Brrr…Record-setting U.S. cold next week

January 1st, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

The weather forecast models continue to predict a major cold outbreak for next week over the eastern 2/3 of the U.S. Here’s the Tuesday morning (Jan. 7) forecast for 850 mb temperatures from the GFS model (that’s at ~5,000 ft altitude):

That is a seriously cold air mass. I predict many cold temperature records will be broken with this event. It looks like solid freezes extending into northern Florida.

But look on the bright side. Without global warming, it could have been 1-2 deg. F colder still!

37 Responses to “Brrr…Record-setting U.S. cold next week”

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  1. ri says:

    I dont care if its cold as long as we have snow on the ground. My opinion is if we have to suffer the cold it might as well be pretty.


  2. RAH says:

    Switching to the near surface temp/winds map makes things look a little bit better than the air mass temp map shown unless your a pilot. But either way it’s gonna be cold out in my neck of the woods and most of the places I’m regularly called out to drive. Just hope I don’t pull any Ontario Canada loads in the next week.

  3. Max Dupilka says:

    I have been forecasting in Canada for many many years now, and a lot of it was forecasting for the northern areas, north of 60N. That area, and the northern prairies is the source region for that very cold air coming at you folks south of the border. Looking at the GOES west IR satellite images the past several days shows a lot of ground temperatures similar to the cloud-top cirrus temperatures, -45 to -50C. You don’t see that too often, even in the far north. It is damn cold.

    • Ian says:

      Wow, very interesting Max, any thoughts then on what caused the atmosphere to go nearly isothermal like that, or do you mean that the cloud-top temps are now even colder than -45 to -50C? I once learned about temperature inversions setting up in extreme cold conditions, due to strong radiative cooling of the surface sending heat toward higher layers of the atmosphere. I live in St. John’s, NL where we have recently been having unusually cold temperatures for this region, reaching to -17C.

      • Max Dupilka says:

        Ian, the atmosphere is definitely not isothermal. It is just that the surface has radiated so much and is so cold that it is at the same temperature as the cirrus clouds. If you are familiar with upper air soundings you can view profiles from the U of Wyoming website, which is a popular one. Have a look at Baker Lake, CYBK, if you want to see a good near-surface inversion of about 20C.

  4. Bob Weber says:

    Do I sense a sense of humor here Dr. Spencer? I didn’t know scientists could be funny!

    Are you poking fun at those poor under-funded feeble-minded global warmist climate crusaders again?

    I’m having Deju Vu here with this Unisys map. Where have I seen this map before?

    Piers Corbyn’s Dec 28-31/Jan 1 forecast period, which he published four weeks ago. Amazingly right on the money, again.

  5. stevek says:

    Has anybody looked at the ability of the oceans to transfer heat horizontally ? Meaning for example heat transfer via water from tropics to the polar oceans ?

    If this mechanism is possible then heat has escape by going to poles from tropics, and then out of ocean, then through the air to space. Since pole air is dry ( particularly in antarctic ) there is little greenhouse from water vapor there.

    • numberer says:

      “Has anybody looked at the ability of the oceans to transfer heat horizontally?”

      Yes. Any textbook about the Oceans will have a chapter on it.
      It involves the “thermo-haline world circulation”. However, if you have not heard of this, it indicates that you should perhaps look first at a general book on physical geography.

      Whether the greenhouse gas effect is less at the poles than elsewhere is not really important since the radiative loss of heat at the poles is slight anyway – because they are cold areas with a high albedo due to ice.

  6. RAH says:

    Here in my part of central Indiana the forecast was for 3″ of the white stuff and we are past that now and would not be surprised if we get around 6″ before it stops later today. Temp 21 but dropping down to 1 deg tonight. Wind is now starting to pick up and but the snow is still coming. The wind chill will start getting a little more serious as the day wears on. The snow is beautiful. It is also light so the snow is going to drift.

    This is all just the opening act. Come the weekend the real deal is supposed to hit. Start snowing Saturday night and continue through the day Sunday into the night. Total accumulation to be 8 to 12 inches. Wind will get up to 20 mph. Of course the forecast can change some because unlike climatologists which can forecast decades into the future our meteorologists here in central Indiana are sometimes a little off on their forecasts for the next day.

    Then behind the snow comes the real arctic blast with the high on Monday to be -4 and low forecast to be -12 to -15 Monday night. Though we have sub zero temps here most winters, double digit sub zero temps in my neck of the woods here in Central Indiana are rather rare.

  7. numberer says:

    RAH says

    “… -12 to -15 Monday …”

    Geting off easy then;I believe the record low for Central Indiana,recorded on January 19 ,1994, was -27 F. It must be all that global warming in the interim that has saved you.
    You can take your vest off now.

  8. bernie says:

    I came across a University Textbook, in a box, which I used
    in 1980, entitled “Geography:A Modern Synthesis” by Professor Peter Haggett. Some people may remember it. It was very middle-of-the-road and a set book for many courses.

    I refreshed my memory about what it had to say about anthropogenic global warming. Nothing actually! But it had something about climate over the last few thousand years which was interesting; viz.

    “The general warming continued until about 6000 B.C. when the Atlantic climatic stage, characterized by temperatures 2.5 C higher than the temperatures we experience today, began. From this climatic optimum there has been a general but irregular deterioration.”

    According to the UAH series we may now be some 0.5 C higher than 1980, and therefore still 2 C below the Atlantic stage (assuming Professor Haggett knew his stuff; certainly not above the former “optimum”). So, in our perceptions, when did a “deteriorating” climate become a blessed return to cooler temperatures, and a past climatic “optimum” that saw the founding of civilization become something so awful that a return to it would be a catastrophe for the whole human race?

    It reminds me of the observation that when one religion supersedes another, the gods of the earlier turn into the demons of the later.

  9. numberer says:


    When the climate kiddies got a frat house.

  10. bernie says:

    “…got a frat house…”

    Ha, yes, ok. That is a political or organizational explanation. I think maybe it was the image of rising sea-levels which “spooked the herd”. Before then, the ordinary person could just say “Where’s the harm in a little warm?”

    It is ironic that the herd is still running from the shore even though the sea-level panic is pretty well history
    (They haven’t made a sequel to Waterworld!)

    James Thurber wrote a factual piece called “The Day the Dam Burst” which described how on 12th March 1913 two thousand people ran as fast as they could for several miles in East Columbus, Ohio, upon a whisper “the dam is broke!” Civil engineers later pointed out that if the dam in question had broken it would have raised the level of the Ohio River by two inches, while the area which evacuated itself was ninety-five feet above the river.

  11. bernie says:

    James Thurber himself participated in the run as a boy, while carrying his inert grandfather, whom they had had to knock out, as he refused to leave the house. The old man was under the impression they were being attacked by Southern Cavalry, and was menacing everyone with his Civil War sword.

  12. numberer says:

    I know the piece.

    One level-headed municipal official called out

    “The dam has not broken!”

    This was heard by the crowd as

    “The dam has NOW broken!”

    and they ran on, over him.

    I guess there are several lessons here.

  13. ren says:

    Just take a look. Polar vortex at an altitude of 15 km shared. One center has shifted over Canada.

  14. Gorf says:

    Isn’t this what is to be expected with the weakening polar vortex? Alarmists blame the loss of arctic sea ice for this..

  15. RAH says:

    numberer says:

    ……..believe the record low for Central Indiana,recorded on January 19 ,1994, was -27 F. It must be all that global warming in the interim that has saved you.
    You can take your vest off now.
    Normally we seem to have maybe 5 days or nights with sub zero temps around here and that’s the worst of it. I can’t remember any long stretches of a week or more when it stayed below zero either. But I was elsewhere during the 80’s and the early 90s.

    I really don’t understand it. The perception of cold that is. I was a winter warrior. Been to Alaska, various places in the Alps and Dolomites, and up to Dumbas Norway in the dead of winter. But as far as the perception of being cold, I mean the cold that hurts the most relative to the actual ambient temperature it is on a calm day, no place compared to the cold I experienced in New England. Up state NY and the Green mountains of Vermont are the the coldest “feeling” places on earth I have lived outside in. What I mean to say is that -30 in the Green mountains felt colder than -30 in any of the other places it seemed to me and some other winter warriors I was with.

  16. Tom Waeghe says:

    Does anyone have any comments on this from the Accuweather climate web site?

    Between these folks and the stooges at Channel, they seem to truly believe that warming has not stopped.

  17. Mervyn says:

    Mother Nature is sending a powerful message to climatologists but it is as though too many of them have eyes, yet they do not see!

    Mother Nature has already rendered the IPCC’s 2007 4th Assessment Report completely obsolete a report that was indisputably all about various rising global temperature trends based on various rising carbon dioxide emissions scenarios, as derived from computer models.

    But what has Mother Nature done? Mother Nature has given the world a flat global temperature trend over the last 16 years, a period in which we have seen record increases in carbon dioxide emissions that should have resulted in an ever increasing global average temperature but failed to do so.

    So much for the IPCC’s 2007 gold standard settled incontrovertible climate science!

    This is why scientists like you, Roy Carter, must keep on providing the world with the real world observational data on climate to combat alarmist propaganda we see constantly being promoted in the biased media.

  18. ren says:

    Dr. Spencer, if you do not mind, I gathered a few facts in your article.

  19. stevek says:

    I was thinking about something today.

    Water vapor and CO2 are both greenhouse gases.

    But there is a big difference between the two on earth. The difference is that CO2 is distributed evenly pretty much in the air of earth, but water vapor in the air varies a huge amount from place to place ( say desert vs rainforest ).

    Because water vapor varies a huge amount from place to place this allows pathways for heat to escape.

    On venus heat has hard time to escape because CO2 is so high and the CO2 is distributed everywhere.

    This fundamental difference I think makes climate science very difficult.

  20. Tim says:

    We have had an extremely mild winter so far in the UK. I am wondering if we are going to get the back end of your snow and end up with a 1947 winter across in the UK.

    • numberer says:

      Only twice was the recorded night-time temperature at Kew above 0 C. in early 1947. There was no sun at all recorded at Kew for twenty days in February. So much for clouds keeping you warm – that only works short-term.

      I have a picture of me digging out a path to our house in London. I guess I was pretending to be like my father. I was only two. Child labour?

  21. Gorf says:

    No comments about the reduced pole-equator temperature difference driving these changes in the jet-stream? Isn’t this what is supposed to happen as the Arctic keeps warming up quicker than the rest of the Northern Hemisphere?

  22. numberer says:

    Re Bernies’s comments about Hoggett’s geography text.

    All the evidence is still to the effect that the warm time 6000 years ago was 1-2 K above now*. Prehistorians are still looking for evidence of the early industrial furnaces that Neolithic farmers used to burn hundreds of billions of tons of dry dung.

    I suggest that until modern temperatures (more accurately, pseudo-temperatures) actually exceed those of the mid-Holocene, we have no evidence of anything beyond ordinary natural variations.

    *In the sense that borehole temperatures and the like show regular long-lasting changes.

    • Gorf says:

      Surely the difference in insolation must be made before mid-Holocene can be compared with today?

      • numberer says:

        “…difference in insolation must be made…”

        That is questionable. It would involve many assumptions. Once you start “adjusting” data output from a poorly known, complicated, system you are flying in cloud.

        I agree factors such as the gradual changing of the time of perihelion will need to be part of the input, if we ever have enough knowledge to do more than run coarse computer programs backwards and call the output “evidence”.

        I think Bernie’s point about the Atlantic period was not to make a comparison, but to ask seriously “how can the SAME climate be ‘optimum’ for the past and ‘catastrophic’ for the future?”. And, to be Devil’s Advocate, there are several possible answers to that; viz:

        Well,it is an exercise in eristics to think of them.

        The developing world WILL put MUCH more C02 up there, whatever we say or do or scream or moan. So we will see.

  23. aaron says:

    So what should we expect near the ground?

  24. numberer says:

    The latest December figure from UAH is another month which extends the approx sixteen years of “paused” trend (or “obscured” or “stopped”, whatever your gloss) in the data.

  25. bernie says:

    It is like “Strictly Come Prancing”. Thunderous applause for the same old twisting and writhing.

  26. numberer says:

    I prefer the French version. The girls are much prettier, expecially the winner, Alizee. Except for the tattoos. Why she get those? You don’t mess around with perfection.

  27. davey says:

    Alizee – a proven cause of global warming.

  28. numberer says:

    “…cause of global warming…”

    Well, she is entering her thirties and starting to cool down.
    Happens to everyone. I, personally, am an extinct volcano.
    Most people say I was never more than a splutterer of ash and dust, anyway.

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