pby Judith Curry
Some reflections on the east coast U.S. snowstorm: the forecasts, their communication and the response.
About a week ago, the weather forecast models suggested a strong storm developing off the east coast of the U.S. Subsequent forecasts were issued for catastrophic snowfall amounts for the coastal northeast U.S., including New York City. Government officials responded by shutting down transportation systems. On Tuesday morning, there was relatively little snow on the ground in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, although there is considerable snowfall to the North.
This has engendered considerable discussion regarding the weather prediction models, communication of the forecast, and the response to the forecast. My diagnosis of the problem and recommendation are at the end of the post.
Several days ago, Andy Revkin did a nice post querying a number of weather forecasters and researchers about the relative merits of the different forecast models [link], particularly since everyone seemed to be paying attention to the European model (ECMWF) rather than NOAA’s GFS model.
With each successive forecast, the National Weather Service consistently forecasted worse conditions and higher snowfall amounts; yesterday the official NWS forecast was for 24-36” of snowfall. The Weather Channel and some private forecasting companies were more conservative, predicting half that amount.
Media and politicians vied for the most dramatic predictions. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated [link]:
“Massive snowstorms such as the one sweeping into the US north-east on Monday are “part of the changing climate”, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, declared at a press conference announcing a state of emergency.
Cuomo said on Monday that “there is a pattern of extreme weather that we’ve never seen before” – reiterating his comments in the wake of hurricane Sandy, when he said that “anyone who says there’s not a dramatic change in weather patterns is probably denying reality.”
The climate change ‘hype’
Governor Cuomo was perhaps influenced by the media hype with scientists in a strong supporting role, here are a few examples:
- Washington Post: Global warming could make blizzards worse
- Think Progress: Climate Change Is Making Blizzards Like The One Hitting New England Much Worse, Scientists Say
- Inside Climate News: Why bigger snowstorms come with global warming
- Climate Nexus: Blizzard 2015: Normal winter weather amplified by climate change
The usual suspects: Kevin Trenberth, Jennifer Francis, Michael Mann, citing their ‘opinions’. The most entertaining ‘opinion’ is from Bill Nye, ‘Science Guy’:
NYE: “And everybody, I just want to introduce the idea that this storm is connected to climate change. I want to introduce that idea. I know there will be certain viewers who will become unglued, they’re throwing things at their television set and so on. But is the economic effect of storms like this is huge. Now proving any one storm is connected, specially cold-weather events is difficult. But I just want to present that.”
TOURE: “Bill, I love you for bringing that in. Thank you so much, Bill.”
In terms of actual published science, Roger Pielke Jr.[link] cites two papers that show no trend in east coast winter storms.
Several months ago, Paul O’Gorman of MIT published a relevant paper [link to press release]:
O’Gorman found that there’s a narrow daily temperature range, just below the freezing point, in which extreme snow events tend to occur — a sweet spot that does not change with global warming. This is in contrast to average snow events, which may occur over a broader temperature range.
“People may know the expression, ‘It’s too cold to snow’ — if it’s very cold, there is too little water vapor in the air to support a very heavy snowfall, and if it’s too warm, most of the precipitation will fall as rain,” O’Gorman says. “Snowfall extremes still occur in the same narrow temperature range with climate change, and so they respond differently to climate change compared to rainfall extremes or average snowfall.”
What actually happened
Well, after all the hype, what actually happened? A summary is provided in this article in Huffington Post [link]. While the storm lived up to its billing in New England and New York’s Long Island, New York City and New Jersey were largely spared, with less than 10″ in New York City. By Tuesday morning, subways were up and running and driving bans had be lifted in New York City and New Jersey.
In sharp contrast, the storm was a flop in New York City. It’s essentially stopped snowing there, with totals averaging between 8 and 12 inches across the city. In a midday press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “We obviously missed the worst of the storm.” Defending actions by his office and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to shut schools and freeze regional transportation, de Blasio added, “Prepare for the worst. Hope for the best.”
The reason for New York City’s low totals? The National Weather Service strongly weighted its forecast toward the historically more accurate ECMWF model and the high-resolution NAM model, which showed the Long Island snow band stalling out directly over the city instead. That didn’t happen. In constructing its forecast, the New York City office of the NWS all but ignored its own recently upgraded GFS model, which showed significantly less snow in the city. As late as Monday evening, the NWS emphasized that the storm could overperform in NYC, saying “it should be a raging blizzard.”
New York Gov. Cuomo, perhaps conditioned by the state’s slow response to the recent Buffalo snowstorm, ordered a shutdown of virtually all modes of transportation in the New York City area on the basis of the National Weather Service forecast, including the city’s subway system, which had never previously closed for a snowstorm.
On twitter, I spotted some estimates that this ‘shut down’ cost NYC $1B, I have no idea about the accuracy of this number. The NYTimes has an article today (with some very interesting comments), focused on the shutdown of the subway system.
Seth Borenstein (AP) has some interesting interviews:
Private meteorologist Ryan Maue of Weather Bell Analytics slammed the public agency for ratcheting up forecast storm amounts before the system arrived, instead of telling people how uncertain it was.
“The public should be upset that the forecast was blown for NYC and ask for answers,” he said in an email.
Uccellini (NWS) said the agency would review those procedures and consult with social scientists to improve messaging.
But Uccellini said he’d rather warn too much and be wrong, than not warn enough. He said the weather service’s predictions and citywide closures that they prompted made for a faster recovery.
“This was the right forecast decision to make,” Uccellini said.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie defended his decision to ban travel on all state roads.
“I was being told as late as 9 o’clock last night that we were looking at 20-inch accumulations in most of New Jersey. If, in fact, that is what would have happened, having these types of things in effect were absolutely the right decision to make,” Christie told WABC-TV on Tuesday. “We were acting based on what we were being told.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was criticized for under-reacting to the November mega storm in Buffalo, so he worked “on the theory of living learned and a little wiser.”
Irwin Redlener, the director of Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness and an unpaid adviser to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, said Tuesday that the way the region came to a halt ahead of the storm was good practice.
“It’s not whether the city should have prepared so much, it’s how people respond,” Redlener said. “We don’t want the population to get so cynical that they’re not heeding the warnings.”
A National Weather Service forecaster who was called a hero of 2012’s Superstorm Sandy tweeted an apology for the errant forecast.
“You made a lot of tough decisions expecting us to get it right, and we didn’t. Once again, I’m sorry,” wrote Gary Szatkowski, a National Weather Service forecaster in Mount Holly, New Jersey.
Robinson, Shepherd and others said meteorologists probably erred more in the way they relayed the forecast to the public than the prediction itself.
Ryan Maue of WeatherBell has a good assessment, excerpts:
The NWS produces a deterministic forecast with a certain range e.g. 24-36” of snowfall but information about confidence is not imparted. Were they expecting 3-feet more than 2-feet or were the values inside that range equally likely? What was the chance of 4-feet or 1-foot? Weather forecasters deal with this question every day when they issue a rain-fall forecast and call for 30% chance of rain or 100% chance of rain. That’s more easily understood by the public as they can take action based on their perceived risk of the event. An umbrella would be a good fashion accessory with 90% chance of thunderstorms at rush hour.
This indeed goes back to Hurricane Sandy which was the “worst case scenario”. Our weather models were all very confidently saying that all hell would break loose. The same NWS forecasters at Mount Holly were warning at the top of the lungs to take immediate action to save lives and property. In this respect, the public was appropriately warned and should have definitely feared the effects of this extraordinary hurricane.
The same level of media hype and perceived government overreaction surrounding this blizzard in NYC may cause future complacency with warnings. However, the weather forecasters and authorities will not hesitate to issue the same emergency declarations because a False Alarm in the “safe direction” is hardly the worst possible outcome.
While private weather forecasters including the Weather Channel were skeptical of the enormous snowfall forecasts for NYC, the risk of publicly challenging NWS and emergency management decisions would have provided “mixed messages” that could have led to the worst possible outcome: public not heeding legitimate and lawful warnings.
The weather forecast models generally performed adequately for this storm. The difference between a huge impact for NYC and what actually happened was a difference of about 25 km in the storm track, which is not a level of accuracy that you can expect from a weather forecast model.
There is the obvious issue of how the forecast was communicated by the NWS to the public. But there is a more fundamental issue, one that I haven’t seen mentioned by anyone, but at least hinted at by Ryan Maue, is the actual interpretation of the forecasts from the models.
The NWS presents its forecast as a deterministic forecast (either from a single run of the model, or the ensemble mean), with a ‘range’ or cone of uncertainty, that may be derived from the ensemble or from historical errors. The real failure IMO was to appropriately interpret the information contained in the forecast ensemble. If you are unfamiliar with ensemble weather forecast systems, see my previous posts How should we interpret an ensemble of models? Part I: Weather Models. Interpretation of the ensemble, including successive forecasts, helps assess uncertainty and confidence in the forecast. But more sophisticated interpretations of the ensembles can be done, such as clustering to assess the probability of different scenarios and threshold exceedences.
My company Climate Forecast Applications Network (CFAN), is at the forefront of applying sophisticated ensemble interpretation methods to predicting extreme weather events. People have asked ‘how did we do predicting snowfall for NYC?’ Well, we don’t predict snowfall, other than snowpack in the U.S. Northwest (Columbia River Basin). Quantitative snowfall is probably the most difficult parameter to forecast, and the only parameter you can get wrong by an order of magnitude.
The other issue that is out there is ‘how to deal with a blown forecast? Ryan Maue tweets:
Not sure that filibustering approach by @NWS head is best PR way to instill confidence in future forecasts. Met community needs to do some outreach here — not overt prostration but clear, coherent explanation of what went wrong & honest truth that blown forecasts will happen again (false alarm). Throwing money won’t help — need introspection & focus + better messenging.
Terse, but makes some good points. I will relate to you some experiences that my company has had with blown forecasts, both related to hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Humberto in (2007) spun up out of nowhere, and we completely missed its formation. It formed right in the main oil production region of the Gulf of Mexico, with high impact to our client. We did a post mortem; as scientists we didn’t feel bad about missing this since it was highly unpredictable. However, for our customer, this was a big deal. We had to explain why it had happened, figure out some way to improve our forecast of such storms in future (with appropriate expressions of uncertainty). Subsequently we haven’t missed the forecast for a single such storm, although our forecasts have been low probability and low confidence owing to the unpredictability of such storms.
Learn from your mistakes, understand uncertainty, and be prepared to state when you have low confidence in your prediction, or when there are two equally probable scenarios. The NWS needs to get away from making deterministic forecasts, but then the public (or at least government officials) need to be educated in interpreting ensemble forecasts. But ensemble forecasts can be far more useful for risk management.
Did the government decision makers respond appropriately to the forecasts they received? I would say yes. There is a hysteresis effect related to recent events (e.g. Hurricane Sandy, Buffalo snow storm). If there are too many false alarms, you run into the ‘boy who cried wolf’ syndrome.
And finally, I spotted this on twitter:
Should meteorologists be accountable for hyping so-called extreme #weather in ways that impact millions of lives?
I agree this is a ridiculous statement, the weather forecasters are doing the best job that they can (even if their bosses in NOAA are playing politics). But rephrase the concern to ‘climate scientists’, and then we have to wonder whether all the hyping by Trenberth, Mann et al. influenced Governor Cuomo into overreacting?
Precautions don’t come without a price, but not heeding warnings could be associated with a bigger price. With weather events, you have the opportunity to practice; even false alarms can be useful in this regard (and the expense of the precautions isn’t that overwhelming). Communities get better with practice; Florida is now a lean mean machine when it comes to responding to hurricanes (but there haven’t been any landfalls since 2005!) New York City seems to be in fighting form to reduce its vulnerability to future weather disasters.
The weather forecasting enterprise needs to get its act together in terms of better interpretation of the various models available (the UK Met Office weather forecast model is currently getting a lot of attention in the private sector weather forecasting community). Private sector forecasting continues to do better in many instances than the NWS forecasters. In the U.S. anyways, the lion’s share of the govt $$ goes to climate modeling and model interpretation and impact assessment, not to weather forecast model interpretation.
Good post…just one funny typo: (or was it a typo?)
“…weather forecast models generally perfumed adequately for this storm…”
Hmmm…perfume kinda stinks sometimes. But they probably performed about as best they could.
good catch :)
….. and snowcopalypse should be snowpocalypse
In my opinion the government acted very reasonably – it is their duty to get ready for the worst case scenario. The problem is that they did not say “just in case”; they pretended a complete certainty.
The global warming aspect is a completely different issue; I wonder how many people who attributed the apocalyptic prediction to a global warning will now say that it fizzled due to global warming. The beauty is that they will have it both ways.
How can we trust 100-year climate predictions when even 50-hour weather predictions are unreliable?
Yes, “it is their duty to get ready for the worst case scenario.”
That is precisely why they should prepare for powerful solar eruptions instead of trying to hide from the public the fact that our Sun is a very stormy and unpredictable star.
Robert K. Wilcox, well-known author of books on WWII, has recently described the source of solar energy as “the greatest secret of the universe.” See “Solar energy,” Advances in Astronomy (submitted for on-line review, 6 JAN 2015):
IPCC pseudoscience is based on incorrect Physics; the models cannot predict Climate. All Radiant Emittance detectors, radiometers or spectrometers, are encased in a metal box removing from the signal Radiant Emittance from the opposite direction to the ‘View Angle’.
Net radiant energy flux from the plane of the detector in the absence of the detector and box would the vector sum of Irradiances (=Emittance for a collimated beam). This is why net mean surface IR flux for 16 deg C Earth’s surface = 396 – 333 = 63 W/m^2, Standard Radiative Physics.
IPCC pseudoscience persists in pushing the claim that ‘back radiation’, the Atmospheric Radiant Emittance, revealed by blocking Surface Emittance, is a real energy flux. The Wiki article on Irradiance is reasonable but fails to mention that all these single direction data are Potential Energy Terms, not real fluxes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irradiance
It will take a long time to re-educate US Atmospheric Science, for ~50 years taught an incorrect, photon-centred view of the Physical World which led to the Perpetual Motion Machine of the 2nd Kind in the Climate Models!
Us grizzled oldies from the days when we had to work out this stuff with slide rules as we created real engineering systems were taught properly; we won’t stay quiet whilst Science remains occupied by incompetents!
Here in Oz and NZ it’s the forecasting of record heat which makes huge headlines. When the record isn’t made nobody seems to care. It’s just back to talking about Taylor Swift or Miley Twerker.
Snowmageddon like everything else these days, “might have been overestimated by a factor of two.”
Snow totals and duration were accurate for Southern New England. Overhyped, yes; but it kept people off the roads and there was minimal loss of power which was hugely difficult for people in a similar but smaller storm two years ago.
Actions were appropriate, messaging was a huge fail.
Increase the confidence range, eg 6″-36″. “If this manages to push here or there, we could easily get 2′-3′, we need to prepare for that.” What’s so hard about that.
You end up with people like a friend of mine in New Jersey saying that weather forecasters don’t have a freaking clue when the 48 hour forecast had 6 to 24 inches of snow.
It’s worth observing that the dem politicos shut down NYC based on the precautionary principle, responding to a 48-hr-in-advance computer-modeled forecast, which factual-reality falsified. At the same time, the precautionary principle’s acceptance is pushed for a 100-year computer-modeled forecast. “We can’t get two-days-ahead computer-modeled forecasting right, but trust us, our computer-modeled100-year forecast is accurate.”
If the 100-year forecasters are so smarter than the 2-day forecasters, I say we should transfer the 100-year climate forecasters to the two-day weather forecasting department and let them show their stuff. if they get the short forecasts wrong, we can immediately determine they are FOS, so their long-term climate forecasts can be ignored.
=>> “’It’s worth observing that the dem politicos shut down NYC based on the precautionary principle,…”
Excellent point. And did you also notice how during the Ebola “outbreak” in the U.S. it was l those Dem politicos who were using the precautionary principle and wasteful”abundance of caution” rhetoric to overhype the danger to the American public…you know, Dem politicod like Chris Christ…..
I just want to thank the ebola nurse from Maine one more time for flipping off (figuratively) the American people in true liberal style right before the election. Joshua, I just wish I could buy you national TV time to expose your ideas to a wider audience.
=>> “I just want to thank the ebola nurse from Maine one more time for flipping off (figuratively) the American people in true liberal style right before the election.”
Good point. Yes, the Republicans did an excellent job of exploiting overhyped fears of Ebola right before the election…you know…out of an “abundance of caution”..by hatin’ on a nurse who sacrificed to treat sick and dying people.
Thanks for pointing that out, i hadn’t realized it earlier.
Like I said, I just wish I could buy you TV time.
Joshua, quarantine is the basis of successful pathogen epidemic suppression. The Ebola tests have a high false-negative rate as was the case for Dr. Martin Salia.
What an idea.
The nurse in Maine is an excellent example of American heroism, individualism, and courage. She did not bow to the maroons.
I’d have to say no again, Joshua. The Dems here -among who I know- were particularly on edge about the virus. The comments I heard were rather unread and uneducated, surprisingly. Political parties have no monopoly on subjects either as you continue to exploit in ideologue confusion.
Read more Comment less
Roy Spencer posts: New York City gets a taste of the Precautionary Principle
==> “Similarly, will scientists be believed anymore after decades of failed predictions regarding overpopulation, global crop failures, global cooling, global warming, etc.? ”
I would think that scientists who are experienced in examining cause and effect would look at available data to help inform their hypotheses, and to control for their own biases?
Joshua, I too “would think that scientists who are experienced in examining cause and effect would look at available data to help inform their hypotheses, and to control for their own biases.” Did you find any indication of it in AR4 or AR5? Or do you agree that IPCC reports are not written by scientists?
I would think that even high school students trained in the scientific method can see when models very obviously do not fit the data. Such failed models are political – not scientific – . Observers rightly find that those who promote such erroneous models are not scientists.
Every phrase and comma of the Summary is argued and approved by the Intergovernmental Panel, which is comprised about 2% by scientists and 98% by wonks and functionaries. The WG1 report is mostly scientists, but scientists who know who butters most of their bread. It is far less absolutist and alarmist than the summary, but any qualifications and quibbles are ruthlessly expurgated by the time the finished product is done.
“My diagnosis of the problem and recommendation are at the end of the post.”
Shoot. I was going with a 50% chance of “models…..(something, something, something)…….” but woulda changed it 15 minutes after I posted it to reflect the availability of further information. Do I still get credit?
Does anyone know a reporter that could ask if the GW/CC hype affected the political response? There outta be follow up as that’s a reasonble inquiry.
Danny, one has to think the answer to your question is “Yes”, For some time now weather and climate have been willfully conflated, so any extreme weather (A blizzard in New England in January is now apparently extreme) is prima facie evidence of AGW. It is what the politicians have been told and what they believe, and act accordingly.
Snowmageddon led to heavy partying and hookups
If this is new to the writer, they didn’t go to school in upstate NY in the seventies.
Any port in a snow storm, I guess.
I don’t think that shutting the NYC subways completely was sensible even if 2-3 feet of snow were anticipated. This wasn’t a flooding situation and to my knowledge the city never had a problem with the subways even in monster snowstorms in the past. One long-time NYC resident and physicist had this to say: http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=7482
They ran them anyway to keep the tracks clear.
That makes sense. Traffic helps keep the roads dry here in MI. And copious amounts of salt. But traffic definitely helps a lot.
Thanks for the link, steve. I liked the way he dipped back and forth between ranting about the transmission and reception of weather news, and little asides about physics instruction available on line. Charming.
I have no love for Mr. de Blasio, but you don’t want people wading through 3 feet of snow to a subway – even if it is only a 10% probability. He will catch some flak, but imagine a reaction if only one life got lost. (I just learned that the decision to shut down subways was made without his knowledge; maybe he should run for a mayor of New Orleans next time.)
Is one life worth a billion dollars lost? Tough question, but if you try to make life risk-free, we MIGHT have a long life, but what we gain in quantity, we’ll lose in quality.
I was thinking about that in relation to the “shortened” lives due to fine particulates. If you’ve ever watched someone die a natural death, it can be pretty brutal. You might be happy to skip 6 months of hell at 86.
To a good politician, no expense of public money could outweigh a loss of popularity.
How much snow was forecast underground? :-)
One o’ dese days I’m a gonna haf ta treck to da Big Apple and see if it kin reely snow undergroun’, lak dey say.
Pragmatic adaptation economics.
It would be a lot cheaper to add snow plows onto trains than the $1 billion cost of shutting down New York. See train snow plows.
As much as I admire you Judith, this post is kind of a waste of space.
“Washington Post: ‘Global warming could make blizzards worse.'”
Have they no memories? No shame? 10 years ago snow was to be an increasingly rare event.
“In the next 50 years fine dust that humans discharge into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuel will screen out so much of the sun’s rays that the Earth’s average temperature could fall by six degrees. Sustained emissions over five to 10 years, could be sufficient to trigger an ice age.” – Washington Post, July 9, 1971
This rates with the coastal evacuation wrap-around edition of the Sydney Morning Herald a few years back. No storms or floods at the time. Someone thought the oceans were rising rapidly and nobody bothered to check centuries’ old gauges…or even look out a window. There were actual complaints to the editor that the plans neglected estuary evacuation. You don’t mess with Sydney’s Posh Left. They’re on the Waterfront!
Our first case of estuarism was not taken to the Human Rights Commission, as far as I know. But there’s a warning there.
IMO, the people who called this a historic storm don’t need to talk to social scientists (an oxymoron if ever there was one!). They need to talk to physicists and chemists. They need a refresher on error analysis.
Hard to get worked up about a snow storm when sitting on a beach in Maui.
And these days, hype by the media and over reaction by the authorities is pretty much par for the course.
If the Alinkyites don’t have a crisis to hijack, they will attempt to create one out of thin air.
Is there a “nutshell” version of how to relate the various factors included in modeling for “weather” vs. modeling for “climate”. I presume there is no “back testing” of weather models (or is there?).
As I understand it, there seem to be numerous sources for weather models and meteorolgists seem to factor the trends/tendencies as well as their comfort with the historic success rates, and maybe even some shooting from the hip. Then they give probabilities. With climate, other than the more structured (due to tendency to publish leading to reanalysis) approach is there a brief(ish) description of the differences?
Hi Danny, take a look at my recent post on sub seasonal forecasts, describes reforcasts
these are also used to calibrate daily forecasts and assess predictability and prediction skill
Thank you. I will.
And I apologize for an incomplete question/thought process. My intention was to differentiate where we change from forecasting weather to forecasting climate.
We are given future “extreme weather events” as tendencies associated with climate change but not with dates. But we’re also given seasonal hurricane forecasts (not so good recently) also not with dates but within a specific hurricane season. The good old Farmer’s Almanac gives us expected tendencies. Then we’re given modeled projections for changes in our climate (some sucessful, some not) but following the projections seasons or years are included. For example, the MET office projects “global” temperatures as it relates to changing climate so is that weather, subseasonal, or climatic?
As I recall from a scan of your post your “sub-seasonal” seems to be a sort of in between weather and climate, or at least a tendency for types of weather to be expected in a more near term than I percieve those projecting changes in climate would be. Grasping the difference between that and the more general “expect these changes to the typical weather” (lots of wiggle room here), is leading to my confusion.
I’m obviously challenged in how to appropriately structure the question and my hope is that I’m making some sense.
Danny – there are two approaches to model climate: an “initial condition” approach (model important physical/chemical/biological processes) and a “boundary condition” approach. I have to confess that I never understood the boundary condition approach; where is the boundary? is it real or imaginary? do things inside the boundary – e.g. clouds – matter? Our friend Steven could probably enlighten me, but even he does not know how high above his head the ERL is right now.
Unfortunately, neither approach seems to be mature enough – for now. I am only making fun of modelers because they tend to oversell their results; I am deeply impressed by the amount of work that went into CAM 5.1 model. Still a looooong way to go. (Also needs much faster computers.)
Thank you. I read indications of conflation of weather/climate and that’s certainly happening in my head. Sure, I’m fine with this weeks forecast and that climate involves a less date specific trend set. Fine tuning that “in between” is where I’m getting a bit lost. Weather is an indicator in defining climate within regions (including global) as I’m getting it, but climate also is and indicator of the weather one might expect. The “boundry” is a good term for where my confusion lies. I’ll read up on your offerings. Any suggestions of modifications to my impressions above is appreciated.
The boundary approach is related to what-if questions. What if you double CO2? What if you halve it? What if you increase solar radiation by 1%? These cause shifts in the climate that will be noticeable. These are quite different from the questions you ask with weather models.
That make sense. Does it initiate from the “initial condition” approach CG discussed?
Aha! Maybe. Just maybe, the nugget: http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/hale/ENVS5200/Parker%20–%20Predicting%20Weather%20and%20Climate.pdf
Danny, the boundary here is earth’s boundary to space, which ultimately affects the climate. Changes that impact incoming or outgoing radiation affect the climate. The initial condition does not affect climate unless you are also trying to get transient states as the boundary forcing changes over time. Even then it is not the weather initial condition, but the boundary initial condition.
I thought I had an end of the thread but got lost. Help me reconcile: “The boundary approach is related to what-if questions. What if you double CO2? What if you halve it? What if you increase solar radiation by 1%? These cause shifts in the climate that will be noticeable.”
Then: “the boundary here is earth’s boundary to space, which ultimately affects the climate. Changes that impact incoming or outgoing radiation affect the climate. The initial condition does not affect climate unless you are also trying to get transient states as the boundary forcing changes over time. Even then it is not the weather initial condition, but the boundary initial condition.”
In the first part I (thought I) was grasping beginning from today’s “global climate” using the BV approach the model would project continuesly based on the inputs such as: albedo, CO2, water vapor, incoming IR, aerosols, etc. I lost connection with the only boundry being the TOA (?) as understood from “”the boundary here is earth’s boundary to space”. Are the inputs not “boundaries”. Is the TOA fixed?
This: “The initial condition does not affect climate unless you are also trying to get transient states as the boundary forcing changes over time.” makes sense because if the other inputs stay fixed, there would then be no change. Or, from CG’s post, the boundaries are “physical” and the initials are “chemical/biological (don’t understand that)/and physical (the above listed “inputs”?)
I’m only thinking climate here, I feel I have a better grasp on weather models. Or at least less confusion.
Danny, the climate depends on the TOA energy balance. Internal heat sources and sinks just are too small compared to the incoming solar flux and what happens to send that back to space. However, even a 1% increase in solar flux can cause a multiple-degree warming, as can doubling CO2 that reduces the TOA energy loss, both giving forcing changes of 1%. When they refer to forcing scenarios, they mean TOA effects.
Thanks as always for you patience. The forcings then are those phenomena which reduce the energy transmisson back out of the atmosphere, if I grasp correctly (and that’s been my impression for a while).
But the difficulty is summarized by :”Ensemble methods now play a central role in simulation-based weather and climate prediction. These methods acknowledge representational uncertainty and seek to gauge its predictive
implications, going beyond a simple best-guess forecast or
projection. However, interpreting the results of ensemble studies
remains a challenging task, with probabilistic interpretations
particularly contentious. While complicated inductive arguments
might be made for the trustworthiness of some probabilistic
weather forecasts produced in ensemble studies, the same cannot
be said for PDFs produced for long-term climate variables.
Consequently, in many cases, alternative means of communicating
uncertainty about future changes in climate should be
employed instead. The aim should be to offer depictions of uncertainty
that are as responsive as possible to the needs of
decision makers but that also accurately reflect the limits of
current knowledge.” (section 5. conclusion of a link from Dr. Curry) http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/hale/ENVS5200/Parker%20–%20Predicting%20Weather%20and%20Climate.pdf
Which leads to the lack of certainty by entities such as NAS/APS/IPCC and their indications of at best “likely” (66-90% confidence) that CO2 is a primary cause of GW. Hiatus is an indicator of an issue in understanding. Again, any modification is appreciated. Otherwise, I’m where I started this day. The science seems to flail as much as I, if more professionally, to explain. Time to give it a rest. I’ll look for your response, if any, in the morning.
While not grasping the modeling (initial vs. boundary), I’ll keep digging there.
Danny, for weather there are many past forecasts that can be verified against what happened, so the uncertainty in forecasts can be quantified by the range of the errors. In climate there is no luxury of past verifications of changes anything like what we will have by 2100. It is a new situation. How do you evaluate the potential error in something that has not happened before? You can look at how well changes up till now are represented in models, but these are only modest compared to those a century from now, but that is how they evaluate uncertainties. Maybe it is underestimated, as the Arctic sea-ice loss was for example. The hiatus is not an issue because the ocean heat content was increasing consistently with the forcing change. Pauses are expected in the warming record because of natural variation that can add to or subtract from decadal climate change because that is only tenths of a degree. There was a major natural warming that culminated in 1998, that is not often mentioned, but it subsided in what has become known as the pause.
As I mentioned, the models underestimated the warming prior to 1998, which you don’t hear much about for some reason. This was a natural variation in the same direction as the background warming.
Responding to two posts in one.
Re: warming prior to 1998. If underestimated, then was it due to the effects of the Clean Air Act and the aerosols emissions reductions? Not aware of a study that’s accounted for the US’s contribution “globally” from prior to this time, and this has been a question in my mind regarding Hansen’s earlier work. And was that warming natural/anthro. And attribution %’s.
Then this: “The hiatus is not an issue because the ocean heat content was increasing consistently with the forcing change. Pauses are expected in the warming record because of natural variation that can add to or subtract from decadal climate change because that is only tenths of a degree. There was a major natural warming that culminated in 1998, that is not often mentioned, but it subsided in what has become known as the pause.”
Could it be the “pause/hiatus” is partially as a result of the increasing CO2 not allowing solar to reach the surface? The solar heat energy thru my single pane window is discernable on both sides. Thickness affects the interior results.
Formulated thoughts (and modification invited).
Solar radiation should be monitored TOA to surface.
CO2’s greenhouse effects should reradiate in all directions.
Land based ice index.
Water vapor increases as a result of warmer waters, creating healing effects (more snow –> more ice).
Water vapor index. (More veg. sequesters water vapor)
CO2 index (starting point as I see it is 280 ppm) attribution needed for understanding.
Ocean temps. index.
TOA index. Is TOA “static”?
All needed as inputs to model climate reasonably, and to attribute anthro. must be based on a time prior to the industrial age. Then, to attribute to CO2 must not all the other variables be eliminated as to cause? Sounds chaotic. What have I missed?
Finally, “This was a natural variation in the same direction as the background warming.” Background warming? And how is it defined that prior the 1998 the “major warming was natural” when CO2 emissions had been increasing for years prior?
I cannot ever believe the tendentious crapola that comes out of Jimmy Dee.
Here in Quensland they are complaining about good rainfall in some places and zilch in others. Like NY it depends on the butterflies wing and where the storm cell bursts.
With climate the models are chaotic and climate is complex. There are thousands of feasible model solutions – none of them very interesting.
Jim D’s plots sure are educational. But they would look better if the dashed red column gets shifted a little bit to the right. Could somebody tell the people who prepare the data to fix this problem?
If the boundary is the Top Of Atmosphere, then we either don’t really have a boundary value problem – or we postulate that clouds don’t influence climate – or we have redefined what a boundary value problem is, just like we have redefined a “peer review”. Very climatologic.
Danny, your question just made me envision a tv weather guy presenting a spaghetti graph of tomorrow’s projected weather….
Interesting. As a neophyte to this topic, it’s what I see re: the climate discussion. Variables in weather, variables in climate, variables in perceptions, and variables in associated politics. Gonna go eat some spaghetti.
“O’Gorman found that there’s a narrow daily temperature range, just below the freezing point, in which extreme snow events tend to occur — a sweet spot that does not change with global warming.”
I think these “sweet spots” need to be pointed out more often.
First we were in a scary cooling phase.
A little known 20 40 year old climate change prediction by Dr. James Hansen – that failed will likely fail badly
Anthony Watts / October 22, 2009
UPDATE: Thanks to a tip from Willis Eschenbach, there’s some developing news in that story from Dr. James Hansen. The Salon interviewee and book author, Rob Reiss that I quoted, now admits he somehow conflated 40 years with 20 years, and concedes that Dr. Hansen actually said 40 years for his prediction. However, as the newest analysis shows, it doesn’t make any difference, and we still aren’t seeing the magnitude of sea level rise predicted, now 23 years into it.
Then due to global warming we instead will see (presumably more than the last century) more hurricanes, wild fires, not nearly as much snow, more drought, a collapse of farming, not nearly as much rain; well unless it COULD make it rain more and cause floods, or snow more … etc, etc.
Darn, we better stop trying to predict which way the global temperature will go and just call it “climate change.” That covers everything.
Now we are 27 years into Hansen’s “40 year” prediction. Birds are pretty much the same, sea level hasn’t began to encroach on the city, just more BS from the green blob.
“…we…will see more…” BS from the MSM to get more “eyes” and ad revenue. Apocalypse sells!
Remember not to clog the blog by feeding the trolls!
“is climate change making us stupid?”
this incident proves the answer is YES
I fail to see why 3 feet of snow would be an apocalypse
they’ve never seen that before?
the first blizzard EVER in NYC?
now every interesting weather event is “climate change”
and mass neurosis
it would be funny if it weren’t actually scary
When North East England got several feet of snow in the 1940s (several times), rural residents walked along railways tracks to get to jobs in Newcastle. No panic, do what has to be done, get to work.
JS, there is also a problem of short memories leading to lack of perspective. In the Boston Blizzard of 1978 (a very similar storm) the metropolitan area got four feet, with drifts to 15 feet. I was there. It was forecast, people used common sense, and the only real difficulties were paralyzed emergency vehicle services for a couple of days. But do not recall any media hype like this time round. After all, Ben Franklin made an early contribution to understanding winter n’oreasters. Not something ‘historic’ or unusual.
The hysteria may not stem from NWS communication. They do a good job with hurricanes. It may be more societal.
==> “It was forecast, people used common sense, and the only real difficulties were paralyzed emergency vehicle services for a couple of days.
Good point, Rud.
“Should meteorologists be accountable for hyping so-called extreme #weather in ways that impact millions of lives?”
Scientists in other parts of the world are held accountable for poor prediction…
On appeal a number were acquitted…
L’AQUILA, ITALY—Shouts of “Shame, shame!” greeted the appeals court here today after the acquittal of six scientists convicted of manslaughter 2 years ago for advice they gave ahead of the deadly earthquake that struck this central Italian town in 2009. The scientists were convicted in October 2012, and handed 6-year jail sentences, for their role in a meeting of an official government advisory panel.
Only one of the seven experts originally found guilty was convicted today: Bernardo De Bernardinis, who in 2009 was deputy head of Italy’s Civil Protection Department and who will now serve 2 years in jail, pending any further appeals.
The experts attended a meeting of the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks, held on 31 March 2009 to evaluate the threat posed by a series of small and medium-sized tremors that had been shaking L’Aquila for several months. The meeting took place 6 days before the fatal quake struck, and in 2012, Judge Marco Billi ruled that the commission members carried out a “superficial, approximate and generic” risk analysis, and that they made a number of reassuring statements that led 29 of the quake’s 309 victims to remain indoors at the time of the disaster, despite the occurrence of two moderate tremors several hours beforehand….
Personally I think that after expenditure of billions/trillions of dollars that the climate science community should be held accountable for the money if they prove to be wrong with their dire warnings… if they prove to be right.. well they have already awarded themselves the kudos… (personally again I don’t believe they will be proven correct).
““Should meteorologists be accountable for hyping so-called extreme #weather in ways that impact millions of lives?”
Man fined for dud doomsday warning
“Wang Chao-hung, better known as “Teacher Wang”, stirred up a media frenzy after he “predicted” a giant quake and tsunami would hit Taiwan on May 11, urging people to move into makeshift shelters converted from cargo containers.
Mr Wang later claimed that his remarks were misinterpreted by journalists when the catastrophe failed to materialise …”
From the Washington Post:
“The National Weather Service has been slow to develop products and communication techniques to do this more effectively.
Some NWS offices, including New York and Philadelphia, have begun to issue maps showing various snowfall scenarios – including minimum, maximum and most likely. ”
Seems reasonable to me. It mostly gets the politicos out of the climate/weather pronouncement business, particularly since there is a range and uncertainty. “Ladies and Gentlemen, the climate, like the weather is changing all the time. Thank you and be sure to vote for me this November.”
How’s about that Judith? An Uncertainty Monster at your doorstep.
Why am I in moderation, again? Mentioning politicos? uncertainty? acting like a certain politician we know? what is it? Ahhhh, I await your adjudication, judge.
Writing from Massachusetts, where the great blizzard of ’78 is within the memories of most of the populace, asking everyone to stay off the roads and industry to shut down seemed appropriate. Roads are now clear and Wednesday will be near-normal.
I don’t necessarily fault the actions taken in NY and NJ, although subway closing seems over the top. But the Governor’s statements are way out of line. Not only with the science, but with the circumstances. It gives the strong impression that he — as well as certain scientists — are looking for excuses to promote a point of view. A large, disruptive storm is evidence that climate change will be catastrophic. A storm that misses is good luck. With that perspective, the only possible result is a ratcheting up of concern.
I’m not concerned. By now I expect to hear political scientists giving speeches about rabid ducks refusing to fly South in winter and angry polar bears eating asthmatic children.
“Poor polar bears just can’t catch a break.
It’s already been shown that the sex organs of these endangered species have been shrinking over time, and now it seems the bones inside their penises are growing weaker as well.”
A longitudinal study of Italian men found the same thing. Some social scientists believe there’s a correlation with the rise of socialism in that country. I didn’t know these bears had a particular ideology.
Didn’t someone think do do the obvious, and ask an average 12 year old child, living in the area, what was likely to happen?
Or even better, ask a dozen or so, and average the results!
Cheaper, and just as accurate if not even better than the well funded professionals. Or, if you insist on science, pay an astrologer in the area to examine the heavens, and prepare an appropriate chart – preferably after the event. Their post fact prediction will be just as accurate as that of the finest meteorologists.
Sometimes it snows, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don’t. Believe whom you want, but you might care to look out the window, to see for yourself which way the wind blows.
Live well and prosper,
+1 Mike. That and what ever happened to appealing to individual’s common sense and personal responsibility – look outside and decide for yourself whether to venture out – versus mandating the shutdown of roads, etc.?
Jeez, if the government feels it needs to protect everyone from a snowstorm, how soon before we just shut down the roads at night because that’s when most of drunk driving occurs?
Seems to me a public that can manage batting averages should be able to manage PDF’s>
Maybe we could put together a Fantasy Weatherperson League?
Love the concept, but can’t figure out how to score the defense?
The score would be given in relation of the prediction vs the weather outcome. There wouldn’t be a defense or offense. But, we could pick our team, trade weatherpeople, etc.
I’ll bet you could get about 3) 6th rounder’s right now for a just one of those folks near N.J.
Would JC be the Joe Montana of weather forecasters?
Who get’s to pick first? Skeptics? AGW’ers? Are Climatolgists or meterologists ringers? Home field? 12th person? We (you) may be on to something. I’ve never seen an after the fact score keeping and those who proudly forecast seemingly should show evidence of their past results. I’m sure Dr. Curry must with her business.
It is more like a horse race. The forecasters bet on models according to past performance. Sometimes the favorite loses. They need to hedge for that (or maybe it is like the stock market). The moral is don’t bet the farm on one outcome if another one is even possible. This cuts both ways in the climate debate too.
“The moral is don’t bet the farm on one outcome if another one is even possible. This cuts both ways in the climate debate too.” I find this sound. So why do I perceive I’m being asked to bet strictly on the win on mostly an all or nothing bet? It’s not how I want my money played. How can we communicate this?
Danny, you could perceive it that there is a lobby asking you to bet against the favorite/consensus. Best to hedge so you don’t lose it all in case the favorite does win.
The money can be distributed on the basis of, a somewhat undefined, percent correct. So Team A 5% correct forecast, Team B 55%, Team C 65%. Add them all up, total T. The divide each teams % by T to get a second %, this time the % of the pot.
I call dibs on the playing card franchise!
To save face, the warmist team would have to pick Michael Mann. It’s gonna be tough for them to balance out that team!
Which one is JC? Judith Curry or Jim Cantore? I remember my sis-in-law (avid Weather Channel fan)10 yrs ago said every time a female weather reporter was out with Jim C. during an event, she was pregnant 6 months later
Free market can do it!
I loved the obvious blather from Bill Nye the Tiny Tim of Science guy. Tiny Tim actually carried more gravitas than Nye.
Obvious to some perhaps, but many believe Nye to know what he is talking about. How many others are misled by those scientist advocates claiming to “know” that AGW will lead to more severe weather?
It is part of the changing climate. The North Atlantic is getting colder.
Snowpocalypse not: I love the smell of idle snowplows in the morning.
I keep explaining to my 24 daughter there is a value in watching old movies. It allows you to have a smile every once in a while, just like now. :)
It smells like snowfluffery!
It took me 2-3 attempts to watch that movie! I think my 13 yo boys are almost ready!
Worry too much about the climate and the weather might kill ‘ya.
“If there are too many false alarms, you run into the ‘boy who cried wolf’ syndrome.” True, when applied to storm forecasts. But if we consider climate change alarmism, the better metaphor is The Boogieman.
For one thing, the boogieman doesn’t really exist, and for another, there must be some psychological impact on the victims of this abuse.
The Muppets explain it best, with a song:
I like the wolf. The breakdown of the rest of the “people” is interesting. There is one alarmist who continually misunderstands things and broadcasts his alarm and spreads it to all the rest, who are very gullible and demand action of the mayor. Which is ironic in this case, since the mayor is the only one who debunks the alarmist and calms the others. One alarmist, one skeptic, and the 97% gullible masses. Close enough for Muppets. or sheep.
“NEW YORK—As a major winter storm continued its advance toward New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio advised residents Monday to make peace with whatever higher power they call God, for all shall meet their death in the coming tempest. “The furious hoarfrost bearing down upon us knows neither mercy nor reason, and all within the five boroughs will perish, cowering in their brittle dwellings,” said de Blasio, adding that none would find succor from the gale save those favored by providence to pass quietly in their sleep. “This shall be a tempest the likes of which has never been glimpsed by man or beast. Clutch your babes close to your breast and take small comfort in knowing that they will howl for but a few hours before death becalms them forever.” De Blasio added that, barring an unexpected intensification in the storm, normal subway and bus service would resume Wednesday.”
This episode reminded me of my first year of graduate school, when I was down on Long Island (SUNY Stony Brook) for the big Nor’easter of the winter of 1977-1978 (Feb ’78?). A little erring on the side of caution ain’t a bad idea when public safety is at stake. That said, Judy’s essay is excellent. Concentrate on weather prediction and its uncertainties. Don’t spin up this whole notion of climate change onto what is a real world and immediate problem.
As it happens, eastern L.I. got about a foot and a half to two feet. My Ph.D. adviser said he spent the day at home, peacefully watching the snow fall.
As an Aussie with only a passing acquaintance with snow, I’d be grateful if US readers from places like Minneapolis, and Canadians and Europeans can tell us what happens in their cities when snowstorms of comparable magnitude are forecast.
Does everything get closed down? Does the Mayor or the Governor make public announcements?
There must be many cities where this kind of weather happens, but it doesn’t seem to get the same publicity.
Average Annual Snow fall is about 20 ft in Revelstoke, where I worked for a few years. About 2 feet over night. My wife is excellent at shovelling snow.
You just put on your snow tyres and go rally driving. I showed them Canadians a thing or two :). They called me a mad Aussie.
BTW, Happy New Year.
Happy New Year to you, too.
I asked because I know that while NY City gets snow, it is nothing like what other places get every year. Surely they don’t all go into panic mode?
NYC is run by Dimowits after all.
Western Michigan as a kid.
Two feet.. No problem.
See the blizzard of 78
Western Michigan? I take back all the bad things I’ve said about you. Snow of 1967. Drifts up near top of doors. 1978 not quite as bad where we lived, but just like this storm great difference by exact location.
Having just got back from Austria where snow tyres are compulsory during the winter, there is no doubt they are a great aid to driving on snow and ice.
They are not recommended where temperatures are normally above 45F.
Generally speaking here in the South West of the UK our winter temperatures are not that low for very often and, what with their expense and the hassle of storing the summer tyres, very few people buy them here.
Of course when the renewed LIA arrives, that some sceptics think is coming, (not me) I will have a rethink
67 was awesome.
Lived in Chicago in ’67 with 4 brothers, and we had a really narrow but very long front yard. Two of us began shoveling from the house, and two from the street. After several hours we gave up and and left a big mound in the middle. We ended up cutting steps in both sides once it got hard packed so we could get in and out. Stayed that way for a couple weeks.
What a blast.
I lived in Moscow, where we got snow all the time. I remember a couple of pretty bad storms. One of them came through, dumped a bunch of snow and then we had three days of really low temperatures. Neither the subway nor the commuter trains shut down. I remember they put up sand piles all over just before the storm, and had city workers putting sand and salt on bridges and main avenues. But the real problem was the cold, it went down to minus 43 Centigrade one night and the house heating system couldn’t keep up. The dogs had a really miserable time trying to pee. That’s what I recall.
Fernando, I rather suspect that if the authorities had called panic stations every time that a snowstorm (or any other kind) was approaching Moscow, the Cold War would have been over a lot sooner.
No wonder the US is going down the pan.
I’ve been in Washington DC in winter, and it positively balmy compared to what I have heard about Moscow.
Here in the South West of England we get virtually no snow except on upland Dartmoor, on occasions
When we do get an inch or so it causes chaos and there are dire amber warnings of severe weather from the Met office who go into meltdown in order to over dramatise every weather event these days.
Just got back from Austria where they can get the forecasts just as wrong. We had to get our son back to Salzburg airport and over a couple of days the 25 cms plus of snow forecast oscillated around a window of roughly the exact time we would be making our journey. Should we stay overnight somewhere? Would flights get off?
In the event there was no snow whatsoever.
There was a repeat of the threats exactly a week later but this time it arrived. Seems to have been coped with without any great problems or panic..
We all live in micro climates and want to know the weather for where we live or where we intend to visit. So location and timing are key components of a forecast. You get either wrong and its a bad forecast.
I live in Syracuse where we average ten feet of snow a year. For us the timing and rate matter. A snow burst of a couple an inches an hour just before rush hour causes problems. On the other hand snow is typically more of a chronic problem with just enough snow to slow everything down rather than shut things down. Not surprisingly what slows us down would shut down most other places who don’t have to deal with routine snow. Note that all the schools in the area set up their school schedules with snow days built into the calendar so that the minimum number of days that they have to be in session to get state aid can be met. The spring break vacation days get modified if no snow days were used or not enough were set aside.
Cold is the issue these days, cold and wind. The wind chill is reported by the weather people. Schools closed or not depending on wind chill as the kids have to stand outside and wait for the bus. Snow accumulation is an issue only in regards to when in the night snow fell and was there enough time to have the roads plowed and salted to get the school busses through safely.
These days, cars come equipped with “all season” radial tires which means that they are generally good in all winter conditions except if you use your Jeep to plow yours and other’s driveways. The “snow tires” you can purchase as extra, usually have bigger gap tread design and a slightly different composition of rubber.
In the more rural regions, which, from my house is just a hop, skip and a jump away, there are little sheds at the end of driveways where kids will wait for the school bus to arrive so the child is out of the wind.
There are times when multiple feet of snow can bring our town to a standstill. Then, if you peek over the snowdrift in your front yard, you will see the cab of a mining size Caterpillar front end loader pass by a couple of times which means that your freshly cleared driveway is blocked as it meets the road and you have to go out and push some snow around again. And, if you really really need to get somewhere quick, you ring up for a snow mobile ride to your destination and back.
As far as groceries are concerned, Kroger’s will have likely run out of the brand of milk or bread you like, but, I guess you can live for a day or two without multi-grain whole wheat Thomas muffins and Organic 1% fat milk. Kroger’s brand of milk and bread tastes good on a wintery day, served with a little home-made berry jam (as a Christmas gift) from the neighbors.
BTW. I Skyped with my Sydney daughter the other day and she was declining our offer to have a family Christmas in Florida. She says she already has warm weather Christmases and she and her new Aussie husband want to have and “Old Fashion” winter Christmas, live tree and fir boughs decorations, and plenty of snow.
This has been my experience as well. I live in an area known for sun, but within a couple of hours of very severe winter weather (several feet of snow). I have mud and snow tires on my sedan as I commute weekly from the snow to the heat. In the area where snow is common, two feet would not shut anything down. In the area where snow rarely falls two inches is enough to cause problems, and would likely shut down schools, etc. Where people are used to weather it is not a problem, they deal with it. When unusual weather happens people don’t have the skill set necessary to deal with it. For example, if it snowed in Las Vegas (I have lived there in the past) I would not venture out, because there will be enough accidents to make it hazardous to do so even though I deal with much worse conditions every winter. So was the response a good one? I have no idea as I have not spent enough time in the area to know what is normal. I would expect that most people in that area would be able to deal with even the highest accumulation predicted (you wait for a snow plow to come by if nothing else), but that is simply an assumption on my part.
I grew up in northeast ohio outside Cleveland on the edge of the lake effect snow belt from Lake Erie. I’m used to driving in snow. When every other school district would get a snow day, ours wouldn’t. There was a standard used, if the superintendents wife didn’t come back when he sent her out to get the paper, he would call a snow day.
> what happens in their cities when snowstorms of comparable magnitude are forecast.
We play hockey.
That we play hockey even in August may indicate that we have a hockey bias.
Leaders in New York and New Jersey Defend Shutdown for a Blizzard That Wasn’t
I think the tell tale here is that they gave the storm a name – Juno. I suppose that its helpful in retrospect to refer to the big storm that happened in January 2015 as Juno, but the conspiracy theorist in me has all the usual suspects lining up to talk about extreme weather like super storm Sandy and Super Storm Juno and lets not forget Katrina……..Its probably just that, another conspiracy theory – next you know I’ll be making out that the moon landing was a hoax :-)
Mark, this is part of the oil mafia conspiracy to reduce renewables tax credits for solar power. They are very powerful, and they even got to the Saudis, to make them drop oil prices. This low oil price drive is supposed to make solar panels less fashionable.
Was watching CNN’s reporting snowmageddon from hot Manila. They had 2 snowmobiles in NYC and Boston for live report. Must say watching growing grass is more exiting…. *sigh*
Is it like waves at the beach? The seventh wave was a good novel along these lines. Is there time for a second bigger event next week or have we run out of Winter?
While some of the denizens have not seen fit to comment on this post and one comment above even called this post a waste of space, I found it to be most topical on the subject of the importance of reliable weather forecasting for effective steps to be taken in mitigation.
It seems that the accuracy of the forecasts at the local level have error bands of up to 25 kms and it is telling that the US East Coast meteorologists lacked confidence in their own modelling, preferring to use a European one instead.
Prescient . . . next post up is ‘tactical adaptation’ using weather forecasts
Suggested title –
“If you think it’s likely to rain, take an umbrella.”
Live well and prosper,
Seems to me that all the finger-pointing is just more sameolsameol. You go to war with the army you have.
We rely on forecasts because in the end, it’s better than not relying on forecasts.
Sometimes forecasts are going to be wrong. That’s why they call them forecasts, not hindcasts.
I can forecast that in the future, we will see partisans exploit forecasts so as to advance agendas – such as how “Dem politicos” are bad people.
An interesting aspect to all this, IMO, is that it’s likely that as people rely on forecasts because they’re more accurate, we’ll here more whining and see more finger-pointing when forecasts are wrong (as, obviously, will result due to margins of error).
In the past, people would hear a forecast and assume with a higher probability that they would be wrong. Thus, when they were wrong, no one took particular notice. As people have a higher expectation for accuracy, the occasions when they’re wrong seem more significant.
It’s my guess that over time, forecasts have gotten more accurate, and extended a given measure of accuracy to longer time periods.
It’s also amusing how as people eat up weather news with greater appetite (living in NY, we checked with our cable company on Monday night to find out whether we got the Weather Channel), they also like to blame “the media” for their own consumption of more weather news.
It seems that nothing feels quite so good for people as to find someone to blame for something.
“It seems that nothing feels quite so good for people as to find someone to blame for something.”
Quite so Joshua. In fact it doesn’t even have to be ‘someone’, it can also be something…. like the ubiquitous excuse that if all hell breaks loose with the storm of the day we can just blame climate change as a necessary new factor that makes things more out of control than before (so don’t blame me on how I do my job)…. with the obligatory caveat that of course no one storm can be shown to be specifically caused by climate change… ahem. Cuomo certainly loves this tactic and never misses a chance to use it. IMO he does a disservice to the cause when CC gets tagged along with every natural occurring extreme weather event because when it doesn’t end up being extreme, eyeballs start rolling back in a few heads.
I live in CT and it was ho hum. meh… I missed work. My daughter lives in SOHO, she missed school that she walks to anyway, she was upset because the new term starts this week and had to delay first classes. Good girl.
John Carpenter –
==> “…eyeballs start rolling back in a few heads.”
Here’s my guess. The eyeballs of “skeptics” are already on permanent roll back when someone like Cuomo talks. The eyeballs of “realists” are already on permanent rollback when “skeptics” talk.
My eyeballs roll back when I read someone suggesting that some new event in the climate wars starts eyeballs to roll back.
Good, JC. Very much applies to the storm predictions here in Norfolk, particularly the regular summer squalls that we are all supposed to fear now.
Pingback: Sereno o poco nuvoloso con parziali addensamenti soprattutto altrove | Climatemonitor
Judith’s last comment bears repeating: “The weather forecasting enterprise needs to get its act together in terms of better interpretation of the various models available (the UK Met Office weather forecast model is currently getting a lot of attention in the private sector weather forecasting community). Private sector forecasting continues to do better in many instances than the NWS forecasters. In the U.S. anyways, the lion’s share of the govt $$ goes to climate modeling and model interpretation and impact assessment, not to weather forecast model interpretation.”
I agree that more funding should be directed at improving weather forecasting. The funding already allocated to climate modelling and interpretation has indeed been an astronomical waste of taxpayer funds.
“…funding should be directed at improving weather forecasting…”
How about zero funding and let the consumers of the predictions pick the winner?
Public funding attracts, you know, people looking for public funding, via political connections and other nefarious means, where future funding is not determined by past results.
@ Justin “….where future funding is not determined by past results”
If this were ever the case, then funding for climate research should have been turned off at least 3 years ago, when Santer’s falsification period of 17 years came to pass.
Nye said: “But is the economic effect of storms like this is huge.”
I’ve noticed that recently there have been a number of times when governors and/or mayors have told their citizens to stay home and closed subways, roads, etc. for things like snow storms. I don’t remember these things happening when I was a kid other than for an impending hurricane (and they evacuated which is the right thing to do). My point is that I believe these governors and/or mayors are closing roads etc. in part because this inflates the costs of climate induced (hahaha) storms.
I’m a little amused nobody’s mentioned Atlanta yet. Old, forgotten, far-off things and battles long ago. Maybe I haven’t read the whole thread.
Read more, comment less.
The moral of the story, folks, you local ones, is: Local Adaptation.
You right, adaptation is the answer. Homo sapiens sapiens can do that, dodos did not.
Are you referring here to that period of very few hurricanes in Atlanta during the civil war that was catalogued in ‘Gone with the Wind?’
You bring up a good point Kim. There is an analogy. Last year’s storm in Atlanta was predicted based on models that saw only the south half of Atlanta getting any significant amounts* and action was planned accordingly. The models were proved wrong when all of Atlanta was covered and the city and state were caught with their pants down. So Atlanta was an under-prediction and NYC was an over-prediction. Interesting to see what lessons will be learned comparing the two.
* In Atlanta, we define “significant amount” as seeing two flakes in a 60 second period.
My brother lives there. Said the two main problems were that nobody knows how to drive in snow, and that the temperature was such driving on it turned it to ice. We slide off a mountain road in north Georgia on a Christmas day going to church in less than 2 inches under similar conditions. Car has AWD and on/off road tires. Had a similar event with a better outcome under similar conditions in Munich. All of my winter driving for 30 years was in Boston, the Alps, Chicago, and Wisconsin. Under certain conditions, you should not drive period.
But it should not take mayors and governors to dictate common sense. Without at least virtual Darwin awards, dumbs down the citizenry.
I grew up in the Dakotas. I did know what slippery meant until I encountered ice in North Caolina.
The problem is that people in states like Georgia may see snow once in 3-5 years, they haven’t had opportunity to develop much ‘common sense’ in terms of driving in snow. And it takes just a few accidents from crazy drivers to totally mess up the roads for everyone else (including emergency vehicles). And out of towers aren’t familiar with local practices (or lack thereof) of salting/plowing. And after decades of driving in Chicago, Wisconsin and Colorado, I was not prepared for the icing in South Carolina and Georgia. Esp in cities, I’m prepared to cede some authority to mayors and governors to provide advisories/warnings.
If people living in the Northeast knew how to drive on snow and ice, these apocalyptic warnings wouldn’t be necessary :)
There is no way to legislate common sense, it is acquired by learning from your mistakes, like good judgement comes from your own bad judgement. As far as driving out into a snow and icy mess, there is no way to keep people off the road when they are oblivious to themselves and their environment. They have to learn, the hard way. Hopefully, they take that little skid or extra long stopping distance as a lesson.
With regards to the 197 car/truck pile-up on I-94 several weeks ago, it looks like a clueless driver in a mini-van kept driving 70 miles an hour in a whiteout snow storm on a road covered in ice. There was one fatality and it wasn’t the mini-van driver.
It ain’t me was the retort. Again clueless. There is not cure for cluelessness. Just hope you are not around when they are.
When closing highways, airports and cities, the government people should not be clueless themselves. Rather, a gradual escalation of warnings and interventions and communicating with the public and ones’ employees would seem like the necessarily good judgement.
Sometimes the government bureaucracy is so cumbersome, that an emergency response system needs to be in place assessing risk and degree of responses on a regular basis. The titular head of government delegates authority to this response team for escalating each degree of response. Waiting for political types to decide, who by their very nature are clueless and indecisive, depending as they do on negotiation and consultation and consensus building are the wrong people to be making these decisions.
The political process occurs before the emergency arises: “this is what we will do and whom we will use when this situation is threatening. No one can prepare for airplanes intentionally crashing into office buildings. You hope the system has enough experience to respond appropriately to a bad bad situation. But, one can certainly have a plan in place for hurricane, Nor’easter. tornado, etc.
Political types are bad with science. Look at Al Gore.
snow is no problem.
everybody knows about black ice
This is all swell but you don’t want the reaction to warnings to have the force of law.
Diversity is the answer.
An ensemble reaction.
NYC even banned bicycle traffic, as it is.
Keeping bicycles off roads used by cars is just good common sense.
Scientist is the wrong word.
John Podhoretz Snomageddon says don’t blame the models or meterologists, blame the politicians.
h/t Fred Dicker
I have put 350,000 miles on a bicycle, by the way. They work fine on roads. It took a few years but that’s the miles.
What you don’t want is other bike riders. Motorists are very friendly if you’re the first and only bicyclist they see.
The 10:1 ratio of mass and no protection is one good reason to keep cars and bike separated.
I feel sorry for the kids that put off writing their book report in expectation of a snow day
Like this one.
He takes the cake.
Hubris is one of the great renewable resources.
Clearly you are joking! :) When I was a kid we LOVED snow! School cancelled, sledding, snowball fights, ice skating, snow forts, get wet, go home to a warm house, mom’s cooking and baking … It was all good – the best day’s in my life.
me too! But putting off your homework on account of the weather report was risky! Apparently it still is!
Yes, gotta do the HW. Btw, I think it was sometime between 1966-68 school was cancelled due to snow for almost the whole month of Feb. It was awesome!
Two points relative to this post.
First, if you want to convince me that climate change is involved then you have to prove to me that weather patterns have changed. When I was in graduate school forty years ago one of my fellow students was working on a weather map typing forecast system. The theory was that if we had a catalog of weather map types then we could compare the current pattern to the catalog and make the forecast based on what happened in the catalog. Ultimately weather map patterns are so complex that this approach never worked particularly well. On the other hand it might be a useful way to determine if the upper air pattern has changed due to climate change. This website has a data base of pressure field data: http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/ncepreanal/. With today’s technology some kind of pattern recognition program could classify upper air maps and then compare the pattern from, for example, the “polar vortex” and see if that pattern is unique or exhibits any trend in occurrence. If there is a trend I could be convinced otherwise I disagree with Governor Cuomo’s comment that “there is a pattern of extreme weather that we’ve never seen before” – reiterating his comments in the wake of hurricane Sandy, when he said that “anyone who says there’s not a dramatic change in weather patterns is probably denying reality.” I say “could be” caused because you still would need to show me some kind of mechanism to cause the pattern shift.
Second, back to Governor Cuomo and his recent history with forecasts. He under-reacted to the Buffalo lake-effect storm and over-reacted to the New York City semi-blizzard because he did not understand the two situations and the confidence in the forecasts. Some of that is due to the forecasters and some of that is due to well you know he is a politician.
He under-reacted in the lake effect snow storm by not closing the NYS Thruway quickly enough to prevent people from getting stranded. Lake effect snow is comparatively much easier to forecast that there is going to be a major storm but much less confidence in timing, amounts and locations because the conditions for lake effect snow are very narrow. Forecasters knew that the November event was going to be historic because there was no question extreme conditions would be met. Ideally, the NYS Thruway should have been aware that there was going to be a problem so that they could alert motorists of a potential problem, stayed in touch with the forecasters so that they could immediately close down the highway as soon as the location of the band became evident, and then extended the highway closure out from the location where the band started.
Cuomo over-reacted to the semi-blizzard because this was much more difficult to forecast. Although I am a meteorologist I never did much forecasting but my rule of thumb for forecast confidence is whether the forecast is changing. If the forecasts consistently predict the same amounts and locations then I am confident of the forecast. In this case they were all over the map and that is not surprising because the path of the storm is so critical. Politicians need to keep this uncertainty in mind. For example, if Cuomo had said we are going to shut down the subways at midnight if the conditions observed at 11:00 PM are me, go to another level of reaction if another set of conditions are met, and do nothing if another set of conditions are met, then I think the response would have been better.
If someone’s climate perspective started circa 1980 it is almost certain that you will find current events are unprecedented.
In the wider historical context however modern events invariably turn out to be merely part of recurring ‘patterns’.
Wouldn’t it make sense for media outlets that believe that cAGW is vastly overhyped to point out the so called experts who linked this storm to AGW as merely spreading propaganda? Seems like an opportunity
CNN has spreading the propaganda today putting panelist on who say science knows that storms will be more severe due to human released CO2.
When in danger,
When in doubt,
Run in circles
Scream and shout! – Infantry Journal, Vol. 35, (1929), p. 369.
Don’t be buffaloed.
Not surprised that a dim wit (Cuomo) who wants to legislate intimate relations (yes means yes) would make dim witted statements about the weather and climate. Power, charisma and brains dont seem to mix.
In American Sniper, Chris Kyle tells his son there are three kinds of people. Sheep, wolves and sheep dogs. The real story of snowmageddon isn’t the weather, it’s the degree to which the citizens of New York have become sheep, and have elected a power hungry wolf as their mayor.
It wasn’t enough to have a mayor who “protected” them from their right to drink Big Gulps. No, he wasn’t autocratic enough. So they elected a full blown socialist demagogue (Obama without the pretense) who took the first opportunity to show everyone in the city who really runs their lives.
Yep, you pegged it.
Resolved USMC General James N. Mattis teaches wiser lessons than Hollywood.
That is the real story … not the Hollywood story.
Yeah, and I guess you have forgotten how your idol treated General Mattis.
And he found out he was being cashiered from the media.
‘…three kinds of people sheep, wolves and sheep dogs.’
So what was Socrates? Or Einstein? Freeman Dyson …
==> ” it’s the degree to which the citizens of New York have become sheep, and have elected a power hungry wolf as their mayor.”
Yeah. If only the 8.5 million people of New York had GaryM’s bravery and intelligence.
AMAZING BUT TRUE
Question In the just-released 164-year HadCrut4 temperature-record …
… how many HadCrut4 “hottest-year evers” are there?
Pick the best answer
A1 164 (every year the hottest-ever)
A2 55 (every third year is hottest-ever)
A3 32 (every fifth year is hottest-ever)
A4 16 (every tenth year is hottest-ever)
A5 8 (every twentieth year is hottest-ever)
Summary Multi-decade climate-change “pauses” are the rule, not the exception.
And the “pause” intervals are shrinking faster than the world’s alpine glaciers, aren’t they?
Conclusion Planners and politicians are wise to focus upon concrete long-term trends (climate-warming, ice-loss, seal-level-rise, ocean acidification) and ill-advised to focus upon ephemeral short-term trends (“snowpocalypses”, “pauses”, “climate-gate”)
Because nowadays, *EVERYONE* can see the long-term trends …
*THESE* sobering climate-change realities are evident to *ALL* rational skeptics, eh Climate Etc readers?
FAN, usually I just skip your stuff because content wise and stylistically it has little value.
But this time you really showed you dont get the big picture, reinforcing yhe above generalization. First, pause proves that significant natural variation still exists, which unsettles IPCC attribution and means CO2 is not as powerful (sensitivity) as they have claimed. Second, even Santer’s 2011 paper said 17 years would falsify climate model predictions. Read the abstract, or essay An Awkward Pause, which quotes it. Which means conclusions based on them are unreliable. Both unsettle the science they and the President proclaimed settled.
As for glaciers, that’s what happens when the world leaves the LIA. There is evidence all over the Alpine region of Europe. Glaciers crunched human stuff that thrived in the MWP, now being exposed by glacial retreat. Unrelated to AGW. Just shows climate changes.
Fan HADCRUT 4 is not a continuous graph of the same sites. They have altered and increased over the last 165 years. Consequently it is not valid to make comparisons with the past incomplete data which has also been modified downwards by Zeke and his confreres. There might be quite less significant differences than you claim.
Such a spinning low pressure system is like a top, subject to erratic movement. It only shifted 90 miles East compared to predicted and it did indeed produce 3 feet of snow in part of Mass. So not such a bad forecast. If it weren’t for NYC being so populous and filled with media, it would not be called so bad.
Interesting that it is ok to criticize this type of model but not the GCM type, which is trying to solve a much harder problem (global, long term, including oceans and radiation balance).
I grew up in South Dakota in the 1950s and 1960s. Our weatherman was Captain Eleven. In my memory he was usually right. As you can see, he had a computer, and there are no oceans in South Dakota:
==> “Interesting that it is ok to criticize this type of model but not the GCM type,..”
Yeah. It just kills me how all those “alarmists” and “warmists” say that it’s not ok to criticize GCMs. I mean it’s not like they disagree with the details of the criticisms presented, or anything like that. They always just say that any criticism itself is not ok.
Zen koan: “Why is lithium rare in the solar system but common in the pharmacy?”
Public officials in New Jersey and in New York made the right call. There was enough of a probability of severe snowfall in the areas of those two states that were most vulnerable to that kind of weather to justify the actions that were taken. This is so even if we apply 20/20 hindsight as the standard of performance being applied.
The narcissist-in-chief in 118 seconds.
‘I’, ‘me’, ‘my’ and of course the royal ‘we’, 133 times in one speech.
Vanity is the only real core principle of progressivism.
Despot Philosopher King
I hereby decree, from here on until the end of Western civilization
all non-Camelot weather
shall be attributed to “Climate Change”
go forth and adjust to not prospering
Perhaps someone above has mentioned this but the blizzard of 1888 was far worse. The mayor and guv need to study their history. http://www.nycsubway.org/wiki/The_Blizzard_of_1888%3B_the_Impact_of_this_Devastating_Storm_on_New_York_Transit
“The European model was about 100 miles off…” ~Jeff Masters
Now THIS is global warming to worry about.
When it comes to global warming, we’ve nothing to fear but the lack of it!
Snow is a rarity where I live, although SE Australian highlands some years has more snow than Switzerland, so I’m not qualified to help here.
However this episode does illistrate some of the difficulties of Climate research and probably sets limits on the bert accuracy that can be achieved by modelling. But the IPCC can’t use this as an excuse for poor modelling because that shows much larger errors of a different kind – large errors in averaging. Traditionally higher accuracy can be achieved in averaging than in spot forecasts and we would expect that of the IPCC, despite that it was not set up as a scientific research organisation.
In case anyone gets tired of being regaled with Rud’s descriptions of his impressive winter driving skills and where he developed them…
This pretty much says it all about Winter Storm Juno, IMO.
Meanwhile when the temperature drops to -43c,people go to an outside disco.
I know the first thing i do when it gets below -40 is always to reach for my dancing shoes.
Makes sense if they are all you have. I suggest clog dancing rather than ballet. You probably have already realised that wooden clogs with thick socks are as good, if not better than other more sophisticated footwear.
I applaud your common sense in avoiding dancing barefoot when the temperature is -40. Do you reach for clothing at the same time, or just dance naked?
Do other Warmists perform the Warm Dance naked in sub zero temperatures whilst praying to the Warmist deities to provide some man made warming?
The world wonders! – or maybe not.
Live well and prosper,
People are being told by those in authority that the weather is getting worse because of human induced climate change. (Check the EPA website.) Many believe this and it is quite reasonable for them to fear the weather as a result. It is a new perpetual state of fear.
Reblogged this on I Didn't Ask To Be a Blog.
There is a video at solarham.com of some sounding rockets being launched into the northern lights that is kinda cool to watch
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace in a perpetual state of alarm… and hence clamorous to be led to safety… by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins… all of the imaginary.”
The timing for Cuomo was perfect. He got to change the Sheldon Silver topic to Stormgate for which there is little consequence for him.
Pingback: Learning from Winter Storm Juno to avoid burning away the credibility of science | Fabius Maximus
The great thing about this area is not you can never been wrong , because you can claim your prediction did not fail its just be delayed in effect. Like the guys with the Sandwich boards forecasting doom , you always claim it ‘will happen ‘
Just as a side line , ones question that does seem very hard to get an answer to is what would it take to disprove AGW , given all that has happened. cold ,heat, wet, dry , lack of increase in temperature , what would it actually take for it to be accepted that the theory is wrong in the first place, anyone know ?
I disagree with Dr. Maue and Professor Curry about the long-term cost of false alarms. As I concluded in a note about this (see the link above):
The immediate cost is, as they say, low. Logically then people apply the precautionary principle which encourages aggressive warnings, as it focuses on the cost of not acting when one’s analysis indicates a threat (“a False Alarm in the “safe direction” is hardly the worst possible outcome.”).
But using this tends to blind decision-makers to the costs of acting on false positives: exaggerated warnings or even false alarms. While not as immediately career-destroying as failures to act, they exert a real cost in lost credibility. Both mention this risk, but take it lightly. In fact it might be the largest long-term risk for warnings.
Credibility is in effect a capital sum increased by successful predictions — and reduced by withdrawals from failed predictions. This puts both decision-makers and scientists in the hot seat when considering warning the public, but there are better ways to do this than acting like riverboat gamblers going all in.
… Unless decision-makers and scientists change their behavior, some bad luck — a few more large blown forecasts — could crash the American public’s confidence in science. Which is already not too high, as seen in our long tradition of anti-intellectualism, our widespread belief in creationism and astrology, plus the large numbers who believe vaccines are harmful.
Better mechanisms for making warnings, and more nuanced warnings, will take more effort but can avoid what might be the largest loss. Burned bridges cannot easily or quickly get rebuilt.
The Winter Snow Watch issued this morning by the National Weather Service Cleveland, Ohio includes the phrase, “THERE REMAINS SOME UNCERTAINTY IN THE TRACK OF THIS STORM WHICH WILL INFLUENCE WHERE THE HEAVIEST SNOW WILL OCCUR.”
Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #166 | Watts Up With That?