Snow Depth Anomaly

Another map to watch is the snow depth anomaly (h/t Jeff Masters). You can pull one together at Here’s today’s.

Almost the entire northern tier has an 8 inch snow depth deficit, as do most of the mountains of the southwest.

Jeff Masters discusses the situation here.

Flowers are sprouting in January in New Hampshire, the Sierra Mountains in California are nearly snow-free, and lakes in much of Michigan still have not frozen. It’s 2012, and the new year is ringing in another ridiculously wacky winter for the U.S. In Fargo, North Dakota yesterday, the mercury soared to 55°F, breaking a 1908 record for warmest January day in recorded history. More than 99% of North Dakota had no snow on the ground this morning, and over 95% of the country that normally has snow at this time of year had below-average snow cover. High temperatures in Nebraska yesterday were in the 60s, more than 30° above average. Storm activity has been almost nil over the past week over the entire U.S., with the jet stream bottled up far to the north in Canada. It has been remarkable to look at the radar display day after day and see virtually no echoes, and it is very likely that this has been the driest first week of January in U.S. recorded history.


  1. The proper term is the 48 contiguous States or some variation.

    What’s missing for ‘yall is here, mostly.

    A follow-up on the Nome snicker. The final fuel barge of the season didn’t make it. Some bright soul moved its scheduled delivery date somewhat later that normal. That, a hold-up for the big storm in the Bearing and southern Chuchki in mid November that got some national attention, followed by a cold snap left the Seward Peninsula short of fuel for the winter.

    Some scrambling found a small Russian ice rated tanker, the Renda, available. While it made for Korea to load product, the USGG’s Healy (rated at 3 knots in 4.5 feet of ice), several days past Nome on its way out of the Arctic Ocean headed for Seattle was diverted to await the Renda at Dutch Harbor near the base of the Aleutian Islands. Also while the Renda loaded and made for “Dutch” emails flew, US Senators twisted arms, etc. to expedite the crossing and doting required. A few hours out of Dutch Harbor, underway for Nome, the tanker suffered a burned valve to its main engine. The ship's black gang fabricated and installed a replacement valve and they are now grinding though the ice.

  2. What is the point of the post?

    What matters is the long term trend, averaged. Showing a time when the map is too warm is just a snapshot. (Same applies in reverse when Watts puts a picture of frost on palm trees or the like up.) Note, this applies even if you show a snapshot covering all of CONUS. Heck, it even applies for a snapshot covering all of the world. As we know...the global temp has excursions up and down. I recommend instead concentrating on the trend as Tamino tends to do.

    You can come back and say...oh we beleive in the trend, we are just showing tactical examples of what things will be like with a long term warming trend. But that's a poor argument. As we still have short term warm periods in a cooling and the converse. And it is not hard to imagine these large effects. What is really more helpful is to concentrate on long term climactic effects. Not snapshots of weather.

  3. TCO, that argument can be taken too far. Once we start seeing patterns without any precedent, it is reasonable to put them into a climate change context.

    I do not know if there is precedent for a 100:1 ratio of warm records to cold ones (or vice versa) but it strikes me as the sort of thing that could be revealing of global trends in extreme conditions, which is notoriously hard to pull from the background so far.

    Normally, extreme warmth in one area is matched with extreme cold in another of comparable size and intensity, as is indicative of a high undulation in the jet stream. In the case at hand, we clearly have the one without the other.

    These patterns also appear as if they might be informative in other ways.

    Several other points were made in the post.

    One is to look beyond the usual turf of people engaged in the arguments and focus on those actually engaged in the science in a neutral, evidence-driven way.

    Another is the old point, but one worth repeating, of the willingness and eagerness of the denialists to cherry-pick.

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