If the sun seems a bit brighter today itís because it sort of is. As we reach the final week of February the sun has given us back a full quarter of the light we lost since last summer began. Itís a long road to spring in New England and someday it seems like itís never coming, but it always does. The rain and the thunder yesterday certainly sounded and looked more like a late day in summer. The line of storms was quite intense and even produced a tornado in the metro Washington of Maryland.
This was the first time since 1960 there had been a February tornado. The sun is over 10 degrees higher in the sky at noon this time of year and will have risen 15 degrees since its lowest point early next week. The additional light helps melt the snow, even when the temperatures are not quite over the freezing mark.
Iíll update the forecast on Twitter @growingwisdom.
The upcoming week is going to be cold, but if you look at any area where the land slopes towards the sun the snow will still be vanishing. If you travel along the Massachusetts Turnpike heading west, look on the right side. You will notice bare ground becoming increasingly common even if there is still a lot of snow on flatter surfaces.
In the woods you will see rings of melting forming around the trees where the sun is able to heat the bark of the tree which in turn melts the snow around it. The south side of the tree usually has more melting than the north facing one.
On Friday, the final day of February, is also the final day of meteorological winter. This marks the end of the coldest 90 days and the start of meteorological spring. Of course, we can call the seasons whatever we want, this year Mother Nature is giving Old Man Winter his Ensure because heís not going out without a fight.
Temperatures will trend colder all week with the core of the cold arriving sometime Thursday or Friday. This cold has been widely advertised as there were many indications on multiple models this was going to happen.
While the cold is bad enough, any more snow is going to make it worse. There are two chances of snow over the next 5 days. Chance number one arrives late Sunday night and could foul up the Monday morning commute a bit. Presently, the best chance of any snow would be south of the Pike and amounts look like a coating to an inch or two. Itís not the type of situation where the atmosphere will change and produce a big storm. Itís either nothing or just a coating to 2 inches.
After a cold dry day Tuesday, another storm threatens for Wednesday. This storm has the potential to bring more snow to the area. There are many questions about much impact this will have to the region. The cold air to the north may actually help to shun the storm out to sea. Iíll know more of course early next week, but in this winter of snow and cold, I wonít be comfortable itís going out to sea, if thatís the forecast, until the low pressure has actually gone beyond our area.
Think about the number of situations this winter where the storms have looked like they wouldn't impact the region only to have them creep further west over time. Iím not a betting person, but keep the shovel close.
Temperatures have warmed above freezing in all locations and the remainder of the morning and early afternoon damp with drizzle and coolest conditions north of the Massachusetts Turnpike. Warmer air is trying to push into the region, but it's having a tough time dislodging the cold at the ground. Temperatures are quite spring-like well south of New England and that mild air likely will not arrive at all today. This means most of the day will be in the 30s to lower 40s, not the 50s. The warm stuff seems stuck over New Jersey for now. It could sneak in south of Boston later today, but don't count on it.
The radar image from this morning gives us a good idea of the weather today. I put arrows to indicate the movement of each of the areas. Notice the area moving north, this is bringing in the milder air behind it. The longer line of rain to our west, running in a south to north direction is headed east and will be here this afternoon. As the front nears it will kick off a new round of showers and even thunderstorms. I am not expecting much in the way of total rainfall, even if there are some heavier downpours. The map gives a rough idea of potential rain. We could see up to half an inch of there are thunderstorms.
This is the same front produced severe weather in the center of the Nation, but I donít believe we will have any severe weather. The timing of the front brings it through later in the afternoon and evening. Until then, it will be mostly dry. You could see a glimpse of sunshine well south and west of Boston, but not very much or very long.
Iíll update the forecast on Twitter @growingwisdom.
The weekend looks nice and dry with Saturday being the mildest of the two days. Highs on Saturday reach the 40s everywhere and even upper 40s in a few towns. We stay in the lower 40s on Sunday with a blend of clouds and sunshine. There could be a quick rain or snow shower Sunday afternoon as the colder air works back into the region for Monday.
More winter ahead
It turns cold again next week and the cold is going to become quite entrenched for the remainder of the month and to start March. There are also going to be stormy possibilities along way, but as you know the exact track of any coastal storm wonít be known until just a few days before it occurs.
Oneís experience of winter seems to fall into two camps. There are those of us who embrace winter snowmobiling, ice fishing, winter camping, skiing, snowboarding, skating, snowshoeing and simply enjoying the nesting atmosphere the winter creates.
On the other side of the coin are those who see it as something to get through. We dread the dread the driving, the shoveling, the heating bills, the lack of seeing our lawn for 4 months, having to wear layer upon layer and wishing it wasn't so dark all the time.
I tend to fall into both camps and depending on the day, I lean one way or another. This year I have done a lot of snowshoeing, but have yet to make it up to the mountains to ski. I am still hoping I can get a few runs in before the snow does melt later in April. Iím also very tired of shoveling and my heating bill is 50% higher than I expected back in October which of course limits funds for other things. Perhaps you are finding the same thing. I already keep the heat at 60F all day and allow myself a few hours of 63F at night, what a treat!
When winter starts early, as it did this year, it can tend to drag on for a long time. Some yearís we donít see much snow before Christmas and it winds down in early March, this isnít going to be one of those seasons.
When was it snowier?
For Boston, the granddaddy season of snow is the winter of 1995-1996 when 107.6 inches of snow fell at Logan Airport. That winter reminded me of my youth in Maine when I think the massive snow piles I saw were one of the things that excited me about weather and probably lead me to become a meteorologist. There are likely budding meteorologists being created this year.
Boston has seen 56 inches of snow this winter with much of that coming in the past few weeks. I was curious about that seeing how this number compares to what happened 18 years ago and how much snow fell through February that year. The answer is by the end of February 1996, Boston had gotten over 83 inches of snow or over 2 feet more than we have seen this year. Of course, that winter was number 1 for snow, but itís interesting to look back.
If you are wondering, March 1996 had nearly 17 inches of snow and April saw about 7 more inches. It didn't snow in May that year which Iím sure didn't disappoint anyone except the most sadistic of snow lovers.
Although we are seeing a three day break from the cold and perhaps as much as 5 or more days without a major storm, the atmosphere is still very much in winter mode. The light may be increasing and the average temperature is higher, but this year Old Man Winter has other ideas. Itís your choice to curse it or embrace it, but itís not going away for a while.
Next Thursday looks partly sunny with highs 40 to 45, I had to start with something to look forward to as there is another storm headed for New England. Before I explore the details of the Saturday storm, letís get into the forecast today.
I am expecting skies to clear and sunshine to returns to the area on a gusty wind from the northwest. Temperatures will rise above freezing reaching the mid-30s for some minor melting of the snowpack. There are wind advisories in effect for most of the region with a stronger warning for the wind over Cape Cod. The winds could cause scattered power outages today.
A piece of energy now over the center of the Country will move eastward to the coast and then develop into a major storm. This storm will come close enough to bring accumulating snow to eastern New England later Saturday afternoon and Saturday night.
The storm is going to turn into a big intense one in the ocean and any wobble further west towards the coastline is going to up the total snowfall into the 8 to 10 inch range. I need to wait until all the new data is in this morning and later this afternoon before deciding if any changes to the accumulation maps need to be made.
Right now Boston will likely see close to 6 inches of snow, but as I just mentioned, that number could increase. Of course, if the data shows the storm staying offshore further, then I will be able to lower snow amounts a bit.
The snow will begin after 2PM and last through about midnight Saturday. The snow will be heaviest during the 5PM to 9PM period based on the current projections for the track and intensity of the storm.
I'll be updating the forecast here and on Twitter @growingwisdom.
A lot of times I get questions about whether to cancel or not attend an event due to a storm. Tomorrow night will be snowy, especially in eastern areas. If you absolutely hate driving in snow, then think about postponing whatever plans you may have for tomorrow. However, we live in a part of the country where highway crews do a good job keeping up with most storms. This isnít going to be the kind of storm which makes roads impassable or creates a situation such as those we have seen in the southeastern part of the United States this winter.
Some flights could be impacted late Saturday afternoon and overnight, but the storm isnít as widespread as the last one which hit all major cities from Atlanta to Boston.
The most precipitation will fall over Cape Cod and Islands. The snow will be a bit heavy, especially to start there storm. There could even be some rain mixed with the snow for a couple of hours. As the evening progresses the snow will become heavier and winds will blow and drift the snow.
The whole system pulls away for Sunday with a return to sunshine, blustery and cold conditions. The dry cold weather lasts through Presidentís Day, (Lincoln was born on the 12th and Washington on the 22nd of the month so we celebrate in the middle) with highs staying in the 20s for both days.
Finally, on Tuesday, we begin a stretch of above freezing weather which should last throughout the rest of next week. There may be some rain or snow leading us into the milder weather on Tuesday, but I do expect plenty of sunshine by Thursday.
Many places reached close to or just above freezing this afternoon as clouds rolled into the area. It was interesting morning weather wise because along the coast there was actually snow falling, while inland it was sunny quite pleasant. Eventually, the sun faded and now we have a few hours of snow.
Winds remained light throughout the day and the snow we are seeing is falling straight down. The snow isnít going to amount to anything significant overnight with a generally a coating up to 2 inches region wide. The most likely spot for the 2 inches would be Cape Ann. The good news for commuters is the snow will be over about 3-5 hours prior to sunrise, giving the towns a chance to put down melting product and/or plow. Some municipalities will plow at just over an inch while others wait until 2 inches fall. Either way, this isnít going to be a big deal.
You might want to be sure you have a full reservoir of windshield fluid as there will be a lot of spray flying up from the car in front of you tomorrow morning. I am already hating the fact my car is going to turn white with the salt/calcium mixture drying all over the paint.
The big weather story this week is the next shot of arctic air poised to enter the country and spill eastward. Once again our temperatures are going to be very cold and highs on Tuesday and Wednesday will not rise out of the 20s. At night it will be colder of course. I am expecting Wednesday morning to find many readings in the single numbers and even some slightly below zero again.
At some point, we will experience the last of the frigid mornings for the winter. I define frigid around southern New England as anything under about 8F. The fact is we likely will not be as cold as we are going to be Wednesday morning until next December or January. As I look out into the long range I do see more cold air on the way, but we gain more and more light each day and as the nights grow shorter it does become increasingly less likely we will see readings of 5 or 6 degrees above zero the rest of the season.
Take a look at the two maps below. The first shows the average temperatures over two five day periods this month. The first is the next five days and the second is the 18th through the 23rd. Remember, this is based on one model, but does give a good indication of the arctic air leaving the lower 48 states and a return to seasonal averages or above averages in terms of temperature.
When this happens, the transition of cold to warm air, storms do develop. The challenge for me later this week and perhaps the following week is going to be to determine how the storm track impacts our weather. Do we remain cold enough for wintry precipitation or warm up enough for some rain? The next storm up on the docket arrives Thursday. There will be quite a bit of moisture with this system, so some areas could see a plowable snow storm.
You can tweet me an update @growingwisdom.
Itís not going anywhere. Unfortunately, for those of us hoping for an early spring, the cold and potentially stormy pattern is here for a while. Bright sunshine will bounce off the freshly fallen snow today making it quite picturesque across the region. Most areas saw 7-12 inches of snow in yesterdayís storm with Bristol and southern Plymouth Counties, and Cape Cod receiving 2-6 inches on average. Marthaís Vineyard and Nantucket started the storm as snow, but quickly changed to rain.
There was a period of flurries in the early morning hours, so roads and walkways may have some black ice one again. Take care as you head to work or school this morning and donít forget your sunglasses, youíll need them.
You can follow me on Twitter @growingwisdom. I'd love your thoughts on the blog and the winter in general.
Itís cold and dry for several days ahead as high pressure builds into the region. At night, under mainly clear skies and increasing amounts of moonlight, temperatures are going to fall into the single number and teens statewide. During the day through Saturday all areas, except extreme southeastern Massachusetts will remain below freezing.
While the sun is certainly getting stronger day by day, the cold is going to last, on average, the entire month. Additionally, the atmosphere is in a state where storms can develop. How much precipitation we receive from these storms will be based on the exact position of the jet stream. Climatologically, February and early March is a period of east coast storminess. While I wish wishcasting worked, I canít avoid the reality of the cold and snowy pattern weíre in.
Next few weeks
The map below is one of many pieces of the long range weather forecasting puzzle. What this map shows is the cold pattern which set up in December, will remain locked in place through mid-March. Now before you commit hari-kari, although a month averages cold, it doesnít mean we wonít see any warm weather. There should still be several days in the 40s and perhaps 50s over the next 5-6 weeks, but the cold will overwhelm any warming we do see. (damn you groundhog)
I went back and read my blog from early December this morning. I havenít updated the winter forecast since then. The cold of this winter isnít a surprise to me, nor is the snow so far. However, if we end up beating last yearís snow totals in Boston (60+Ē) which is now not unlikely, this would be only the third time since the late 1800ís we have seen two significantly above average snow years back to back. With snowfall totals in Boston around 45 inches, we only have around another 15 inches or so to tie and then surpass last yearís snow totals.
For Sunday, a storm will develop in the ocean, but most indications are the brunt of the snow stays off the coast. We could see a few periods of snow showers Sunday and early Monday. While a big event is no longer likely, I will continue to be watching for any changes which bring the storm closer to the coast.
Next week, a storm threat arrives sometime during the middle to the end of the week. A Friday storm wouldnít be good as itís the start of school vacation week and many of you will be driving or flying. Stay tuned.
This is the blog from earlier today.
Itís a quiet day afternoon with a lot of sunshine. I updated very little from the morning blog and the maps are the same. There will be some late day clouds, but enough sun to help boost temperatures into the lower and middle 30s. Tonight clouds are going to increase tonight and snow breaks out between 3AM and 5AM on Wednesday. This is a front loaded storm. In other words, it snows hardest from about 7AM until around 1PM. During this time most of the accumulation will occur. In the afternoon there will be lighter snow still falling, but clean-up will occur and I expect roads to slowly for the latter half of the afternoon. This doesn't mean smooth driving, just not as bad as the morning.
Across Cape Cod and the Islands the snow will change to rain and cut down amounts significantly. For the last couple of hours of precipitation from about 4 to 6PM, the rain should end as a brief period of snow.
That's the overview of the upcoming storm and the specifics follow. I will update here and on Twitter throughout the day and during the storm. I think one of the biggest impacts of this next storm is to our collective psyche's. Unless you love this stuff, you are probably over winter. Remember, it's been cold since before Thanksgiving, that's a long haul. Think positive, we are gaining light fast and the cold isn't as cold as January. Baseball practice season isn't too far away either!
When does the snow occur?
This is a bit risky for me to do because itís impossible to do this for the entire area. This will give you a generally feeling for the intensity of the storm and what to expect. For the Boston metro area this is what I am thinking.
Between 9AM and 1PM look for 3-6 inches to fall
Between 1PM and 5PM look for a 1-2 inches to fall
Type of snow
The snow will be heavy and wet south of Boston and become increasingly less heavy the further north you travel. North of the Massachusetts Turnpike the snow will be much lighter and therefore able to pile up to higher amounts.
While I am not expecting widespread power issues, the heavy wet nature of the snow across the South Shore could take down some tree limbs and in turn hit wires. This isnít something easy to predict, but be aware the possibility is certainly there in this storm.
There wonít be much in the way of wind with this system. Winds will come from the east at 10-20 miles per hour at the coast, certainly nothing even close to those storms which bring strong winds.
The Wednesday morning commute is going to be a mess. Snow will be falling at heavy rates throughout the commute. I would recommend, if you can, take work home and work from home tomorrow. There will be widespread cancellations and those of you in the areas with the heavy snow predicted will certainly have your kidís home to help you enjoy your snow day. The evening commute will take place with the snow ending and road crews trying to get things back to normal. Since the snow will be very heavy in some places, the evening commute will be better, but still slow.
The good news is this storm is not going to create any coastal flooding.
Changes to the forecast
Hereís what can go wrong with this forecast. The biggest potential change will be areas south of Boston. If the storm tracks further north or south the snow amounts will change dramatically. This afternoon, if the new data shows a colder storm, I will need to ďupĒ the amounts for Cape Cod/Islands. If the new data shows an even warmer system and a change to rain earlier the amounts will drop. Remember, the map of snowfall is based on the best data at the time. It will change as more information comes available this afternoon. I update the forecast on Twitter throughout the day and feel free to ask me any questions there as well.
The weather turns calmer for a few days Thursday through Saturday with a blend of clouds and sunshine and highs in the upper 20s to near 30F. It will be nice to get outside and enjoy the new snow. The next storm threat is Sunday afternoon through Monday. There will be a big storm developing. However, the amount of snow could be near zero if the storm stays hundreds of miles off the coast or a much more significant storm if the track takes the system closer to the region. Itís still 5 or 6 days away and impossible to know at this stage.
Walking this morning I ended up taking off my hat and gloves it was so mild. Having these mild winter days, in the middle of a cold and snowy winter, is such a treat.
January finished on the cold side, at 1.6 degrees below the 30 year normal. When you see this statistic it means the following: If you too all the Januarys from 1981 until 2010 and calculated the average temperature, January 2014, would have been 1.6 degrees below the average.
This is winter in New England; we have wild fluctuations of cold and warmth and snowy and no so snowy periods. With just over 21 inches of snow last month, we have seen close to 3 feet of snow in the Boston area this winter. Over the next 10 days, that number is likely to increase significantly.
So here we are on day two of the shortest month of the year. There will be a quick moving storm passing south of New England overnight and during the first part of Monday. Latest model indications are moving the precipitation a bit further north, this means accumulating snow should reach Boston tomorrow. While I am still not looking for a big storm, a plowable storm is more likely for Cape Cod with a coating to 2 inches north Plymouth, MA. The evening commute will be impacted somewhat due to the snow.
Temperatures this afternoon are heading for the 40s, but thatís it for a while. The pattern for the next 10 days turns colder and potentially stormier. I have been writing about the potential storm for Wednesday since earlier last week and this still looks on track. One of the reasons for my higher than average confidence in the formation of storm, was the agreement between models on how the atmosphere would behave this Wednesday.
Of course the specific details of rain/snow lines and amounts are still in question. We are looking at 6 inch possibilities or more for snowfall, with the greatest opportunities for those amounts as you move north of Plymouth, Providence, Rhode Island and New Haven Connecticut.
The next 7 to 10 days looks to be cold and snowy across much of the east. While no one can say how much snow is going to fall, I feel confident in a forecast of above normal snowfall and below normal temperatures for the area from the Midwest to Maine during this period. Of course, the specifics matter, so keep coming back often for any updates.
Of course, many of you know I also update on Twitter.
Other ways forecasters try to predict the weather is by using something called ďensemble forecastingĒ. By now most of you know we use models to make predictions. Ensemble forecasting takes the models and changes the initial condition to see if the forecast changes very much. Itís kind of like predicting how good a team will be if they trade this person or recruit that player. Below are two images predicting the flow in the atmosphere around 18,000 feet high. The first image show how the ensembles believe the atmosphere will turn out over the next 5 days. The second image shows how the ensembles are forecasting the atmosphere to behave the last couple of days of February and the first few in March.
The first image, the 4 ensembles (predictions) agree very closely. We would expect this because they only have to predict a few days out. The second image shows wild differences, I would also expect this, because itís a month away and much harder to get the forecast correct. Next, a meteorologist will watch trends, look for places the ensembles agree, and see which ones tend to be better than others to forecast cold versus warm, wet versus dry in the long range.
The next 24 hours is critical to determine how much snow Boston is going to see Wednesday. I think there is a high likelihood of travel delays and cancellations Wednesday across much of the area. I will have much more Monday and Tuesday on the upcoming storm(s). Enjoy your Sunday.
Not one, not two, but three storms threaten the area in the coming 7 days; we are defiantly in an active wintry pattern. There is some good news in all this. Storm number one, late tomorrow night and Monday, will just brush by southern New England. The second storm which moves into the region sometime late Tuesday night and third storm which hits us next weekend look more likely.
After a wonderful taste of spring today, we have a mild night ahead. There wonít be any precipitation this evening and I was able earlier today to walk around the yard and do a little winter assessing. I noticed some big branches have fallen in the past could of months and I disposed of them this afternoon.
Some of you live in areas you can do burns this time of year, tomorrow would be a great day to set some of the brush ablaze. Be sure to check with your local fire department first about the regulations for your specific area.
As milder air blows up from the south overnight we will enjoy a nighttime thaw. Itís been a while since readings stayed above freezing all night, yet they should do this inside much of the Route 495 area. Those of you in the colder area to the north and west wonít fall but a degree below the freezing mark.
Tomorrow could see a couple of quick showers in the late morning or early afternoon, but the real story is the warmth. Highs will reach 45-50F and it will feel very spring-like. Whatever Punxsutawney Phil says tomorrow, remember heís a rodent. While I might not always be correct, I tend to do better on forecasting the weather, although he can dig better holes.
A fast moving storm passes to our south Monday. You can see on the forecast radar below, most of the steady precipitation is south. This means although we could see a spot rain or snow shower from this storm in Boston, any steady precipitation will be confined south of the Cape Cod Canal.
A more important storm is brewing for Wednesday. One of the reasons I have been able to feel comfortable with this forecast for so many days is the models have been agreeing there will be a storm. Agreement between the models brings a higher chance the predicted state of the atmosphere will occur.
The map that follows shows the prediction for the position of the storm from each of the two models we tend to rely upon. There are important differences in the exact position of the storm. The GFS has the storm much closer to Cape Cod and would bring more of a wintry mix to the region. The Euro has the storm further east and would bring more of a snow solution to the region. By Sunday night and Monday we will see how these two lines of ďthinkingĒ are playing out. The models will tend to converge on one of these solutions. Often the final result, (what really happens) is between the two. Once I see a trend, I will be better able to forecast things like start times, snow amounts, rain/snow lines etc.
Not matter what happens the storm won't be a blockbuster, but will certainly impact the commutes on Wednesday. Air travel, as we have seen all too often, is also highly affected by these storms.
Cold temperatures return for the end of the week with the third storm for Saturday looking like a mainly snow event right now. Of course, the storm is 7 days away, but again the models have been very consistent on insisting something is going to form next weekend. Iím going to stick with following them for now, unless of course Phil tells me otherwise.
Another very wintry week is underway for much of the eastern 2/3rds of the United States with the arctic cold pushing its way south through the heart of America and down the Gulf Coast. There are winter storm warnings from Louisiana to North Carolina and a major snowstorm is looking increasingly likely for areas that can go years without seeing a flake. This same storm will clip southern New England with a few inches of snow across Cape Cod and the Islands late tonight and early Wednesday. The cold begins to moderate towards the weekend.
We donít know yet the final numbers on the winter of 2013-2014, but suffice to say it will go into the record books as a cold and snowy one for much of the nation.
What does it mean?
Humans love to try to draw conclusions about everything and it can be tempting to do so about this winter and the reasons why itís been so cold. There are predictable patterns for this seasonís cold we understand. These include the position of the jet stream, the now famous polar vortex, a cooling Pacific ocean, a less active sun and other meteorological indices like the Arctic oscillation. Additionally, there are other climatological and meteorological factors in play.
I'd love to hear you opinion on the topic. Follow me on Twitter @growingwisdom.
As a scientist, I try to read as much as I possibly can about those topics that interest me. As you might expect, these include weather, climate, gardening, conservation, technology and sociology. This year, it frustrates me to see some individuals and the media using our cold winter as ďproofĒ of a lack of a changing climate. Equally as exacerbating are those who report the arctic blasts as examples of how climate change is responsible for the bitter cold readings. Neither of these is truth. Simplistically, I could write, the reason itís cold this year is because itís winter and winter brings cold weather. Some winters are milder than others and this year, similar to the winter of 1917 and those in the late 70s, itís cold. Whatís more, although itís been a frigid month, itís not the kind of cold the eastern half of the country saw back in January of 1977. During that month, my grandfather called me from Palm Beach to say he was brushing snow flurries off his car. The flurries even extended into Miami.
As frigid as January 2014 may turn out, it wonít rival the one 37 years ago. That fact is nothing more than a data point.
I suspect, though itís impossible to prove, if humans didnít exist and everything else was the same, it would still be cold this winter. I might argue the cold for some area would be much worse if people didnít exist. I can say with confidence, if a city wasnít present where Boston is, and there was still a swampy marsh in the Back Bay, it would be frozen solid. I would also be comfortable saying those of you who live in any area with significant buildings, roads, concrete, and other man-made structures would have experienced even colder temperatures this winter without those objects, as those objects give off heat. This is called the heat island effect and is likely some of the reason Boston continues to no longer regularly see temperatures below zero. Some scientists believe the observed warming of the cities has weighted too heavily into the global calculation of temperature, but most agree the effects to be statistically insignificant.
There are all sorts of scenarios about what future winters will be like as the climate continues to change. The scenarios run the gamut from seeing Maineís future climate similar to the Carolinas of today. Others predict smaller and more gradual changes over the next century. Some scientists even believe the entire concept of anthropogenic warming is without merit. The chart below shows various predicted scenarios for the Earthís temperature. Most of the time, but not all, the media uses the worst case scenarios and observations and neglects to mention there isnít one forecast for the future climate. Itís also critical to remember these are only based on computer projections. What you see below are projected changes in global average temperature under three no-policy emissions scenarios. The shaded areas show the likely ranges while the lines show the central projections from a set of climate models. A wider range of model types shows outcomes from 2 to 11.5įF. Changes are relative to the 1960-1979 average.
Source: USGCRP 2009
Exploration of ideas
I read a blog yesterday called the Quadrant Online and I found the authorís, (Garth Paltride) perspective worth passing on. One of the paragraphs, which most resonated with me follows:
Back in 1979 the then director of the Woods Hole Institution here in Massachusetts wrote a short piece in Newsweek about the future state of global warming. You can read the article below.
Has the warming stopped?
Whatís interesting from the article is Spencer's prediction of ďa degree and a half or soĒ of warming by the mid-90s. The reality is, not only did that prediction not happen, we havenít seen a temperature rise of that level in the 35 years since the article was published. Additionally, the warming pace observed during the1980s and 1990s has been on a 15 year hiatus. Put another way, global temperatures since the turn of this century have all been equally warm. This is why each year keeps being reported as ďone of the warmest on recordĒ. Since nearly all of the past 15 years have been warmer than the long term average, they are all close to the record. Hereís another way to look at this. If the stock market drops 10 points off the high for the year, itís still ďclose to record territoryĒ. If the market stays within a few points of the high for the next decade, itís still ďin record territoryĒ, but most investors wouldnít have made very much money during that time.
Will the warming resume in the next few years? Climatologists canít be sure, but most agree it will resume and perhaps even accelerate. The sensitivity of the entire system is still hotly debated. If we knew the exact affects of the CO2 humans put into the atmosphere we wouldnít have all these different scenarios and predicted outcomes would be much closer to the observed state of the atmosphere.
The fact the prognosis back in 1979 hasnít come true doesnít mean the climate isnít warming nor does it mean the human contribution to any warming isnít real; it does show hypothesis should be subject to revision. We live a time of such polarized ideas, itís impossible to critically explore climate change without being giving a label. Iím sure some of you will blast me in the comments section for even suggesting any alternative views of the conventional wisdom du jour. I hope most of you will see the exploratory theme of this blog, not any attempt to mandate a view or policy.
We donít know what we donít know yet either. Research continues to move forward to mass produce hydrogen fuel cells for cars. The only byproduct of these cars is water vapor, not carbon dioxide. Hereís an interesting fact. Water vapor is actually a bigger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The atmosphere has about 30,000 times as much water vapor as CO2. Some researchers believe we have to be careful not to trade the reported CO2 issue for a water vapor one while other researchers believe since the water vapor wonít make it to the stratosphere it wonít matter.
If anthropogenic water vapor did actually cause more planetary warming, it would bring an entirely new meaning to the saying itís not the heat itís the humidity.
For millions of people across the country this winter has been cold and snowy. For millions of others this has been a warm and dry winter the likes of which havenít been seen in many decades. The weather seems extreme, yet much of what we observe has been observed before. How daily, monthly and yearly weather patterns are influenced by known and unknown future climatic shifts are still subject to interpretation, research and debate. The chaotic noise of weather occurs inside the equally chaotic variables affecting climate and the climate itself. Itís not only responsible to question the interplay of these variables, itís irresponsible not to.
Remember, you can follow me on Twitter @growingwisdom. I welcome your thoughts and ideas on weather, climate and horticulture or anything else of interest.
Keith, D.W., and A.E. Farrell, 2003a: Rethinking hydrogen cars. Science, 301, 315-316.
Keith, D.W., and A.E. Farrell, 2003b: Rethinking hydrogen cars - Response. Science, 302, 1329.
Pielke, R.A., Jr., R. Klein, G. Maricle, and T. Chase, 2003: Letter to the Editor - Hydrogen cars and water vapor. Science, 302, 1329.
Depending on where you live, you are either shoveling or just sweeping the snow away. The very cold and very dry air helped to keep the accumulating snow from penetrating far to the north overnight. Yesterday evening, heavy snow bands set up in a southwest to northeast configuration and since then have pushed east and rotated towards Cape Cod. You can see this in the two images below. The lack of movement north, is why some of you are waking up to less snow than you expected to receive.
How much more snow?
Because the dry air kept the snow from progressing into northern areas, snow amounts were very little over northern Worcester county building to over a foot of snow south of Boston. South Weymouth has seen nearly 16 inches of snow so far! The snow continues to accumulate in those areas with up to 6 additional inches of snow over Cape Cod, but only a coating to an inch in the immediate Boston area.
The maps below shows how much more snow will fall today as well as the end times for the snow. I also put a projected radar map for this afternoon here to give you an idea how the snow is going to linger over Cape Cod well past the 12PM hour.
The rest of the week will be cold and dry with highs only in the teens and night time lows just below zero over northern and western areas to single number in and around the immediate Boston suburbs.
The pattern is active and while this doesnít mean we are going to see multiple snow events, it does say the possibility is there for snow. A good place to get my updates to the forecast is on Twitter. You can follow me @growingwisdom
When you have so much cold air in place, it doesnít take a lot of energy to spawn a storm. Over the next 10 days, I suspect the forecast to include snow multiple times. Like this storm, the gradient of no snow and heavy snow is going to be very tight. Our next chances of snow come Saturday, with a few snow showers and again Monday with another chance.
The cold relaxes a bit over the weekend, but after those snow showers finish Saturday, the arctic air reestablishes itself for several more days. Thereafter we will see two to three more shots of cold through the middle of February with the warm-ups between not lasting very long.
Although the Patriots arenít in the big game this year, a few of you asked about the Super Bowl weather. I took a peak this morning and if the maps were right, which is not likely yet, it would be cold and dry with highs in the 25-30 degree range and a gusty wind. Thatís all I got on that right now. More data as it becomes available in the coming week.