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Monday, January 21, 2008
Maximum Temperature Trends

By Dr. Ben Herman on Roger Pielke Sr.’s Climate Science

There is an issue with regards to U.S. surface temperature trends that seems to have been overlooked, although apparently well recognized. I am referring to the HO-83 thermometers that were installed at many USHCN sites as well as first order stations. It has been well documented (Gall et.al. 1992, Jones et.al. 1995, Karl et. al. 1995) and others.that a warm bias existed, primarily in the daily maximum temperature readings reported by these instruments. The error in the Tucson data was about 2-3 deg F, but this error was apparently different with each thermometer. Karl et. al.  (1995) have suggested that the average for this error over the country was on the order of 0.5 deg C on the reported maximum temperatures. Thus, if the maximum temperatures were corrected by this amount, average temperatures in the U.S, would be lowered by about 0.25 deg C, assuming the minimum readings were correct. This would probably pretty much neutralize the reported trend increase during the late 80’s and 90’s in this country. The situation has been covered in some detail in a Climate Audit blog by Steve McIntyre for those wishing more detail on the history of this issue.

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See full size image here

These thermometers have subsequently been replaced, but to the best of my knowledge, none of the station data have been corrected for this problem. In view of the probable magnitude of this error, and the time elapsed since the problems with the HO-83 thermometers have been known, why has this issue not only been not corrected, but also, not even mentioned by those that are determining and publishing these trends? It is true that these faulty instruments were probably used primarily in the U.S.  Read more here.

Dr. Benjamin Herman is the former Director of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics and also former head of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona. He has been a member of both the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth’s Executive Committee and the Committee on Global Change.

Posted on 01/21 at 11:40 PM
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When Science Reporting Was Unbiased

By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM

We reported that the arctic ice minimum this year was due to natural cyclical fluctuations in the multidecadal ocean cycles and the flow of warm water into the arctic through the Barents Sea and Bering Strait in this blog on September 22nd. NASA too did a story on the changes in the arctic being at least in part due to changes in the arctic ocean circulation.

To show this is nothing new or unusual, take note of this quote from Scientific American reported in the Orleans, Vermont Independent Standard of Nov.28, 1856 found and forwarded by John McClaughry of the Ethan Allen Institute:

“It is well known as a matter of history, that when Greenland was discovered, it possessed a much warmer climate than it does at present. The ice packs have been extending south from the polar regions for some centuries, and the northeast coasts of our continent are much colder than they were three centuries ago. The cause of this is not well understood - the fact only is known. It is believed by some persons that there is a great eddy in some part of the polar ocean which sometimes changes its direction, and by drifting large iceberges from one place to another, changes the climate of those places whence they are drifted by the presence of such masses of ice diffusing their low temperatures to great distances.”

This excellent animation by NSIDC from 1981 to 2007 also shows how arctic ice has been on the move increasingly in recent decades on an annual basis due to the global pattern changes.  The numbers/colors represent the age of the ice from 0 (water) to 5 or more (red).

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Posted on 01/21 at 11:11 PM
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Antarctica and Volcanism

Thanks to John McLean for a link to this site tracking Antarctic temperatures since 1955 by Ole Humlum, UNIS, Department of Geology, Svalbard, Norway. They conclude the existing Antarctic surface air temperature records 1960-1998 reveal periods of persistent (multi-year) and geographically extensive temperature trends towards cooling in the interior and warming in the coastal regions. The spatial and seasonal patterns of these trends are, however, not quite simple and appear to change with time; that is, the temperature relationship between specific locations is not temporally consistent. Within the Antarctic Peninsula a warming trend has, however, persisted, with exception of the spring season. The cooling has been modest in coastal East Antarctic regions, but more pronounced at the Amundsen-Scott Base and at the South Pole.

The observed temperature changes since 1957 has been difficult to simulate by Global Climate Models (Connolley and O’Farrell 1998) and is not yet fully understood. The observed spatial pattern of temperature variations may, however, indicate that the consecutive warming and cooling throughout the decades was part of a large-scale circulation pattern that exhibits long-term persistence.  There is some observational evidence suggesting that under present conditions cooler conditions on the Antarctic Plateau are associated with stronger zonal westerlies around the Antarctic continent, causing warmer conditions in the Peninsula regions penetrating north into the zone of enhanced westerlies. 

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5 Year running annual mean temperatures 1988 to 2002. See full size image here

Western Antarctica and the peninsula is also a region of volcanic activity which may be contributing at times to upwelling of warmed water and icemelt. That was confirmed this week in an article in Nature Geoscience and in the National Science Foundation site.

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Thanks to Alan Siddons for this image of Antarctic volcanoes. See full size image here. See this spectacular image of the hot spots and the cold continent from satellite from 1982 to 2004 here

By the way, the Gakkel ridge under the Arctic is volcanically active right now and together with the recent inflow of warm water from the Pacific and Atlantic in their multidecadal warm modes may be contributing factors to recent icemelt there as well in recent years.

Posted on 01/21 at 06:29 PM
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Ice Bowl Revisited?

By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM

UPDATE SUNDAY AM:  The Giants are in Green Bay on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field for the evening playoffs. Green Bay’s high temperature yesterday was -1F. At this writing in the early morning it is -13F with a wind chill of -32F. After a high of 0 to 2F, by game time, it is likely to have dropped back to zero or below with wind chills of -25 to -30F. In Foxboro where the Patriots take on the Chargers, arctic air is streaming in this morning after a dusting of snow in the area during the pre-dawn hours. temperatures will be dropping through the teens through the game with below zero wind chills. By the way, the cold and snow headed to the deep south.

ICE BOWL 1967

The 1967 National Football League Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys was the 35th championship game in NFL history. Popularly known as the Ice Bowl, it is widely considered one of the greatest games in NFL history, due in part to the hostile conditions in which it was played, the importance of the game, the rivalry between the teams, and the dramatic conclusion.

The 1967 game, played on December 31 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, remains the coldest NFL game on record. The official game-time temperature was -13F / -25C, with a wind chill around -48F / -44C. The bitter cold overwhelmed Lambeau’s new turf heating system, leaving the playing surface hard as a rock and nearly as smooth as ice. The officials were unable to use their whistles after the opening kickoff. As the referee blew his metal whistle to signal the start of play, it froze to his lips. For the rest of the game, the officials used voice commands and calls to end plays and officiate the game.

Several players, including Dallas defensive tackle Jethro Pugh and Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr, still claim to suffer occasional mild effects of the frostbite they developed that day. Dallas quarterback Don Meredith came down with pneumonia after the game and was hospitalized on his return to Texas. Furthermore, the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse Marching Chiefs band were supposed to perform the pregame and halftime shows. During warmups in the brutal cold, the woodwind instruments froze and wouldn’t play, the mouthpieces of brass instruments got stuck to the players’ lips, and seven members of the band were transported to local hospitals for hypothermia. The band’s performances were canceled. Lambeau Field supposedly got its nickname, “The Frozen Tundra” from that game which Green Bay won 21-17.

The winners head to southern Arizona for the Super Bowl and much more benign conditions in a few weeks.

Posted on 01/16 at 06:47 PM
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Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Latest Antarctic Sea Ice Extent

By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM

Once again today we were told in the media that the antarctic ice is melting at an increasing and alarming rate. The story appeared in many papers including the Washington Post and the UK Globe Mail today based on a research project, led by Eric Rignot, principal scientist for the Radar Science and Engineering Section at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and appearing in the current issue of Nature Geoscience. In an e-mail, Dr. Rignot attributed the shrinkage in the ice sheet to an upwelling of warm waters along the Antarctic coast, which is causing some glaciers to flow more rapidly into the ocean. He suspects the trend is due to global warming.

This seemed odd coming shortly after reports that the Southern Hemisphere (Antarctica) set a record for the MAXIMUM extent of ice since satellite monitoring began in 1979 this year. We thought we would take a look at the latest NSIDC graphs for southern hemispheric ice extent.

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See full size image here

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See full size image here

I will remind you it is mid-summer in the Southern Hemisphere. Ice extent remains well (one million square kilometers) above the 28 year average and an impressive 3 million square kilometers above last year at this time!. There is clearly a lot of year to year variability in the record but the demise of the Antartic icecap seems to be anything but imminent. Most of the warming and melt in recent years has been in the vicinity of the Antarctic Peninsula, a small portion of the Antarctic which reaches above the Antarctic Circle and is a choke-point for the circumpolar ocean currents, and is more susceptible to variations.  There’s also an active subsea volcano in the area, perhaps leading to the warm water upwelling in the study.

Posted on 01/15 at 12:42 AM
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Sunday, January 13, 2008
Another Cherry Picking Study and AP Story

By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM

Recently we reported on a study funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and conducted by the Vermont Public Research and Education Fund purports to show increased extreme precipitation events-rain and snow-in the United States over the last 59 years, perhaps linked to global warming. The first half of the period studied was the last cold phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, an ocean current pattern that strongly affects storm tracks and thus precipitation over North America. Half way through the VPIRG study period the PDO flipped to its warm phase. The VPIRG carefully picked a period where it could hardly have avoided getting the higher precipitation frequency that it wanted for maximum shock effect.

A new study by the University of New Hampshire reported by the AP that looks at temperatures and snowfall in the northeast. It conveniently starts in 1965 near the bottom of the last cool period and ends in 2005 near the peak of the latest warm period. Their study of weather station data from across the Northeast from 1965 through 2005 found temperatures from December through March increased by 2.5 degrees over the four decades.

When you look at the National Climate Data Center data for the northeast region for the entire record since 1895, you see cycles of warming and cooling but little in the way of any net change from warmest 5 year mean peak (1950 for this region) to next warmest peak (2000) or coldest year (1903) to next coldest year (1980).

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See larger image here.

Read in this analysis more on the temperature issue and why although their analysis of snowfall changes are likely correct, they have can be easily explained by changes in storm tracks due to changes in the Pacific. 

UPDATE: See this news story today about the very heavy snow season this year in New Hampshire, Latest Storm Brings State Closer to Snow Record.

Posted on 01/13 at 04:49 AM
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Saturday, January 12, 2008
Step Down to Major Cold And Snow

By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM

It has been quite an incredible January.  It started with several days of frigid temperatures with freezing temperatures and record cold even down to Fort Myers, Florida. Then a major storm in the west and several even more amazing warm days with over 200 record highs. The warmth began to ease this week with a series of fronts that brought tornadoes to the central states as far north as Wisconsin and rare January thunderstorms to the northeast today. Temperatures will continue to ease down slowly so that by Sunday night and Monday the next storm will be bringing a heavy wet snow to the northeast.

More seasonable January cold will follow well into next week before another storm moves up the coast bringing more precipitation including ice and snow. Real deal arctic air follows that system and dominates the following week. But the storms will keep coming bringing heavy amounts to areas that got it in December and many areas that were left out then. In the last days of the month, with the Pacific blocked off by a large eastern Pacific ridge, bitter arctic air will stay in control and dominate across the north. How deep into the south the arctic air pushes depends on whether blocking develops in the North Atlantic as some of the ensemble models have suggested. In any event, the rest of the month looks to be memorable for many parts of the nation.

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See full size image here. Interesting picture of ice texture on a watch tower located on a pier at the south side of Lake Erie in the US. Arctic winds from Canada blew water from wave crests along the lake, and the water froze as it hit the tower. Picture courtesy of Brian Valentine

Posted on 01/12 at 02:33 AM
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Friday, January 11, 2008
Breaking News- Snow in the Middle of the South America Summer

You think the weather has been wild and extreme here in the United States the last 10 days. Take a look at this!!!

Metsul Weather Center

The weather went crazy. This is the most read sentence in the press of Buenos Aires at this moment. The central and northern areas of Argentina are experiencing a brutal heat wave that brought the electrical grid of country to near a collapse point. The temperature soared to 39C (102F) in Buenos Aires with a heat index of 42C (108F), but in some provinces of Argentina the heat index reached 54C (129F) yesterday. This morning it snowed in several locations of southern Argentina as the famous resort of Bariloche in the Andes Mountains. It even snowed in downtown Bariloche (photo), a rare event for January. Local press described the snow blanketed the Cordillera of Chubut, an unusual event for January. “I do not know if I use my plastic swimming pool or the skis”, told a local resident that saw snow this morning and just few hours earlier suffered with much above average temperature reaching 30C (86F) in the Patagonia region. Snow was also reported in San Martins de Los Andes. Tourists in the regional, used to see snow in the colder months of the years, could not believe the white thing was falling in the middle of January. Just like this week in the United States (winter storm in the West and unusually warm in the East), the northern areas of Argentina were under very warm weather warnings at the some moment it was snowing in the southern provinces.

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See full size image here. See video of snow in Bariloche, Argentina here.

Icecap Note: This is even more unusual than a July snow in Denver, a mile high (5,278 feet) city at about the same latitude. Bariloche is at just 2,772 feet elevation.

Posted on 01/11 at 03:11 AM
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Thursday, January 10, 2008
Reno, Nevada, How Not to Measure Temperatures

By Anthony Watts, Watts Up With That

Last summer I attempted to do a survey of Reno’s USHCN official climate station. But I was thwarted by its placement at the Reno International Airport due to security and lack of accessible photographic vantage points. Reno’s USHCN station is particularly important due to it being part of the test cases of stations in the new USHCN2 scheme being implemented by NCDC. It’s also important due to it’s steep temperature trend which appears to be more of an urban heat island (UHI) issue than a climate change issue. It shows up as a hot spot in USHCN contours done by Steve MacIntyre

While there wasn’t good Google Earth photography online last summer, that has since been remedied, and high resolution photographs are now available at Google Earth and at Microsoft’s Live Earth. Having these, I was able to complete the station survey and determine that this station is a CRN4 rating due to proximity to the ILS building with a/c exhaust vents, less than 10 meters away. A CRN4 rating is unusual for an ASOS station.

In wondering about just how this placement between runways on a darker surface environment might contribute to the upward trend in the GISS temperature graph shown above, I did some searching online and soon discovered that NOAA uses Reno’s placement problems as an example in a training manual for climate monitoring COOP managers. They’d already done all the work for me! More on that internal NOAA training manual later, as it has provided a wealth of information previously undisclosed. What is striking about this is that here we have NOAA documenting the effects of an “urban heat bubble” something that Parker 2003 et al say “doesn’t exist”, plus we have inclusion a site with known issues, held up as a bad example for training the operational folks, being used in a case study for the new USHCN2 system.  From the manual: “Reno’s busy urban airport has seen the growth of an urban heat bubble on its north end. The corresponding graph of mean annual minimum temperature (average of 365 nighttime minimums each year) has as a consequence been steadily rising.”

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From the NOAA Internal Training Manual

It seems that Parker is looking more and more foolish with his attempts to make UHI “disappear” when NOAA references UHI problems with station placement in their own training manuals. Read more here.

Posted on 01/10 at 04:16 PM
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Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Regime Change in Weather Pattern Has Produced Wild Extremes

By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM

It started with a dump of frigid arctic air last week that brought single digit and sub-zero temperatures across the north and record cold and even flurries to the deep south including Florida. Then a series of storms began to dive out of the trough that has been so persistent near Alaska into California bringing very heavy flooding rains, hurricane force winds and mountain snows measured in yards not feet or inches.

As the cold arctic high moved off the east coast and the western storms came east, southerly winds pumped warm air north shattering records for 138 cities in the plains and midwest Monday and many cities in the east Tuesday. With the warm air came tornadoes as far north as Wisconsin. Tornadoes in the period from the late fall to the late spring are more common in La Nina years. But this warm spell will be short lived as the regime change proceeds. A ridge will gradually replace the trough off the west coast which will shut off the flow of Pacific air into North America and allow the arctic air trapped air up by Alaska and Northern Canada and across the arctic ice to Siberia to spread south into the lower 48 states. Snow will start to rebuild across the north this week with a storm and the east coast may have a nor’easter early next week. Cold air will follow and deepen as the month progresses with some of the coldest air in years possible for much of the nation. 

Posted on 01/09 at 03:36 AM
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Sunday, January 06, 2008
Warmth in the East and Central Early This Week Followed by Deepening Cold Starting Before Midmonth

By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM

As we have been noting a warm-up (a January Thaw) will help clear ice and snow from driveways of the Midwest and Northeast early this week. This warmth is the result of a return southerly flow behind the big arctic high that brought frigid temperatures to the east and central and even record cold to parts of the deep southeast and ahead of the series of ferocious but now weakening storms coming out of the western states where huge 8-10 foot accumulations of snow and powerful winds and flooding rains were in the news this weekend. Today it is dumping many feet of snow in the Colorado Mountains bringing smiles to skiers and ski areas there.

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See full size image here.

Further east, I would not at all be surprised to see some record highs fall. In New York City’s Central Park 60 and even 70 degree temperatures have been reported on most days in January as far back as the 1870s. It could happen this week. No doubt it will allow the Green Network’s Today show alarmists to announce it is another manifestation of global warming. But winter will start returning the middle and latter part of this week and will deepen as the month progresses. They will have some ‘splaining’ to do come the end of week 3 when the frigid winds blow down the big apple canyons again. Of course alarmists have cleverly positioned themselves so that extremes of any kind (warm or cold, wet or dry are all the result of global warming).

The storm track will gradually lift north over the next two weeks as a ridge builds north off the west coast in response to lots of convection now in the western Pacific. This will shut off the flow of Pacific air into North America and draw down the bitter cold arctic air that has been trapped in Alaska and the arctic. If the warming now showing up in the high atmosphere on the fringes of the arctic makes its way to the pole this cold pattern will lock in and make February cold. These mid-winter polar high level warmings are more likely in solar minimum winters with an easterly Quasi-Biennial Oscillation, a high atmospheric flip flop of winds over the tropical Pacific, the case this year. As the cold air returns, expect the snow to come back with it in places which have had it and will lose it this week and places that have been left out. See full pdf here

Posted on 01/06 at 06:27 PM
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2007 Warmest Year on Record? Coldest in this Century

By Lubos Motl, The Reference Frame

One month ago, we noticed that November 2007 was the coldest month since January 2000. Well, the RSS MSU satellite data prepared by remss.com show that December was even cooler. The December anomaly was -0.046C, compared to -0.014C in November. That means that December 2007 was also cooler than the average December from 1979. Moreover, we can finally complete the ranking of the years!

Let me start with forecasts in the mainstream media. In January 2007, we were informed that 2007 was either likely or certain to surpass 1998 and become the world’s warmest year on record by most media. They justified this statement by referring to scientists who have combined greenhouse gases with the observed El Nino. Many sources, such as the New York Sun, even gave you the probability that 2007 would be the hottest year as 60 percent.

However, the greenhouse gases are not too important and El Nino was replaced by La Nina. As a consequence, RSS MSU data for the lower troposphere show that 2007 was the coldest year in this century so far. In alarmist jargon, it was the ninth hottest year on record: the most recent year was cooler than all other years in this century as well as 1998 (by a whopping 0.41C) and even 1995. Read more here.

The RSS MSU satellite data for the land and ocean between 70S and 82.5N where virtually all the world’s population resides shows a negative departure from normal for the second straight month and the largest since January 2000. The trend which has been flat the last decade has now turned down. Read blog here.

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See full size image here

Icecap note: There continues to be differences as Lubos points out between all of the data sources.  Roy Spencer’s the UAH AMSU plot of lower tropospheric global temperatures (the most accurate estimates) do not show the downturn or negative anomaly yet but note how the anomaly dropped one half of 1 degree from January to December.
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See full size image here

Posted on 01/06 at 07:35 AM
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Saturday, January 05, 2008
Solar Cycle 24 Has Officially Started

By Anthony Watts, Watts Up With That

What a day! First a major storm whacks the west coast, now we have the official start of solar cycle 24. Solar physicists have been waiting for the appearance of a reversed-polarity sunspot to signal the start of the next solar cycle. The signal for the start of a new cycle is sighting a particular kind of sunspot. That wait is over.

A magnetically reversed, high-latitude sunspot emerged on the surface of the sun today. Just a few months ago, an “All Quiet Alert” had been issued for the sun. This reversed polarity sunspot today marks the beginning of Solar Cycle 24 and the sun’s return back to Solar Maximum. Solar Cycle 24 has been the subject of much speculation due to competing forecasts on whether it will be an highly active or a quiet low cycle. If it is a low cycle, it may very well be a test of validity for some CO2 based AGW theories. Only time will tell. Read more here. Also Anthony notes Russ Steele has some very interesting comments about the length of cycle 23 and a possible return of a Dalton Minimum here.

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See full size image here.

Posted on 01/05 at 07:53 AM
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Friday, January 04, 2008
Major Blizzard Crossing Western Mountains

By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM

A major blizzard is crossing the Sierras the next two days and promises to leave behind 6 to 10 feet of snow and hurricane force winds in the highest elevations. Check out this official forecast from the Reno NWS forecast office for the highest elevations 7 miles WNW Echo Summit California issued this morning:

Blizzard Warning

Today: Periods of snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Temperature falling to around 19 by 5pm. Strong and damaging winds, with a south wind 85 to 90 mph decreasing to between 75 and 80 mph. Winds could gust as high as 145 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Total daytime snow accumulation of 42 to 48 inches possible.

Tonight: Periods of snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Low around 16. Strong and damaging winds, with a southwest wind 70 to 75 mph decreasing to between 55 and 60 mph. Winds could gust as high as 120 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 30 to 36 inches possible.

Saturday: Occasional snow showers. High near 21. Very windy, with a southwest wind between 50 and 55 mph, with gusts as high as 100 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 8 to 12 inches possible.

The total snowfall forecast is between 80 and 96 inches of snow.

When a major cold shot and storm occurs in the west, it usually means a big warm-up in the east. Weather across the United States often resembles a see-saw - when it is cold and snowy in the west it is unusually warm in the east while when the east and central is in the midst of a cold wave, they may be playing frisbee and sunning themselves on the beaches in California. 

Posted on 01/04 at 09:31 PM
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Atlanta Escapes Record Dry Year By a Drop

By By Mike Stobbe, AP

This year was almost one for the record books, but then it rained. A lot. After a fourth consecutive day of rain Sunday, 2007 barely missed becoming Atlanta’s driest year on record. That dubious honor goes to 1954, when only 31.80 inches of rain fell.

Atlanta is at the center of a historic drought that has engulfed more than one-third of the Southeast.  Sunday’s showers pushed the city up to 31.85 inches for the year. A parade of rainstorms that began the week before Christmas helped Atlanta escape its driest year on record. Rain fell in the city on 10 of the last 12 days. Read more here.

Icecap Note: Extreme drought for the southeast states and other nearby areas have been observed during years in which stronger La Ninas come on during summer on the heels of an El Nino. The prior El Ninos winters are usually dry for the northern Gulf States and the La Nina summer tendency to be hot and dry is further exacerbated by the antecedent (low soil moisture) conditions. 1954 and 1999/2000 are examples of such scenarios and in this case 1954 and 2007 ended in a virtual tie.

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Annual Atlanta Precipitation from 1950 to 2007. Larger image here.

Posted on 01/04 at 06:20 AM
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