This is just a brief observation, demonstrating how my lying eyes get me in trouble with the hard-working, code-apt, computer-savvy geeks who have eyes glued to computer terminals that produce wonderful models.

Please understand,  I avoid Math when possible, and I am very grateful to those who do the Math for me, such as my tax accountant. However I do not allow my accountant to mind my business.

How does this involve sea-ice?

Well, there are certain “accountants” who at times seem to want to run my business, and by that I mean they seem to want me to deny my lying eyes. By “accountants” I of course am referring to computer models. In this particular case I am referring to a model I often refer to, and in some ways very much like, called PIOMAS. In my opinion it is in many ways a wonderful model, and represents the hard work of fellows who have worked their butts to the bone and deserve respect. I cannot tell you how much it pains me to suggest they might have gotten something wrong.

In this manner I’m like my Dad. He was a surgeon, and sometimes people came to him asking for a second opinion, and sometimes he had to inform not the patient, but the first-opinion surgeon, that their diagnosis was wrong.

I felt my Dad should have just told the first bozo they were an idiot, for advocating a needless amputation, but instead Dad walked on eggs and only differed from the first quack in a most cringing, ingratiating manner. Maybe Dad was kind and polite, but it was sort of embarrassing to watch. He was sort of apologizing for being correct. The boy in me felt he should just have chopped off the first quack’s head. (That is what a true Tolkien warrior would have done.) (But pretty soon we would not have many doctors left alive, I suppose.)

I have no wish to chop off the head of PIOMAS, but my lying eyes are begging to differ with their diagnosis.

I have just used my lying eyes to watch what the arctic isobars did, and  have surmised what the winds were, and have watched to see how the sea-ice responded, and it has seemed fairly obvious the low pressure I dubbed “Ralph”  caused a counterclockwise flow to effect the Pole.  However the PIOMAS only shows a counterclockwise “anomaly”, and suggests the ordinary clockwise flow (the ordinary Beaufort Gyre and ordinary Transpolar Drift), persisted.

Piomas piomas_ice_motion_anomaly_JanMarch2017

This troubles me, for it is a bit ludicrous to suggest an “anomaly” moves ice, if the ordinary flow is in effect. An anomaly might speed or slow the ordinary flow, but the ordinary flow would remain ordinary. In actual fact we have witnessed, with our lying eyes, the extraordinary features of an extraordinary flow.

For example, the above map shows the “mean ice motion” pushing ice away from the western entrance of the Northwest Passage, when we know that (before April) ice piled into that entrance.  In like manner, there is no suggestion of west winds forcing the Kara Sea sea-ice into Vistula Strait, so a toothpaste extrusion of thick ice crossed the polynya which the same west winds formed in the west of the Laptev Sea.

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And so on and so forth.

I do not want to belabor this point, and want to keep this brief, however I feel a need to stress that we who use our lying eyes seemed to see the sea-ice act as if the PIOMAS “anomaly” map was in fact the “ice motion” map. It follows, therefore, that the “ice motion” map contains some sort of misdiagnosis.

I need to say this because there are some who worship the PIOMAS “ice motion” map as a sort of god, whose authority cannot be questioned. When I try to tell them what my lying eyes actually witnessed, they scoff. They say my vision cannot be correct, for PIOMAS said it did not occur, and how dare anyone dare question the divinity of such a idol?

To me this is a bit like saying you cannot go a second surgeon for a second opinion, even when the first surgeon suggests an amputation is necessary.  If we must scoff at all, I scoff at that idea. After all, as a child I saw many doomed to lose a leg come to my father for a second opinion, and saw advances in the vascular surgery of that time save the patient’s limb.

My father was able to save others limbs despite the fact he had largely lost the use of his own, because of polio. In like manner, I suffer from a different sort of polio, involving Math. And, just my father saved people of the past from amputation of legs, I might spare you from the amputation of logic, if you just step away from computer models for a bit, and use your lying eyes.


There are shenanigans going on at NOAA, concerning adjustments made to the temperature record, which make recent years look warmer than they actually are, when compared to past years. Some suggest  this has been done for purely political reasons, because of growing disbelief in “Global Warming”,  and because of a political need to be able to claim things such as “Last May was the warmest ever.”  Rather than properly scrutinizing such claims, the mainstream media seems to merely take what it is told and to run with it.  Rather than report they regurgitate.

The scrutinizing is left to others, who find it quite easy to cast considerable doubt on NOAA’s new, adjusted way of measuring temperatures. I myself wrote a post the day after they came out with the scheme, pointing out it made little sense to take temperature readings from the sun-baked, mosquito-infested arctic tundra, where temperatures can easily top 90° F, and to use those land-based readings to guess what temperatures might be out over the ice-choked waters of the Arctic Sea, where temperatures seldom get up to 40° F.  Such “homogenization” makes no  sense, yet NOAA’s “new way” did it.

Another way of scrutinizing the “new way of measuring temperatures” is to compare it with the temperatures NOAA actually uses, when making forecasts. NOAA doesn’t want to use “adjusted” or “homoginized” temperatures, when  it runs its GISS model. It wants to use “real” temperatures, and to make sure they are as accurate as possible, because even a slight variance in the data put into the forecasting tool can make a big difference, with the difference getting larger and and larger as the model forecasts farther and farther into  the future.  (It is sometimes suggested that even a butterfly flapping its wing can make a difference, ten days down the road.) Therefore, over at the Weatherbell site, Dr, Ryan Maue simply made a graph of the “real” temperatures, used for real forecasts, and rather than the past  May being the warmest ever, it appears to be the “eighth warmest since 1978”.

Of course at times one gets fed up with pointing things out, and being utterly ignored. Rather than  reporting, the media goes right on regurgitating, seeking out hot places to report upon, and utterly ignoring the cold places. At this point I’m afraid I resort to less than level headed and spiritual behavior. Even though I’ve just come from church, and know I should be gentle when I point out errors, and only remonstrate in a  fatherly manner when I see a lack of truthfulness in others, I resort to sarcastic potshots. I’m not sure the Bible actually states, “Thou shalt not resort to sarcastic potshots”, but I think it is implied.

One of the best sinful potshots, which I confess I’ve succumbed to employing, is to simply counter the media’s silly reporting of every heatwave they can find with reports of snowfalls. The media avoids reporting snowfalls in their silly  focus on heat, and it throws a wrench in their works to even mention the white stuff.  For example, you can post pictures of a July snowfall atop Mauna Kea Volcano on Hawaii.

Silly Snow 1 2015-07-17snow04Silly Snow 2 ScreenHunter_2562-Jul.-17-18.37Now, if you were a good reporter you might mention that the observatory up there is at an altitude of 13,796 feet, and up that high, while July snow is unusual,  it isn’t unheard of. However that  would be mature behavior, and, because we have been reduced to playing tit-for-tat with an immature media, you don’t mention that. Instead you sensationalize, and report the National Park is closed, and the rangers have posted:

“The road to the summit of Maunakea is closed to the public at the Visitors Information Station due to icy road conditions at the summit. After road inspection this morning, the ranger reports ice on the upper summit ridge and switchback, the east/ west summit ridge, and the UKIRT-IRTF roads. He also reported mixed rain and snow, fog, there is an inch and a half of frozen snow on the summit and moderate winds. This message will be updated accordingly as conditions change. (Mauna Kea Rangers on July 17, 2015 at 5:55 a.m.)”

In this manner, rather than educating the public, you can take advantage of the fact the general public assumes Hawaii is warm, and create an impression. After all, the mainstream media is more interested in impressions than in reality, isn’t it?

In the same way, the general public assumes Africa is a hot place. There is no need to mention South Africa is far south of the equator, and has passes up at higher altitudes, or even that it is winter down there. Simply mention the words “Africa” and “Snow”, and beat the media at its own silly game by posting pictures like this:

Silly Snow 3 snow1Silly snow 4 snow3-henn-417x313OK. Now, to see if you have been listening, I am going to show you a picture of a snow-covered farm in southern Chile, in South America, where they had up to 80 cm of snow.   You have to invent headlines and a brief article. (The only stipulation is that you are absolutely forbidden from saying, “It’s chilly in Chile”.)

Silly Snow 6 20150714183254No! No! No! That was utterly wrong! First, you mentioned that it was winter in the southern hemisphere. That is utterly unnecessary. Then you pointed out southern Chilie includes Cape Horn and juts down towards Antarctica. That utterly spoils the effect. The only reason I’m not flunking you is because you did mention there was “up to 80 cm of snow” even though there is not that much snow in the picture.

I’ll  give you one more chance. Here is a picture from a railway station, yesterday in Australia:Silly Snow 5 466912-5e729cba-2c1a-11e5-aa8f-85f55b955825 What do you mean, “At what altitude was this picture taken?” Just who do you think you are? An honest reporter of the old school? Modern reporters never ask questions like that. Please remember, “regurgitate, regurgitate, regurgitate”.

If you are an alarmist, you might try suggesting this snow is actually warmer than snow used to be. There are some who will believe you.

Silly Snow 7 2A9B8C0400000578-3164774-Queenslander_Billy_Brislane_pictured_running_through_a_snow_clad-a-119_1437112686604However if you are a Skeptic, you must post all the pictures you can find of snow in July. It is actually a refreshing job, when it is hot and muggy outside. Here is a great resource, for finding all the cold, frosty, snowy news items the mainstream media always neglects to report:

LOCAL VIEW —Fighting the Crab—

This is our third straight day with snow, and I think it is starting to get to people. There is a crab that resides in even the most sophisticated and the most serene, and a hard winter has a way of bringing it out.

Not that we have that much to complain about. On Tuesday we only got a dust of snow, as the southern-track feature slipped out to sea. Behind it temperatures sank under clear skies to -6.5° (-21.4° Celsius)  on Wednesday morning, however they swiftly rebounded as the weak high pressure crested over us, and were up to 8° an hour after the sun rose. Looking west at the snow associated with the northern-track feature, one could hope the snow would get wrung out by the mountains, and we might get a snow-free day. 20150218 satsfc

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By afternoon I was starting to have doubts, as the light winds shifted around to the south, and I could see tiny spots of cumulus in the sky were rapidly expanding. Still, it seemed mild, with temperatures up to 21.2° (-6.0° Celsius), especially with the February sun beaming. I thought to myself that though the wind might bring up some ocean air, it is hard to have bad feelings about south winds. However the forecast was for colder weather, so I was out by the woodpile, spitting fat logs to four or six thin logs, as small wood burns faster and puts out more heat in a hurry, which is what you want when it is below zero.

I spent a lot of time just leaning on my maul and admiring the sky, and noticing how the sun was still fairly high when it would have been settling into the trees in December, and was aiming to settle more to the west than southwest. There was plenty to feel glad about, except the cumulus kept expanding, and to the south I could see they were getting thick.  Then the flakes started drifting down, as an area of snow appeared out of the blue, right above us on the radar, far ahead of the line of snow associated with the northern-track feature’s cold front.

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This area of snow expanded south even as radar showed it moving north, and another one appeared further east to powder poor Boston. I didn’t have time to figure out the causes, but I could tell the weather bureau was nervous. The fat flakes seemed to be tapering off after a half inch, as I went to bed early, but in the dead of night the alarm on my weather radio went off and, when I bothered wander from bed to check on my way to the bathroom, there was this cheery message:

Heavy snow likely across parts of the area tonight through thursday … .a trough of low pressure will extend inland overnight. This feature will be the focus for heavy snowfall which will continue into thursday. The heaviest snows will be localized… However widespread 5 to 10 inches is expected across most of the area.

It sounded to me like a Norlun Trough, which are notoriously difficult to figure out. Or maybe it was a “vort max” arriving with the front. At 1:00 AM in the morning I was in no position (or condition) to find out. I was just glad I wasn’t some poor intern stuck with the graveyard shift at the weather bureau, wired on way too much coffee, with the responsibility of making the forecast. I imagine the boss would not be too happy if he was consulted at 1:00 AM, but would also be displeased if the forecast was blown. It was not a happy position for a rookie to be in. Or so  I imagined, yawning on my way back to bed, and conceding I had no idea what actually was going on behind the scenes. In any case, a forecast was a forecast, so I girded my loins and went back to bed preparing to do battle in the morning.

I heard a plow pass in the morning, and dressed without bothering to awake. I can practically snow-blow-the-Childcare-before-opening in my sleep, I’ve done it so often this winter. As I grabbed my portable weather radio and sleep-walked out the door I expected a cold blast to awake me, but it had only dropped to 17.4° (-8.1° Celsius), which is actually warmer than a lot of our recent daytime highs. What did awake me was the fact the snow I scuffed through on my way to my truck through did not seem deep at all. It was around two inches of pablum fluff. Then, as I listened to my weather radio on my one-mile-drive to the farm, all the alarms and warnings seemed to have been “disappeared”. Heading down the dark road the farm, I did find myself behind a plow, and I wondered if he too had been torn from a warm bed by alerts and warnings which had disappeared.

The plow did little but push the snow up the banks at the side, only to have the snow slide back down again after its passage. Until it came to a driveway. Then the snow had space to go, and surged into the nicely cleaned entry. I suspected a lot of homeowners were going to be crabby when they arose. I wasn’t, because it made my getting up early have more meaning. I would not have bothered to snow-blow only two inches of pablum, but cleaning the entry and exits of a foot of packed-powder-rubble is a bother that must be attended to, for some of the parents arrive to drop off their children in tiny cars with around four inches of clearance, and can be halted by small amounts of snow.

Once I had the entrance and exit cleared I could have shifted the snow-blower into sixth gear, but that would have involved striding too fast, and waking up all the way. So I sauntered in third gear, so well dressed against cold that it didn’t wake me a bit to gradually be powdered white by drifting snow. In fact I sort of liked it, as when I’m covered in snow the beautiful young mothers look upon me with a mixture of awe, pity, and tender sympathy, as I greet their children with icicles hanging from the ends of my mustache.  I look like the hard working owner, suffering to ensure the customer doesn’t suffer, so please don’t inform them that after years of this nonsense I have made darn sure I wear incredibly warm clothing, and am as snug as a bug in a rug, and am so comfortable I am having trouble staying awake.

One man was back from a three week trip to Idaho, where he is working hard to open a new branch of his business, and he was looking around with a sort of disbelief at the towering snowbanks, and the deep paths cut so children can run in the playground, which have appeared in less than a month.  When he left we only had two inches.

I gathered from him  they have had a lot of Chinooks out in Idaho, and it has been a kindly winter without the deep snows that used to trap pioneers and cause cannibalism. The last thing he expected was to come home and discover the jet-stream has swung the Rocky Mountain Snows to to New Hampshire Hills and Boston Streets. (We haven’t resorted to cannibalism yet, but some are becoming extremely crabby.)

As the fellow looked around in disbelief he didn’t seem the slightest bit crabby. I awoke slightly, because I saw wonder in his face. Sometimes you forget, when you are living midst a legend, that there is wonder involved. Rather than thinking anything is wonderful you just get crabby.

The only wonder I felt was a wondering about where the arctic air was. The wind was still south, and it felt mild out. It had cleared off, and all the branches were heaped with fluff in the morning calm, and when the first south winds stirred, veils of powder came sifting down through the golden sunshine. After I’d delivered my gang-of-six to kindergarten I stopped in to check the maps at home. It looked like the cold front’s snows were moving off through Maine, and the front was south of us, but the air felt so unnaturally kindly I could not help but suspect they’d left the true arctic front off the map.

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The fact the map had no arctic front got me wondering about how it is fronts can appear and then get “disappeared”, in the same way weather alerts and warnings can appear in the dead of night and then be “disappeared” at dawn. I entertained myself by imagining various scenarios at the weather bureau this morning. One scenario had the boss charging in and threatening to fire everyone, and another scenario had the boss rushing in to placate a bunch of crabby empoyees before they all quit the graveyard shift to become Climate Scientists, because Climate Scientists never have to work graveyard shifts, get to go to meetings in Bali, and will be dead before anyone figures out their forecasts are wrong.

I don’t know why my mind goes off on these junkets. I suppose I’m not awake yet. I certainly have enough crabby scenarios right before my eyes, and don’t need to go so far afield.

The fellows who have to deliver mail and propane and fuel oil in this landscape of gigantic snowbanks are starting to lose it. Their sense of humor is starting to quit. I don’t care how big, tough and strong they may ordinarily be, they have developed the whine and petulant attitude of a spoiled three-year-old. I get quite enough of that at my Daycare, and sure don’t need it when I go out to stand by my mailbox when the mailman arrives.

My wife, myself, and my middle son have worked long and hard to carve away a huge snowbank to a degree where you can see the mailbox, but the snippy, infantile mailman (who is usually quite different) stated our lilac bushes were pressed down and might scratch his car. If we didn’t cut them back he wouldn’t deliver our mail.

I was going to tell him lilacs are a symbol of spring and of hope, and if he thought I was going to hack away at beautiful bushes so he could be lazy, then he could take his government job and…but my wife suggested I just cut a few branches. I suggested she do it, as the thin slips we rooted a quarter century ago now have trunks as thick as my arm, and the branches the postman wanted clipped can’t be snipped with a clipper, but require bulky shears, and my shears got left out in the rain and are rusted solid. After some further discussion I found myself wasting my precious time looking for where the heck I put my penetrating oil. Then I had to loosen up the rusted shears. Then at last I clipped off some big branches. I avoided becoming crabby by thinking the mailman would be happy, my wife would be happy, and it might be a cool thing to do if I forced some lilac branches to bloom in a vase. Just then I saw the oil delivery man attempting to back up the driveway that I share with a neighbor up the hill.

I’d thought it was odd, yesterday, when I saw my neighbor-up-the-hill out snow-blowing when we hadn’t had any snow. He explained he had to widen his driveway or the oil wouldn’t be delivered. Now the deliveryman made a most desultory effort, and when his tires spun a little, he gave it up. My neighbor-up-the-hill came down, but the deliveryman was adamant. He was not going to back up a drive that was six inches of packed powder. It had to be scraped down closer to the pavement.

I was going to tell the guy he was wimp, and rather than timidly backing up he ought just go gunning up the hill forward, because there was a nice space at the top where he could turn around. This time I did not need my wife to tell me to reconsider.

The simple fact of the matter is that these guys have been working seven-days-a-week for a month now. When the fellow came to deliver propane at my house last week he was amazingly grateful I had actually shoveled a path to the tank. Usually they have to wallow their way through snow up to their waists. They always back their trucks into situations, because if they run into problems with traction it can be next to impossible to back out, and they’d rather be facing foreward as they retreat.

With temperatures averaging a good ten degrees below normal,  many of their customers are freaking out about running out of fuel, but some people freak out and demand tanks be refilled when they are only a little less than halfway empty. The fellow who delivered propane to my house recounted that, after backing his truck as far as he dared up a steep drive, he could barely reach the tank by dragging the truck’s hose out as far as it would go through deep snow, and then he discovered the tank was at 45%.

Furthermore, they are not government employees, like the mailman. They have no fat pension paid-for-and-guaranteed-by-taxpayers to look forward to. Rather they were working for the now, salivating over overtime pay. I myself may avoid paying my staff overtime like the plague, but I do understand working for the now.

In any case, the oil delivery man whined like a three-year-old, and did not deliver to my neighbor-up-the-hill, and left him and his partner shoveling away at the  PPP (packed-powder-pavement) which the snow-blower wouldn’t touch. They were talking about spreading lots of sand and salt and Calcium Chloride, as I headed indoors to slurp my wife’s wonderful soup and perhaps relax by sitting at this computer a bit before my shift at the Childcare. I got the wonderful soup (actually more of a stew) into my system, but as I sat down the phone rang. It was another neighbor, alarmed by cracks in her ceiling, and afraid her roof was overloaded with snow.  I told her I’d look at the cracks on my way to work, and, with a sigh, left my chair.

As I entered her house I was surprised to see her husband lounging by the TV, which had a screen so large it made me feel like a midget. He explained she had been watching the Weather Channel, which, in the true spirit of sensationalism, was making it sound like half the structures in New England would collapse due to overloaded roofs. Then he went back to watching a show about fishing for tarpon in Florida. It looked so nice and warm I was tempted to sit beside him, but his wife said I should forgive him because he was zoning out before work. (I wondered if it occurred to her I might need to do the same.) I wound up scrutinizing a thin crack atop the junction of a a doorway’s wooden header and the horsehair plaster of an old-fashioned wall.  With the authority vested to me as a non-husband male, I suggested it was likely due to the expansion and contraction caused by heating and cooling, and not snow on the roof. She was ever so relieved, though I was talking through my hat.

In fact it is not merely the Weather Channel freaking out about snow on roofs. Insurance companies are freaking out about paying for collapsed buildings, and in a strange desperation, (wherein they actually pay rather than collect), are offering homeowners $500.00 to have their roofs freed of snow. They have to do this because people are hurting and will not even pay the $100.00 some guys will charge to risk life and limb shoveling up where sane people don’t go. (I used to do it for $50.00, but that was 1995.)

Our local economy includes highly skilled construction workers, but they have been hurt by whatever Washington DC calls our current economic state. Even if it was a mild winter, this statistic called “housing starts” would depress lots of locals, and with temperatures near record lows and four feet of snow on the ground, the idea of starting a house is absurd. Just imagine digging a basement. Lots of guys just depart for warmer places, and those who stay look for any work they can find, even if it is shoveling a roof for a hundred.

The five hundred offered by insurance companies is quite an economic boom, unless you are a home owner who has no insurance, in which case you abruptly can find no one who will shovel your roof for a reasonable fee. ($20.00/hour.)

The insurance companies are basically offering people $100.00/hour to shovel off a roof. My middle son took a day off from his job at a coffee shop to make far more by helping my oldest son shovel roofs. Neither has offered to shovel my roofs, for free, out of the goodness of their hearts, for some odd reason.

This is just more wonder, as far as I’m concerned, and is part of a wonderful winter. I see no reason to get all crabby. If need be, I’ll shovel my own roofs. I’m waiting to see if the possibility of rain next Sunday has any basis in fact, especially as the same computer-forecast suggests it might be -15° (-23.1 Celsius) on Saturday.

What I am most concerned about is my business,  which is Childcare, and that involves keeping kids happy. Today this difficult endeavor involved sledding. Sledding is great, as it keeps children warm in cold weather, but sledding is difficult in four feet of powder snow, as the sled just sinks, and fails to head downhill, even on a steep slope.  For this reason I trudged about in snowshoes, packing the powder on the slopes. This afternoon we tried out my packed-powder trails, and while sledding was still too slow to be any fun on the shallow slopes, the children lined up to try out the new death-defying triple-black-diamond slope, (over the jagged teeth of rocks two feet tall, nicely buried under four feet of snow.) It was not entirely a success, as the slope was too steep and the children tended to wipe out. However they had a blast even if they didn’t make it all the way to the bottom, so the experiment was a success, in terms of children getting the fresh air of the outdoors, and gaining laughter, and staying warm even though the temperature was below freezing.

By this point I had woken up. For one thing, the smaller children insisted I had to sled with them, so they sat in my lap as I went screaming down a short, steep, triple-black-diamond slope. I doubt it was good for my spine, but it did wake me up.

As I woke I became aware the bright sun was fading in an odd yellow haze, and then abruptly we were in a snow squall. The children were so absorbed in sledding they hardly seemed to notice, but I noticed visibility was less than a quarter mile, winds were over 30 mph, and temperatures were definitely sinking below the day’s high of 23.7° (-4.6° Celsius). In fact we were, at times, experiencing “blizzard conditions”, which might have concerned people who watch the Weather Channel, but not a little boy on his third birthday. He’d rather keep sledding.

As the supposedly responsible adult in this situation, I kept a sharp eye out for any signs of hypothermia or frost-bite, and sent the frailer children one by one back to the member of my staff who was back at the Childcare, supposedly scrubbing and disinfecting the place for tomorrow, but increasingly dealing with wet clothing and boisterous youth.

Even as the squalls faded to light snow the wind was so gusty that great clouds of whirling white swirled and stung faces, and before the sallow sun sunk I decided the remaining sledders ought head back, and we all trooped indoors, even as the parking lot filled with a traffic jam of arriving parents. After an amazingly chaotic half hour,  quiet descended, as the final few children drew and colored at a table, my employee vacuumed, and I wondered why anyone should be crabby about bad weather.

Day after day we get hit, over and over, by stuff that makes a legend be legendary. It is like a boxer being hit by jab after jab. It doesn’t take a single knock-out punch to get your eyes starting to cross. Still, I see no reason to get crabby.

The forecast is now for bitter cold. Indeed temperatures are sinking through the teens this evening. The maps shows the squalls departing and the cold arriving. (Notice how the squalls, uplifting and departing out to sea, do not fail to give poor Boston a solid jab,)

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I am certain that, if a person is determined to be crabby, they can find numerous reasons. You can not see it, in the above map, but there is a surge from the south behind the huge, extremely cold arctic high pressure in the center of the USA which is threatening to freeze orange groves in Florida. The counter attack behind this cold wave could give us, in this landscape of powder snow, a thing called “rain”, on Sunday.

Rather than worry about “roof collapse”, what I am thinking is that this might be the turning point. The snow might start shrinking, from now on, until a day in May when all we are so crabby about now simply ceases to exist. In which case, rather than being crabby, we should be taking pictures, to document how amazingly deep the snow, once upon a time, actually got. Rather than crabby,we should be filled with wonder about the legend we have the privilege to witness.

(Not that the snow might not get even deeper. I think it will. But, even if it doesn’t, we ought be filled with wonder.)

I doubt I can adequately say what I’m glimpsing. It is something the boxer Cassius Clay (Mohammed Ali) described, when telling of the beauty a staggered boxer experiences when still on his feet after getting an uppercut to the jaw, when he is still sensible despite seeing stars and hearing birdies. There is a beauty in battle. It is a non-modern thing Vikings enthused about, when they spoke of war as being what heaven must be like. It is contrary to the sissified concepts inherent in “political correctness”, which thinks happiness is dependent on weather like a day in May. Such a joy is weak and limited, however real Joy cannot be contained.

White snow stole sky’s azure, west of the bright
Predawn twilight. The pasture stretched out pale blue
Until the sun peeked through trees, and its light
Shot out long stripes that draped a salmon hue.
A man could have stood and seen his blue shadow
Reach across snows to the pasture’s far side
But no man stood out there. I alone know
The swift streaks of pink sun and blue shade I spied.
Then it was gone. It had lasted only
As long as half of the sun was risen.
Do I sing this sonnet because I’m lonely
And must share or else feel my heart wizen?
No, I’m not alone, for sooner or later
All hearts sing applause to daybreak’s Creator.


We did have a flurry before dawn this Friday morning, so today can’t be called snow-free, but the daylight might be snow-free, as the last shreds of cloud faded away with the sunrise. However the wind is roaring and it is amazingly cold, as temperatures fell all night and even after the sun rose, dipping a hair below zero just before 8:00. They have limped back up to 5.9° (-14.5° Celsius) at 10:00 AM. This blast of cold will set records, so the legend continues. However this particular “snow-event” is over, though the wind is drifting snow into the roads. We await the next “snow event”, which will come tomorrow and may change to rain on Sunday. That will be my next post.

This snow-event stretched over four days and involved a southern branch feature and northern branch feature that never “phased”.  All together it gave us only around three inches of snow, but it was one more jab to the chin of a poor boxer starting to get cross-eyed.

The final map and radar shows the old storm does appear to finally be “phasing” way up in Labrador, which is giving us our vicious winds, and also shows our next snow-event starting to get its act together far to our west.

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LOCAL VIEW —Oh No! Mo’ Snow! (Updated thrice) (With storm-summary)

It was down to -7.8°(-22,1 Celsius) as the sun first peeked over the horizon this morning to see what we humans were up to. It wasn’t a quiet dawn, as the drone of snow-blowers sounded from every direction. There was over a foot of powder to clear up, however powder snow is the easiest, and here and there streams of white arched in the landscape, as people hurried to assuage unforgiving bosses and avoid being late to work.  I’d done most of my clean-up yesterday, and only had to snow-blow the mounds the plows push back into the entrance and exit of the Childcare. However I was stiff and sore from the work, and that gives me plenty to grouch about, when I should be counting my blessings.

One thing to grouch about is the piles the plows push back into your driveway, or the neighbors surreptitiously arch in the road in front of your drive, so the plows push it onto your drive and not theirs. With between two and three feet of snow on the level,  we are starting to reach the point where people develop a chess-like strategy regarding the placement of the white stuff.

Another thing to grouch about is the fact teachers don’t seem to need to assuage their bosses, who are parents, on paper at least. They often are parents themselves, so they ought understand how it deranges a day to cancel school, and how the workplaces of taxpayers are rendered chaotic when employees can’t come in because their children are home, or, as often is the case, drag a child or two to work with them. However the real focus of most teachers seems to be to avoid having school cancelled too many times, for that would mean they’d have to work make-up days in the summer. To avoid that, they, (or their superintendent),  more and more often resorts to the “two-hour-delay”, which counts as a full day of school yet involves all the derangement of a no-school-day.

For some reason I couldn’t grouch properly. My first cup of coffee didn’t work. Perhaps my old body was simply too weary, but my brain felt so stupid I could hardly think. The roar of my snow-blower, which I’ve heard way too much recently,  stuffed my ears, and my head felt like it was stuffed in some pocket of wool: Hat and scarf and hood. All that was left was my eyes, peering mutely about as I worked. Perhaps that was the reason I found myself paying so much attention to the way the colors changed as the full moon sank and the sun arose. The snow never once was white. It shifted from blue moonlight to a muted green with blue shadows, as green twilight first blushed in the east, and then that became a muted pink with blue shadows as the twilight turned ruddy, and then the snow was suddenly salmon, as the sun peeked over the distant pines, and then faded through a spectrum of pastel hues, ending with a pale butter yellow.  The snow may have become white after that, but I was back home for my second coffee, and studying the maps. (Click to enlarge.)

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The forecasters are as weary as everyone else, though they don’t have to shovel, because they have been so wrong lately. You can be more correct if you add a half foot to their forecast of snow and subtract seven degrees from their forecast nighttime lows. I distrusted their forecast for “snow showers” on Wednesday night and Thursday, because the map looks a little like the map before the last storm. Hope notices the arctic high pressure is further south, but pessimism notices there is much more “juice” in the southern stream, down around Texas.

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I didn’t have time to dwell on the maps, because the phone rang. It was the Childcare. The heat was off. So I drove the mile back, and discovered the deep snow was starting to drift over the exit vent of the propane heater. I think it is wonderful that the modern heaters achieve such amazing efficiency that you don’t need a chimney, and that the outflow warms the inflow by surrounding the inflow’s smaller pipe, but when it gets down below zero the air exiting the pipe is so cool it can’t even melt the snow faster than it drifts, (and is shed by our snow-shedding roof). So all I had to do was scoop snow away from that vent, and everything was fixed, and I was a hero (in my own mind).

Since I was already there, I figured I might as well snow-blow a path across the playground, and out to the campfire in the pasture. The schools won’t even allow children outside when temperatures drop below 20° (-7° Celsius), but our Childcare focuses on the outdoors, and the children often clamor to go out when it is cold. However snow above my knees is snow up to their waists, so I find it is helpful to snow-blow some paths. After I’m done the main route out to the pasture and sledding hill, I go back to the playground and create curving paths that make a sort of maze. I also create a mound of snow by spiraling out and directing the chute to the center of the spiral. (I should take before and after pictures, because all the paths are cut neat and tidy before the children stampede out, but they can never resist leaving the paths to flounder a bit on the deeper snow, and the scene is one of devastation after an hour.)

I had cut all these paths after the blizzard, but as I looked out the playground appeared completely flat. Between two inches on Friday, howling winds on Saturday, and around 14 inches on Monday with lesser winds, all my work had been erased. Here and there you could see a faint trace of what had been a deep cut, and the mound in the center of the spiral still poked up, but everything else had to be redone. I tried to follow the old routes from memory, but the only real gauge I had was how the snow-blower strained in the deep snow. When it strained harder I knew I was off the path.

The snow was now definitely white in the brilliant February sun, which is so obviously higher than December’s, and has a surprising amount of warmth, even when the thermometer argues it is barely above zero.

I could tell when the temperature was above ten, for the salt suddenly started working on the roads. Below that the salt might as well be more snow, for all the power it has to melt. The streets remain white and snow packed, and the porthole road seems surprisingly smooth, until suddenly the salt starts working, and the white roads turn to brown slush, and even become bare on the bigger highways. This reminded me of arctic sea-ice, for up at the Pole it is so cold now that salt drifts with the snow atop the frozen seawater,  but in June the salt abruptly has the power to melt up there. It did make me feel a bit warmer to think of spring, and the sap first stirring in our sugar maples, but I had no time to post.

After lunch I had to hustle about at home, doing more shoveling. In a storm you do the bare minimum, but between storms you need to square off edges and clear paths to places you don’t go in a storm, for example to the propane tank and woodpile. Also it has been so windy snow sifted onto protected porches that are usually bare. And if you don’t carve a nitch and uncover your mailbox they won’t deliver your mail.

Then it was time to get back to the Childcare and greet the children as they awoke from their naps. I’ve gotten very good over the years at the strange skill of dressing a small mob in snowsuits and mittens. They rushed out and were all having a blast, though the day’s high was only 17.1° (-8.3 Celsius), and when the bus came the kids getting off were even more eager to play outside, after being kept indoors all day. There wasn’t a single complaint, but to me it seemed strangely colder. I always keep a careful eye on the children’s cheeks, alert for the rosy hue developing a purple tinge. I noticed the children gathered in a sunny, southwest-facing corner of the buildings,  even before the sun touched the pines and sent long shadows across the field, and then, even as I was starting to note the purplish tinge on one girl’s cheeks and thinking they ought go in, there was a spontaneous mutiny. All at once, there was an incredible chorus of whining, “I’m cold! I want to go in!”

Usually we stay out, as a member of the staff has been inside scrubbing and vacuuming and disinfecting and getting the place ready for the next day, and the last ting the place needs is a bunch of wet, snow-covered children messing it up all over again. However something about the way the air felt and the way the kids acted made me not even hesitate. We all went in and made a mess.

I was wondering what the difference was. It has been colder, even with wind, and the kids have not been troubled the least. What I think the difference was involved the dew point. When I got home I heard the weather radio inform me what the temperatures of nearby cities were, at 5:00, just as the sun set, and they had temperatures warmed by the urban-heat-island effect to just above 20°, but dew points down near zero. As soon as the sun set temperatures plunged.

The maps didn’t make me feel much hope we’d avoid more snow.

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The question is whether that northern-branch Alberta Clipper over Nebraska will scoop up the southern-branch low in the Gulf of Mexico south of Texas, and “phase” with it. I don’t see how they can help it, with that big high pressure in the way. Then the question becomes whether the storm will head out to sea south of us. The weather bureau seems to think it will bomb out to our south and miss us, as their main emphasis is on how cold it will be after the storm passes, but I did notice they are altering their language, and rather than speaking of “snow showers” they now speak of “snow” on Thursday. (Without stating whether it will be “light” or not.) Subtle.

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NEXT MORNING UPDATE: Temperatures may have crashed below zero before midnight, but a light overcast brought a halo to the moon, when insomia awoke me just after midnight, and the temperature was 0.8°.  I’d crashed very early, around eight, but the last thing my wife mentioned as I drifted off, unable to make sense of even the first sentence of a bedside book, was that the heater had kicked off again at the Childcare, for no reason she could see. It had started again without trouble, but she thought I should know. Insomnia can use a thing like that to keep you awake, so I dressed and headed to the Childcare in the dead of night, to make sure it hadn’t kicked off again, and pipes weren’t freezing. It was running just fine, but I took the opportunity to just stand in the yard and enjoy the moonlight.

It was amazingly and absolutely quiet. No distant scraping plows, no droning snow-blowers. Not even an owl.  It was as if the entire world was worn out after the storm, and sleeping, as a big moon cruised across a silent sky, seeming to smile and be playful, with its hoop a huge halo.

Now I’m up again and the temperature is up to 7.9° (-13.4° Celsius), at 4:30.  The map still holds some threat, but at least it looks like the first clipper may miss the connection with the Gulf of Mexico moisture. We might only get “snow showers” after all.

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The problem is that second low back over Utah. It is in some ways what is left of a Pacific storm, after “morphisticatin” crossing the Rocky Mountains. In fact I recall the old-school weathermen differentiated between “Alberta Clippers” and “Mountain Lows.” I suppose you could call it a “Colorado Clipper”, but it looks likely to catch up with that Gulf of Mexico moisture, and brew a storm up as it gets to the east coast. With the Atlantic so warm, relative to normal, it could get big before heading out to sea.

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Right now our winter is snowy, but still in the range of a “normal” winter. One more snow will tip us into the realm of major inconvenience.  It is all well and good to talk about a legendary winter from a summer armchair, but quite a different thing to endure it.

NEXT EVENING UPDATE: The first impulse pushed through this morning as a dazzling snow with the sun shining, falling from a pale blue sky made milky by the snow, dappled with sliding alto-cumulus. Temperatures rose slowly but steadily all day to a mid-afternoon 27° (-2.8 Celsius), and then, after hesitating and dithering, continued to creep upwards even as night fell to the current high of 29.8° (-1.2° Celsius) at 10:00 PM.

The map should be showing a warm front close to, and parallel to, the approaching cold front. Or so I feel.

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The southern moisture still hasn’t moved north and been combined to “phase” with the northern impulse, however it seems some modified Chinook-Pacific air has streamed east along the south side of the cold front, running into a stale arctic high on one side and a fresh arctic high on the other. It is almost an occlusion, a sort of tube of milder air streaming east as a long band of snow.

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In the above radar shot you can see a slight southward bump on the eastern edge of the snow, and in the more-recent close-up below you can see a second band of snow formed ahead of the first, and the two bands come together just to my west. 20150204C rad_ec_640x480

It looks like if I wait five minutes it will be here, so let’s wait. (Dum-de dum-dum da-da-dum-dum)

Sure enough, I just went out onto the porch and it is snowing like gang-busters. The street is white, the windshields are white, all man’s efforts to undo the winter’s work are being undone.

I’m not yet tired of this, as it is sort of neat to be midst what may become a winter of lore. However I confess my body is getting tired. When I was cutting blocks of packed powder, and starting an igloo I build for the kids at the Childcare nearly every year, I’d only cut six blocks when I noticed my arms felt like wet noodles. My old body feels like it is running out of gas, and I was very glad to see my middle son had split some wood for me and stacked it up on the porch when I got home from work. I don’t much like the prospect of needing to run the snow-blower again tomorrow morning, so I hope this snow is a quick passing thump, a swift inch which is just as swiftly over and done.

The snow now falling is utterly different from this morning’s, which was a dazzle in sunshine. This is a dump in darkness. However the trick is to see each has its beauty, and to marvel at the variety. In this manner, though winter wearies the body, it invigorates the mind.

I’d surrender to winter but winter
Doesn’t want me. I’d wave a white flag
But the white will wave back. Torture-splinter
Under nails, that’s the mercy that will drag
Me as a carcass for the crows, if I bow
To the attack. So instead I’ll enjoy
The beauty of the beast, see poems in how
Snow’s heaped as crystal sparks, and employ
A poem’s yeast to make bread that taunts famine.
Sweet revenge I’ll then have on cruel frost.
He who builds dams for up-streaming salmon,
And heaps fresh losses on the weeping lost,
Will see I am his cold snow enjoying
And therefore bring sweet spring’s snow-destroying.

ANOTHER MORNING UPDATE  There are three inches of fluff outside, with the fat flakes still falling. So I am off to blow snow. Temperature is a mild 29.7° (-1.3° Celsius) but there are wind-chill advisories for -20° (-29° Celsius) only twelve hours from now.

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The northern branch feature and southern branch feature have moved off the coast without ever truly combining and “phasing” into a proper gale center. They look like they are still in the process of the merge, and likely will get their acts together and bomb into a big gale up to the northeast, by Labrador or Greenland.

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You might think we escaped with a mere nuisance-snow, but the radar showed the snow was thick as it passed., even as it never sucked up the “juice” to the south. It left us with more than a nuisance, as it headed out to sea.

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All in all we got half a foot, which isn’t much ordinarily, but when you already have roughly three feet, (Or roughly four feet, if you live on the other side of Manchester where Joseph D’Aleo reports from), and when the forecast is for only a quarter foot, it makes a surprising mess of things, especially when the superintendent of schools bases his judgement on a forecast and doesn’t walk outdoors and sniff the air, and concludes that rather than cancelling school there should be a two-hour-delay. The resultant mess on the highways is best described as a “fracas”,  which is a sort of frowning “circus”.

Even glancing out through the whirling white in the dark before dawn I could see the snow had gotten so deep it was starting to cover the hastily and poorly placed sensor of my Christmas thermometer, and I didn’t have time to rush out and wallow across the yard to scoop the snow away, and therefore I’m only guessing that the high was actually 29.7° (-1.7 Celsius), before dawn. However as I hurried to to work I could already see the sticky snow was turning dry and powdery, and when I paused at the market I could see the plow-operators, (who were the only people there) had weary eyes turning from white to bloodshot. It was looking next to impossible to clear the streets for the school buses, with the snow whirling and falling at an inch-an-hour rate.

The streets were a mess. Though heavily salted, the salt had no effect when temperatures remained below 10° (-12° Celsius). The snow and salt was packed down into a squeaky surface that had decent traction, and built up to a degree where you found yourself stepping down into places you usually stepped up into, which suggests the packed powder was getting thick. However as soon as temperatures rose above 10° the salt started working, and packed surfaces turned to a strange, dry slush. It might have melted more, but the spike in temperatures was brief. Also the pavement beneath the packed snow was likely chilled to near zero (-18° Celsius). In any case, even if hadn’t snowed a flake, the rise in temperatures turned smooth packed streets into brown, rutted messes, and the mess would have needed to be plowed aside.

But it had snowed, and still was snowing vigorously, and the brown surface grew tan and then the color of overly creamed coffee, as plowing-vehicles churned around, attempting to make the mess ready for school opening two-hours-late. For every truck actually plowing the roads there were fifteen guys with plows on their pickups, attempting to plow driveways before heading off to their day-jobs. And one odd thing about these guys is that, when they plow a drive, a fair amount of the snow they push about winds up back on the street.

You would have thought we had at least a foot, the roads were so rutted as I drove to work, but when I started my snow-blower, (the electric starter only whined, but the pull-cord miraculously started it, on the sixteenth pull), I found I could operate the machine at third gear, walking briskly behind it, for at that point we’d only had five inches. I only needed to slow at the street, dealing with the brown slush. Soon the entrance and parking lot and exit of my Childcare was the cleanest side-road in town. However my brow was furrowed with worry when I looked out on the street, and saw the deep ruts, and knew plows would eventually pass and plug my entrance and exit. But, after a swift greeting of a few parents and some swift instructions to my staff, I headed off to my dentist, nearly twenty miles away.

It’s my fourth and last visit of the young year, and will just about bankrupt me, as Obama-care is useless in my case. I like to be presentable, but looked like someone who was up before dawn shoveling. I like to be on time, but got stuck behind a young mother with a van full of kids, apparently slithering along on bald tires, and I had to drive at 15 mph for seven miles. I expected to be in the doghouse when I arrived fifteen minutes late. Instead I turned up to be the only customer who had the courtesy to show up, and the entire staff doted on me.

In any case, I can chew again, and headed home through thinning flakes and surprisingly improved roads, past amazingly blocked driveways. When I got back to the farm-childcare I barely made it through the huge brown wall in the entrance plows had helpfully erected. Once in the drive, I drove easily to my parking place, and was confronted by a goat.

Goats hate walking through deep snow, beneath which they don’t know what their feet will come down upon, but Beulah had waded through chest-deep snow to nag at me. (Goats don’t baa; they nag.) So I fed her and the others, and the nagging chickens, and the patient rabbit, and then headed in to the Childcare to get nagged some more. A member of the staff had the flu’, and I needed to both care fore children and clear the entrance and exit of the Childcare.  Don’t ask me how I did it. It’s amazing what you can do if you have to.

(One law states you can’t leave children unattended, while another states if the entrance of your Childcare is impassable, you need to close down. What would you do?)

As I chugged about pushing the snow-blower in low gear, removing the heavy, brown, and oddly dry sludge from the entrance and exit, I could feel the cold intensifying. The wind was starting to whip about whirlwinds of powder. The clouds faded to the east and the sun shone brilliantly, but the cold kept increasing. By the time the sun dipped behind the pines the wind was so cruel I moved all the kids inside.

And now, as I look at my Christmas thermometer, (which has been cleared of snow), I see we are dipping below zero at ten o’clock. Where we spent 24 hours on Tuesday with temperatures rising, we are now midst 24 hours with temperatures falling.

Just as the forecast was for a quarter foot, and we got a half foot, I expect temperatures will plunge below the forecast of “four above to four below”. At this rate we will be sinking past four below by midnight. The poor forecasters are slaves to computers that just can’t fathom the fierceness of this February.

People south of here have no idea what we are going through. As a weather geek, I hear weather nerds complaining they haven’t had enough snow, and the cold predicted by the computers never happens.  Down around Washington DC the nerds are complaining they’ve had no winter.

I’d be glad to export our conditions, and usually I could expect it to happen. In the past I’ve seen deep snow create, or attract, cold high pressure, which ends a snowy time and shunts storms south of New England.

I’m actually expecting this to happen, but the computers are not seeing it yet. Instead they see a single sunny day tomorrow, and then increasing clouds Saturday with snow late, and then snow on Sunday, snow on Monday, snow on Tuesday…

Oh No! Mo’ Snow!


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Above is a reason not to have faith in computer models. It is a map I downloaded last Wedenday, showing me how much snow I could expect by this coming Wednesday. It shows one swath of snow coming up from the southwest and passing south of Boston, and then a second swath coming down from the northwest and also passing south of Boston. Boston could expect a total of perhaps three inches, and I, in southern New Hampshire, could expect a mere inch over the next seven days.

That was wonderful news, as I am an old grouch and don’t like cleaning up the parking lots and walkways of my home and business. It was also wrong news, as I understood as I came in from cleaning up the three inches the first feature brought up from the southwest. I clicked on my computer, and was confronted by this map of snow totals expected from the second feature, coming from the northwest.

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Yikes! That suggests more than a foot for Boston, and over two feet for where I live in southern New Hampshire. Not that it is right. It could be as incorrect as the first map, for all I know.

The above maps are are among thousands produced by Dr. Ryan Maue from data produced by weather bureaus from all over the world, and available at the excellent Weatherbell site. I highly recommend the site, though it will cost you about the price of a cup of coffee each day. I especially recommend the insights of their two senior meteorologists, Joe Bastardi and Joseph D’Aleo.

The interesting thing about the storm which now is appearing in the computer forecasts is that it is born from such a small feature. It looks all the world like a little Alberta Clipper, rippling down from the Canadian Rockies on an arctic cold front as it sags south. Typically these storms are small, as they have little moisture to feed off, unlike the storms that come up from the Gulf of Mexico, which often bring a big gob of moisture north with them. In this morning’s map you can see one such juicy feature departing to our Northeast, growing deeper as it swiftly departs. You can also see the approaching Alberta Clipper, to the southwest of Lake Superior, still far to our west and still looking rather innocent.

Even when the Atlantic Ocean is warmer than normal, as it now is, by the time an Alberta Clipper can tap into the moisture it is usually too late. As the storm strengthens it has already passed Boston, and is whisking away towards Greenland and Europe.

That is exactly what the computer models originally thought this clipper would do, and is why the map at the top of this post shows no snow for New Hampshire, where it now shows over two feet.  What has changed?

As I understand it the “steering currents”, which are the winds high up in the upper atmosphere, have changed.  Where isobars at the surface show circles for low pressure systems, the upper atmosphere ordinary only shows a dent in isobars, a “trough” that  ripples west to east like a wave on a shaken jump-rope. Normally these troughs lean to the east, and the steering currents whisk the low pressure at the surface to the northeast. More rarely (at our latitude) the trough can tilt back to the west, and this can cause a storm to behave as they more often due up at higher latitudes and the northern North Atlantic. The storm turns back to the west and its path describes a sort of curlicue, before it eventually drifts east.  (This sort of steering current is called a “negatively tilted” trough.)

Apparently the trough associated with the low that just swept by us was positively tilted, but the next trough is negatively tilted. The clipper will be pushed south by the arctic high pressure coming south behind the last storm,  and rather than moving out to sea north of us or over us, will move out to sea over warmer waters down east of the Virginia Capes. That warm water will feed it and it will grow very rapidly, but (at this point) looks unlikely to escape out to sea. The high pressure that pushed it south will stand in its way, and will “block” it, as the trough in the atmosphere above is becomes negatively  tilted. Therefore this innocent little clipper will describe a curlicue in the Atlantic southeast of Boston, growing stronger all the while.

Hold onto your hats.



LOCAL VIEW —A Boy’s Boredom—

Perhaps I’ve been working too hard, but a sort of fed-up feeling rose up in me today, and had me tired of any media but the outdoors. (Not that the outdoors is usually thought of as a “media”.)  All the people on various talk shows on the radio, both the political ones and the sports ones, struck me as being uninspired. I just felt sick of them, and fortunately one is able to turn a little nob and silence them.

The weather is a bit drab, midst a sort of winter drought. We do get rain, but the drought involves a lack of snow. Not that the little snow we have gotten hasn’t set some sort of record in terms of nuisance-per-inch. I can never remember having to shovel so much sand onto icy surfaces, after a measly total of four inches of snow since before Christmas. However all in all it has been a bit boring, in terms of drifts and high snow banks and howling winds, though there has just enough snow, mixed with just too little rain, to completely spoil the skating.

It reminds me of a certain January day in my boyhood, when the skating was no good and the sledding was no good, and all  there was to do was homework, and that was no good. The only sport was basketball, but I was the youngest and shortest boy in my class. Hormones seemed to be hitting everyone else, and they were all growing like weeds, as I remained the same. Therefore basketball was out of the question, unless I was in the mood to be humiliated, which I seldom was. It was a time when it seemed humiliating simply to be alive, and my mood was morbid and I might have malingered away into complete misery, were it not for the second-shortest boy in my class, who understood everything I was going through, and was a great friend.

This fellow had the endearing quality of having intense enthusiasm about whatever he happened to be doing at that particular moment. It is very difficult to remain properly moody and depressed, in the face of such enthusiasm. At times I even tried to avoid him, because I wanted to pout and be miserable, all alone, like a lady going through a box of Kleenex having a good cry over a book, or a blues-singer enjoying his sorrows in song, but my friend would come barging in and interrupt.  He would have seen an owl snoozing on a branch in the woods, and would state I simply had to go see it. He refused to take “No” for an answer, and, in the end, I usually had to concede it was worth the tramp through the trees to see an empty branch when an owl had supposedly reposed.

The most annoying quality he had was his ability to finish all his homework in what seemed like ten minutes. It took me an hour to even open a book, and just then he’d show up and give me an excuse to get an “F”. (Not that I minded all that much, until my report card came.) He was always dragging me off into other troubles as well, as he enthusiastically took me past “No Trespassing” signs to see what was down the train tracks, or in the quarry, or just beyond the reach of the junkyard dog. Not that I was unwilling. I soon learned that, while the fellow could be annoying, life was never boring when he was around.

His mother didn’t much like my mother, and the feeling was mutual, and they independently arrived at the conclusion the other’s son was a bad influence on their precious son. They were correct, as mothers usually are, but mothers might accidentally have their sons in dresses, if they had their way. Boys like trouble because boys are trouble, and we managed to find so much boyish trouble that, one January, we were banned from even telephoning each other. Fortunately he had received a couple “walkie-talkies” for Christmas, and he loaned me one. Unfortunately they only had a range of a mile, and our houses were slightly more than a mile apart. Only by stringing up elaborate systems of wires outside our bedroom windows could we hear, dim and remote, a faint voice fading in and out, midst vauge waves from the ionosphere.

To cut this long story short, one drab January afternoon, when I was up in my room and should have been doing my homework, we were conversing enthusiastically on the walkie-talkies, and he faded away, dimmer and dimmer, until he faded out. Nothing I did could improve the reception, and bring him back. I was abruptly confronted with what an antidepressant that friend was, and just how empty and stark and like-January life is, when a friend is gone.

(Perhaps this feeling returned because, at my age, I have to say good-bye to some old friends, who forge on before me. However this reality didn’t occur to me today, as I shut off the radio, and simply sniffed the weather.)

(Perhaps this mood hit me because some of my boyhood friend’s attributes are going into the creation of the character “Durf”, in the novel I’m working on. However I didn’t think of that either, as I looked across the dreary and drab January landscape.)

It was the strangest thing. I simply could remember being twelve, and bored out of my gourd, and that there was a beauty in that boredom.

Give credit to the boredom of boyhood,
To that ache drilling deep to the heart.
It urged me to trouble but led me to good.
Without it a man never would dare start
Questioning, probing, testing tradition.
He would be apron-strung and stay home,
Not seek to better the human condition,
Not shock a schoolmarm, daring to roam
Playing hooky. Give credit to boredom
For men on the moon. They’re glad to come home
So give credit to women for what we come
Home to, but do not make that a catacomb.
Instead see a crucial part of Good
Is born out of the boredom of boyhood.

Isn’t it amazing what can come from being just beyond the reach of the reception of a radio?

I am sort of starting to like being just beyond the reach of bad weather. The rain and mildness that swept over us last Sunday brewed up quite a storm to our north, and Quebec got clobbered. Not that the mainstream media cares much about Quebec, but they had sheets of freezing rain on one side of a storm that gave true blizzard conditions, powder snow drifting in temperatures of -40°, on its other side. (The mainstream media was more interested in a weak clipper that slid to our south.)

20150119 satsfc20150119 rad_nat_640x480_05

The very edge of the arctic air did press south over us, as temperatures dropped to 16.5° Monday night and only rose to 29.5° on Tuesday, (-8.7° and -1.4° Celsius), but this is nothing, compared to the -40° (both Celsius and Fahrenheit) air that dropped towards us and then was sucked back up into the storm in Quebec. The southern edge of the arctic air was just enough to evaporate the first burst of snow from the Alberta Clipper, and send the second burst well south of us, towards Washington DC, which deserves to be cooled down.

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20150121 rad_nat_640x480

20150121B satsfc

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The edge of the arctic air, that depressed the clipper south, kept us below freezing all day, but swung the winds around to the ocean and kept the cruelest cold away, so we did get up to 30.9° (-0.6 Celsius).

Even as that clipper moved south of us, I deeply distrusted it, and watched like a hawk for signs it would explode and kick back snow over New Hampshire.

I am also suspicious of that mess over Texas. That seems likely to hit us. However, according to the American computer, that Texas mess will go just south of us, as will a follower from the Gulf of Mexico, even as the next Alberta Clippers dive south of us (or dry up before they get here). In fact, according to the American computer, there will be swaths of snow all around us, as New Hampshire remains drab and dry. A week from now the American “GFS” model predicts the following amounts of snow will have fallen (A Dr. Ryan Maue map from the Weatherbell site):

20150121B gfs_6hr_snow_acc_conus2_28

It is somewhat amazing how all the storms miss New Hampshire. As a boy this would have caused me terrible misery, because snow was my Avatar and Messiah, the Rasool and Savior, who could rescue me from the oppression of schoolmarms, and a map such as the above was something like a true-believer learning the second-coming  has been delayed beyond the period of time they can expect to be alive.

As an old geezer I very much hope the maps are correct, and the second-coming is delayed. I’d much rather sit back in a mid-winter drought and contemplate stuff that occurred a half-century ago. I enjoy remembering old friendships, especially my old pal who was such a bad influence and got me into so much trouble.

The problem is, he was quite the interruption, and indeed there were times I wished he would get lost. I would want to get all morbid and wade in Kleenex like an old lady having herself a good cry, but he would bust in, bursting with enthusiasm, and drag me from my sweet violins of self pity.

Why is it that I have a strange feeling, as I look at the above map, that it is wrong? Why is it I have the feeling I will not be able to sit here, composing poetry? Why do I feel that,  instead, I will be gripping the reins of a bucking snow-blower attempting to keep a business’s parking lot business-like?

If and when that happens, I hope I adopt the right attitude. As I trudge about behind the snow-blower I hope I don’t feel a great writer like myself should be spared such drudgery, and instead should be placed on a silk pillow and allowed to compose in Persian luxury. Rather I hope I regard the snow as an interruption like my old friend,  dragging me from insipid yammering into vigor and activity and enthusiastic life.

I probably won’t. I’ll probably feel really, really sorry for myself, behind the snow blower. However, in memory of my boyhood buddy, I hope I shall do so enthusiastically.


I am very ignorant concerning computers, and I only mention this as a ignorant soul telling a Rembrandt his shoelace is untied.

The models amaze me with their accuracy five days into the future, most of the time. I have a hard time forecasting tomorrow. Therefore I rely on models, and notice when they are not amazing, five days into the future. Recently they have been spectacularly wrong, especially as you get up into northern latitudes.

I’ve been wondering if they think in a circular manner. They might see weather patterns going around and around the earth.  It might throw a wrench in the works, and be over-the-top, so to speak, when rather than around and around, cross-polar-flow brings things over the top.

The recent cold that clobbered Europe was unseen by models, even three days ahead of time. I think it may be because the models are based on a nice, “zonal” flow, and have trouble when the Pole is afflicted by what some (me) call a “loopy” flow, and others call “meridianal.”

The best model at handling such cross-polar-flow seems to be the Canadian “JEM” model, likely because Canada gets clobbered by cross-polar-flow more than most other nations. Perhaps the JEM model does not do as well with round-and-round the earth patterns, for it is not the best model overall, however when it does score a “coup” it seems it is because it added over-the-top cold to the mix. (Of course, the JEM model has a habit of creating over-the-normal super-storms, but no one is perfect.)

I thought it might be interesting to see what the JEM model produced, and what follows gives you an idea of the wrenches the Pole can throw into the works of any model that accepts a zonal flow as a basic premise.

(These maps are produced by a Rembrandt of the weather-map-world called Dr. Ryan Maue, of the Weatherbell site, however these maps are blemished by a bit of digital graffiti down the left sides. Likely Dr. Maue was operating on two hours of sleep when he wrote the code for this map, or perhaps the Canadian computers produced the glitch and the graffiti  is beyond Dr. Maue’s control. In any case, it is an untied shoelace, and I hope you will ignore it and enjoy the great art.)

All these maps can be clicked, or opened to a new tab, to enlarge them. Then they can be clicked a second time to enlarge them further.

The first, “initial” map shows a Pacific invasion has nearly reached the Pole, but a tremendously cold airmass in Siberia, (the hottest pink is -70°), is rushing north behind the invasion, cutting it off. (The clash between the the milder and frigid air is creating a decent polar storm.) This northward rush of Siberian air is what I called “the snout of Igor” last year, and makes me worry, though I am off the map and on the far side of the planet.

CPF1 cmc_t2m_arctic_1

The next map shows that a day later the Siberian air has charged right across the Pole. The Pacific invasion is cut off, but an Atlantic invasion is starting north west of Norway. (Notice the cold air has been driven from northern Scandinavia.) Things look bad for Canada, with that thrust of Siberian air charging their way.

CPF2 cmc_t2m_arctic_5

The next map, 48 hours later, makes one say, “But what is this?” A new invasion of Pacific air is attacking the cross-polar-flow from one side, as the Atlantic invasion proceeds from the other. Will the flow be strangled?

CPF3 cmc_t2m_arctic_9

After 72 hours the Pacific invasion seems to be overpowering the Atlantic invasion, and rather than the cross-polar-flow being nipped in the bud, it is developing a curve, or a sort of saddle. Warmth has pushed east of Finland into Russia.

CPF4 cmc_t2m_arctic_13

After 96 hours the curve in the cross-polar flow has become such an oxbow that the air is starting to aim not towards Canada initially, but west towards Scandinavia. Notice that west of Finland, the cold is no longer retreating east in Russia, but starting to advance west.

(I think this is where some models start to lose it.)

CPF5 cmc_t2m_arctic_17

After 120 hours the original cross-polar-flow has collapsed into a surge of cold back towards Scandinavia. However a new cross-polar-flow is starting, and the most-recent Pacific invasion is again being cut off. Northern Scandinavia is much colder.

CPF6 cmc_t2m_arctic_21

Lastly at 144 hours, (which is starting to enter la-la land, for models), we see some bizarre feature north of Greenland throwing mild air up towards the Pole.  (“I’ll believe it when I see it.”)  However what seems a little more reliable is, first of all,  that the new cross-polar-flow has hooked up with Canada, and the air in northern Canada is nearly as cold as Siberia’s.  Secondly, the old cross-polar-flow has sent really cold air crashing into Scandinavia.

(It is sort of like the cross-polar-flow was a meandering river, and cut off an oxbow, but in the atmosphere an oxbow does not just sit stagnant, as an oxbow lake, but is a mobile thing, as Scandinavia may see first hand, 144 hours from the time of the first map.)

CPF7 cmc_t2m_arctic_25

Please remember all of the above is occurring in the virtual world of computer models. It is theory, not reality.  However what is so fascinating to me is how different weather patterns look, when you view the globe from the top, rather than always from one side or another.

LOCAL VIEW —The New Year—

I’ve taken some time off to take stock of my situation, which can be a difficult thing to do when four out of five grown children descend on the so-called “empty nest.” Actually the situation is more aptly described as “my chickens coming home to roost.”

I like it in many ways, for I’m an old rooster myself, however it does involve a lot of interruptions to the flow of thought. I need at least a few hours a day to simply allow my swirling mind to settle. Usually I manage it by staying up late, but so do my kids. I found a way around that by developing handy insomnia, and being awake between two AM and five, however one side effect of having lots of chocolate around at Christmas is that chocolate makes me sleep like a log.

My wife and I decided we needed some time away, however we couldn’t afford flying to Florida, or even a night at a bed-and-breakfast, so what we did was turn our childcare into our resort. It was closed on New Years Day, so we went out to eat on New Year’s Eve and then, instead of going home, we headed to the childcare-farm and spent a quiet night there, followed by a quiet morning which extended into the day, and the next thing we knew the sun was going down and the kids were calling my wife’s cell-phone, worried about us.

Fortunately there has been a lull in the weather. Actually it was not exactly a lull, because the high pressure that came crashing down from Canada was enormous and well worth making a fuss about. We were on the northeast side of the action, which meant we got day after day of dry northwest winds, and only an occasional disturbance passing over and giving us a few wandering snowflakes. The Christmas mildness faded away, the mud froze, and then the sheer dryness of the air resulted in a lot of sublimation, and the frozen mud dried on its surface, and leaves scurried around the brown pasture in the wind. (Click maps, or open to new tabs, to clarify and enlarge.)

20141231 satsfc 20150101 satsfc 20150102 satsfc 20150103 satsfc

As the huge high pressure pressed south it moved over milder earth that lacked snow-cover and which warmed it, so that the heavy air grew less heavy, and less like a pressing high pressure, until now the western side is actually starting to rise and become low pressure at the surface. A great blob of moisture is starting north from the mild Gulf of Mexico, up the west side of the weakening high pressure, but the northern side of the high pressure remains cold and strong enough to put up a bit of a fight, turning the rain to snow in the north.

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I’ve been expecting this sort of mess to come north, and in fact have been surprised that there hasn’t been a storm. Quite often a giant high will breed a giant storm, but this one was so huge it squashed the last storm like a bug, and the flattened corpse slid out to sea, which was fine with me. However it looks like we won’t be so lucky with the next one.

I’ve taken advantage of the fine weather, (which has been tantamount to a sort of drought,) and have managed to cut some wood and shift it about. Yesterday I had some fun with the few kids who were at our Childcare on a day-after-New-Year’s-day, (many parents get the day off,) and they sat in the back of my pick-up truck as I rattled about over the frozen pasture, lugging wood in for the pasture campfire and the upstairs stove.

If I split the wood out in the woods the pieces are light enough for the children to hurl into the truck, but I was feeling a bit stiff and sore from splitting at home, and also in a hurry, so didn’t split the logs and I couldn’t employ the kids. The logs were too heavy. In fact when I looked at them, and considered heaving them up onto the tailgate, they looked a bit heavy for me. Not that I couldn’t do it, by I’ve learned to be lazy in my old age. It seemed the rounder logs might as well be rolled, and the kids could roll them. So they rolled all the rounder logs down the hill to the pasture campfire, and had good fun doing it. (The deal was that if they helped, I’d give them a ride in the back of the pickup.) Now we have a heap of round logs down where I can split them as I need them, for the pasture campfire.

Next we headed a bit further down the pasture to where I had cut up some lovely dead maple that was bone dry. Where a standing tree can continue to suck up a surprising amount of moisture even when it is dead, this one had snapped off and fallen into a fork between other trees during a summer thunderstorm, which kept it five feet above ground, horizontal, and wonderfully easy to cut into logs with my chain saw. I didn’t even need to bend my old back as I cut. I used a wheelbarrow to move these logs to my truck, (where I would have carried them when younger), and the children insisted on helping. Most of the logs were too big for them to hoist, but they had quite an argument about who got to roll the empty wheelbarrow back to the cut-up tree, and I had to be the judge and decide who got the next turn. When the pickup was half full they’d all pile aboard for the ride back to the barn, and all get out as I reached the fifty yards of public road, (as it is illegal to have children in the back of pick-up trucks on public highways,) and then wait for me to return with the truck empty for the next ride back and the next load.

It always surprises me what fun the children think this is. It doesn’t seem to occur to them they are working, and I can guarantee they will brag to the other children when they come back from vacation on Monday about all they missed, and the other children will slouch and feel staying home and playing video games in a warm house was not “where it was at”.

The goats came out to join us. They like an open winter, as they don’t like wading through deep snow and usually sulk beneath the barn, but now could poke through the brown leaves for the stray acorn squirrels have missed, and nibbling the green boughs of pines and hemlocks. They like having humans about as they seem to know it will keep the coyote at a distance (and they don’t seem to know the bear are snoozing in caves.)

As the dark fell it seemed everyone had a good afternoon, despite the fact there was no sledding on Christmas vacation.

After reaching record extent in November, the snow-cover has retreated to a degree which I think is average or even below average for the start of a year, but now is starting its January advance. The maps below show December 29 snow-cover (top) and January 2 snow-cover (bottom), and how the snow is all the way to Texas due to the huge high bringing cold south, and snow to Tuscon, Arizona and the suburbs of Los Angeles.

Snowcover 20141229 ims2014363_usa Snowcover 20150102 ims2015002_usa

I imagine the snow will be here by Monday, despite all the warm air surging north. It’s a bit much to hope for another Christmas rain. There was simply too much cold air brought south by the huge high, and also more cold air is coming right on the heels of the warm-up. We could be below zero by Wednesday.

The Great Lakes have again started to freeze, after actually thawing a bit during Christmas.

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However, with so much of the water open, the lakes will buffer us from the really cold air. The warming of the air crossing Lake Michigan shows up with wonderful clarity in this Dr. Ryan Maue map I lifted from Joseph D’Aleo’s blog at Weatherbell, which shows the sub-zero air (-18° Celsius) as gray within the navy blue of single-digit cold, and charging us from the west on Wednesday. (Click to enlarge.)

20150103 gfs_t2min_conus2_23

The problem for us will be when the winds shift more to the north on Thursday. Then the Lakes no longer are upwind, and Hudson Bay is frozen over and only warms arctic air slightly through the ice.

I think I’ll go buy a couple bags of coal. We have a tiny coal stove to supplement our three wood stoves, in the coldest nights. (I don’t trust the propane heat, after the brown-out we had last week.)

I need a warm house, to continue work on my novel. (A subject for another post.)





LOCAL VIEW —To Snow or No (with “santabomb” update)

A slug of rain moved up over us this morning, with just a bit of freezing on cold pavements, though the temperatures were above freezing at 36. I suppose the stones remembered the cold. The rain swiftly swept north and is gone, and now we are seeing a gray sun, with temperatures pushing 40. I suppose this is the long-awaited “warm-up.”

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The rain-snow line has been pushed well to the north, but I am going to call this “Winter Storm #10” all the same. (We had some icy pavement, after all.) (I’ll never match the 26 winter storms of the 1600’s if I don’t cheat a little.)  Also a little snow may be swept around the backside, and give us a backlash tomorrow.

The map shows the warm front never made it here. It zipped up into an occlusion, and a weak coastal low has formed where the zipper is zipping, and the cold front separates from the warm front.  It seems that nearly the entire mild air-mass, full of Chinook kindness, was lifted before it got east. We got gypped. It all passed over head, as down on the ground we got a case of the shivers. (Click maps to clarify and enlarge)

20141217 satsfc 20141217B satsfc

That coastal low will likely blow up into a gale up over the Canadian Maritimes, and we will get north winds and some moderated arctic air. Somehow the cold always seems to manage to sneak down our way. Here’s the latest temperature map: (Click and then click again to fully enlarge.)

20141217B gfs_t2m_noram_1

Besides the chill hanging tough over New Hampshire, the map shows some grey coloring south of Hudson Bay, indicative of temperatures dipping below zero Fahrenheit ( -18 Celsius). That is some home-brewed Canadian cold that was prepared for us during the long nights the air sat over the snow-covered Canadian prairies.  When nights are at their shortest Canadians don’t need to import air from Siberia to freeze our socks off.  The irony is that where the subzero air now sits is the exact location where the friendly Chinook air lay, last week. It seemed so sure to sweep east and warm us.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what happens to the warm air when it is occluded upwards. What happens to the heat it holds? There is a surprising amount of argument about whether it is radiated to outer space or not.

Another thing that kept the warm air from reaching us was all the snow-cover it had to melt away, as it came east.  It takes a lot of heat top melt snow, as the available heat turns into latent heat as water goes through the phase changes from solid to liquid, and from liquid to gas. (The opposite occurs when the phase changes reverse. A storm actually releases a lot of heat as vapor turns to liquid and liquid to snow.)

The snow-cover was at record levels at the end of November, and had advanced down to Texas, but the “warm-up” chased it north to Canada by December 13:

Snowcover20141213  ims2014347_usa

It has made a comeback behind Storm #10:

Snowcover 20141216 ims2014350_usa

You can see the snow is hanging stubborn, in New Hampshire, but it is not the pretty snow you see in Christmas cards. It is inferior, dingy stuff, with patches of bare ground showing on the south slopes. We could do with a touch-up, though preferably not until Christmas Eve.

I am going to add to this post later, as there is a lot of gossip about a storm this weekend, but I have chores to do before I can delve into that.

UPDATE  —“Santabomb” storm?—

As usual Weatherbell and “Whats Up With That” have beaten me to the punch, as Ryan Maue has tweeted the news about various Christmas blizzards the models are seeing.   The news can be read at

The GFS computer was cranking out a 956 mb low over the Great Lakes: (Click to clarify and enlarge.)

Santabomb 958mb_low-xmas-day

First, this is a modeled storm, and models change their so-called “minds”, especially about events a week away.

Second, some sort of big storm is likely, as the very cold air returns and runs into the “warm-up” air in place over the USA.  The question is, where they will form and where they will move. In the winter of 1978 there were three big storms, two of which gave blizzards to New England, and which sandwiched a warm storm that sank my shack on the coast of Maine.

Here are some comments from the post over at WUWT:

  • Right. For New England there were actually three storms:

    1) In January a storm brought a record 24 hour snowfall to Boston and the east coast. I parked my VW Rabbit in a snow bank while I cleared the driveway and got snow on the external timing belt making it slip and the engine have zero compression. I figured out how to fix it the next day. This storm was poorly forecast by models.

    2) At the end of January, the midwest storm brought a record low air pressure to Cleveland, and quite a bit of rain to New York, Boston, etc. This is called the Blizzard of ’78 or the “Great White Hurricane” in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio and well deserves both titles.

    3) Feb 6th brought another record 24 hour snowfall, winds that nearly blew my VW Rabbit off I 495, massive storm surges that destroyed hundreds of homes and killed dozens of people. It is known as the Blizzard of ’78 in New England states and well deserves that title. This storm was extremely well forecasted by the models, but between the poor job for the first storm and big problem of snow starting around 1100, everyone was at school and work, leading to massive mayhem trying to get home. While several of its records have been broken, it remains the benchmark that all other storms are compared against.

    I had the most awesome, impossible to duplicate drive home that night. See and its companion.

    Storm started Monday, this was Wednesday:

    As Vic Werme states, the Cleaveland 1978 Superbomb was a warm storm in New England, between two far worse New England blizzards. It had the effect of turning the street-side snowbanks, leftover from the first blizzard, to slush, which then froze as hard as rock, and became a problem when the second blizzard arrived, as the snowbanks wouldn’t budge and the snow plowed by plows went up the rock-like banks and then tumbled back down into the streets behind the plows.

    Another effect of the warm storm was surprise flooding on the coast of Maine. The bays and inlets and harbors opened to the southeast, and the warm southeast wind was so strong it sort of dented your eyeballs. The tide kept right on rising after high tide.

    I was living on a shack on a dock on the Harraseeket River in South Freeport, and my idyllic little home was washed off the dock onto the mudflats. It is an amazing thing to watch your house go blub-blub-blub. I had a extensive collection of Jimi Hendrix albums which was ruined, for it turned out it was impossible to remove mudflat mud from the grooves of those old fashioned records. It seemed tragic at the time, however it was probably healthy to stop listening to that stuff all day. Every storm has a silver lining.

    In any case, as very cold air charges south into the USA we have our best chance for the sort of storms one talks about thirty or forty years later. This looks to be like one of those winters.


Our Creator created a Creation full of beautiful nuance we take for granted. Only when we try to paint it on canvas, or describe it with writing, or portray it with a computer model, do we become aware how wonderfully complex quite ordinary events are.

Seeing the following glitch is made possible by two men. The first is Dr. Ryan Maue, who takes computer read-outs that would be unintelligible to me, and turns them into maps that even a bumpkin like myself can understand. The second is the meteorologist Joe Bastardi, who has been studying weather maps since he was knee high to a grasshopper, (his father was a meteorologist), and who, while apparently unable to read code and build computer models, can scan the maps produced by models and spot “model error” immediately. He is able to do so because he has scanned decades of maps, amounting to what must be a total of over a million maps, and therefore has an understanding of what ordinarily and logically follows what. When a computer model produces something illogical, it leaps out at him from the map, like a cat with the head of an elephant would to a child playing “what is wrong with this picture.”

For example, what is wrong with this picture? It shows the “anomaly” of surface temperatures, (whether they are above or below normal), as very cold air pours down over North America. (Click to enlarge.)

Great Lakes 20141115 cfs_anom_t2m_conus_2014111500_31

If you look up to Hudson Bay at the top of the map, you can see what a bumpkin like myself often sees, which is that, when very cold air moves over warmer water, the air at the surface is swiftly raised to the temperature of the water. You can see that at the west side of Hudson Bay, where sea-ice is starting to form, the air is slightly milder, as to the east side of the bay the air is above normal, even though surrounded by below normal air.  The open water has warmed the air mass.

Now look down at Lake Michigan, at the center of the map. Again very cold air is moving over open water that is milder, but in this case the air is mysteriously cooled. How can that be? Something is wrong with this picture.

It can’t happen. What Joe Bastardi assumed is that the computer model “knows” that the lake water itself is below normal, and therefore cooled the air a predetermined amount downwards, irrespective of the fact the air was colder than the water, and it is physically impossible for warmer objects to cool colder objects.

Mr. Bastardi doesn’t know for sure that this is actually the glitch in the model, however when a computer model produces something that even a bumpkin like myself can see is incorrect, one assumes the person who created the model is quite smart, but simply ran into one of the nuances the Creator wove into Creation. In this case it is the fact that, while colder-than-normal lake water will cool summer air, as it passes over, it will not do so in the winter,  when winter air passes over.

I can’t even begin to imagine how a modeler weaves all variables involved in Creation into a model. There must be countless cases of, “If A, then B, unless C, in which case D.” I also can’t imagine how frustrating it must be when reality taps your shoulder, and sends you back into the world of code, to fix a glitch.

There must be countless cases where a model produces a virtual reality that differs greatly from reality.  In these cases a trained meteorologist is invaluable, due to his ability to spot “what is wrong with the this picture.”

A glitch like the one in the above map will have consequences in the forecast a model produces. If the air over Lake Michigan actually was colder than the surrounding air, then it would be descending, and producing clear skies and a “sea breeze” (or lake breeze) at the shore. It would not be rising and producing “lake-effect snows.”

And that is only a glitch that likely would be produced in the local  forecast. Chaos Theory often talks about about the “Butterfly Effect,” where a small change in the initial conditions produces a difference that is magnified, by the process of time passing. So this glitch will be magnified downstream, and appear as errors in the non-local forecasts, over a thousand miles away on the east coast.

In conclusion, it is dangerous to rely on models alone. It is also a bit lazy. It is far harder to do all the work and studying in that went into becoming a meteorologist of the old school. However it is well worth it, because it allows one to discern between a computer’s virtual reality, and the wonderful, real reality called “Creation”.