I’ve noted in earlier posts that a lot of the coldest arctic air has been dumped into the oceans this winter, out over the Sea of Okhotsk on the Pacific side, and down Baffin Bay past Newfoundland, as well as through Fram Strait, on the Atlantic side. This has given the big cities of Europe and of eastern North America a break, in terms of heating bills when prices are high. However it seemed to me that the oceans should be chilled, but there is only a slight sign of chilling.
I assumed this was because cold air has thinly dispersed molecules, while the water’s molecules are closely packed. The air is outnumbered, and is swiftly warmed as it passes over the seas. Yet there does seem to be slight cooling, as the clash between cold air and warm water creates an imbalance which results in the explosive development of storms, illustrated as follows in a paper by Josph D’Aleo:
These storms assume great magnitudes, though little noticed beyond those who risk sailing midwinter seas. Several have had pressures dive below 27.75 inches of mercury (940 mb) this winter, and such storms, while lacking the ferocious eyewalls of hurricanes and typhoons, often have gale, storm and even hurricane forse winds farther from their centers than tropical storms and contain more energy overall. All of this energy has been lifted from the seas, and much is dispersed to outer space, yet they don’t leave the distinctive stripes of cold water that hurricanes and typhoons do, as their low pressure is more dispersed, and also the waters at the very surface are not so warmed in midwinter as they are in the summer. Yet I have my hunch that, while the robbery of the ocean’s warmth is less obvious, it is occurring and ongoing.
Therefore, I noted with interest when places where people usually go to flee the cold reported snow on the beaches.
On the Atlantic side Mallorca was seeing snow right at the water, where late February temperatures usually range between 62 and 42 degrees Fahrenheit, and one beach had only seen temperatures dip below freezing a tenth of a degree, one time in its recorded history.
By the time I paid attention the cold storm was drifting off towards Italy, small but getting great attention, as far to the west yet another huge storm got no attention at all, out in the middle of the Atlantic, sucking very cold air out of the mouth of Baffin Bay, as had been happening all winter
In the above map a second unnoticed storm is roaring just southeastb of Svalbard, dragging cold air through Fram Strait. Most of the cold air is swung towards Norway, but a weak front has made it to Scotland. This invasion increases as the northern storm shoots a second, stronger cold front south, in the next map.
You’ll notice the storm making the news is weak, over Sicily with a pressure of only 1011 mb, while the storm south of Greenland has a pressure of 964 and hurricane force winds, yet generates no press at all. However, I have my hunch the Atlantic is being chilled in some manner which may not be reflected in the temperature of the air or water right at the surface, but may be more obvious 100 feet down or a thousand feet up.
On the Pacific side there was one of the oceanic storms which did generate media attention earlier this winter. Though the storm itself never came ashore, it’s southside winds directed an “atmospheric river” of moisture (the “Pinapple Express”) towards California, swiftly changing drought conditions to floods.
I don’t have fond memories of the Pineapple Express, because during my drifter years I arrived in California in December of 1982, and had a line of an old Al Stewart song stuck in my head for months, “It never rains in California…but girl, don’t they warn ya…it pours. Man! It pours.” That winter of 1982-1983 set an all-time record for rain, and the sun almost never peeked between the clouds. Most days were dark and dismal, and I have only two really happy memories.
One was when an older brother, perhaps noticing I was a bit gaunt on my emegency diet (rice and beans), took me out for a lunch of chicken enchilada verde, under a wind-whipped awning facing the sea. Surfers in black wetsuits were out creasing the sides of enormous waves, when suddenly they faded into a milky shroud, and for about five minutes the rain turned into a pelting shower of sleet. The pellets rolled off the awning and scattered across the wet sidewalk to cluster in puddles, and the situation was so absurd we couldn’t help but smile. My brother told me he’d never seen it sleet in Santa Cruz before.
The second happy occation was when the rain finally quit, which it did in April entirely, and without much adieu. The endless rain broke into a cloudless sky, and it didn’t rain for months. But the day the sun first came out I have never seen so many smiling faces in all my life.
In any case, I perked up with interest when I heard it didn’t just sleet on the beaches of Santa Cruz for five minutes, and there was even slush in tidal pools.
I was also interested because the rain was going to set yet another all time record. (The last time, after 1982-1983, was around ten years ago; that time it annoyed me because I could no longer brag that I arrived in California in the “rainiest year ever”.)
This does spoil the Alarmist narrative of several months ago, which involved predictions of a megadrought lasting until 2030, and ski areas closing due to lack of snow. Currently several areas are closed because they have too much snow.
In any case, I am not going to be a fool and venture a forecast. I am merely observing unusual snows coming in off the waters.