The Little Blizzard that Couldn’t

January 27th, 2015 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

2015-blizzard-that-couldntIt was going to be epic. The worst evah. Two feet of snow or more for New York City with blizzard conditions.

But as I blogged about yesterday, the forecast uncertainty with this particular storm was unusually large. As early as yesterday noon it was looking like NYC might only get 6-12 inches.

Yes, we probably will see some snowfall records for the date broken well east of NYC, which is not that hard to do. But its now looking like the 12+ inch snowfalls will be restricted to eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, portions of Long Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. All-time record snowfalls look unlikely.

Nantucket had winds gusting to 70 mph overnight, but thats normal weather for those hardy souls. Blizzard conditions are occurring over much of the area just listed above.

So, a winter noreaster with snow. How unusual!

Global Warming Causes Whatever We Feel Like it Causes

Despite the official IPCC view that there is no obvious connection between winter storms and Climate Change(TM), several of the usual suspects couldnt even wait for the storm to hit before they blamed the calamity on your SUV. Bill Nye the Bow Tied Wise Guy. Kevin Trenberth.

Bill Nye even used the opportunity to blame (relatively weak) Santa Ana winds in California on global warming. Really, Bill? He also made it sound like he was the first to dream up the “weather-is-now-climate-change” meme. I guess TV really is only for entertainment now. If Bill was a real scientist, he’d be sporting a pocket protector, not a bow tie.

This morning, after being buried by literally several inches of snow (now up to about 8 inches in in Central Park), the Big Apple is picking up the pieces. Stay off the roads! Stay off the sidewalks!

Earlier this morning, was claiming Islip, NY got 18 inches, but I find that hard to believe. Maybe in a snowdrift somewhere.

Yes, heavy precip events have become more frequent in the Northeast U.S. Yes, the North Atlantic is warm right now. But that’s mostly natural climate variability, folks. It’s probably related to some combination of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).

But extraordinary claims related to human causation and people driving their SUVs require extraordinary evidence. So far, what we’ve seen is still in the range of natural variability. Our weather records are relatively short (only 100 years or so, at best), and it is entirely expected that storms in some regions will result in “all-time” records.

But it looks like the 2015 Blizzard that Couldn’t won’t be one of them.

And until climate scientists decide whether global warming causes more snow or less snow, don’t trust them. They will probably decide on “both”, which then makes it an untestable hypothesis, which is what climate science (and the politicians) love.

52 Responses to “The Little Blizzard that Couldn’t”

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  1. Atomic Hairdryer says:

    Obviously there should have been 2 feet or more of snow, but due to global warming there was less. Someone may even calculate how many nuclear bombs it would take to have melted the snow that didn’t fall. This naturally shows the extra energy in the atmosphere due to Climate Change(TM).

    • Fonzarelli says:

      Are you nutso?

      • Atomic Hairdryer says:

        Re: Fonzarelli

        Nutso? Not so. Simply riffing on Dr Spencer’s untestable hypothesis comment and the SkS “NBE” theory of climate change. We add the equivalent of 4 Hiroshimas of heat to the atmosphere every second. If so, this will melt some snow. Dr Spencer has previously pointed out how much energy nature throws around with gay abandon, and how our attempts pale in comparison.

        Some hypotheses are more easily tested, such as Nye’s prediction that the storm would be more severe due to Climate Change(TM). It wasn’t, and trends don’t appear to show any increased severity. There have been claims that there will be less snow though so it’s back to being untestable. Suggestions that this event had less snow due to Climate Change(TM) would be tricky given that would suggest a beneficial effect. The way Climate Change(TM) can create more and less warming is simply nature avoiding 3rd Law violations.

        Everything else is the political challenge faced by climate scientists. For the politicians, it was the cost of action vs inaction. So far that looks around $1bn and naturally the politicians are blaming the experts for getting the forecasts wrong. Luckily the situation hasn’t got as bad as it did in Italy when geologists were blamed for failing to predict earthquakes. Nye will no doubt continue to get TV money and be regarded as an expert.

    • Roy Spencer says:

      “how many nuclear bombs it would take to have melted the snow that didn’t fall” …I like that.

    • Mark Luhman says:

      Fonzarelli not really Having read a definitive book on nuclear weapons in the 1960s the last paragraph had the most revealing comment, it was how a light rain shower over Washington DC would release as much energy as a Hiroshima bomb did, of course the time scale was different the rain shower in mater of minutes if not hours and the bomb in an instance yet the energy was the same, small wonder that that I am a skeptic.

  2. David L. Hagen says:

    Roger Pielke Jr tweets:

    Actual climatology “Sig trends in [E Coast] storm frequency over the 46-yr period beginning in 1951 are not evident

    He highlights:
    An East Coast winter storm precipitation climatology

    For the metropolitan centres of the Northeast, and for northern New England, El Nio years seem to indicate above average precipitation and snowfall amounts from ECWS, as well as an above average overall percentage of precipitation and snowfall from ECWS. . . .

    No significant time-dependent trends were identified for precipitation or snowfall from ECWS or for the percentage of precipitation or snowfall from ECWS.


    • Roy Spencer says:

      that study didn’t include the most recent decade, during which the NE has had some exceptional storms. Still just natural variability, though.

  3. Thanks, Dr. Spencer. Good to look at reality. It is always in the past.
    weather-is-now-climate-change, thanks Bill. Actually, all weather will be climate, in time. And climate will keep on changing because it has many drivers that will keep on changing.


    I do not think this was the little blizzard the couldn’t rather it was the blizzard that could not move west to effect New York City.

    Look at the snow cover depth map many places have snow depth now in excess of 2ft due to this storm.

  5. I agree with all the other points made by Dr. Spencer.

  6. ossqss says:

    Hype and Hope are only separated by one letter :-}

    Somebody needs to check Nye’s credentials before putting him on air as an expert on anything. Just sayin…….

  7. I was wrong for New York City but look at how close it was.
    It is a guessing game.

    Update at 10:20 a.m.: As much as 28.5 inches of snow has fallen on Long Island. Totals in Suffolk County, N.Y., as of 10:05 a.m.:

    Orient 28.5 inches
    Mattituck 24.8 inches
    Hampton Bays 24 inches
    Medford 22.3 inches
    Baiting Hollow 22 inches
    Islip Airport 20.9 inches

  8. Alan says:

    Bill Nye isn’t a scientist, but he plays one on TV. It is very likely that he has a much larger collection of bow ties than Dr. Spencer, and is probably also a much better dancer to boot. Who you gonna believe? 🙂

    • Oh, I’m sure he’s a better dancer. And he smiles a lot more. In fact, I’d bet he even smiles while he’s sleeping.

    • stargazer says:

      “Bill Nye isnt a scientist, but he plays one on TV.”

      And, he is a very bad actor.

      A year from now the actual ‘numbers’ will be forgotten and the forecast will become the ‘event’. A huge, horrible, man-made global warming monster storm ‘event.’

    • Gunga Din says:

      Maybe Bill should have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express before he did that interview?

  9. dave says:

    “…whether global warming causes more snow or less snow…”

    It causes both at the same time at the same place.

    As the old joke about the accountants being interviewed for a job goes:

    CEO. “What effect would this transaction have?”

    Accountant 1. “It would increase the profit.

    Accountant 2. “It would decrease the profit.”

    Accountant 3. “What effect are you looking for?”

  10. Brian D says:

    Forecasters ignored GFS model as it was the outlier in the bunch earlier yesterday. Yet, it was much closer to what happened overall with this system.

  11. Waddle Duck says:

    Roy, you are just as guilty as anybody about playing the weather-is-climate game. Your site never misses a chance to report on cold weather in the US as if cold weather disproves
    climate change.

    Oklahoma City broke the high temperature record for Jan. 26 by 6 degrees yesterday. ** 6 degrees!!! *** Ho hum, probably due to natural variation in the TPhO (Texas Panhandle Oscillation)

    • Roy Spencer says:

      that’s called “balance”…, or “equal time”….

      If the news media is going to report every warm event as evidence of global warming, yet not say that cold events are inconsistent with GW, then my occasional (and much less widely read) articles are at least a small step in the direction of balancing a very unbalanced situation.

      See the distinction, Duck?

      • Waddle Duck says:

        You proved my point, you don’t understand the difference between climate and weather:

        “cold events are inconsistent with GW”

        Climate change must cause an increase in extreme weather events somewhere, both hot and cold, unless the climate changes in a magical way such that the variability in weather does not increase anywhere.

        You study average temperatures for UAH, then blog about extreme temperatures on this site. An increase in average does not mean the varianace will remain the same or decrease at every spot on the planet.

        See the distinction, Doctor?

        So we should expect an increase in extremes events, with “hot” extremes more likely than “cold”. Sound familiar?

        By the way, record snow in Boston is not a “cold event”, it is a “wet event” that happens when the temperature is a little below freezing. When it is really cold, it is usually too dry for record snow. It 34F in Boston today. Hardly a “cold event”.

        • Phyte On says:

          As KDW of National Review points out…

          “Last autumn, I argued in National Review (Apocalypse Soonish) that the real intellectual achievement of the climate-change alarmists has been to improve on the marketing model of the traditional fundamentalist-wacko/UFO-cult/Mayan-calendar-lunatic operation by eliminating its greatest weakness: the expiration date. When your UFO cult predicts that the world will unquestionably come to an end on December 21, 1955, then you start to look sort of silly by Christmas.”

          Ergo, change the theology to a more literalistic true believer religion such that all weather events support the climate apocalypse theology. Clever.

        • David Johnson says:

          “Climate change must cause an increase in extreme weather events somewhere, both hot and cold, unless the climate changes in a magical way such that the variability in weather does not increase anywhere.”

          Utter rubbish

    • Norman says:

      Waddle Duck,

      Some historical perspective for you (completely lost when hysteria takes over). You are saying the 75 F in Oklahoma City is something to be concerned about? Not natural variation.

      Here is the whole month of January for Oklahoma City. Now guess the date. Look at the temps. January 1953. You should take the time to look through some other years to give your mind some balance.

      In case you don’t want to take the time to look at the historical temps. January 15th was 70 (normal average high is 42 F).

      Then later the same month. Jan 25, 26 were both 72 and 27th was 70
      so I don’t know how alarmed I should be that Oklahoma City was 75 which might break the record for that day by 6 degrees but by no means the overall January record highs.

  12. Jimmy Wells says:

    Of course climate change can cause both more snow and less snow. Anybody who doesn’t understand this (Dr. Spencer is #1) doesn’t understand the difference between weather and climate.

    Snow requires cold temperatures and moisture.

    A warmer and wetter world could mean both more yearly total snow in Canada and less in the US.

    A warmer and wetter US could mean both lower yearly snow totals in Georgia and higher in Maine.

    A warmer and wetter US could mean both more heavy snow events on the Eastern seaboard and fewer in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

    A warmer and wetter US could mean more record snow fall amounts, but fewer total snow fall events.

    A warmer and wetter Boston could mean both more “historic” snowfalls in January and less snow overall in winter due to a shorter snowfall window.

    The problem with folks like Roy (and the Forbes magazine article that he linked) is that they mix different statistics to create a false paradox.

    • Interesting *speculation*, Jimmy. (“could mean”, “could mean”, …) Except the “official” global warming information source (IPCC) says there is no established connection between warming and winter storms.

      The problem with folks like Jimmy is they mix up their imagination with reality.

      • Jimmy Wells says:

        Roy says:

        “Except the official global warming information source (IPCC) says there is no established connection between warming and winter storms.”

        Where does the IPCC say this (maybe in your imagination?)

        The IPCC did say this in 2012 special report on extreme events:

        “It is likely that the frequency of heavy precipitation or the proportion of total rainfall from heavy falls will
        increase in the 21st century over many areas of the globe. This is particularly the case in the high latitudes and
        tropical regions, and in winter in the northern mid-latitudes.”

        Note the ** winter in the northern mid-latitudes *** part.

        Note also it says “many areas” and not “every area” so that one
        is correct in using modifiers such as “could” when referring to eventualities.

        Maybe you are mixing up IPCC with Pielke?

    • Phyte On says:

      The genius of the global-warming alarmists and it is a kind of genius is that there are no events that are inconsistent with their theology.

      • Jimmy Wells says:


        There are many examples, like sea level decrease is inconsistent.
        You never hear the IPCC say that sea levels might just go down
        in a warming world.

        • JohnKl says:

          Sea levels have apparently risen at the same rate about a foot or two per century (24-46cm) for several thousand years.

          Have a great day!

          • Jimmy Wells says:


            You link to a guest column by a well known old crank.

            You might have missed more recent research by actual experts:

            Study: Sea Level Rise Accelerating More Than Once Thought


            But my point was that the IPCC has never said that global warming will cause both sea levels to rise and fall. If sea levels fall, then the IPCC is provably wrong.


          • JohnKl says:

            Hi Jimmy Wells,

            Your link doesn’t appear to work. When I clicked on it, Bill Gates appears and a list of articles that seemed unrelated. In any case, I’ll try it again later. Please note Botkin claims to have done some research especially in regards to sea-level change over time. Personally, I’ve done separate reading and there exists substantial evidence of extensive sea level rise including the existence of undersea table-mounts or islands the tops of which are ~1000 feet below the surface or more. Yet they have surface vegetation. I forget if they’re carbon datable, but most likely they are. I’m unaware of any remains of once living creatures outside fossils that have not been. If you have evidence one way or another I’d be happy to peruse it.

            Have a great day!

          • Dr. Strangelove says:

            “If sea levels fall, then the IPCC is provably wrong.”

            If sea levels fall, then the current interglacial is provably wrong. Is IPCC saying the current global warming is due to interglacial period?

            You might have missed more recent research by actual experts:

            “The rate of sea level change was found to be larger in the early part of last century (2.03 0.35 mm/yr 19041953), in comparison with the latter part (1.45 0.34 mm/yr 19542003).” (Holgate, 2007)


            “Global sea level has been rising for the past several thousand years. The key issue is whether the rate of sea level rise is accelerating owing to anthropogenic global warming. It is seen that the rate of rise during 1930-1950 was comparable to, if
            not larger than, the value in recent years. Hence the data does not seem to support the IPCCs conclusion of a substantial contribution from anthropogenic forcings to the global mean sea level rise since the 1970s.”

            (Dr. Judith Curry, Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology; Senate testimony on sea level change; July 2013)

    • boris says:


      So what sort of geo engineering do YOU propose to correct the way that we humans have fouled up. How many HUMAN lives will it cost? REMEMBER THERE’S SOMETHING LIKE 7 BILLION OF US NOW! No number of tomatoes you raise in your back yard(no matter how wonderful they taste) WILL FEED THAT BUNCH! Just how is it you propose that China and India forgo becoming modern nations without going to war with them (By the way that’s more than half the world population) They know how to build aircraft carriers and nuclear weapons too! Are you out of your mind!

      • Matt Mousee says:


        It is great that you are at least willing to admit that there is a problem that needs to be dealt with. You are miles ahead of most of the readers here, and the primary author it seems.

        As for geo-engineering and wars – probably not a good idea. Wars are the most costly possible option in both lives and capital. It is amazing that wars are still more popular than renewal energy in red states. There are miles of literature on this if you want to look. The short answer is that there are no magic solutions, but doing nothing will be more expensive than doing something.


  13. Hans Erren says:

    just saw the mayer on the news claiming: “it was a consensus of scientists”

  14. Ron C. says:

    NYC spared Snow Storm of the Century, thanks to Global Warming!

  15. b says:

    why do east coast folks even have a weather expression that says Nor’easter maybe because this is nothing new. I can’t remember when the national news spent so much time on a big nothing

    • Gary Meyers says:

      Distraction, just pure distraction. When the media wants to shift attention away from something they would rather the public not become aware of, they hold up something shiny, or holler, “squirrel”!

  16. Phyte On says:

    This, from Kevin Williamson of National Review:

    If you happen to be a power-hungry politician, a state of emergency is a very useful thing. Which is, of course, why the climate-change panic is so attractive to teapot totalitarians like Bill de Blasio, and why there is neither a warm day nor a cold day and not a sparrow that falls that is inconsistent with their theology.

    • dave says:

      “…and not a sparrow that falls…”

      It is confirmation bias. As Francis Bacon wrote four hundred years ago:

      “It is the peculiar and perpetual error of the human mind to be more moved and excited by affirmatives than negatives.”

  17. Phyte On says:

    C.S. Lewis nailed it more than 50 years ago:

    “What we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.”

  18. Mike says:

    Clips from the Snowperbole:

    Some Americans fear a “crying wolf” effect

    “They were trying to out-drama each other,” architect Rebecca Uss in New York City said Tuesday, speaking of officials in the region who had warned of the coming snowstorm.
    Roberto Gonzalez slept in the lobby of a building, curling up near a radiator, since the restaurant he worked at closed too late Monday for him to get on the subway to go home. “When I woke up, I expected the end of the world. I went outside and nothing (had) happened. What storm?”
    Some people in the Northeast are concerned the government cried wolf.
    “They decided to close,… There “isn’t a flurry to be found. I don’t think they’ll ever give us off again. #crywolf.”
    “This #snowFail does not bode well for civilian cooperation with the terms of the next snow emergency in NYC,” Lisa B. in New York said on Twitter.
    Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy was asked at a news conference Tuesday about suggestions that the predictions were “overblown.” “That would be an oversimplification,” he said, laughing.
    Many people had stocked up on days’ worth of necessities and prepared to hunker down for what the National Weather Service said could be a “raging blizzard.”

    Some are now calling it all “snowperbole.”

    Some meteorologists apologize
    Some who forecast the weather professionally felt the need to apologize, including Gary Szatkowski, with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, New Jersey.
    “My deepest apologies to many key decision makers and so many members of the general public,” he wrote Tuesday on Twitter. “You made a lot of tough decisions expecting us to get it right, and we didn’t. Once again, I’m sorry.”
    An online collection showed several similar tweets from meteorologists, including one from News 12 New Jersey’s Dave Curren saying the forecast “deflated as much as New England Patriots footballs.”

    And I love this last line: It’s not an exact science, and it’s important for people to know that, Miller says. “As meteorologists we must convey the uncertainty associated with these forecasts.”

    If the can’t get it right in the hours where it matters, why do some think they see it in the bigger picture? “We must convey the uncertainty…” they say now. But when it comes to AGW we hear it is certain?
    What good will the apologies be when we are drug back to the stoneage without a fire to keep warm?

  19. Dr. Strangelove says:

    “You never hear the IPCC say that sea levels might just go down in a warming world.”

    You never hear the IPCC say that the warming world might be due to nature as sea level has been rising since 18,000 years ago. By the way, did the IPCC say increasing atmospheric CO2 might decrease the rate of sea level rise? Because it decreased to 1.3 mm/yr in 2005-2012 according to NOAA, less than half the 3.1 mm/yr claimed by IPCC. I guess Jim will say this is just weather while IPCC is talking about climate change.

  20. Mark Luhman says:

    Having liven in Minnesota and North Dakota most of my life an understand it can snow big time when you are over a thousand miles from where the atmosphere can pick up a lot of moisture. Try 18 inches on October 2, ditto for early November(it was interesting to see lighting in the middle of a snow storm) or thirty inches in central South Dakota in the middle of October. It is no surprise someone living on the coast can get a lot of snow in a short period of time. Throw in the Appalachian mountains one would wonder why it does not happen more often, thank God for prevailing winds. It strike me funny how the educated idiots do not understand this!

  21. AlecM says:

    The blizzard of claims that this snowstorm is ‘Proof of Global Warming’ evokes a response from this grizzled engineer and scientist who has used correct Radiative physics for many decades to design real engineering systems!

    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 Earths 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:

    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!

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