Frozen in Time
Dec 08, 2014
Wet California as storms offshore ease the claimed ‘1200 year’ Drought

Joseph D’Aleo, CCM

Note Icecap has reached two milestones - 8700 posts and 60,500,000 page hits. Thank you!


The California drought made the news in Live Science this week:

The drought now plaguing California is the worst to parch the central and southern parts of the state in the last 1,200 years, a new study finds. The 2012 to 2014 drought’s lack of rain isn’t remarkable on its own, according to tree-ring records reported in the study. There have been three-year periods when less rain and snow fell. But the current drought comes at a time of extreme heat. Record-high temperatures exacerbated the drought, creating the driest soil conditions since the 9th century, according to the study, published Dec. 3 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Based on precipitation alone, the tree-ring records confirmed the researchers’ gut instincts: There were past droughts that saw less rainfall. However, in terms of PDSI soil moisture, both 2014 alone and the cumulative three-year drought are the worst in 1,200 years, the study found.

California’s climate history is marked by much longer droughts, including megadroughts lasting 100 years, and several decades-long droughts. There were also 66 short-term dry periods that lasted between three and nine years during the 1,200 year study period, which makes the current drought just one of many minor dry spells, if only the lack of rain is considered.

There can be no doubting the drought has been statewide and serious.


But as noted the last year was not as bad as 1923/24 or the two years 1975/76 -1976/77.



Palmer Hyrological Drought Index 36 months ending October.


In the Sierra, water year (October to September) precipitation in 2013/14 ranked behind 1923/24, 1976/77, 1938/39, 1930/31, 1975/76, 1986/87 and 1928/29 and in a virtual tie with 1993/94.


You can see last year ranked well above 1923/24 and 1976/77. This year is running near normal.


The 60 month temperature fell just behind the 2002-2004 peak. Recall the west coast had a cool summer and year a few years back when the water off the cost was very cold but now reflects the unusual warmth. Note the California trend reflects the urbanization no longer corrected for after USHCN v1 transitioned to USHCN v2 in 2008.


The last 10 days has seen very wet weather in most of California but focused most the northern third.


The 7 day forecast has more of the same again focused SFO north.


It has been warm to date this month in the southwest.


The constructed analog has it biased warm this winter in California. Ocean temperature anomalies support that.



NOAA also reported yesterday:

Natural conditions, not human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases, are the driving force behind California’s three-year dry spell, scientists on a federal task force concluded Monday. But the report came under fire from some experts who said it downplayed other factors that have humanity’s fingerprints on them.

The evidence suggests a naturally induced “warm patch” of water in the western Pacific helped to create a high-pressure ridge that blocked precipitation from entering California, the experts said at a news conference to release the report.

“We have been able to identify this as a mode of ocean forcing of atmospheric circulation that causes West Coast drought,” said Richard Seager, a climate model specialist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

The study notes that this ridge - which has resulted in decreased rain and snowfall since 2011 - is almost opposite to what computer models predict would result from human-caused climate change.


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Nov 29, 2014
Andrew Cuomo Slams National Weather Service Over His Own Ignorance

Dennis Mersereau

Four months ago, Andrew Cuomo falsely stated that New York just recently started seeing tornadoes. On Saturday, the governor gave a press conference where he slammed meteorologists for their largely accurate Buffalo snow forecasts. As usual, Andrew Cuomo is clueless.


Gov. Cuomo Talks About Tornadoes, Knows Nothing About Tornadoes

After touring damage in central New York left behind by yesterday’s strong tornado that killed ...
Read more

Buffalo’s WGRZ quotes Cuomo as saying that “no one had an idea” that the snow would be so heavy over the Southtowns and that the National Weather Service “was off” on their forecasts. The Governor goes on to say that the federal agency’s performance during the snowstorm (which was excellent!) is among the reasons that the State of New York is developing its own weather forecasting system.

Cuomo further asserted that “when the weather detection system is off, you don’t know a storm is coming, you don’t have a chance to prepare.”

If Cuomo had stopped his comments at “no one had an idea” that the snow would be so heavy, he might have gotten away with it, but true to his profession, he had to keep running his mouth. His accusing the National Weather Service of missing the storm so hard that residents didn’t know a storm was coming is just one more bullet point on a list of stupid comments from a sub-par politician venturing into a topic he knows little about.

When a single band of lake effect snow forms, the band usually drifts north and drifts south until it dissipates. Such an intense band doesn’t usually park itself over one area and create whiteout conditions for an entire day. That’s why lake effect snow events are usually two or three-foot storms that barely make the news. Residents take pictures, clean up, and move on.

Lake Effect Snow: How Nature’s Greatest Snow Machine Works

The above photo, taken from a plane above Buffalo yesterday by photographer Jeff Suhr, shows the...Read more

The two intense bands that affected western New York last week didn’t move, and that’s why they were such a big deal. While it’s not unprecedented in the Great Lakes region, 88 inches of snow in five days is an extremely unusual event for communities outside of mountainous areas. Cuomo is partially right in that we didn’t have an indication ahead of time that residents would see near-record amounts of snow across the area.

However, that’s where the credit to his knowledge ends. The governor is dead wrong when he says that residents had no warning that a storm was coming.

The Friday before the snow began, the NWS office in Buffalo mentioned the possibility of “feet of snow” south of the city as a result of persistent lake eff snow bands.

[Update 6:51 PM: Josh Timlin points out to me on Twitter that as early as Monday, November 17, NWS Buffalo pointed out that the following week’s pattern “has all the makings of a historic or at least well remembered lake effect event...”

On Sunday night, the office issued the first lake effect snow warning for the eastern shores of Lake Erie in anticipation of “localized amounts around two feet in the most persistent bands Monday evening through Wednesday.”

As the bands began to set up and it became clear that they were parking themselves over the Southtowns, forecasters had to up the totals far beyond what usually occurs in lake effect snow events. By 12:30 AM on Tuesday, the NWS bumped up snow total forecasts to two to three feet; by 6:52 AM, the totals were three to four feet; by 9:39 AM, they had updated the snowfall totals to five to six feet across the most heavily-affected areas. The largest snowfall total from the first band was 65 inches (five feet, five inches) south of Cheektowaga.

The second band of snow that occurred between Wednesday night and Thursday was very well forecast, with the NWS immediately calling for three to four feet of snow in the Southtowns when they issued the second lake effect snow warning at 3:33 PM on Tuesday. The highest snowfall total from the two events was 88 inches in Cowlesville, about 20 miles east-southeast of Buffalo.

Again, residents had plenty of warning that it would be a hefty lake effect snow event, even if they didn’t know ahead of time that it would crank out more than seven feet of snow.

Don Paul, chief meteorologist for Buffalo’s CBS affiliate, said it best on his Facebook page:

Governor Cuomo’s attempt to scapegoat the National Weather Service for an inaccurate forecast in advance is not only completely in error - the NWS did an outstanding job - but is a disservice to the public and to the hard-working staff of this federal agency. No forecast of such an historical disaster is going to be absolutely perfect, but no one who lives here can say this event was not well forecast in advance, or that the warning headlines of its impact to come were not well explained in advance...his statement is disinformation, purposeful or ill-informed.

I’m willing to go one step further and point out that Andrew Cuomo’s attempt to trash the National Weather Service for this unusual lake effect snow event is nothing but a cheap and sleazy attempt on his part to garner public support for a weather forecasting system he wants to implement in his state.

Cuomo has proven time and time again that he is neither qualified nor informed enough to talk about the weather on even a conversational level. The governor needs to leave the weather to the professionals and stick to what he does best acting like a stereotypical, shady New York politician.

Nov 18, 2014
Weather Channel Co-Founder Predicting Snowier, Bitterly Colder Winter Ahead

By Barbara Hollingsworth

( - The pre-Thanksgiving cold snap and a monster storm forecast to dump five feet of snow on Buffalo, N.Y. Tuesday are just “a preview” of the coming winter, which will be much colder and snowier than normal, predicts Joseph D’Aleo, co-founder and first director of meteorology at the Weather Channel. D’Aleo, now co- chief forecaster at WeatherBell Analytics, was one of the few meteorologists to accurately predict a colder-than-normal November.

He expects several major East Coast snowstorms and “widespread below-zero temperatures” that will plunge much of the nation into a deep freeze for as long as six weeks this winter.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it snows in Atlanta, Dallas, and Birmingham,” he told

“We’ve )Joe Bastardi, Tom Down and Joe D’Aleo) been talking about this being another one of those historic winters since the spring. The summer before last, we had seen last winter as being one that people near the Great Lakes would remember for a long time, and it turned out to be the coldest December to March on record in Chicago, and the snowiest in Detroit, and top five coldest in many places in the central [part of the U.S.]

2013-14 winter forecast Enlarged

“And we saw the same kind of extreme this winter, not exactly in the same place, but another winter that’s going to stress our electric grid and also the energy sources that we have” D’Aleo told

“We were not surprised at the cold coming. We had a cold forecast in November even though all the tools that are used by forecasters to look ahead, even two weeks, right up to the end of October, [were] not seeing the cold. And then suddenly they caught on.

“But we use another approach where we look at all the factors globally: the oceans and the sun and winds in the upper atmosphere over the tropics, and we find years in the past when conditions were most similar. We call it an analog approach.  And it was telling us that it would be a lot like last year in terms of cold. It told us November would be cold, so we were swimming against the strong current.”

D’Aleo noted that the unseasonably cold weather, which is being blamed for 17 deaths since Saturday, is just “a preview” of the coming months and years ahead, when he predicts that temperatures will be up to 20 degrees lower than normal at times.

“And then we think this winter will be another strong one. It may end early in some parts of the country, like the Northeast, but it will be very hard, especially in mid-winter. We’ll get a break after this [current] assault, it may ease a little bit, but we think there’ll be an extended period in mid-winter that will really be harsh all over the nation.”

2014-2015 winter prediction

The worst of the frigid winter weather will likely hit right around Christmas and last until the first week of February, he told

“Everything we look at suggest that January will be the hardest of the winter months. This is sort of a preview of that. Not to say there won’t be snow and cold in December. In February, it’ll be cold, but more from the snow on the ground than a continual feed of Arctic air.

“The snow will just make the cold worse,” he added. “It keeps temperatures in daytime down and makes it colder at night in between storms, so it’s going to be a very rough one for a lot of folks.”

“We might get a break next year,” the forecaster added on a hopeful note. “Often these cold winters come in two-year periods and then you get a break for a year as the oceans readjust. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a milder winter next year.” asked D’Aleo, who lives in New Hampshire and says he ran out of heating oil last winter due to the sub-normal temperatures, his reaction to last week’s agreement between President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping to fight global warming by drastically reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

“From the government’s own data, there has been no warming in winter for 25 years,” D’Aleo replied. “In fact, there’s been cooling for 20 years. All nine climate regions have cooled in winter for 20 years.”

Global cooling Enlarged
(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

“This decade is just four years old, and we’ve already had 12 major impact East Coast snowstorms out of close to 50 since the 1950s, which they call NESIS (Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale) storms,” he continued. “This is the most active [snowiest] decade on record. The last decade, the 2000s, had 10. The 1960s had 10. This decade has 12 and we’re only four years into it… We could really be creating an historic decade when all is said and done.”

NESIS Enlarged

“The major drivers [of the cold weather] are the oceans and the sun. The Pacific has turned cold and the Atlantic is scheduled to go into its cold mode within five years. And the sun is heading into a 200-year minimum. The last time it was this quiet, and it will likely be this quiet for two decades or so, was the early 1800s. That was called the Dalton Minimum,” D’Aleo pointed out, which was a period of low temperatures that corresponded with low solar activity between 1780 and 1840.

“That was the time of [Charles] Dickens. If you remember Dickens’ novels, the children always played in the snow in London. That’s what they’re doing again...And there’ll be more winters like the Dickens years in the years to come [because] we’re headed into a colder period that will likely last decades,,,

“That doesn’t mean we won’t have a hot summer or that next winter won’t be warmer, but on average we will experience more and more extreme cold winters and cool summers. It’s part of a trend, and like I said, it’s been cooling for 20 years, erratically but down.”

Nov 16, 2014
America’s chop suey:  Promises, promises

Alan Moran

Joy and consternation as the US says it will move in earnest to curb emissions. Obama celebrates his nation’s self-destructive measures but China’s reciprocal pledge is 16 years away.  Even Laura Tingle the Financial Review’s resident greenhouse alarmist sees the agreement as a retreat from punitive measures and a faith in technology changes meaning relatively low cost transition, though she remains credulous that the US will, in the face of a Republican legislature achieve its vaunted 28 per cent reduction in emissions and is wide eyed in appreciation that China “would seek to expand zero-emission energy sources to around 20 per cent by 2030”.

Lomborg was more analytical pointing out “but China promised only 20 per cent would come from non-fossil fuels ... China already plans to get 18 per cent of its energy from non-fossil fuels and solar and wind will make up only about 3 per cent. He points out that an earlier US administration with Al Gore as VP promised a 7 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions at Kyoto in 1998 but the outcome was a 9 per cent increase. He cruelly draws attention to the Canadian promise of a 5 per cent reduction contrasting the 24 per cent outcome.

By fiddling with bush clearing (and thereby expropriating property) Australia claims to have beaten its target (a 7 per cent increase to 2012, with a mere 3 per cent increase) but this has created lawsuits and in any event Wikipedia puts Australia’s increase at 30 per cent.  The editorial in the Wall Street Journal was scathing and the Washington Post pointed out that both legislature leaders had pungently condemned it.


And to promote his negative growth policy President Obama has pledged to divert $3 billion in aid funds to the third world.  Tony Abbott soberly said “As for Australia, I’m focusing not on what might happen in 16 years’ time; I’m focusing on what we’re doing now and we’re not talking, we’re acting.”

Australia’s mystics are alive and well


Green blogger and Guardian journalist, Graham Readfearn, felt he had to write a lengthy rebuttal of the latest opinion Australian piece of Maurice Newman. He says Newman is wrong to say California electricity costs are driven high by its renewable and kindred policies because, in spite of its high prices, energy use is low; he appears unaware of the connections here! Somehow in Readfearn’s crazy world high taxes and high costs do not translate into lost jobs and he promotes that mistake in a critique of Calzado’s masterly analysis of the damage renewable policy has done to the Spanish economy.  And he offers apologias for former Chief Scientist Penny Sackett and the ubiquitous Tim Flannery arguing the immediate forecasts of climate doom they projected were simply off a tad few years.

More blubbery from Flannery and the Climate Council calumnists with the myth that Australia is lagging the world in suicidal carbon restraint.

Meanwhile the BCA wants to reduce Australia’s renewable subsidy from its currently envisaged economic impact of $22 billion to $16 billion but the ALP thinkseven this is too great!

Propaganda works. Apparently one person in 10 suffers severe weather phobia - offering a solid base for the yarn sellers to work from. 

Nov 10, 2014
Senate GOP ready to take on the EPA



The writing should be on the wall for this one, particularly since the Democrats have essentially lost coal country entirely, as Ed pointed out this weekend. Energy and the millions of jobs associated with it was featured on the campaign trail and proved a winning issue for Republicans. And now, as reported by The Hill, the new GOP majority in the Senate is gearing up to finally do more than just talk about it.

The GOP sees the midterm elections as a mandate to roll back rules from the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies, with Republicans citing regulatory costs they say cripple the economy and skepticism about the cause of climate change.

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) identified his top priority come January as “to try to do whatever I can to get the EPA reined in.”

McConnell made his defense of coal a major piece of Kentucky’s economy, a highlight of his reelection bid, which he won easily over Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

He said he feels a “deep responsibility” to stop the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, as it proposed to do in January for newly built generators and in June for existing ones.

There are plenty of tempting targets. Cross state emissions rules, rapid changes in mercury restrictions for coal fired plants which will be replaced in the next decade anyway, ground level ozone rules and clean water attacks on hydraulic fracturing (which doesn’t get into the ground water anyway) are just a few. The question is, how does the legislative branch fight against rules which are established pretty much exclusively by the executive branch?

There are actually a couple of options. The most direct route would be through appropriations, essentially stating that the President’s EPA can put the rules in place but that Congress will not authorize any money to enforce them. If that fails, a more complicated path would be to attempt to pass legislation which essentially bans or overrides implementation. (That would be a fun one to see settled in the courts.)

Of course, any of these measures would have to get past the President’s veto pen, but if the White House takes too strong of a stand on that they could be springing a terrible trap for Democrats. With both houses of Congress unified, the President would be essentially standing alone as the person blocking a path to cutting costs for consumers and the creation of more jobs. This sets up the GOP for 2016 with a new and potentially more salable message. Traditionally we’ve seen political combatants arguing that “the next president” will be the person selecting Supreme Court justices. It’s an important debate to be sure, but a more direct line to the voters will be to clearly explain that “the next president” will be staffing up the EPA and other regulatory agencies, and do you really want four more years of these policies? Voters also need to be reminded that these changes are largely cosmetic, feel good measures which are not only hugely expensive, but have no effect on the far dirtier energy policies of countries with vastly larger populations who will continue to do what they’ve always done.

That may turn out to be a key piece of the puzzle in determining how to combat a liberal Democrat nominee in 2016.

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