Son of Polar Vortex
“As the days lengthen, the cold doth strengthen” the proverb goes. Yes it doth. Tired of the cold? Well, it’s not tired of you. Not yet. Although I do see a faint glimmer of hope at the end of our polar tunnel. Long-range guidance shows some moderation late next week into early February, as the core of the coldest air lifts into Canada, however temporarily.
But through the middle of next week the Polar Vortex will do a painful pirouette – spokes of numbing air rotating fresh bursts of subzero air into the northern USA, one after another.
Tracking The Polar Pain. Here are 2-meter temperatures out to 84 hours, courtesy of NOAA’s NAM model. The 32F isotherm pushes into Texas, the Gulf Coast and central Florida (frost at Disneyworld?) Subzero weather pushes from the Upper Mississippi Valley across the Great Lakes into much of New England. Animation: Ham Weather.
More Lake Effect. Subzero air passing over the relatively warm waters of the Great Lakes will whip up more snow squalls capable of significant accumulation, especially Lower Michigan, Cleveland, Erie and Buffalo. NAM guidance: NOAA and Ham Weather.
Big Picture Snowfall Trends. It’s easy to confuse weather with climate – we’re hard-wired to react to what’s outside our window at any given point in time. Data from Rutgers University Global Snow Lab suggests that winters over the Northern Hemisphere are, in fact, getting snowier, possibly the result of more water vapor in the air. But spring snowfall trends are just the opposite – it’s warming up faster, meaning less snow spilling over into March and April. Rapid melting of arctic ice during the summer months means less snow cover over the entire Northern Hemisphere from year to year, especially since 2000. That, and the recent snow in the Northeast, is the subject of today’s edition of Climate Matters.
Grrrr. I know Doug MacKenzie, from VisitPhoenix.com, meant well when he passed this along yesterday. He wasn’t trying to rub in the fact that it was 81F at Phoenix, right? I’m assuming honorable intentions here – he was just informing all of us that it’s warmer in Arizona than it is in Minnesota. Let me write that down.
January 22, 2014, Phoenix, AZ….Visitors arriving in the Southwest today from the Midwest are enjoying a wintry escape from polar vortex temps up north. The temps today in Phoenix will rise to 81 degrees. The biggest decisions are not which mittens to don, but rather to play golf or relax by a resort pool. “Our northern latitude friends are invited to leave their winter gear at home and thaw out in Greater Phoenix, “ explained Doug MacKenzie, Director of Media Relations for VisitPhoenix.com. “We offer more than 60,000 hotel rooms to fit everyone’s budget. The Waste Management Open, one of the largest golf tourneys commences next week and baseball’s spring training pitchers arrive the following week.”Visitors planning a getaway can see the various attractions, things to do, where to eat, and explore hotel options at VisitPhoenix.com. Phoenix is the 6th largest city in the USA and offers numerous daily flights.”
Super Bowl Weather Preview. The latest solutions are colder than they were for the Meadowlands in New Jersey just a few days ago, suggesting temperatures in the upper 20s and low 30s, a cold wind, but probably dry. A blizzard for Super Bowl XLVIII? Right now I don’t see it.
Snowcover From Space. Here’s a visible satellite image taken Wednesday, showing fresh snow on the ground from the Virginias into coastal New England, courtesy of the Baltimore-Washington National Weather Service.
Another Hunk Of The Polar Vortex. Although not quite as extreme as early January, the next week will get your attention, with subzero readings commonplace into at least Thursday of next week, as chunks of brittle, truly polar air break off and dive southward. The GFS guidance above is valid Monday morning, courtesy of Climate Reanalyzer.
NOAA Says World In 2013 Was 4th Hottest On Record. There is some disagreement between NASA (GISS) and NOAA; here’s an excerpt from phys.org: “Last year tied for the fourth hottest year on record around the globe. The average world temperature was 58.12 degrees (14.52 C) tying with 2003 for the fourth warmest since 1880, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday. At the same time, NASA, which calculates records in a different manner, ranked last year as the seventh warmest on record, with an average temperature of 58.3 degrees (14.6 C). The difference is related to how the two agencies calculate air temperatures in the Arctic and other remote places and is based on differences that are in the hundredths of a degree, scientists said...”
Photo credit above: “In this Nov. 14, 2013 file photo, Typhoon Haiyan survivors walk through ruins in the village of Maraboth, in the Philippines. Last year was tied for the fourth warmest year on record around the world. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday released its global temperature figures for 2013. The average world temperature was 58.12 degrees (15.52 C) tying with 2003 for the fourth warmest since 1880.” (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder).
* The Guardian’s coverage of 2013 global temperature summaries is here.
2013 Global Temperature Anomalies. I did a triple-take after seeing this image from NASA’s Earth Observatory; a little pocket of cooler than average weather from central Canada into the central USA; otherwise just about the entire planet was warmer than the long-term, 1951-1980 averages. But perception becomes reality; if you look out your window and it’s cold outside, how can the atmosphere possibly be warming up? NASA explains: “The top map above depicts global temperature anomalies in 2013. It does not show absolute temperatures, but instead shows how much warmer or cooler the Earth was compared to an averaged base period from 1951 to 1980. The GISS team assembles its analysis with publicly available data from roughly 6,300 meteorological stations around the world; ship-based and satellite observations of sea surface temperature; and Antarctic research station measurements. For more explanation of how the analysis works, read World of Change: Global Temperatures“
Air Pollution In China Is Spreading Across The Pacific To The U.S. Turns out all the money we pay to China to produce cheap (crap) is coming back to bite us, in the form of smog, which doesn’t seem to want to respect international borders. Smithsonian.com has the report – here’s a clip: “…The dynamics of cloud formation are quite complex, but the study’s conclusions were surprisingly straightforward. This air pollution, the model showed, has powerful consequences for cyclone formation, increasing overall precipitation over the Northwest Pacific by 7 percent over what it would be otherwise. The particulate matter, the researchers found, is also producing a regional greenhouse gas effect, siginificantly contributing to climate change. These findings are, naturally, pretty worrisome. But for U.S. readers, the results of the study on the global spread of Chinese air pollution, published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, might be even more troubling, both because they show the effects of Chinese pollution here in the U.S. and because they trace much of the responsibility back to American consumers, who buy a large proportion of the goods manufactured in China...”
Feeling Better About Our Snow. Skiers heading out in South Korea should be on the look-out for “acid snow”, the result of otherwordly amounts of pollution/smog swirling in from China. So with acid snow there’s no need to wax your skis – they just slowly melt before your eyes? Good grief. Here’s a video clip and excerpt from Arirang News: “Let’s go over to our Kim Bo-gyung at the weather center for a checkup. Bo-gyung, it has been a dark day here in Seoul, with snow falling from time to time. That’s right, Ji-hae. Please be sure to have an umbrella with you, as the snow that’s falling in the central regions right now is acid snow, which is a mixture of snow and yellow dust…”
Wildfires: San Diego’s Ecological Elephant In The Room. This story caught my eye, at The San Diego Free Press. I hadn’t realized how close San Diego came to a potentially devastating conflagration in 2007. Here’s an excerpt: “…But I’m not sure most San Diegans realize the extent to which we dodged a bullet in 2007. If the wind direction at a key moment in that firestorm had not suddenly switched from the westerly course it was locked on, to a southerly path (and then later to its more normal easterly flow), San Diego might today be the west coast icon for “greatest urban disasters in U.S. history.” A huge swath of our urban region could have burned to the ground. Hundreds of thousands of buildings might have been destroyed, and tens of thousands left homeless. Untold numbers might have lost their lives. We’ve forgotten those details from October 2007: two raging mega-fires, poised like pincers heading from two directions toward the very heart of our city...” (Image: Wikipedia).
The Cult Of Overwork. It turns out working too much may not only be bad for your health, it may also be bad for your employer; here’s an excerpt of a fascinating story at The New Yorker: “…“Today, technology means that we’re all available 24/7. And, because everyone demands instant gratification and instant connectivity, there are no boundaries, no breaks.”Cry me a river, you might say. But what happened on Wall Street is just an extreme version of what’s happened to so-called knowledge workers in general. Thirty years ago, the best-paid workers in the U.S. were much less likely to work long days than low-paid workers were. By 2006, the best paid were twice as likely to work long hours as the poorly paid, and the trend seems to be accelerating…”
For The Love Of Money. Just in case you missed this eye-opening story at The New York Times; here’s a clip: “IN my last year on Wall Street my bonus was $3.6 million — and I was angry because it wasn’t big enough. I was 30 years old, had no children to raise, no debts to pay, no philanthropic goal in mind. I wanted more money for exactly the same reason an alcoholic needs another drink: I was addicted. Eight years earlier, I’d walked onto the trading floor at Credit Suisse First Boston to begin my summer internship. I already knew I wanted to be rich, but when I started out I had a different idea about what wealth meant…”
Graphic credit: Owen Freeman.
Richest 85 Boast Same Wealth As Half The World. Income inequality? What income inequality? It’s just a rounding error. Here’s an excerpt from The Sydney Morning Herald: “Eighty-five people control the same amount of wealth as half the world’s population. That is 85 people compared with 3.5 billion. A new report from Oxfam has been published in time for the World Economic Forum in Davos this week. It shows the world’s ultra-wealthy have not only recovered from the global financial crisis, they have positively blossomed…”