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.
Dr. C

Virtual Conference Winners 2010

Students and teachers submitted videos via following the guidelines for the SATELLITES projects. A group of scientists from the AmericaView Remote Sensing consortium reviewed the projects and rated them. Students will receive a trophy for their school.

1st place Fred Jordan and Joshua Kenton, Indian Lake High School, A physical comparison of the two Logan County watersheds: the Mad River and Great Miami
2nd place Jakob Myers, Highlands Elementary School, Does temperature affect plant growth?
3rd place Kristen Fink, McTigue Middle School, Which is Colder Virginia or Kentucky?

Congratulations to these students and their teachers. You can view the projects on

You can view all of the videos at:

Here is a fun video from the students at Bowsher High School in Toledo, Ohio.

Spring Seems to Have Sprung

March 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Dr. C's Blog

Hi All,
Wow, spring has sprung in Toledo and much of the eastern US. The snow has melted and temps have gotten in the the 60’s. What is going on? Well, there is a high pressure system to our east and low pressure center to our west. This causes the wind to come from the south bringing warmer temperatures. This has been a persistent situation. The low to the west has been out there for at least four days and it will slowly move over Toledo. The high has been in the 50’s to 60’s for all four days. This nice weather will end so we should all take advantage of it. I plan to plant my snap peas in the garden today when I get home from work. It is sad that I have to work today…

After winter, vegetation in this area starts coming out of its dormancy. I took some pictures of the vegetation starting to come to life.
Flowers on a maple tree. These are flowers on the tree not the bud bursting. The buds will burst in 3 or more weeks from now.

Magnolia bud.

Daffodils coming up at the University of Toledo

Daffodils are one of the first things that comes up in the spring.

GLOBE has some great information about bud burst and plant phenology.

2-20-2010: A new snowstorm coming across the US

February 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Dr. C's Blog

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

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


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 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