surface zero degree C line line have moved south) which gives credence to Lindzen and others who maintain that the climate system will self-correct toward equilibrium.
    2. It demonstrates how little we really know about the climate system since it contradicts all previous expectations.

    I will be interested in seeing what confidence levels they assign to the next set of IPCC projections.

  5. It is the winters that determined ‘warming’ for the CETs, the longest recorded temperature rise. Summer temperatures only during the last two decades exceeded those of 200+ years ago.
    Btw. here are December temperatures:
    In contrast for the next few days of January +13C is predicted.

  6. I noticed that the MET, with its weaselly excuse for the winter forecast failure, is continuing to play word games. What it gave secretly to the gubmint was not “a cold winter forecast”. It’s exact wording was “a cold start to the winter”. That could be as little as 2-3 weeks coverage. But it’s trying to slide it by as a prediction for the whole winter.

    There is nothing too bizarre for a bureaucrat in full CYA mode.

    • And also to finesse the notion that the reason it didn’t publish it’s winter prediction was cos evrybody had been sooo horrid to it.

  7. When discussing winter storm forecasting it is important to point out that day-to-day weather forecasting has made major strides toward better forecasting and that is where huge value can be derived today.


    The NYC Christmas Blizzard. Compare the forecast map with the map of actual snow:

    The storm now affecting the Southeast that caused 2,000+ flights to be cancelled in ATL:

    The unseasonal swarm of tornadoes on New Year’s Eve were so well warned of the Governor of Missouri gave meteorologists credit for saving lives when the tornadoes went through densely populated areas of St. Louis County (and also Jackson, MS):

    While I believe weather/climate science will improve the reliability of seasonal forecasts in the coming years, the big news right now is the markedly improved warnings of all types of storms that are saving lives and property.


    • Mike won’t say this, but I will. Buy his book and read it. Put it in every library in the world.

      Oops, almost forgot; it’s ‘Warnings’, right Mike?

  8. If you look at the last 10,000 years, we are not near any records and we are not likely to set any new records.

  9. Hi Kim,

    Thank you. It is “Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather” and it has received excellent reviews. Here is the Amazon link:


    • Mike,

      Your posts make a lot of sense, and in reading your blod, I especially like the very balanced and cautious approach you take on global warming. As a warmist, I’m always a bit skeptical about skeptics in general, but I you at least give me real reasons I can run with to keep looking deeper at the issues…


  10. A few years back the first snow fell in february here (Québec), a rare event, but with precedent.

    The following year we received a lot more snow than usual.

    In both cases, the meteorologist from the canadian agency said that it was caused by AGW, and that both situation would happen more often. Sometimes it is hard to take these guys seriously.

  11. Dr. Curry – For the sake of us non-climate scientist, non-climate-modelers; could you explain what “ensemble configuration” means? TIA.

    • Jim, sorry about that. To understand what an ensemble simulation is, see the wikipedia, section on ensemble modeling. Right now, the ensemble is created by perturbing the initial conditions slightly for a number of simulations (say 40) at the same start time. THe new CFS creates an ensemble for a seasonal forecast by starting forecasts on consecutive days. A detail that isn’t particularly germane to understanding the post.

    • David L. Hagen

      I presume this is what you mean by “teleconnection”:

      The term “teleconnection pattern” refers to a recurring and persistent, large-scale pattern of pressure and circulation anomalies that spans vast geographical areas. Teleconnection patterns are also referred to as preferred modes of low-frequency (or long time scale) variability. Although these patterns typically last for several weeks to several months, they can sometimes be prominent for several consecutive years, thus reflecting an important part of both the interannual and interdecadal variability of the atmospheric circulation. Many of the teleconnection patterns are also planetary-scale in nature, and span entire ocean basins and continents.

      NOAA Climate Prediction Center

      PS with respect to ClimateGate etc. teleconnection has some other connotations.

      The Team Defends Paleo-Phrenology
      Weaver Solves Climategate etc.

  12. To clarify Sylvain’s obscure statement above, the first snow didn’t fall UNTIL Feb. that year — rare in Quebec, which usually gets plastered early and often.

  13. In Melbourne, it is the middle of summer.
    It has been cloudy and humid nearly every day and night (unusual).
    So far in 2011 the Tmax has been lower than average but the Tmin has been higher. Although it feels like a cool summer the anomalies might say otherwise.

    • Isn’t what you are describing the signature of UHI?

      • The UHI effect does make the inner suburbs and undustrial areas of Melbourne warmer at night.
        I may be wrong, but I would say that the UHI signature in melbourne has been constant for many decades.

        I was highlighting that people (such as myself) may percieve that the summer/winter is cooler but late find that the anomaly was positive

  14. The extreme NAO values are associated with a “warm” Labrador Sea. If I recall correctly, the Labrador Sea plays a major role in the cooling and sinking aspect of the thermohaline circulation. A warmer Sea may mean less cooling and sinking and thus a less-vigorous THC. A less-vigorous THC may set the stage for changes in the AMO, with a time lag.
    Perhaps our current situation does indeed resemble the 50s. Back to The Future.

  15. Looking back over the course of last year the issue, “How predictable is … weather?” and the claims related to the notions was a swamp.

    Scenarios: 2010-2030. Part I

    by [Dr.] Judith Curry

    “The IPCC AR4 projected a near term global average temperature increase of 0.2C per decade.  Further, the AR4 showed  an insensitivity of global average surface temperature to emission scenarios prior to about 2060.”

    Given that the IPCC is NOT projecting adverse surface temperature scenarios until about 2060 (unless you wish to discard IPCC findings), all news media articles and blog articles claiming a current correlation between weather events and AGW impacts should be dismissed as FICTION.

    I read over miles documentation last year but on a scale of 1:10 — that was the best!

  16. Judith, on reflection did you expect your blog to be the sensation that it is. I’d be interested to know what you learned in the past few months form the experience. Have your views changed on any subject matter?

  17. Dr. Curry,

    It might be worth your while to talk to Dr. Piers Corbyn about his interesting methods of weather forecasting. He apparently has a better 6 month record than other forecasters have at one month or less.

  18. paul statterly-

    I find your comment humourless, in poor taste and repulsive.

    • paul statterly

      orkneygal, believe it or not a man actually said this to me. i was speechless.

    • I must have missed something here. What PS proposed sounds reasonable to me. I bet Piers Corbyn would take it on!

  19. Dr Curry,
    small point from a brit

    “In particular the UK Met Office has been taking alot of heat over its prediction in 2009 of a “barbecue summer” and this year for not making public its forecast of a cold winter”

    The MET office and the UK gov are in hot water at the moment as they are giving differing stories regarding the winter predictions.

    The MET office PUBLICLY announced a very mild winter- the news was full of it (particularly the BBC). It is NOW saying that it PRIVATLEY told the UK Gov that it would be a very cold winter.

    As has been pointed out by others already, this makes either the MET office or the UK gov liars (deliberatley so, and potlitically so in light of the timing- i.e. pre cancun).

    I raise this however not to discredit predictions, Piers Corybin for example has an excellent track record, but just as you may need to re-phrase that part of your post on the MET as it’s slightly inaccurate (though i’m hardly suprised that only the brits know about this as it’s not been widely reported at all).

    On topic- until the natural variations and cycles in the planet are better understood i think longer-term predictions will remain very sketchy. It is interesting that the affor-mentioned Peirs Corbyn uses sun cycles (amongts other things) to predict his, erm, predictions and he’s got a FAR better record than the MET so far.

    Time to ditch the current models and evaluate his methods perhaps?? OR combine the two??

    – oh, and i PROMISE to try and do smaller posts….

  20. What is happening at the moment in SE Queensland is truly terrible. The rainfall totals astonishing. Watching the news tonight was incredibly painful.

    Dr Curry, I’m really not technically competent to enter discussions but I do applaud the intent behind your blog. To discuss matters of great interest and importance and to do so without bile and general nastiness of some of the other websites is just so good.

    God bless you and all the contributors to your blog.

  21. paul statterly

    all climate research funding should be like this starting 2011:

    50% of full amount given for the initial research.
    50% of full amount paid only if forecasts and models are proven correct.

    under this model, british taxpayers would have saved 50% of the millions they spent on the MET office.

    • Technically, it’d have only saved British taxpayers about 8%, given that the MET has a phenomenal overall accuracy for its short term forecasts, and does many, many more forecasts than make it into the blogosphere.

      Indeed, by your money-where-your-mouth-is standards of setting a price on saying things that turn out to be incorrect, applied evenly to everyone, the dividends going to the people who have it right, Climate Scientists would be laughing all the way to the bank compared to the current state of the world.

      Heck, they’d be almost as well off as the allegations of their detractors paint them now.

      • Yet they be about to be sued by multiple parties, not least Heathrow Airport for getting their latest winter forcast (publically) wrong.

        They have been wrong 3 times in a row over winter in the UK, significantly so. With billions in estimated losses as a result.

        Short term forecasting is relatively good- as we know the models are accurate upto 4 days. The climate models are roughly based upon these same models, hence the abject accuracy of their climate models.

        There are also FOI requests under way to see how many of their PRIVATE clients have complained about their recent forecasts….

      • given that the MET has a phenomenal overall accuracy for its short term forecasts

        Are you kidding? It’s very rare that the Met Office 24 hour forecast and what’s going on outside of my window agree with each other.

  22. The ability to forecast the weather is at the very heart of the debate over Climatology. UNTIL we have ability in consistantly reliable short term prediction (Weather and Climate out to 10 years) that transends into near long term prediction (10-30 year Climate), that transends into mid long term prediction (30-60 year Climate), etc., etc., the issue of governments and the UN or its agencies spending a lot of people’s money is dead. Whether you credit Climategate or Common Sense, BIG MONEY for CLIMATE CHANGE PROJECTS (CO2 or no CO2) is D*E*A*D.

    Regarding the brand spanking new science of Climatology, recommend it go back to the basics, master and improve the art of weather forecasting, gradually slip into short term climate (up to 10 years max) and quietly fiddle around with 20-30 year prognostication. As a field of Science, practioners of Climatology need to keep anything longer than 30 years to themselves and their most elite inner circle; i.e. No public or Congressional crap about the end of the world and life as we know it and needing 101 gazillion dollars/pounds/euros/won/etc. to save us from ourselves and our own stupidity. After all, we do need to leave something for the kids and our grandchildren to do or they’ll get bored and start another World War. Nicht wahr?

    Climatology has a BIG NO CONFIDENCE Vote! It will take years to overcome and people will demand consistant and correct forecasting; starting for next week, next month, next year, for the next 2 years, 3 years, etc. etc. The truth may be painful to some of today’s superhero prognosticators that like to wine and dine with the rich and famous, but that’s life in the Big League (no matter what some radical politician or billionaire says).

    • Pascvaks

      (I’m mighty glad they don’t enable blinking text for this blog.)

      The ability to forecast the weather is at the very heart of the debate over Climatology.

      Is it?

      Ought it be?

      Seems to me to be a singularly trite red herring.

      All sorts of circumstances where precision forecasts are impossible exist that in no way invalidate a clear case for taking action.

      I can’t predict when the next drunk driver will plow into a crowd of schoolgirls (to resort to the sort of alarmist violence Rich Matarese likes, but not to stoop to his drooling invective about jackboots and hatred); I can certainly see the case to keep drunks from driving.

      Your argument holds no water.

      • Bart R,

        your conclusion is based on historical data showing that drunk drivers cause accidents at a rate higher than non-impaired drivers. This also is based on the simple model that human behavior and reactions to being drunk will not change going into the future. These appear to be reasonable statistics and a reasonable model.

        Too bad Climate Science can provide us with neither reasonable statistics based on past history nor a reasonable model of Climate behavior based in these statistics even when alledgedly including all the physics.

      • ..”The ability to forecast the weather is at the very heart of the debate over Climatology.”

        ..”Is it? Ought it be? Seems to me to be a singularly trite red herring… Your argument holds no water.”

        My argument is about where you put the ox. In the front of the cart to pull, or in the back of the cart to push? The cart is made to be pulled, not pushed, so one good argument is to put the ox in the front. Conjecture or going against the grain doesn’t get you anything in today’s hard cruel world, that’s a simple fact of life in this rotten paridigm we now live in. Fools (be they smart or not) who throw out their Global Doomsday Warnings about XYZ yesterday, ABC today, and DEF tomorrow, are only seen as BIGGER FOOLS. Sorry, to imply that generally “accepted” (65% acceptance rate or higher ok?) safety measures aren’t a good idea; yes let’s do something locally to put a bandaid on drunk driving (or whatever) but let’s not fool ourselves about getting Congress or the UN to do anything but screw things up if we go cry on their sholder. Can certain elderly “climate nut cases” still scream and shout about the sky falling and we gotta’ do 1., 2., 3., for big, BIG bucks ASAP? Sure! Why not? Should anyone listen to them? Hay, it’s a free World, right? (Well it still is in some places.) But… here’s the kicker… where does Climatology go from here? How do they get to where they want to be tomorrow, next week, next month, and 10 or 20 years from now? My 2Cents is that they do it the way I said. Why? Because it makes sense, it’s the straightest distance between two points, and it get’s the science back in the lab, and out of the town square and off the soapboxes and the TV News nuts. (Excuse me, the “Reporters”)

      • To take you analogy further.

        Weather/Climate certainly looks like a drunk driver to me, veering from one side of the road to another.

        All the current proposals are to erect safety railings on one side of the road.

        We have a mountain of studies the tell us what the world will look like 2 degrees warmer and how we need to prepare.

        What if the drunkard climate veers 2 degree colder?

        We know a ‘Little Ice Age’ occurred in the relatively recent past. Are we certain one won’t occur again in the near future?

        Are we prepared?
        Do we have enough food stores to survive a ‘year without summer’?

        Are we absolutely certain that humanities impact on climate is so great that it precludes another ‘Little Ice Age’?

      • the climate science solution to drunk drivers is that everyone should be limited to only driving so many miles a day, and taxed if they drive further. over time this will reduce the amount of drunk driving.

        the guard rail soultion says that we should not build cities below sea level, or if we do we should make sure the levees are built a couple of feet higher and stronger over the next 100 years.

      • Everyone in favor of one final evacuation of NOLA, blowing the levees, and locking the door say “Yea!”

        It might make a nice Wildlife Reserve in a 100 years or so too.

      • YEA!!

        And it wouldn’t take 100 years. “Nature” recovers far faster than most people realize or than the environmental organizations want you to know about.

  23. A West Australian vinter has been studying the weather; hardly a surprise. What is revealing is what he found. A guest post at WUWT today: elaborates upon a post he made at Roy Spence’s blog earlier this year and his own blog: Climate Change. The sun radiance, both polar air masses and atmospheric pressures as well as a link with the ozone layer weave an intriguing fabric of a climate model having nothing to do with Anthropometic forcings. As I am still digesting the Radiative Transfer Model, my working at yet the delay in my understanding of the RTM is feeding my skepticism in to its relevance. Erl Happs provides a plausible mechanism for a 60 year cycle of cold and then warm winters. My rememberances of the North American winter of 1950/1951 suggests to me some validity in the proposed climate mechanism and certainly worthy of further inquiry.

  24. The climate oscillations of the pacific and atlantic oceans, the PDO and AMO, both appear to resonate with the orbits of the planets. For example, 60 years is twice the orbital period of Saturn, and 5 times the orbital period of Jupiter. Similar resonances can be seen in the Solar Cycle. Coincidence? The resonance between venus, earth and jupiter did a much better job of predicting solar cycle 24 than many leading experts in the field with their computer models of solar conveyors.

    • Because there are so many possible combinations of “resonance”, it wouldn’t surprise me if you could find some juxtaposition to suit any kind of weather, anywhere in the world, on any day of the year. What you are suggesting, given that you haven’t proposed a mechanism, is generally called Astrology.

  25. Waaay off topic. But if you are a skeptic/denier, and want a chuckle go to

  26. Judith, this is also very funny. There is a lot of truth in humor. I can see Eli Rabbit playing one of the roles here, if not Tobis or Derecho64.

    Apologies if posted already

  27. Here is a update on Atlanta weather. The city is still virtually completely shut down. I had to FEDEX a proposal today, to arrive for the deadline tomorrow. It was quite a challenge, since FEDEX, UPS, USPS are completely closed in the region
    I actually had to email the proposal to Colorado for someone there to print it off and send it.

    The situation on the ground is that there has been a pretty much continuous drizzle of freezing rain that keeps the ice accumulating. It got above freezing briefly this afternoon so there is some melting, which is in the process of refreezing. As a result, there was some success plowing this afternoon, and there are a few cars on the road, but it will ice up again overnite. Hard to imagine how a little ice can completely shut down the city.

    It seems the airport is open, so connecting flights can be made, but you can’t easily get to or from the airport.

    • “Really slick Hard to imagine how a little ice can completely shut down the city.”
      Much more accurate!

      And for some other H2O excitement involving cars:

      • Wow, that’s insane. I mean nobody thought to tell the owners to move their cars before it was too late!

      • Let your internal combustion engines go. Resistance is futile.

      • Not funny mate. I realise you didn’t mean to offend anybody, however may I remind you that 12 people have died including 5 children one of whom was a 3yr old plucked by the raging waters from his mothers arms during a rescue. Over 50 people are still missing including whole families.

        37 towns have been affected, some almost totally washed away. Thousands have lost all they have.

        I myself spent the last 2 days protecting my property.
        I logged on to this blog to relax a little tonight after cleaning up all day, so I didn’t quite get the humour in your post.

        The owners of those cars had no chance. The raging flood in Toowoomba has been described as an inland tsunami. It arrived with no warning whatsoever. Some people were still in their cars rushing along with the raging water and have gone missing. Bodies expected to be found many miles down stream.

      • the australian floods are astonishing and horrifying. Something like this (6″ of rain in half hour) just isn’t predictable. australia isn’t one of the regions where i follow the weather closely in terms of predicting it, so I don’t have much understanding of what was going meteorologically. I have been testing the idea that 70% of the bad weather disasters over the past 30 years are predictable 7 days in advance; the australian floods seem to be in the 30%.

      • Judith, I wonder if you followed the link I posted above, to a post by a Queenslander who points out that that these floods were indeed “predicted” the last time they happened – 1974. Here’s part of what he has to say:

        “…Back then we weren’t nearly as clever and learned as you think yourselves to be today. Back then we had this silly notion that climate was cyclical, and if we didn’t prepare for it, we would have a repeat of the same tragedies to deal with in “about thirty years”. That was the thinking of the scientists back then – that climate went in roughly thirty year cycles.
        Flood mitigation programs were planned. A series of levee banks and diversionary dams would be built. Brisbane and SE QLD would NEVER suffer such devastation again. After all, we had thirty years to plan and build and improve.

        And that’s what we did – or at least started. Wivenhoe Dam got built as the first step, but by the time it was finished clever people like you lot who “knew” that such things were never going to happen again had taken over. CO2 AGW madness had already taken hold.”

        You can probably guess the rest. If not, follow the link. Preparations for inundation abandoned, preparations for AGW-predicted aridity instated, etc. Not much use for their desal plant now, of course, but they could sure as hell use the money back! Of course Memory Vault, the poster, may have it all wrong, and no doubt the Believers here will have a clever excuse. They usually do.

      • actually i missed the link the first time around, just read it. very sobering, here is the link to others that missed it first time through

      • Our prayers for you and yours and all those in harm’s way.

      • You will note that the people filming the cars are making jokes. It’s one of the ways people cope, and I am not against that. You roll with the punches your way; I’ll roll with the punches my way.

        Good luck.

    • In areas where ice and snow is a “rare” problem, or at least so for the past few decades, it’s all about the money; for things like plows and salt spreaders. It also has a touch of the problem they’re having “Down Under” to it. People tend to forget the “climate” until it changes back to the way it was. Over here ta tha west of y’all, we’s jus’ sittin’ watchin’ a bunch a TV waitin’ fer this here Yankee Snow ta melt.

    • The situation on the ground is that there has been a pretty much continuous drizzle of freezing rain that keeps the ice accumulating. It got above freezing briefly this afternoon so there is some melting, which is in the process of refreezing. As a result, there was some success plowing this afternoon, and there are a few cars on the road, but it will ice up again overnite. Hard to imagine how a little ice can completely shut down the city.

      The mayors statement made me laugh

      At a 4:30 p.m. news conference on Tuesday, Reed said his administration has been working non-stop for 36 hours.

      Reed said by 8 p.m. Tuesday night the city would be using 58 pieces of equipment “working full-time on all of our streets.”

      Reed said the city prepared as best as possible, based on previous snow events this year and the equipment the city already owned. He said the city has 10 pieces of removal equipment, but started clearing roads with 21.

      “The inventory is about 10 pieces of equipment,” Reed said. “We are sensitive to the size of the snow event and we didn’t make excuses.”

      Meanwhile in moscow

    • “I actually had to email the proposal to Colorado for someone there to print it off and send it.” See, we’re better adapted already! Think how you would have solved the problem 30 years ago….

  28. The mayor of Atlanta has this to say about the situation

    The forecast definitely wasn’t the problem here. I think the usual forecasters predicted this at least several days in advance (maybe not the extremity of the situation); my forecast team spotted this a week ago friday.

  29. Judy, this posting went up on my blog at 2:33pm Friday. It even included a guide for air travelers explaining how to stay out of trouble.

    I’d say it was pretty well forecast!

  30. Judith,
    What makes Ice Ages unique to normal weather is the carrying of water vapour.
    I call it the piggy-back effect. Since weather moves from west to east, ocean water vapour is usually deposited before it can reach the next coast depending on the speed of the system.
    If you deposit water vapour along the way, the next storm can pick up some of that moisture and move it further. Especially if it is a slower system, then it can deposit great amounts of precipitation.
    Massive precipitation is the signature of an Ice Age.

  31. Judith,
    In evaporation, you have a couple different energy effects.
    Coasting and acceleration. This are greatly different in motion.

  32. Judith,

    Good presentation on pressure build-up in the atmosphere!

  33. Dear Atlanta,

    Now you’ve been hit by a cold front: one form Green Bay.

  34. And a dyslexic one to boot!

  35. This issue isn’t going away. ClimateProgress has a new post:
    Another terrific ABC news story: on the role global warming is playing in extreme winter weather

    • Everytime that storyline is pushed the AGW extremists lose more credibility.

    • Dr Curry – isn’t the issue that ABC News had the story? Whether a blog pointed it out or not is immaterial. Why point to ClimateProgress rather than the story itself?

      The issue isn’t ‘going away’ because the MSM wants to know what is causing the extreme weather and on this occasion, they asked the scientists and have reported what they’ve been told.

      Surely a cause for celebration?

    • “Snow season length and snow depth are very likely to decrease
      in most of North America except in the northernmost part of
      Canada where maximum snow depth is likely to increase”

      The regional forecast from IPPC 4. Doesn’t read like a good forecast for what is happening to me. Has Alabama, Georgia and Washington DC relocated to northern Canada?

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