Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, February 01, 2008

National Weather Service: Winter 2007-2008 One for the Books

Think its snowed a lot in Eastern Washington this winter? You're right.

The National Weather Service says that we have not seen snows like this in 12 years, In fact, this January in Spokane was the 4th snowiest January since records have been kept. What's more, through January 31, this is the seventh snowiest winter EVER in Spokane. Even if it doesn't snow again this winter, it would be the 20th snowiest winter since 1881.

So much for the "hockey stick" (the 3rd and 6th all-time snowiest winters were in the Nineties.) Does anybody know how that global warming event went in Moscow yesterday? Or was it cancelled because of snow?

UDPATE: From yesterday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Talk warming - The Palouse Clearwater Environmental Institute will sponsor a night of global warming information, discussion, and entertainment at 6 p.m. at Mikey's Gryos on Main Street in Moscow. The "Focus the Nation" event will include a forum on how things such as the media, denial, and technology can sometimes be obstacles to combating climate change. Kenton Bird, Fritz Fiedler and Heather Truelove will be on the panel. THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED DUE TO THE WEATHER.


Bruce Heimbigner said...

It has been a VERY mild winter NOT cold. It has also been a VERY stable winter. This would be indirect evidence FOR global warming. We were just over the average rainfall for January. Temperature gradients cause wild weather.

With climactic global warming the poles warm, the equator stays the same, thus less of a gradient, thus less violent weather. However there is no consensus about what type of weather events would be impacted. For example, Global warming would cause stable weather but will it cause more or fewer hurricanes? No one knows yet.

Tom Forbes said...

From the National Weather Service Spokane website again:

While our temperatures haven't been much colder than normal (December was actually a bit milder than average), the temperatures aloft (around 5000' above sea level) have been colder than average. The image below shows the average temperatures for this winter (thin black lines in degress Celsius), along with shading for below (blue and purple ) or above (green and yellow). As you can see, temperatures from Alaska to the Northwest US have been below normal, contributing to the snowfall.

Bruce Heimbigner said...

Weather and climate are 2 different things.

I admit I don't understand the significance of temperature aloft. The casual observer of this year’s weather is that we have not received much rain and have not experienced extended winter warming periods. Our weather has become boring. It used to be common to hear people describe Pullman’s weather: "if don't like the weather just wait a few minutes."

My main point is that if you want to claim that global warming is NOT occurring then I suggest that you don’t claim that this year’s high snow fall as evidence that you are correct.

Just because the Goracle makes claims that dramatic weather is evidence for global warming I wouldn’t automatically take the opposite view. He is after all wrong about nearly everything.

From the National Weather Service Spokane: "An additional reason for the snowy winter has been the frequency of storms. Typically in winter, the western U.S. will experience a few "blocking ridges" of high pressure. These often last for 7-14 days and steer all of the storms away from the area, leaving us with dry but foggy/cloudy weather. This winter, we haven't seen much of this weather pattern. Any breaks in the storms have been rather short-lived. For December and January, Spokane averages 28 days of precipitation. This year there were 40 days in this two month period where rain or snow fell."

Tom Forbes said...

The way I see it, it does. The Alcolytes claim the average global temperature is spiking sharply. Climatological events all over the world, not just in the Inland Northwest, are disproving that.

In addition, one would expect to see less snowy winters over time as a result of anthropogenic global warming. Yet according to the National Weather Service, the 10 snowiest winters in Spokane since 1881 are distributed fairly evenly by decade in the last 80 years or so:

1880s - 0
1890s - 0
1900s - 0
1910s - 0
1920s - 0
1930s - 1
1940s - 1
1950s - 3
1960s - 2
1970s - 1
1980s - 0
1990s - 2
2000s - 1

I find it significant that the period from 1881 to 1931 did not produce a Top 10 snowiest winter. Given the fact that most developing countries were not nearly as urbanized and industrialized at that time as they are today and therefore producing less carbon dioxide emissions, one would expect the opposite to be true.

Bruce Heimbigner said...

Nevertheless (I love that word and used it all the time on my kids) our large snowfalls this year are not due to extremes of cold.

I’m reading up on the global warming thing and will have new blogs and good references in the near future. Also on my short list is Silent Spring other wacko favorites.

Tom Forbes said...

I do think, nevertheless ;), there is a connection between large snowfall and colder winters.

Climatologist Cliff Harris and Meteorologist Randy Mann have found that dozens of smaller Western cities such as Spokane cooled by .4 of one degree Fahrenheit from 1941 to 2001. That correlates well with the fact that of the 10 snowiest winters since 1881 in Spokane, all but one were between 1941 and 2001.

Paleoclimatologist Bob Carter found that there was a global warming period between 1918 and 1940, a global cooling period between 1940 and 1965, and another global warming period between 1970 and 1998.

Let's match that up against the Top 10 snowiest winters in Spokane:

1918-1940 Global Warming: 1
1940-1965 Global Cooling: 5
1970-1998 Global Warming: 3

That certainly makes for a more convincing case that global warming is cyclical in nature and tied more to things like sunspot activity than man-made carbon dioxide emissions. There are many indications that we are, in fact, entering another cooling cycle.