Today the kids have a snow day from school. I was planning on working from home grading anyway, so it isn’t such a big deal. We didn’t get a lot of snow in the Toledo area. It rained and then snowed on top and then everything froze yesterday. Then, we got another 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) on top of that that then blew into drifts because of the strong winds.
Some of you may have a snow day today as well. This storm covered a large area. Today, Monday, December 14, there is a lot of blowing snow and also some strong lake effect snow coming off of Lake Michigan into Indiana, off Lake Erie near Cleveland and north of Buffalo, New York off of Lake Ontario.
Mike Hedley who works with me with teachers and the GLOBE program tells a story about her students when she taught at Central Catholic High School in Toledo, Ohio. The students were taking observations each day for the GLOBE surface temperature field campaign. One day, school was closed for a snow day. The students went to school anyway and got a janitor to let them into Mrs. Hedley’s classroom so they could get their infrared thermometer and take their observations for the day. Now, that is dedication!
Our dog Tifla (means little girl in Maltese) out in the road. You can’t really tell too well but the drift is about 12 inches (30 cm) deep just to the right of her. The wind chill was pretty brutal in the road. Tifla turned around and ran right to the house.
Snow blowing across our road in front of my house.
Today my wife and kids had a snow day from school. I had to go to work of course. But, they got the day off. It was a big surprise. We ended up getting about 4 inches of snow in Toledo, OH. That’s not a lot of snow, but I think school was closed because of the drifting of snow. The winds were fairly strong and the snow drifted over the roads. Where did this snow come from? It came from the coastal storm that was affecting New England. The weather forecast models predicted the storm. I was emailing back and forth yesterday with Art Samel who is a professor at Bowling Green State University. The models were showing between 3 and 5 inches of snow for this area. We did not believe it. But, it ended up being correct. I don’t think the weather forecasters for the National Weather Service or on TV believed the models either. Well, the new snow has given me a chance to take my kids sledding today.
You can see in this radar image the snow echoes coming across Michigan down into Ohio.
It looks like everyone is getting in on the act this winter. New England had been left out of all of the snow for the most part. Most years they have a lot. But, the storms were going to the south. Well, this week, they will get it from Albany, NY to Vermont to New Hampshire. There are a series of coastal lows that will form and bring moisture into New England. Along the coast it is going to be too warm to snow; it will be rain. Also, you can see that there is another system moving across Texas. This one will go quickly across the south and produce a little snow but then when it hits the coast it is going to come up the coast to hit New England again. Finally, there is a storm coming into California. This one has the potential to produce a snowstorm for New England next Tuesday.
2-21-2010 Here comes the next snowstorm across the US after a little lull in the pattern. In the Toledo area, our snow has been slowly melting. There are places that the ground is bare and others with only a few inches (about 5 cm) of snow. There are only a few drifts and piles of snow where it is deeper than 2 inches (5 cm). I had the chance to get out on my cross country skiis this afterrnoon. I joked to my familiar that I won the 2 K cross country skiing race on Rauch Rd. in Temperance, MI. Of course, I was the only one in the race. This next snowstorm could get us pretty good in the Toledo area. It will all depend on how much freezing rain, sleet and just plain rain that we get. The storm is forecast to come right over Toledo so the rain/snow line will be close. In Columbus, OH it is likely to be only rain. Then, the low pressure system is expect to develop off of the east coast which is very common with this type of winter storm. The question for Washington, DC will be whether there is enough cold weather in place to support snow.
Snow cover is quite extensive around the world (see the figures below).
Snow cover in Europe and Asia and sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean. Note that the snow cover is pretty extensive. Also, I have highlighted with arrows where ice is growing fast 1. in the Sea of Okhotsk near eastern Russia and in the Barents Sea north of Scandanavia. The Barents Sea has had trouble freezing up for about a decade now possibly due to warmer than average currents coming up that way.
You can see in this figure from the National Snow and Ice Data Center that the area of the Arctic of northeastern Canada including the St. Lawrence Seaway is not very ice covered. It will be interesting to see if this area gets ice before the melt season starts around March 1.
El Nino seems to be slowly on the decline. The figure below shows that the warm pool of water in the equatorial Pacific is about 2.23 C warmer than the long-term mean. This is less than it has been in several months though. I had seen forecasts from NOAA that predict El Nino to dissipate by the summer. It looks like El Nino brought us a very warm January. According to some accounts, it was the second warmest January worldwide. Jeff Masters wrote about it in his blog on the Weather Underground http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1433.
This has certainly been a memorable winter for many areas of the United States (but maybe not Toledo). We have had cold temperatures go all the way down to Florida that threatened strawberries and oranges in January. Several Mid-Atlantic cities saw two blizzards in one week and have broken the all-time snow records for the total amount of snow. And, at one point last week, 49 out of the 50 states had snow in them, all but Hawaii.
So, are the snowstorms in the south due to Global Warming? A friend of mine from graduate school, Jeff Masters, writes a blog for the Weather Underground http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1431. He says that the snow is consistent with climate models. And, some scientists have published research that shows that under global warming, the stratosphere cools and that leads to stronger jet stream and stronger storms. I’m not sure I agree with this. Not using a climate model but using basic science concepts, I would expect storms to be weaker with global warming. The storms in the mid-latitudes are due to the temperature difference between the poles and equator. With a warmer Earth, the poles will warm more than the equator. That would make storms not as strong. It is an interesting scientific discussion. Dr. C