Archive for January, 2014

So how cold will todays Packers-49ers game be?

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

The short answer is: colder than I would want to sit out in. I’m originally from the UP of Michigan, but over 30 years living in the South has softened me up.
But it’s probably not going to be as cold as it was looking several days ago. I’ll explain “probably” in a moment.

In this weather situation, it’s all in the timing of the cold air arrival. The air mass is indeed cold enough to set a NFL record for coldest game…if the game was held 24 hours later.

But the cold air is moving in a little more slowly than expected. At this point (1 p.m. CST) I’m expecting it will still go below zero during the game…the record is -13 deg F or so, during the Dec 31, 1967 Ice Bowl. That record probably won’t be broken.

But what’s kind of interesting is that the noon temperatures just northwest of Green Bay, which is the direction the cold air is moving in from, are running considerably colder than predicted just several hours ago:

Antigo was -6 deg at noon, which is 4 deg colder than it was supposed to be.

Wausau was -7 deg F at noon, which is fully 7 deg. colder than it was supposed to be (0 deg. F).

(Here’s our interactive surface weather map for Wisconsin.)

So, there appears to be a secondary cold front moving through. I suspect the temperature late in the game will drop rather quickly…not pleasant. It will only need to reach +1 F to put it in the top 10 coldest NFL games. I think it will beat that, anyway.

Snow Trolling by Drudge? Or Journalistic Equal Time?

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

Global warming alarmists hate it when things don’t go their way.

MSNBC seems to have more than its share of angry “journalists” lately. Chris Hayes of MSNBC on Thursday complained of the “strange bizarre underworld of climate trolls” who come out whenever the weather is unusually cold.

He was particularly targeting Matt Drudge, who frequently highlights dichotomies, if not outright hypocrisy, in the press coverage of issues…such as global warming and the recent fiasco in Antarctica where a ship of “researchers” going down there to highlight disappearing ice got stuck in a record amount of that disappearing ice. Virtually none of the news outlets covering the story mentioned the (ironic) reason why they were down there in the first place.

Oh, you “snow trolls” know who you are. You are the people who think it’s somehow fair to point to cold waves as evidence against global warming, when in fact we should only be pointing to heat waves in support of global warming. Didn’t you guys get the memo?

Well, apparently the rest of the world didn’t get the memo, either. Here’s the last 10 years of weekly Google Trends search interest for the keywords “weather” and “climate”:

Clearly, interest in weather has been going up; interest in climate has been going down. I wonder why?

If heat waves and droughts really were getting worse, wouldn’t internet search traffic on climate issues be going up? Hmmm? Or was the climate change issue oversold, and now climate fatigue has set in?

Inquiring minds want to know.

UAH v5.6 Global Temperature Update for Dec. 2013: +0.27 Deg. C

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

The Version 5.6 global average lower tropospheric temperature (LT) anomaly for December, 2013 is +0.27 deg. C, up from +0.19 deg. C in November (click for full size version):

The global, hemispheric, and tropical LT anomalies from the 30-year (1981-2010) average for the last 12 months are:

2013 01 +0.496 +0.512 +0.481 +0.387
2013 02 +0.203 +0.372 +0.033 +0.195
2013 03 +0.200 +0.333 +0.067 +0.243
2013 04 +0.114 +0.128 +0.101 +0.165
2013 05 +0.082 +0.180 -0.015 +0.112
2013 06 +0.295 +0.335 +0.255 +0.220
2013 07 +0.173 +0.134 +0.211 +0.074
2013 08 +0.158 +0.111 +0.206 +0.009
2013 09 +0.365 +0.339 +0.390 +0.189
2013 10 +0.290 +0.331 +0.250 +0.031
2013 11 +0.193 +0.160 +0.226 +0.020
2013 12 +0.265 +0.273 +0.257 +0.057

Here’s the global lower tropospheric temperature anomaly map for 2013:

Other global images are archived here.

The global average anomalies by year (2013 was the 4th warmest since satellite monitoring started in 1979):

1979 -0.170
1980 -0.008
1981 -0.045
1982 -0.250
1983 -0.061
1984 -0.353
1985 -0.309
1986 -0.244
1987 +0.013
1988 +0.012
1989 -0.207
1990 -0.022
1991 +0.020
1992 -0.289
1993 -0.245
1994 -0.108
1995 +0.013
1996 -0.076
1997 -0.049
1998 +0.419
1999 -0.056
2000 -0.061
2001 +0.107
2002 +0.218
2003 +0.187
2004 +0.108
2005 +0.260
2006 +0.186
2007 +0.204
2008 -0.009
2009 +0.209
2010 +0.398
2011 +0.130
2012 +0.170
2013 +0.236

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

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

This Sunday’s NFL Game in Green Bay: Coldest Ever?

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

UPDATE: It is now looking like the coldest air is moving into Green Bay 6-12 hours later than expected, with the latest forecast for a 6 p.m. temperature being +1 deg. F, which would not break a record.

The latest GFSx MOS temperature forecast is now -8 deg. F -10 deg. F -8 deg. F -4 deg. F +1 deg. F for game time in Green Bay on Sunday evening for the playoff game between the Packers and the 49ers. This is getting awfully close to the record coldest NFL game temperature of -13 deg. F, set Dec. 31, 1967 at Lambeau Field during “The Ice Bowl”, the NFL Championship game between the Packers and Dallas Cowboys.

The 2nd coldest game was Jan. 10, 1982 at Riverfront Stadium during the AFC Championship game between Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers, at -9 deg. F, so Sundays game might take the #2 spot instead.

The deciding factor will be the timing of how fast the coldest air moves in on Sunday. The air mass is plenty cold enough to break the record, with a Monday high temperature forecast of -14 deg. F.

The top 10 coldest NFL games are listed here. Makes my hands hurt just thinking about it.

Of Self Phones and Prosperity

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

WARNING: This is not a climate or weather post. It is my quasi-annual rant on basic economics.


A conversation overheard many years ago…

Business Owner: Hey! Wanna buy this cool gadget? It allows you to make phone calls from just about anywhere. We call it a “self phone”.

Consumer: Hmm. Why would I want that? I can make calls from my office, or my home, or a gas station if I’m out and about.

Business Owner: Well, wouldn’t you like to be able to call from your car? Or not miss a call just because you are driving? What if your car breaks down and you are stuck on the highway? Or, you are at the grocery store and you forgot what your wife asked you to pick up? And what if I told you that long-distance calls on these things will eventually be free? AND…you will be able to send pictures you take with it to friends, instantly!

Consumer: Say, that does sound pretty good! What’s the catch?

Business Owner: No catch. It won’t cost much more than that Pong video game you just bought, and is way more useful. But…if the billions of dollars we are investing in this new technology pays off, some of us who have devoted our careers to developing it might get rich, since a few percent of the cost will be paid to us.

Consumer: Well, that’s ok with me! I’ll take a self phone!

Business Owner: Are you sure?


One of the great epiphanies of my life was finally understanding basic economics. It holds a fascination for me because so many people believe just the opposite of what is, in fact, true.

As I discuss in my book Fundanomics: The Free Market Simplified, prosperity is achieved though people having the freedom to provide as many goods and services to each other as are wanted and needed…and being rewarded for it when they succeed.

It’s really no more complicated than that.

After 30 years of studying and thinking about the continuing desire by about half of the population to achieve things like “income equality”, “wealth redistribution”, a “living wage”, etc., I’ve become convinced that the faulty thinking underlying these seemingly noble goals stems, more than anything else, from one basic misconception: that the stuff we all want and need will always get produced anyway.

If there was always the same amount of stuff being produced, no matter what tax policies and regulations we had, then redistribution of wealth would actually make some sense to me. But the modern economy requires efficiency, which in turn requires rewarding good ideas, punishing bad ideas, and inherently risky investments of large amounts of money in order to achieve economies of scale.

Even today’s poor now own cars, TVs, microwave ovens, cell phones, etc. These things do not happen by accident, and I am old enough to remember when most of the products we now take for granted were luxuries. These products only become affordable to the masses when people with the good ideas and money to invest have some hope of being rewarded if they succeed.

After all, most ideas for new products fail, and investors routinely lose large sums of money they have invested in trying to bring the new product to market. We usually only see the small fraction of people who are the winners. They have the fancy cars and the big houses. They are the ones who some are now so eager to see punished for their success.

But we usually don’t notice the far greater number of losers, those who tried to succeed with some new product, but who failed. Who is willing to step up and share in (redistribute) those failures to the rest of society, the way they want to redistribute the wealth of those who succeeded?

The only way the newest and most affordable products ever have a hope of reaching consumers is if those who develop them and risk their investment have some hope of being rewarded if they succeed.

We should celebrate the rich, not demonize them. They take the risks. They have the great ideas. They bring prosperity to the masses.

Which brings me to another truth which is not mentioned often enough: The prosperity which the rich have created for all of society in the form of better products at lower prices far exceeds the relatively small profit they get to keep as a reward for their success.

If we threaten to take those profits away from them, the energizing force that generates prosperity for all — including the poor’s cars, TVs, microwave ovens, and cell phones — will stop.

Some have called business-friendly policies “trickle-down economics”, a term which I really dislike. First, it’s not a “trickle”. The vast majority of prosperity generated by the success of business owners is literally in the hands of millions of consumers, in the form of goods which the consumers now own. The business owners and corporate executives get to keep only a tiny fraction of that wealth.

Secondly, the consumers are usually the first — not the last — to see the rewards of great new products. Businesses usually have to make sure their employees are taken care of before they can turn a profit. Furthermore, we consumers routinely get great deals on products from businesses that fail because the business spent more on developing, manufacturing, and bringing the product to market than they got in return from the sales price.

These are really simple, basic concepts. At the heart of economic prosperity is freedom. Freedom to pursue happiness, if you will. Concepts which have been understood and successfully put into practice for centuries in many countries.

Unfortunately, our government has been moving in the wrong direction, increasing the tax and regulatory burdens on businesses, killing the lifeblood of our economy.

Pandering politicians use vague and misleading arguments to claim that the economy is suffering because the rich are not sharing their wealth, or some such thing. This resonates with the low information voter. But money has no value without people actually doing things for each other. This is what a successful business enables.

You could take away all of the wealth of the rich tomorrow and put a few thousand dollars in everyone’s pockets. But then what will you do next year, when those business owners decide they will no longer risk staying in business, and all move to Coast Rica or Belize?

The truth is that the government is gradually encroaching on the freedoms businesses have traditionally enjoyed, reducing their ability to hire people and bring new, better, or less expensive products to market so that prosperity might be increased for all of society.

The government continues to prop up the stock market, giving the illusion that investors are “bullish” on American business. But they are only bullish on the government’s temporary meddling in the economy, which must eventually end as we continue to print money (which has the same effect as raising taxes) and borrow from future generations.

Unless those with the means to grow businesses are given some hope of being rewarded for risking their investments, they will not invest. That hurts everyone, in all economic classes.

It’s not rocket science, people. The government doesn’t create prosperity…it doesn’t make cell phones or cars or even pizzas. And when it has tried, it does so inefficiently because government is not punished for its failures, the way free and open competition punishes bad ideas and inefficiencies.

The main role of government in the economy should be to make sure people play fair…and then get out of the way.

Gotta go…my self phone is ringing.

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

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

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!

Initial Comments on New Positive Cloud Feedback Paper in Nature

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

I’ve received several emails asking about the new Nature paper, Spread in Model Climate Sensitivity Traced to Atmospheric Convective Mixing, by Sherwood et al.

So far I’ve only read the abstract and looked at the figures…I’ll either need to find a copy of the paper or buy it to dig into the details.

It looks like a serious attempt to understand the spread in climate model sensitivities, which the authors appear to contend is due more to low cloud feedback (whether low clouds increase or decrease with warming) than any other single mechanism. They are trying to understand what physical processes in the models lead to the spread in cloud feedback across the models, and that understanding would be a good thing.

It appears they go a step further, though…claiming that the models with more realistic convective mixing in the tropical lower troposphere exhibit stronger positive cloud feedback. Their conclusion is that it’s actually the models producing the most warming that should be believed the most.

First, let’s examine the scenario wherein they are right. Since observed tropical warming has been arguably less than ALL models have forecast, there must be some natural cooling mechanism the models do not contain which will magically go away at some point.

When that happens, warming will return with a vengeance. So, when is that going to happen? Of course, no one knows. But the longer it takes, the more dramatic the warming will be, because it eventually has to “catch up” to the forecasts of the models which produce the most warming…those models which Sherwood et al. are now on record as claiming to be the best prognosticators of future doom.

Well, this certainly makes the debate more interesting. It feels like a poker game where you keep drawing crappy cards, but you keep raising your opponents.

I will be very interested to see the details in this paper. Cloud formation is a complex subject…there are many, many variables involved. For now, I at least applaud the authors for trying.