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

February 9th, 2015 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

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.

18 Responses to “Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon: One Cold Weekend Ahead for the East”

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  1. sl149q says:

    Yes, but it is unseasonably hot over here on the West Coast (Vancouver, BC.) I guess all the hot air has to go somewhere.

    • Gordon Robertson says:

      @sl149q “Yes, but it is unseasonably hot over here on the West Coast….”

      I would not call this unseasonably warm here in Vancouver. I’d say it’s back to normal. As a kid and an adult I played soccer in this sort of weather during the winter.

      We played in shorts and if you were a wuss, you’d wear a T-shirt under your shirt. As a kid, we played through December and January and seldom had a game canceled. If the ref wanted to call a game because the park was under a foot of water, or snow, we’d whine at him and often he’d relent. Referee’s for kid’s games don’t get the credit they deserve.

      Anyway, the powers that be began cancelling all games in December and January in the name if preserving the parks, not for anything related to child safety.

      I do recall that February of 1970 was unseasonably warm. It’s all hindsight but I remember going to work downtown Van and wearing nothing more than a T-shirt and light jacket.

  2. Physics Group says:

    Neither “cold weekends” or heatwaves have anything to do with carbon dioxide, because the whole concept that planetary surface temperatures are determined primarily by direct solar radiation is totally incorrect. The planet Uranus, for example, has no surface at the base of its nominal troposphere where the temperatures is about 47C.

    A study of this nominal troposphere of Uranus confirms that the temperature gradient is about 95% of the -g/Cp value mentioned below. All tropospheres have slightly less steep gradients because of the temperature-leveling effect of inter-molecular radiation between IR-active molecules. The temperature gradient (aka “lapse rate”) is the state of thermodynamic equilibrium which the Second Law of Thermodynamics says will evolve autonomously as entropy approaches the maximum. At that maximum there can be no unbalanced energy potentials, and so, other forms of energy being equal, there must be a homogeneous sum of molecular gravitational potential energy and kinetic energy. Because PE varies with altitude, and because temperature is proportional to mean molecular KE only, there must be a temperature gradient, which we can calculate to be -g/Cp where Cp is the weighted mean specific heat of the gases.

    Now, because the temperature gradient represents the state of thermodynamic equilibrium, any new thermal energy absorbed in the upper atmosphere from insolation will disturb the equilibrium and lead to a new state of thermodynamic equilibrium evolving with the same temperature gradient, but a higher overall temperature. This means some thermal energy moves downwards to warmer regions, not by radiation, but by convective heat transfer which, in physics, includes transfers of KE in molecular collisions and diffusion.

    All this is explained in more detail in our group’s website and you can read about Uranus on the ‘Evidence’ page therein.

    What happens in the real universe is a complete paradigm shift from what climatologists think about planets cooling off and having surfaces warmed only by solar radiation. All planetary temperatures are determined from the “anchor point” in their atmosphere right down to their cores, and all temperatures en route are supported by downward diffusion and convective heat transfer from the anchor point, that being where there is radiative equilibrium with the Sun. If the Sun’s radiation somehow ceased, then all planets and satellite moons would cool right down, even their cores wherein any energy generation is in reality nowhere near sufficient to maintain existing temperatures, and not necessary anyway. That’s what the Second Law of Thermodynamics gives us reason to say must be the case.

    • Scott Scarborough says:

      From above:
      “…because the whole concept that planetary surface temperatures are determined primarily by direct solar radiation is totally incorrect.” AND “If the Suns radiation somehow ceased, then all planets and satellite moons would cool right down,…”

      • Physics Group says:

        Do you not understand that we are talking about direct solar radiation into the surface that is not what is determining that surface’s temperature? As explained above, there are other inputs of thermal energy into the surface by processes that are not radiation, and these processes are what supports the surface temperature, especially on a planet like Venus. That’s why it’s important to understand why it’s hotter than Earth’s surface at the base of the nominal troposphere of Uranus, even though it’s about 30 times further from the Sun.

        The level of solar radiation, as explained in the comment above, determines the temperature at the anchor point in the troposphere – the proverbial 255K (-18C) for Earth, roughly 5Km above the surface.

        If you still don’t understand what is explained on our group’s website after you’ve studied it and read all five pages, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.

  3. Thanks, Dr. Spencer.
    This must be the oncoming cold spell Joe Bastardi was talking about on Saturday at

  4. Fonzarelli says:

    Thanx Dr. S., the frigid air will make it down here (in new orleans) just in time for the major carnival parades. AND that’s a good thing; hot weather and large crowds are a bad mix for carnival parades. Cool weather tends to thin crowds out and elicits better crowd behavior…

  5. Lemon says:

    Don’t joke about this – I lived in Saskatoon for 5 years – one of the nicest places I have lived (in the summer). Wonderful people. But my last year there… 1985 – the first snow that stayed was September 9th and the last snow was June 6th… The entire month of January got no warmer (or less freezing) that minus 31 deg…

    • O Olson says:

      I’m in Saskatoon right now. Eight months of winter and four months of poor sledding. But seriously, most of the city is very pretty in the summer, especially the river area. But that summer is just too damned short for chlorophyll lovers like me.

    • Gordon Robertson says:

      @Lemon “Dont joke about this I lived in Saskatoon for 5 years…”

      Had some good times in Saskatoon in both winter and summer. I was based in Regina and had to drive up to Saskatoon regularly. Will never forget the wind borne powder snow that began as trickles on the road, gradually building up till the road essentially disappeared, then enveloping the entire car in a powder fog.

      Scary stuff when there is nowhere to pull off the road for fear of being rear-ended. No one seems to slow down for such hazards.

      Then there were days at -50C with a brilliant sun and very fine ice crystals falling from the blue, cloudless sky.

      Did not have to click Roy’s link, presuming it was about the Guess Who, who wrote the song. Better check.

    • Ron C. says:

      I thought it was:
      “Six months of great skating weather, six months of not so great skating weather.”

  6. John F. Hultquist says:

    Lots of snow. Lots of wind. = big drifts.
    The Great State of Washington could use some of that snow.
    We’ll pass on the bitter cold.

  7. Gordon Robertson says:

    @Roy…It’s not Canada’s fault. Honestly, it’s those Siberians. They are messing with the Beaufort gyre. 🙂

    I have read a decent account of the wind and ocean currents in the Arctic that give a better scientific explanation for the loss of Arctic ice.

    Here’s two:

    On top of all that, Captain Henry Larsen of the St.Roch (now housed in Vancouver’s Maritime Museum), the first boat to go through the Arctic from Vancouver to Halifax and back, talked about the effects of wind and currents on the ice.

    It took them two years to make the west-east trip due to pack ice forcing them ashore but they sailed right through east to west circa 1943.

  8. ren says:

    The following figure shows the correspondence between the changing magnetic field in the Arctic and Arctic temperatures. The magnetic field is shown for Hudson Bay (blue), Siberia (green) and the average (red) and compared with the Arctic average temperature anomalies (maroon). []

  9. wyoskeptic says:

    The last six days here have been above 60 F. Our snow has melted. Now if only the wind would go down, I could really work on my tan.

    We’ve been right at the edge of all the latest baddies. Which, by the way, is just fine with me. We all get it all often enough out here, I am more than happy to see others sharing in the wonderful joys of cold, deep snowdrifts, wind, and more cold. No exercise in the world like that of snow shoveling one’s vehicle first thing in the morning. Or again when you slide off the road on the way to work. Or again when coming home after the snow plow has been by.

    Ahh yes. Pass me that SPF 25 would you?

  10. rah says:

    Delivered up in Bolton, ON (just north of Toronto)Friday (2/13) morning. When I backed in at 00:30 it was -6 deg. F.

    On the way back I passed over the Ambassador bridge between Windsor and Detroit. Noticed an ice breaker had been working earlier but the Detroit river was freezing up again.

    Earlier in the week, on Tuesday, I picked up in Chelsea, MA east of the Bunker Hill memorial and due north of Logan Airport. Not a happy time driving a big truck down there with snow piled everywhere and cars parked where they shouldn’t be. In some places I just had to creep along because pedestrians were waling in the street since there were 5′ berms of plowed snow covering the sidewalks.

    Noticed on the way back west over I-90 that an icebreaker, I suspect a Coast Guard Cutter, had been breaking the ice on the Hudson for barge traffic. Stopped at the Iroquois service area for my break and was woken up in the middle of the night by a front loader dumping snow into dump trucks so they could haul it out of the service area.

    Been a tough winter of driving for this truck driver.

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