ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Arctic Africa–

One thing I have learned from Alarmists is the effectiveness of distraction. When you have completely blown a forecast, it is helpful to point at something happening far, far away.

Therefore you will not notice that I am six days away from the date I assigned for the jet stream to stop being loopy. You will forget I stated the polar flow would become zonal on February 13, due to the lagged effect of the La Nina. You will forget….  You will forget… You are getting sleepy… Very sleepy…

What the heck? It’s not working on you! Oh, I forgot. That only works on Alarmists.

In any case, a second mild surge as good as last winter’s second surge has made it to the Pole.

DMI5 0207 meanT_2018

I haven’t time to go into all the details. In a nutshell it is a surge “madoki” (Japanese for “the-same-but-different”), because (so far) it took a less direct route than last year. Rather than, like last year, roaring straight north from the Atlantic, the surge dented east over Norway and only turned north over the Kara Sea. Consequently the temperatures, on a whole, have been colder than last year’s. But that is basically straining at gnats and quibbling over piffling details. The fact of the matter is that precisely where I thought high pressure should build and form the core of a nice zonal flow (which may be wish-casting, for it would give me, down in New Hampshire, a milder winter), what to my wondering eyes should appear, but “Ralph”! (An anomalous area of low pressure at the Pole.)



To have “Ralph” reappear, when I have been putting the finishing touches to his obituary, is a sign I’m having a bad week. (It was bad enough that the hero quarterback got strip-sacked at the crucial moment, and the home team lost the Superbowl.) (Furthermore, New Hampshire is not getting the sort of mild weather I wanted.)

The problem with mild air heading up to the Pole is that it displaces the cold, which comes south one way or another and gives arctic conditions to people not prepared for such nonsense. Because this post is suppose to be about sea-ice, I’ll mention the fish-farmers on the coast of China.

But I also need to mention the Sahara, because there is something that just tickles my sense of humor about bringing Africa into a sea-ice post.

But mentioning Africa is a bit odd, as I have noticed that the phrase “one every fifty years” doesn’t sound quite right, when you use it twice in three years. I noted that oddity, when writing about the January snows along the Algeria-Morocco border three weeks ago. But now we are talking about snows along that border twice the same winter.

There are some high north-African mountains, the “Atlas”, that get snow every winter, and send precious melt-waters down to the Sahara from the north, but ordinarily these snows stay up by the clouds. It makes news when these snows spread down to lower altitudes. (The translation of the first video is, “After more than fifty years…The snows in Zagora”).

The translation for the second, longer video is, “Today: After more than 50 years…The snow in Zagora and the south-east of the Kingdom.”

At this point I need to bring up the magic word “Albedo”, which Alarmists feel is very important in discussions of sea-ice. Basically it involves sunshine that could warm our planet being bounced away by the whiteness of snow. Alarmists have suggested that less sea-ice at the Pole could allow “run away warming”. But what about snow on the northern fringes of the Sahara? The sun shines brightly there in February, while it will not shine at the Pole until the Equinox. Is there any chance all the heat lost in the Sahara could cause some sort of “run away cooling”?


(In any case, such a focus on the Sahara is an excellent deflection away from my forecast for a zonal arctic-flow by February 13.)

One of the most annoying aspects of a loopy (or “meridional”) flow occurs when you happen to find yourself at the place where the warm air looping north battles with the cold air looping south. In some ways it is better to endure the cold, for cold tends to be dry. When you sit on the border you can get excessive amounts of snow. For example, the core of the cold sank down in Eurasia at the end of January, and Moscow, well to the west of the worst cold, has been afflicted by Atlantic air streaming east past Norway even as arctic air streams west further south. They have had amazing amounts of snow. During the first week of February they broke their snowfall records for the entire month of February.

This clashing between colder and milder air has been annoying on my side of the planet as well, for even with the core of the cold elsewhere we can get unfair amounts of glop. I’d prefer pure, Siberian cold, for powder snow is easy to shift, and when the cold gets really cruel the old timers say, “It’s too cold to snow.”

In New Hampshire, this winter has been pleasing to Alarmists, I suppose, for the arctic retreated after the first week in January, and since then temperatures have been around seven degrees above normal. This doesn’t really thaw us, for our average temperature is 20°F (-7°C), and “mild” only lifts us to 27°F (-3°C). However an average of 27°F does allow for daily highs to creep above freezing, and does allow snow to turn to sleet, freezing rain, and brief episodes of all-out rain, which creates slush as heavy as mud.  You must shift this heavy glop from walkways and drives, or it swiftly freezes harder than iron. (I’ll take shoveling powder snow any day.)

Nor does all the glop make lake-ice thinner. Wet, heavy snow on ice pushes the ice down, and water oozes up through cracks and turns the snow to slush. It takes little (just a cold, starry night), to turn that slush to solid ice, as, being ice-water, it is right at the freezing point. Then, besides the original two feet of ice that the bitter cold of early January created, you have an additional two feet of ice created by “milder” temperatures, and frozen slush.

The ice is now so thick on lakes that crazy young men are having races with vehicles and motor cycles that have scary wheels with steel teeth. The churning, spinning wheels chip away a foot of the ice on the corners of the tracks, but nobody seems very nervous about chewing through to water.

I know that lake-ice is not the same as sea-ice, but I thought it interesting that “milder” weather brought snow that turned to slush that turned to ice, and therefore “milder” made the ice a foot or two thicker than it might be if it stayed cold and dry.

Of course, some people never get out of their offices, and don’t understand such counter-intuitive things. There is much to learn from simply hiking about lakes, especially reservoirs that rise with rains and thaws and sink when the dry cold returns. I have young Climate-scientists studying local lake-ice, and am eagerly awaiting my government grants and money from Big Oil.

Lake ice 1 FullSizeRender

Lake ice 2 FullSizeRender

Lake ice 3 FullSizeRender

Of course, insurance companies, in their warm offices, do not approve of such research. They fear “risk”. They want everyone to stay indoors. However they must allow a few out, called “adjusters”. A parent of a child I cared for was such an “adjuster”, and told me a tale that I think typifies the difference between the “indoors” and the “outdoors” mentality.

Today was a typical “glop” day, starting with a quick dump of six inches of snow, which makes things look like a Norman Rockwell painting.

Lake ice 4 FullSizeRender

However then the rot set in. The snow sped up, falling faster, and abruptly turned to rain, though temperatures were still well below freezing. Because Moms driving home from work do not have scary wheels with steel teeth, insurance adjusters get called out a lot when the driving stinks.

Now this should give you an inkling of the office mindset, in this corner of the insurance world: If you had to send a fellow out into abysmal driving conditions, what would you reduce your profit by paying for? Snow tires? Or a tattle-tale gadget that keeps track of your adjuster’s GPS and road-speed. If you answered “snow tires”, you are sane, and don’t work in this particular front office.

On a day like today an adjuster received an irate phone-call from his boss. “What in blue blazes are you up to?” the boss inquired.

“What are you going on about?” replied the adjuster.

“You’ve been going 110 mph! Are you crazy!”

The adjuster stayed calm. “Did you check the GPS?”


“Check it.”

After a pause the boss muttered, “Oh.  Um…you’re in your driveway?”

“Yes, and do you think I can get the company van going 110 mph (177 kph) in my driveway?”

“Hmm.  Probably not. So…..were your tires spinning?”

“Of course they were spinning! And will you puh-leeze requisition snow tires for the company vans?”

“Oh, no! The stock-holders demand a profit! And we expect our adjusters to know how to drive in the snow.”

Case closed.

11 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Arctic Africa–

  1. I have spent the last 40+ years of my life as a claims adjuster. I have to say, it is one of the best jobs around. The reason being that you do not have to be in the office very often and basically your job is to handle a caseload. The bosses did not care what hours or how many hours you worked, only that you did a prompt, professional job handling the claims. If you saved time by being smart and efficient, and then took off the afternoon to play golf, more power to you.

    The one downside was that if you had a storm that generated a lot of claims, you could feel a bit overwhelmed. But during slow times, it was like a paid vacation. Only you didn’t want it to be too slow for too long or you might get laid off.

    Totally the opposite of a Government job, where you are forced to occupy a desk and pretend to be busy, even if there is nothing to do, which was pretty much all the time. Where promotions were based not on merit, but by race, sex, brown nosing and in the case of the females, sleeping with the boss.

    • Sounds like you have a good boss, and a degree of trust exists between you and him.

      Unfortunately that trust gets eroded when liars get too commonplace, as has happened way too much in advertising, politics, and climate science.

      I’ve been gabbing the story of the adjuster-and-his-boss to all who will listen to a garrulous old man. I’ve gotten a lot of interesting feedback. For example, I heard the larger insurance companies absolutely insist on snow tires. I also heard a lot of resentment towards those “trackers” put in vehicles by distrustful bosses. One guy “spilled his coffee” on it, the first day.

      One good tale involved a company van a fellow parked behind his house when he went away for the weekend. For some reason the GPS couldn’t handle the vehicle being parked where there wasn’t a road, and placed the vehicle on the side of a road through the woods. The boss called the fellow wondering why he parked it on that road. The fellow immediately figured out what had happened, but played dumb. He told his boss he had parked the van by his house, and if it was by the road it must have been stolen. The police were called, and the boss suffered the embarrassment of finding out the vehicle was safely sitting by the fellows house. The fellow quietly snickered up his sleeve.

      I personally don’t even like a person looking over my shoulder, when I work.

  2. The SSW (yet again) over you will make Florida very tempting I guess. Yep, all bets are off with our quiet sun. It may run out of tricks, but not yet. I have been boning up on ergot because it has started affecting cattle here in the winter/spring. From ryegrass seed in saved feed I suspect. The 3rd season coming now is when such fungals reach a peak usually. It is my plant science trade to figure these things out. Semi retired, still cannot stop myself.
    Of course, ergot is connected with Salem witch trials and LSD too. But the terrible loss of hooves, and going berserk, are the 1st signs in cattle, poor things.

    Hot and dry here for 3mths followed by wet and windy, cooling on and off now in high summer.
    If this is a pattern, the high pressure 3mths would translate into hard winter frosts. We shall see. All the best up there. Hope the whisky holds out, and the wood. Brett

  3. There are some who theorize that cases of St. Vitus’ Dance involving entire villages in the 1200’s and 1300’s may not have been caused by rheumatic fever but by ergot in moldy flour, which people were forced to eat due to the increasing hardships brought about by the end of the Medieval Warm Period and the onset of the Little Ice Age. It must have been a very strange thing to live through, especially if your own flour was unaffected.

    Hmm. I wonder if Alarmists….no…no…don’t go there….

    I saw that you were getting some hot and dry weather down in New Zealand, but now I suppose you are experiencing the pattern flip that is switching the SOI from positive to negative. Joe Bastardi is suggesting it may weaken and end the current La Nina.

    Our southerly flow is currently giving us an icy rain with temperatures just above freezing. I always am nervous when temperatures are so close to freezing. It doesn’t take much to cause a blown forecast and snow. It is snowing not all that far to our northwest.

  4. I commented on your comment at WUWT, that surely a dearth of Sahara snow should ensue in the coming years to keep the 1 in 50 spread… I remember a book, St, Augustine’s Fire, regarding the rye ergot and lysergic amines. A strange time indeed. I’ve enjoyed your writings over the years, and should stop by more frequently. I haven’t been to your state since my Grandmother who lived on Lake Monadnock passed in the 60s. It is the only place I have seen a leopard frog.

    • Thanks for the reply.

      Moisture in the Sahara is actually a sign of a warming world, in a general sense, but the step down to a cooler period is not a simple event of one stage. I am increasingly made aware if how nuanced the “Quiet Sun’s” cool-down will be, as “less-energy” has different effects on different areas, some perhaps initially cooling (such as polar summer temperatures) and some perhaps counter-intuitively warming (such as less-energetic Trade Winds resulting in more warming El Nino’s). More moisture in the Sahara is counter-intuitive, to me at least, but this is not to say it is not logical. The cool-down likely will have many independent moving parts, and proceed through fascinating stages.

      One thing that never got going until well into the Maunder Minimum was a couple stupendous volcano eruptions. (If you take 1798 as the start date they occurred on year 12 and year 17.)

      Little we can do but sit back and wonder, be good observers, and perhaps pray. Buying curly light bulbs won’t change anything, (except perhaps by effectively virtue-signaling to those impressed by such gesturing).

    • I had a stash of cheap Hungarian incandescent bulbs I bought for a song, but unfortunately they burned out very swiftly. You get what you pay for.

      What is most annoying about the curly bulbs is that they are so dim when they first turn, on when it is cold, I really can’t use them in my stables. By the time they warm up enough to be useful I have groped and fumbled, and am done my chores, because, believe me, when it is way below freezing you don’t hang around waiting for light-bulbs to warm up. Fortunately it is still possible to buy “primitive” light-bulbs, of a certain sort, in New Hampshire, though there was quite a battle even about that.

      The most ridiculous thing about curly light bulbs is that if you broke one you were suppose to evacuate the area and call a hazmat team in to sweep up the broken glass. And this was recommended for a Childcare? Where tantrums can occur and blocks can fly? It seemed a recipe for disaster.

      Not that I myself freak out about trace amounts of mercury. It takes a lot to turn you into a “mad hatter”. When there was a freak-out about the modern amounts of mercury in swordfish they were going to ban it from the market. Then someone found some swordfish in a museum that was frozen back in the 1940’s, and they discovered it had even higher amounts of mercury than modern swordfish. This implied the people making the judgement, who had eaten swordfish in the past, might have impaired powers of judgement. They then decided swordfish didn’t cloud your reasoning, after all.

      On the other hand, I don’t go out of my way to ingest mercury. But I do remember schoolboys rolling around blobs on the tops of their desks. (They must have gotten it from a broken thermometer). If you got a dime, (which were silver back then), the mercury would bond to its surface as a thin layer, and you would have an amazingly shiny (and slippery) dime.

      I wonder if those children grew up to be the people who became Alarmists….no…no…I won’t go there.

      • Have a bunch of Philips 60W and 100W bulbs made in Mexico, I use them with dimmers, they perform well. Also mini halogen bulbs which keep me warm in the cold of winter. An average of 1-2 incandescent bulbs fail each year, the halogens almost never.

        I have a couple of the Philips LED bulbs in covered ceiling pot lights in my bathroom, they run cooler and haven’t failed yet in about 5 years of use – and they don’t have that glowworm problem.

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