Archive for the ‘Blog Article’ Category

Rare Pacific Typhoon Forms in mid-February

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Pacific Typhoon Higos has formed in the tropical West Pacific. What makes this storm unusual is that it has formed at the least likely time of year, climatologically speaking.

Rare Typhoon Higos viewed by the NASA MODIS imager on Feb. 10, 2015.

Rare Typhoon Higos viewed by the NASA MODIS imager on Feb. 10, 2015.

North Pacific typhoons have formed in all calendar months, but a Japanese analysis of the dates they form suggests that Feb. 11 is the least likely date. This date can be considered the beginning (or end) of the typhoon season.

So, Typhoon Higos might be considered the latest north Pacific typhoon on record. Or maybe it’s the earliest (there was a Feb. 15, 1965 typhoon that had been considered the earliest). It all depends upon when you decide the start/end date of typhoon season is.

One thing for sure is that a typhoon in mid-February is rare, indeed. According to this historical list going back 65 years, no typhoons have ever formed during the week of 8-14 February.

Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon: One Cold Weekend Ahead for the East

Monday, February 9th, 2015

If you are in Saskatchewan and thinking of going to Disney World to warm up this weekend, you might want to be Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon, because by Sunday morning it might well be colder in Orlando than it will be in Saskatoon.

A series of Arctic cold fronts plunging down out of Canada will cause record-breaking cold across the eastern U.S. over the weekend. As the following map shows, most of New York state might not even get above 0 deg. F on Sunday (all graphics courtesy of, click for full-size):

GFS model temperature forecast for midday Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015.

GFS model temperature forecast for midday Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015.

If we zoom out, we see that much of the East won’t even get above freezing on Sunday:

What will make matters even worse is that winds will be gusting over 30 mph in New England, producing wind chills of 30 below zero during the day on Sunday.

Funky Clouds off California Coast Yesterday

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Almost every day I check out NASA’s Worldview website to look at global color satellite imagery from the MODIS instruments. I’m usually watching weather systems. If nothing else, the imagery is beautiful.

Yesterday, there were some particularly funky looking marine stratus clouds off the coast of California, generally west and southwest of Los Angeles. There are a couple of ship tracks evident, but I think most of the fractal-esque structure is natural (click image for full-size):


Marine stratus clouds form under a strong temperature inversion at the base of deep sinking air layers associated with high pressure zones, and they take on a wide variety of fascinating forms.

Here’s another example from well off the California coast on Dec. 23, 2014:


And yet another from Dec. 21, 2014:


UAH Global Temperature Update for Jan. 2015: +0.35 deg. C

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

The Version 5.6 global average lower tropospheric temperature (LT) anomaly for January, 2015 is +0.35 deg. C, little changed from the December 2014 value of +0.32 deg. C (click for full size version):

The global, hemispheric, and tropical LT anomalies from the 30-year (1981-2010) average for the last 13 months are:

2014 01 +0.291 +0.387 +0.194 -0.029
2014 02 +0.170 +0.320 +0.020 -0.103
2014 03 +0.170 +0.338 +0.002 -0.001
2014 04 +0.190 +0.358 +0.022 +0.092
2014 05 +0.326 +0.325 +0.328 +0.175
2014 06 +0.305 +0.315 +0.295 +0.510
2014 07 +0.304 +0.289 +0.319 +0.451
2014 08 +0.199 +0.244 +0.153 +0.061
2014 09 +0.294 +0.187 +0.401 +0.181
2014 10 +0.365 +0.333 +0.396 +0.189
2014 11 +0.329 +0.354 +0.303 +0.247
2014 12 +0.322 +0.465 +0.178 +0.296
2015 01 +0.351 +0.551 +0.152 +0.126

The global image for January, 2015 should be available in the next day or so here.

Popular monthly data files (these might take a few days to update):

uahncdc_lt_5.6.txt (Lower Troposphere)
uahncdc_mt_5.6.txt (Mid-Troposphere)
uahncdc_ls_5.6.txt (Lower Stratosphere)

Pinapple Express to Bring 2 ft. Rain, 10 ft. Snow to N. Cal.

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

In the next week a series of vigorous Pacific storms fueled partly by the current weak El Nino conditions will bring phenomenal amounts of rain and snow to Northern California: over 2 feet of rain and up to 10 feet of snow in the higher elevations.

After a record dry month in San Francisco, the precipitation is much needed in order to recharge the state’s reservoirs, most of which are still well below their seasonal normal levels.

Here’s the Hawaii-to-California “atmospheric river” that is forecast to set up in the next week, typical of El Nino conditions (forecast graphics courtesy of, click to enlarge):


As can be seen, even the Bay area can expect 5+ inches of rain. The snowfall portion of the precipitation will be in the Sierra Nevada, with up to 10 feet of new snow forecast:


Most of the heavy precipitation, except for extreme N. California, won’t begin until Thursday of this week.

The “Historic” Blizzard of 2015 Ranked #41

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

The numbers are in at the National Climate Data Center, and out of the top 55 snowstorms impacting the major population centers of the Northeast U.S., the January 2015 blizzard that blasted Boston ranked #41, or a weak “Category 2″.

Here’s the storm total snowfall map:


By comparison, here’s the snowfall total map for the #1 storm, which occurred in mid-March 1993, a Cat 5 storm….note the map is zoomed out to encompass the amazingly large geographic extent of the heavy snowfall in that storm:


The ranking is based upon societal impacts, so if the worst storm on Earth in the last 10,000 years hit where no one lived, it would not even rank.

So, the NESIS scale for Northeast snowstorms isn’t well suited for talking about climate change. It’s not clear that more snowstorms in recent decades aren’t just from a slight shift in the storm track bringing Northwest Atlantic winter storms (of which there are many…Greenland routinely gets clobbered) closer to New England.

Super Snow Sunday Chicago

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

A vigorous low pressure tracking eastward from Colorado will intensify and bring up to a foot of new snow and near-blizzard conditions to Chicago by tomorrow afternoon.

Similar conditions will occur across central Iowa, northern Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, southern Lower Michigan and Detroit, and then spread eastward with 6-12 inches of snow for New York City through Boston by Tuesday morning (all graphics courtesy of, click for full size):

Total snow accumulation by Tuesday morning, Feb. 3, 2015, forecast by the GFS model.

Total snow accumulation by Tuesday morning, Feb. 3, 2015, forecast by the GFS model.

The low pressure and precipitation areas forecast for Super Bowl game time suggest that being parked in front of the TV will be a safer activity than being out driving in a car:


Northeast Snowstorms & Atlantic Water Vapor: No Connection in Last 27 Years

Friday, January 30th, 2015

One of the theories of how snowstorms can be made worse is that warming oceans provide more moisture for fuel.

While the theory sounds logical and even attractive, there are many ingredients that go into snowstorm formation. There has to be a synoptic scale disturbance feeding off the temperature contrast between the land and ocean, and since the land-ocean temperature contrast has actually DECREASED in the last several decades (if you believe the thermometer data), this would reduce the energy available for storm formation. (The “more-wavy” jet stream theory is highly suspect…without a greater temperature contrast, there is not as much thermal energy available for “baroclinic instability”).

Nevertheless, there do seem to have been more snowstorms in the Northeast U.S. in the last decade, so what might be the cause? As a meteorologist, my first inclination is to blame, in effect, “chaos”. Weather and climate variations are chaotic, there ARE weather patterns that can get set up and then persist. But these regional influences are basically disconnected from whether the global average temperature happens to be 1 deg. warmer or cooler. They are instead being driven by temperature contrasts of many tens of degrees.

But we can examine with observational data Kevin Trenberth’s hypothesis that increased Northeast snowstorms are the result of more water vapor from the North Atlantic.

For the last 27 years we have had the SSM/I and SSMIS instruments monitoring total water vapor content over the oceans every day. I took the Northwest Atlantic area from 30N to 50N, and 50W to 80W and examined the monthly average water vapor over this area versus the NESIS (Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale) index.

The results suggest basically no relationship between available water vapor and snowstorm events over the last 27 years:

There is little if any  relationship between Northeast U.S. snowstorms and atmospheric water vapor over the Northwest Atlantic between 1988-2014.

There is little if any relationship between Northeast U.S. snowstorms and atmospheric water vapor over the Northwest Atlantic between 1988-2014.

In fact, while warm season water vapor has increased, cold season water vapor (if anything) has decreased on average over the region, making less vapor available for storms. The net trend through all seasons is about +0.5% per decade over the 27 year period.

There is always abundant water vapor available for U.S. snowstorms to feed off of, just as there is always abundant tropical water vapor available for hurricanes and typhoons. But that’s not the limiting factor in storm formation. What is necessary is the variety of conditions which can support the formation of low pressure centers….sufficient water vapor is usually ready and waiting to play its part.

It has more to do with the necessary temperature contrast between air masses (and in the case of tropical cyclones, vertical wind shear). And since global warming (no matter the cause) will lead to the continents warming faster than the ocean (reducing the energy for incipient storms), there is no convincing way to blame global warming for increasing snowstorm activity in the Northeast U.S.

“Peak Food”? No, the Average Person Has More Food to Eat

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

There’s an article in yesterday’s Independent entitled, Have we reached ‘peak food’? Shortages loom as global production rates slow.

From reading the article, which is based upon a new report from two American universities and a German environmental institute, you would think that global food production is going down, while global population continues to rise.

WRONG. The rate of raise in production has apparently slowed for some commodities.

Now, imagine if peak oil was defined in this way? (It’s not). Or “peak global temperature”?

As far as I can tell, this is one more example of environmental fear-mongering.

First of all, food production is not limited by available land…it depends upon demand. If demand rises, so does food production. Hunger, malnourishment, and starvation are not due to a lack of food. They are almost always due to governmental policies which hinder farming or hinder the prosperity needed to import food.

What really matters is per capita food production. Not whether the rate of growth in just food production is slowing, because the rate in growth of the global population is also slowing:


The real question is: As global population rises, is our food production keeping pace?

Not only is it keeping pace, it is speeding up.

You really don’t need to keep track of certain meats as the study did (such as chickens, eggs), just the staple grains which start the food supply. For example, the doubling of global soybean production in the last 20 years is primarily due to increased consumption of pork in an increasingly prosperous China, which requires soybeans for feed.

Here’s a plot I put together from U.N. statistics regarding the top staple foods the world consumes. As you can see, not only has global food production increased in recent years (as has global population), the ratio of the two shows the average person in the world has more food available to eat, not less:


So, how do studies like this ever get published? Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

But…but…isn’t global warming reducing crop production?

So far, there is no sign of that. As I’ve shown before, climate model predictions have essentially failed. Warming and precipitation changes in America’s heartland have failed to materialize…despite predictions to the contrary. The Earth as a whole has instead responded to increasing CO2 in the atmosphere with “global greening”.

But, without the threat of climate change and reduced food supply, universities and environmental institutes wouldn’t be able to get the money they need to survive, would they?

New York City Gets a Taste of the Precautionary Principle

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

The New England blizzard that hit yesterday infamously missed its primary target: New York City. In fairness to the forecasters, there were as many weather model forecasts supporting an historic NYC storm as there were just a significant snowstorm.

For areas well east of NYC, this snowstorm storm (dubbed “Juno” by The Weather Channel) was remarkably similar to Snowstorm Nemo (remember him?) that hit approximately the same area during Feb. 8-9, 2013, with peak accumulations of about 3 feet and peak winds over 70 mph.

But the NYC mayor overreacting to the storm with subway closures and orders to stay off the streets and sidewalks is, ultimately, counterproductive.

Overwarning Leads to Complacency
Whether it’s weather warning, or warning of what global warming will do to us, it creates a “crying wolf” situation. What happens when a real crisis arises if every snowstorm is painted as the worst crisis?

Similarly, will scientists be believed anymore after decades of failed predictions regarding overpopulation, global crop failures, global cooling, global warming, etc.?


Overwarning Leads to Reduced Economic Activity
When people can’t provide goods and services for each other, poverty results. Poverty, in turn, is just a step away from early death.

A storm (or just the threat of a storm) might disrupt economic activity for a day or two, but years of economic downturn will result from politicians forcing everyone to pay more for everything just so that boutique energy sources (mostly wind and solar) line the pockets of crony capitalists.

People who claim that “whether the global warming science is right or wrong we should still embrace renewable energy” don’t understand basic economics, the obscene cost of those energy sources, and the immense scale of global energy demand.

It’s like saying that shutting down NYC every time there is the threat of bad weather is the right thing to do, anyway. You know…just to be on the safe side.

We could call it the ‘Precautionary Principle’.