ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Cross-polar Switcheroo–UPDATED

In 5 1/2 days the flow of air up at the Pole went from Canada-to-Siberia (November 28, lower left) to Siberia-to-Canada (December 4, lower right.)


Personally I prefer Canada to export its cold air to Siberia, for that means there is less left over to freeze my socks off where I live,  south of the Canadian border in the state of New Hampshire. It seems to me that the last thing Canada needs during winter is the import of Siberian air.

I may be a bit prone to ranting about the subject of cold weather at the moment, as we have been at the center of a so-called “lollypop” on snowfall maps, and are dealing with 36 inches. (91 cm). It’s unfair, because the politicians in the capitals of Concord, New Hampshire 35 miles to our northeast, and Boston, Massachusetts 49 miles to our southeast, experienced less than six inches. If there was any justice they’d be the ones digging down three feet to get a stick of firewood, or even to get their mail. 

But maybe its for the best. If they had to deal with three feet of snow they’d likely invent some new tax or fee to deal with it, and never shovel a flake themselves.

I amuse myself by imagining what politicians would come up with. Perhaps they’d concoct a fee to supply every mailman with a snow-shovel to dig down to mailboxes with, but only a nickle of every dollar would reach the mailman, as 95 cents went to “administration”, which would of course involve the politician’s  Aunt Agnes and Cousin Waldo, plus anyone else who contributed to his reelection.  This alone explains why governments are so inefficient when they attempt to do what ordinary people do. When I shovel out my mailbox 100% of my energy goes into the job, but when politicians try to do the same job 95% goes to nepotism and cronyism, and the remaining 5% causes the Postal Workers to go on strike, for currently they refuse to deliver me my mail if my mailbox is under snow,  (even though I pay them to deliver it with my taxes),  and if you supply them with a shovel and tell them to deliver the damn mail even if it involves digging,  you will not only see no digging, but you will see no mail delivered.  In essence the entire tax-dollar is wasted.

In like manner, it seems my imagination is wasted, when I spend time on the antics of politicians. It seems far better to spend my imagination on the antics of clouds. Not only has the government not yet found a way to tax us for looking at clouds, (though they have invented a “view tax” to add onto the property taxes of houses on hills), but also clouds are 100% efficient, whether it is the cloud’s job to free the sunshine, or to dump three feet of snow on my mailbox.

One reason I look to the North Pole is because it gives me a heads-up to what my future may hold. It was good news that the cross-polar-flow went from Canada to Siberia, for it promised a break in the arctic outbreaks that afflicted us. But it is bad news that the cross-polar-flow has undergone the switcheroo. Mark my words, after a mild spell to start next week, the (bleep) is going to hit the fan around here, and I may manage very few posts about sea-ice, until spring.

One interesting thing about watching cross-polar-flow is that it doesn’t matter which way the air goes, it warms crossing the Arctic Sea. People tend to see the North Pole as the source of cold, but in actual fact the source is Tundra, and to a lesser extent Taiga.  Over Siberia temperatures can drop to -90 F, which gives us pretty pictures like this:

On Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, Anastasia Gruzdeva poses for a selfie as the temperature dropped to about 58 degrees below zero in Yakutsk, Russia.

However as that air is sucked towards Canada via cross-polar-flow one notes it swiftly warms, right at the surface, and the Central Arctic Basin seldom sees temperatures below -30ºF, very rarely sees temperatures below -40ºF, and never (that I have seen) reaches temperatures below -50ºF.

Meanwhile Alaska and northern Canada, though not as expansive as Siberia, can see temperatures below  -70ºF. When the cross-polar-flow  moves from Canada to Siberia, one again sees the surface temperatures rise.

What does this suggest? First, it suggests that the true sources of arctic cold are Northern Eurasia and Northern North America, and the Arctic Sea is actually a “heat-island” between two very cold places. Second, because the Arctic Sea is a “heat island” and because warm air rises, it must constantly be sucking air north to replace the air that rises.

If the air sucked north is from the Atlantic or Pacific, it is “maritime” air and slows the growth of sea-ice as it is relatively mild (though usually below freezing). But if the air sucked north is from Siberia or Canada it is “continental” and enhances the growth of sea-ice because it is very cold.  In simplistic terms all Alarmists should root for maritime air being sucked north while all Skeptics root for continental air being sucked north.

In actual fact the opposite may  be true. If you study the temperatures of air-masses,  it becomes obvious nothing squanders the planet’s heat as swiftly as a mild air-mass moving to the sunless Pole. In like manner, nothing preserves the planet’s heat as much as it’s coldest air never freezing lower latitudes, and instead being warmed over the Arctic Sea.

Some eloquent arguments  may then arise between those over-focused on sea-ice and those over-focused on air temperatures. Both are “wrong”,  for the situation is complex and involves multiple variables. One reason climate models fail is because they miss certain variables, or fail to give certain “weight” to certain variables, or even to vary the “weight” of variables (which creates varying variables). It is so complex it tends to give me a headache, so what I prefer to do is to make an overly simplistic forecast and then enjoy my failure. Fortunately no one is depending on my forecasts, for it frees me from blame and guilt, and, like a child at play, I think train wrecks are cool.



One train wreck in my forecasting has been due to attempting to see a pattern, when the pattern is a switcheroo pattern, which in essence is a lack of a pattern. If you try to base things on a Canada-to-Siberia flow then you get messed up when the pattern goes through a switcheroo and is the exact opposite 5 1/2 days later.

Another train wreck occurred because a pattern did persist even as things all around it were going through a switcheroo. What happened was that an upper air trough in eastern North America combined with a ridge to the west and brought a flow of arctic air persistently south, the first half of November.  Then this flow was interrupted by the Aleutian Low penetrating the ridge in the west, which allowed Pacific air to flood inland in Canada. What this usually means is that our north winds become noticeably milder, because it involves air from a different “source”.  That change was the “switcheroo”, but the arctic air wasn’t entirely banished from the north winds. Way over towards Greenland a thin ribbon of arctic air bled south, sneaking over the east side of Hudson Bay into Quebec. That was the “pattern that persisted”. Perhaps the arctic wasn’t breaking records and sending impressive blobs of high pressure south, (causing Texan ranchers to laconically drawl, “Nothin’ between here and the North Pole but a few strands of barbed wire an’ some cold cows.”) But the arctic flow persisted in the very east of Canada. That resulted in a personal train-wreck forecast, for that cold air was the reason that rather than rain we got three feet of snow.

If one is in the mood to be gloomy, that persistent drain of cold in the east of Canada, even when the west is flooded with Pacific air, does not bode well for the Great Plains and East of the USA. If it effects us even when the cross-polar-flow is Canada-to-Siberia, it will be far worse when the flow is Siberia-to-Canada. Our worst winters see the arctic sweep south down the east side of the Rockies, brew trouble by mixing with tropical air in the Gulf of Mexico, and send snowstorms up the east coast.  This early in the winter the Atlantic retains summer warmth, so the storms often contain rain or are all rain, but as the winter proceeds the big cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and even Washington D.C. get clouted, (and politicians get busy dealing with the climate by raising taxes).

Around here the last thing we want right now is rain. When you have three feet of snow on your roof the snow acts like a sponge in the rain, and the weight of all the wet snow can cause buildings to collapse. In fact I’m going to shovel the roof of my goat’s stable over the weekend. (When younger I made some extra money during bleak winters risking my neck in that manner, but now I just do it for survival, which I also call “fun”.)

There seems to be a lag of up to a week between events in Northern Canada and repercussions reaching us down here. A switcheroo up there leads to erratic weather down here. It’s still too early to be certain what the winter pattern will be. One looks for things to “settle down”, but one also is not entirely sure the switcheroo-pattern might not be THE pattern, and chaos will continue non-stop. Stay tuned.

(I’ll ad some graphs and the individual DMI polar isobar and isotherm maps later, when I find time. But now I have to go shovel a roof.)


OK. Heavy rain is now reducing any snow that hasn’t been shoveled from local roofs, allowing me to scrutinize maps.

When I last posted a Aleutian Gale had been deflected north up the Siberian side of Bering Strait, (becoming “Hula Ralph #2”). The southerly gales up through Bering Strait actually pushed the expanding sea-ice backwards, increasing the open water (and warmer surface temperatures) north of Bering Strait. (Nov. 24 to left; Nov, 27 to right).

Sometimes these retreats of sea-ice can cause a dip in the extent graph, but in this example the decrease in the Chukchi Sea was more than matched by increases in the Kara and Greenland Seas and Hudson and Baffin Bay.

By November 29 Hula-Ralph #2 was rapidly weakening north of Alaska, and I was watching the next Aleutian Low to see if would follow the same path. Despite the vast impulse of Pacific air coming north through Bering Strait and across the entirety of Alaska, the Pole itself was still cooling, which was not what I expected. I expected the Pacific “feeder-band” to fuel more of a “Ralph” low north of the New Siberian Islands, but instead an Atlantic low strengthened at the top of Norway.

Over the next two days the Pacific influence continued to dwindle, to my surprise. The influx of pacific air cooled, precipitating very little snow, and the next Aleutian Low faded without coming north, though it did swing a secondary into Alaska. The Canada-to-Siberia cross-polar-flow was falling apart, but I still expected the Atlantic low to fade and high pressure to reassert itself on the Atlantic side, as all the Pacific air would allow low pressure to reassert on the Pacific side, resurrecting the Canada-to-Siberia flow.

The map of December 2 made a train-wreck of my expectations.

First, polar temperatures hit their lowest levels of the year, despite the huge invasion of Pacific air through Bering Strait. To be honest, the invasion seemed a spectacular flop. All the invasion seemed to accomplish was to lose an incalculable amount of heat to the arctic night.

Second, I failed to foresee the expansion of high pressure from Siberia, even as I failed to forecast the low pressure expanding north through Baffin Bay. A month ago a similar low moved right up to the Pole, but I had low confidence the current low could do the same, with the Siberian high advancing from the other side of the Pole. It seemed to me an irresistible force was meeting an immovable object, and I tend to avoid forecasting the outcomes of such affairs. 

The next day saw the two powers both stronger, and still at a stand-off, but the isobars between the two suggested the cross-polar-flow was completely reversed to Siberia-to-Canada.

The next day showed the Siberian high pressure won. Just as the Aleutian Low failed to penetrate north the prior week, and instead was deflected east, now the Baffin Bay low was deflected east into the Atlantic. The cross polar-flow was starting to suck in some milder Atlantic air through Fram Strait, creating a feeder-band north of Greenland.

One day later saw the high weaker, and a massive Atlantic storm strengthening. This storm had sub-950 mb and the power of a super-typhoon, but such beasts get little press, as there are not even shipping lanes that far north. But what does get press is temperatures at the North Pole, and this Icelandic Gale pumped the feeder-band north of Greenland fatter, and warmed the Pole. I found it odd that a feeder-band existed without a “Ralph”, and I was paying undue attention to the very weak low pressure north of the Canadian Archipelago. I dubbed that low “Wimpy-Ralph.”

Maps a half-day later day demonstrated what a wimp that Ralph was. Rather than being fed by the feeder band he was weaker, and pushed east.

A half-day later Wimpy-Ralph had made a train-wreck of my theory feeder-bands feed Ralphs, for he was weaker and getting pushed southwest. However Wimpy-Ralph was, besides crimping my egotism, crimping the cross-polar-flow. It no longer came straight across from Siberia, but now described a backwards “S”, first swinging towards Svalbard to scoop up some Atlantic air, before curving towards Alaska, and only then swinging down to Canada. (At this point it is interesting to think of the cross-polar-flow as a high-pressure-hose laying on a pavement. When it swings over in one direction, what do you expect will follow?)

Only a day later the cross-polar-flow is aiming down the east coast of Greenland, rather than curving around towards Alaska. How could such a dramatic shift occur?

First, the Siberian high pressure, though weakening towards Siberia, expanded greatly towards Canada, pushing Wimpy-Ralph down towards Hudson’s Bay.  In fact while the official center of the high pressure is still over the New Siberian Islands, the body of high pressure is generally moving across the Pole.

Second, if high pressure is moving away, low pressure tends to replace it, especially if other factors support growth, and in the Kara Sea we see growing low pressure from a “kicker” storm ahead of the weakening Icelandic gale now hitting the northwest coast of Norway.

The next day’s map shows the Siberian High and Kara Low performing a sort of Polar Waltz, something remotely like the Fujiwara Effect between adjacent Typhoons.  Let it suffice to say (because I can’t claim to understand it) that the body of the high pressure is dislodged from the coast of Siberia and is moving towards North America.

The following two days show stuff occurring on the Pacific side, associated with the Aleutian Low, and the Atlantic side, associated with the Icelandic Low, which may well be the subject of my next post. However, for this post, simply notice how the dislodged high pressure moves across to Canada.

I may well be laying the tracks for my next train wreck, but to me it seems the cross-polar-passage of an entire high pressure system is more significant than cross-polar-isobars which are here today and gone tomorrow.

For one thing, cross-polar-isobars only suggest winds “can” transport air from Siberia to Canada. The actual transport takes time. How long? You’d have to send up a balloon, and see how long it took to float from Siberia to Canada.

You can be certain the balloon wouldn’t follow the straight path suggested by one map, when following maps first curve the path towards Alaska and then down the east coast of Greenland.

However, when an entire high-pressure crosses the Pole, in some ways it is a big balloon, in and of itself. (And I know, I know, some don’t like to call a high-pressure a “thing”, and to say it is but a reflection out outside imbalances, but for the sake of argument allow me to state it has a reality and is an entity.) This balloon is not a hot- air balloon, rising, but is a cold-air balloon, pressing down and making barometers read “high pressure”. (In such a case a high-pressure represents a big blob of cold air, and therefore is a “thing”.)

The power of such Siberian cold can be hidden, for its lowest levels are warmed by the passage over the thin ice of the Arctic Sea. However the surface maps mute the true intensity of the cold. If we could only afford towers, or perhaps drones, to measure temperatures only a hundred feet above the sea-ice, we might see that the warming of Siberian cold passing over the Arctic Sea is superficial. It seems to me that I have seen constant examples of times such air, the moment it moves from the Arctic Sea into Canada, reveals its true nature. It was not truly made into a maritime air-mass by passing over the Arctic Sea, but rather was a Siberian air-mass with its very bottom, as little as six feet thick, turned into a maritime air-mass. How can I claim such a thing? It is because air “above-normal” over the Arctic Sea can become “below-normal” within a half hour of moving inland and over Canadian Tundra. This would be difficult to do, because Tundra’s “normal” is so much colder than the “normal” over sea-ice, but becomes possible when the layer of “warm” air is so very thin it is easy to mix out of existence.

In any case, it will be interesting to watch the high-pressure that has crossed the Pole, and to see if it is a “thing” that causes North America grief.

To conclude this update, I should revert to the subject of sea-ice, and state that neither the invasion of Pacific air through Bering Strait, nor the feeder-band that invaded north of Greenland and fed Wimpy-Ralph, slowed the yearly growth of sea-ice. In fact the growth has been so rapid we are no longer counted among the lowest years.

If you are into headlines, you need to change the September headline “Lowest Extent In Five Years” to “Highest Extent In Five Years.” (No bother, because you’re only changing one word.)DMI 191212 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

Hudson Bay is in the process of swiftly freezing over. (November 30 to left; December 11 to right.)

We are ahead of the same date in 2016 (left) but behind 2017 (right)

Hudson Bay Dec 10 2016 2017

As soon as the Bay skims over the cold is able to build much more swiftly to my north, and north winds become crueler here.

The only thing Alarmists have to crow about is sea-ice “volume”, which is notoriously hard to determine, but is currently quite low:

Volume 191210 Screenshot_2019-12-11 DMI Modelled ice thickness

I think the low volume is largely due to the open water north of Bering Strait, but that area is rapidly shrinking and Bering Strait is now bridged by sea-ice.

Thickness 191210 Screenshot_2019-12-11 DMI Modelled ice thickness(1).png

Also of interest has been the slow growth of a sort of mountain range of thicker sea-ice all the way from Svalbard to Wrangle Island. This range of ice has largely been created by the transport of ice from the marginal seas along the Eurasian coast. The Laptev Sea is always a great creator and exporter of sea-ice, as cold winds blow north from Siberia, shifting sea-ice away from shore and creating polynyas of open water which swiftly refreeze in the frigid winds. But this year it seems the Kara, East Siberian and even Chukchi Seas are also getting into the act.

Stay tuned.




LOCAL VIEW —Christmas Bluebirds—

We are experiencing a truly kindly spell of late December weather, if you are an old coot like me, and have grown less fond of cold with time.

Not that I can’t remember being young and hot, and walking with a girl I was trying not to fall in love with, (and failing), and being warm through and through, though it was so cold the snow on the road squeaked as we walked over it. Also I can remember being desperate for snow, for I was running a lunch-counter at a cross-country ski area. However those are memories, and the reality is the present, and the Christmas present was mildness for an old coot, this year

What was really remarkable was a finger of warmth that reached the tops of the hills where I lived, but not the valleys. Indeed it was 43° atop Mount Washington, at 6000 feet, and only 40° at sea-level at the coast at Portsmouth. It was 39° in the Merrimack River Valley at Manchester 40 miles to our east, and 38° close to the Connecticut River in Keene 40 miles to our west, while here temperatures spiked up to near 60°. (57° in Jaffrey, 7 miles to our west.)

You can dimly see the finger of warmth in this temperature map, poking up into south-central New Hampshire (and also all the way north to Burlington, Vermont):

Xmas rtma_tmp2m_neus__1_(2)

On Christmas morning the sun came out and the breeze felt like April’s. Because we had the stoves going before the warmth came north, it was actually hot in the old house. I stepped out onto the porch and instantly remembered a Christmas back in my youth (1965?) when it was so mild I was running around outside flying a new toy helicopter barefoot.  I dedcided to stay outside to enjoy the mildness, figuring it wouldn’t last, as a front had come through to bring us our sunshine and clearing.

Temperatures did drop a little, but not much, and I could do my chores without gloves or a jacket.  My middle son was out with bird-watching gear, and announced by cell phone that a small gang of bluebirds, and a male and female cardinal, were by the house. I hurried, but didn’t see them, yet could hear them off in the distance, which seemed very evocative and symbolic of something just beyond my ken. (My son’s pictures:)



There was something so summery about bluebirds and cardinals being about on Christmas morning that I decided it must be my Christmas miracle this year, and a auspicious sign.

Then I sat back to wait for the cold to return, as it surely must. A warm wave in the winter is like the water drawing down on a beach; you know the water draws back further for the bigger waves. However though the cold has rushed down to chill western cities like Denver, it is taking its time coming east: (The first map shows our Christmas storm passing well north, with us on the southern mild side, and the second map shows two days later, with the east still spared the arctic air plunging into the west.) (Click to enlarge.)

20141225 satsfc

20141227 satsfc

The radar map shows snow along the battle lines between the cold west and the warm east:


This battle line could brew up some big storms, as it works its way east, before the cold air eventually engulfs the entire USA. However for the moment we get a pause, a time of peace. The wind has died and the winter sun shines. Bluebirds are about. Obviously it is time for a sonnet.

I awoke to how wonderfully fashioned
Is a winter day, though the low sun is weak.
Faintly flavored, as when tea is rationed
And one sips a thin cup, one should not speak
Or one may miss the taste.   The breathless air
Is hushed; the sole birdsong is over a near
Hilltop, and is the scratchy cry of a rare
Christmas bluebird: Very faint; very clear.
I tell my noisy brain to be quiet.
I’m tired of its racket, and how it squints
At silence like bats in sunshine.
                                                    “Try it,”
Speaks the silence. “See My fingerprints
On every bough; with each breath you draw
See it takes no thought to wander in My awe.”

LOCAL VIEW —The Worst—(updated)

I looked out the window this morning, and there it was: The worst.

20141206 rad_ne_640x480

The blue on the radar map is snow to the north of us, and the greens, yellow and reds are rain to the south of us. We are at the southern edge of the purple, which represents glop.

There is enough glop to call this weak low Winter Snow Event #8. We had roughly an inch of snow, compressed to a half inch by sleet, which has been further compressed to a quarter inch by freezing rain.  The warm air was forecast to surge north and change the freezing rain to rain, and get temperatures up to around 43 today, but temperatures have been reluctant to budge above freezing. I keep looking out the window, waiting for the sight of the glaze of freezing rain falling off branches and power lines, but so far it hasn’t happened. I think the air might have just nudged above freezing now, at noon, but the melting is so slight the power lines still wear their rows of tiny icicles, as if decorated for Christmas.

It is a good thing I got the wood on the porch yesterday. This is the worst sort of weather in which to attempt doong anything outside. All the firewood is glazed, so not only is it so wet that it drenches you, but also it is so slippery you inevitably drop a log, usually one of the largest, onto your big toe. Therefore I’m staying in. Later I may go do some work repairing the interior of the stables, which the goats have once again trashed. However right now a nap sounds like a good thing. I need to recover from my cold, and have had a large dose of post-Thanksgiving stew, and the tryptophan is inducing a siesta.

I need to rest up, as a major storm next week is looking more and more likely. The question now seems to be whether we will get snow or rain.

The map shows storm #8 as a disorginized collection of centers, the closest slipping south of us, and moving to the east. It doesn’t look like it will explode into a gale and bring the arctic air down on strong winds, but the cold air is seeping south nonetheless. Yesterday the arctic front was up on the southern coast of James Bay at the very bottom Hudson Bay, but now it has snuck down to Lake Superior. It doesn’t look like our promised “warm up” will be all that warm.

Next Wednesday’s super-storm is in that tangle of low pressure currently navigating its way through the Rocky Mountains. It may not look like much, but that is because the energy that is going to generate the storm is up in the upper atmosphere, which is another way of saying it is above my head (and pay grade.) You can see the thicker, higher clouds are to the north. As that energy comes over the top of a ridge and swings south it will “dig” further south than the jet stream is currently curving, and become so pronounced it may even become a cut-off-low in the upper atmosphere, which generates super-storms. However that is still five days away, and much could change (and I hope it does.)

Joe Bastardi has an interesting 15 minute video about the coming storm, and why the American GFS model fails to see the storm until only a few days before it arrives, at the Weatherbell Site. It is in his “Saturday Summery,” which is for the general public and is free.  [Over on the right hand side of the screen.]

20141206 satsfc


Just as the precipitation ended, we received a quick blast of snow.

20141206B rad_ne_640x480

This storm was a close call, as the temperature never got above 36.  Later in the winter, with the surrounding landscape colder, it likely would have been all snow. The pressure never fell that much, and is currently at 30.25 (1024 mb) . We received roughly an inch of rain, judging from what I poured from the goats food dishes, where they were exposed. The goats looked disconsolate, as they don’t like rain but it is getting muddy under the barn. They may even decide moving indoors isn’t such an imposition. I worked at fixing up their stables, my hands clusy in the raw cold.  (I intend to have the stables strong enough to hold an elephant before attempting to coral the goats again.  What a total mess they made of things, last time.)

The map shows the resurgence of warmth was largely deflected east, and the arctic is coming south. If you compare this map to yesterday’s you can see the cold air has pressed back towards the Canadian Rockies across Alberta to the west, and has come down from Hudson Bay to the St Lawrence Valley to the east. The high pressure area following our current storm and warm resurgence has pumped up to 30.40 (1029 mb) and now holds less Chinook air, with arctic air sweeping south in its eastern side.

If this was an ordinary year, this would be a wintry map, for this early in December. The very fact people are calling this a “warm-up” and speaking of winter “backing off” shows how very cold November was. Ordinarily this is when winter is just starting to come south, with maps that look like this one.  However we know this is no ordinary year. This is the start of the worst winter ever.

20141206B satsfc

(As always, click these maps, or open them to new tabs, to clarify and enlarge.)


I figured a sensational headline might get you interested.

I looked over at Joseph D’Aleo’s blog at Weatherbell, and got a bit of a shock. Despite the fact we are midst a “warm spell,” the European model is printing out three storms next week. I can only suppose “warm” is a relative term, and “above-normal” can still be below freezing and still produce snow.  It may only amount to three inches in Boston, but if you look at the map below you will notice a lobe of higher amounts sticking down into south central New Hampshire, which would mean that these hills got over 28 inches. Yikes!  Now I understand why Joe Bastardi calls this pattern the “Heckuva Way To Run A Warm Up Pattern.”

Worst ecmwf_tsnow_ne_41(3)

This brings back a memory from when I was young, involving the way old-timers would worry when it got warm during the winter. Severe cold didn’t bother them much, because they would simply say “It is too cold to snow” and get on with their work.  However warmth promised snow, and snow was a bother and a nuisance, (and rain would bring muck and slush that would freeze and be worse,) so they would crumple their brows when the weather got nice.  It didn’t make a lick of sense to me, for to me the nice weather made the snow sticky, and be better suited for making forts and conducting snowball wars.

People now don’t need to work outside so much, but they still furrow their brows when the weather gets nice. They think it suggests Global Warming is occurring and the sea will rise and drown Boston. It still doesn’t make a lick of sense to me, but perhaps it is best I don’t go there.

In any case, the current computer models are showing a mild spell, but the above graphic demonstrates that might not keep this from being the worst winter ever. Therefore I will continue to record the storms, as if this might be an event people in the future would want to read about.

You people in the future might be interested to know that we people back at this time still had little idea what lay ahead, despite an amazing arctic outbreak in mid November that buried towns on the shores of the Great Lakes in as much as seven feet of snow, and also a rare Thanksgiving snowstorm. The waves of arctic cold were countered by waves of resurgent mildness, and the snow-cover that blanketed the land all the way south to Texas retreated back to the Dakotas often enough to allow us to entertain the hope the heart of the winter might not be all that bad.  You know if we were fools, but at this point we don’t.

Tonight we are experiencing the resurgent mildness. We had a snow-eater fog earlier, and now the low clouds are hurrying above, lit by a waxing moon that occasionally peeks down at the pines that roar up in the heights. The west wind brings a cold front this way, but we still hear the sounds of thaw, as the last of the snow and freezing rain that encrusted the trees this morning plash to earth, and eves drip. The roads are bare and the foot of snow that fell over Thanksgiving has shrunk to a dense inch, with bare patches on south-facing slopes. The temperature peaked at around 46, but has only fallen back to 41, as the pressure continues to fall even as the snow-event moves away, now down to 29.86.

20141203B satsfc20141203B rad_ne_640x480

The lake -effect snow behind the cold front, shown by the radar, suggests the air is below freezing. Remember that below-freezing can be above-normal, now that we’ve reached the month of December.

If I’m looking for stuff to worry about I look up to the southwest of Hudson Bay, at the second cold front bringing arctic air in our general direction. Then I look to the very bottom of the map, at what seems to be a tropical whirl appearing south of Jamaica.  (Believe it or not, New England’s 400 years of weather history does contain a few references to what they called “snow-hurricanes.”) At the very least, a glob of tropical moisture coming north could add punch to a nor’easter.

Actually I’ve got a bad case of the sniffles to worry about.  It seemed to be getting better, however after cleaning up slush this morning I’ve been laying low, pampering myself just a little. I did go and buy some Italian chestnuts so the children can understand the song with the lines, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire; Jack Frost Nipping at your nose…”

It’s funny how it once sounded cozy and romantic to have Jack Frost nipping at your nose. Now it just makes me worry my nose will turn blue.  When I was a boy I never much liked old guys with blue noses.

While pampering myself I got bored, and decided I should prepare a list of snow events that occurred during the “Worst Winter Ever.”


  • #0 November 3  Just missed us to the east; coastal nor’easter. Caused concern just before the Patriots-Bronco’s game, but field was cleared up before game time.
  • #1 November 14  Mini-nor’easter. 1 inch, melted by noon.
  • #2 November 17  Trace of snow changed to freezing rain, then rain. Primary low over Hudson Bay with secondary right over us.
  • #3 November 19 Dusting from Alberta Clipper bringing Arctic Outbreak #1 and amazing lake-effect snows by Great Lakes; only a few flurries made it this far east.
  • #4 November 23 Dusting at the very start of a mild surge as a storm moved up to the Great Lakes and then northeast through Quebec.
  • #5 November 26 Thanksgiving Storm. 12 inches. Formed on cold front trailing down coast from #4. Just barely below freezing, and little wind.
  • #6 November 29 Norlun Wave that formed behind Thanksgiving Storm. Followed by brief Arctic Outbreak #2. Temperature 3 degrees in Jaffrey.
  • #7 December 2 Another secondary on front dangling from a mild-surge storm that passed well north, over southern Hudson Bay. 1 inch followed by freezing rain, then rain.

There.  That’s a fine start to a worst winter ever, especially when I think back to milder Decembers when people were worried whether we’d have a white Christmas or not. I can remember one year, either 1991 or 1992, when it was in the sixties in December and I was hired to do some last minute house-painting. The way some are responding to the recent computer model’s ideas of a warm-up, they are expecting similar warmth this December, however when I look at the European map of snow totals by a week from tomorrow, I doubt much house-painting will be seen in New Hampshire.

UPDATE  —Take your pick—

Insomnia has me up at 2:00 AM, and I thought I’d take a look at what the computer models show for next Wednesday.  The American (GFS) shows fair weather for New England, while the Canadian (JEM) shows a howling storm.  The fascinating thing is they start out with roughly the exact same data, and come up with such wildly differing solutions. (The American map is on top and the Canadian on the bottom. (Click to enlarge.)

Pick gfs_precip_mslp_noram_53 Pick cmc_precip_mslp_noram_27

(Maps created by Dr. Ryan Maue at the Weatherbell site.)

LOCAL VIEW —Warm Sweeper—

Today the wind was kindly, from the southwest and, if not warm, not cold. Temperatures were a little over 50, (+11 Celsius) and the snow wilted away. I sat in the sun and basked, feeling more thankful than I felt on Thanksgiving.

One thing I don’t fully understand is why the warm fronts have such trouble pushing north into New England, while other times they rush past and all the way up to Labrador. In theory I know it has to do with the upper air pattern, and whether the troughs ripple around the planet or lock in place and stand still, but that is just theory.  Reality is down to earth, and, because I know how cold air can refuse to budge week after week, it seems wonderful when it does budge.

Though this is a break in the cold weather, all the ups and downs in temperature tend to give everyone colds. I’ve got one, and it felt good to relax in the sun today.  My body feels the exercise I’ve gotten recently, shoveling snow and splitting firewood, and though I’m sure it is getting me in shape the transitional shape I’m in sad shape, and enjoy a good slouch.

We’ve gone from having a foot of snow to having about two inches. The snow-cover maps show the snow again retreating north. The maps below are from five days ago (top) and today (bottom).

Snowcover 20141201B ims2014331_usa Snowcover 20141201A ims2014335_usa


The maps also give an idea how swiftly Hudson Bay is freezing over. It is ahead of schedule. Once it is iced over our north winds get colder.

The weather map shows the storm that passed far to our west has traveled over southern Hudson Bay and is now stalling way up in the right corner off the north coast of Labrador.  The warm front whisked through  without even a sprinkle, though it did make some rain when it caught up to the cold air north of Maine. The following cold front is catching up to the mild air’s moisture, and the radar shows a bit of snow in the middle of the USA.

20141201 satsfc 20141201 rad_nat_640x480

Although this is the seventh storm, it is hard to call it storm #7 when we haven’t gotten anything but mild breezes and sunshine.  Perhaps I’ll skip numbering it, unless a secondary on the front dusts us with some snow.



This is a quick insomnia report, to show maps of the storm #5’s development, and also to express amazement that anyone would have the sheer audacity to forecast snow, when it only got down to 39 last night (as of 4:00 AM) and is still 46 in Boston.  In fact it is only recently that the radar started to show snow at the northwest edge of the rain.

20141126A rad_nat_640x480_05 20141126B rad_nat_640x480_11

If I was a suspicious fellow, I might suspect the fellows over at the weather bureau were pulling our legs.  After all, it likely gets boring looking at isobars all the time. Maybe they decided to cause general panic and hysteria throughout the east coast just for the fun of it, and now are sniggering up their sleeves.  It wouldn’t be the first time.

20141126A satsfc (click maps to enlarge)

I’ll update later, after I’m done hysterically panicking.


Storm is deepening over South Carolina. Watch to see if the following second low over Florida persists. A strung-out storm is weaker.

Temperature here has dropped 4 degrees to 36 in 4 hours. Alto stratus with some high scud indicating falling rain, from west. Radar shows rain here, but it isn’t reaching the ground. Pressure in Manchester 30.19 Hg and falling. In Jaffrey 30.16 Hg.

20141126C satsfc 20141126C rad_ne_640x480

UPDATE  —2:00 PM—  Storm is here.

The first flakes started falling at 8:30 AM. There was no rain.  I went and picked some wild cranberries with one of the older boys.  The bright berries contrasted nicely with the purple-green foliage and the white snow.  Then we dug the final row of potatoes, plus some scattered onions and carrots that remained, from the frozen and then re-thawed soil, which was very muddy. I wore yellow raingear which soon was covered with briwn slush.

In the yard a boy built a snowman as the snow swiftly mounted up to over two inches. The snowman was a bit muddy as well. Parents came early to pick up their kids. Now only a single child remains.

20141126D satsfc20141126D rad_ne_640x480

Temperatures down to 34 Manchester, 32 Jaffrey.  Pressures still fairly high, at 30.11 Manchester and 30.07 Jaffrey.

UPDATE  —7:00 PM—in for keeps—   (not posted until 9:00 AM)

Temperatures down to 32 at Manchester and 30 at Jaffrey.  Can’t check pressures, as we have just lost our internet connection. but at 6:00 Manchester was down to 29.89 and Jaffrey was down to 29.87.

I’ve saved the maps but can’t access them at the moment. Nor can I post this, so why am I writing?  Life is such a mystery at times!

At least we still have power, though the lights keep blinking. The snow is so sticky that all the electrical wires look as thick as a man’s thigh, like long white noodles.

My last outdoor job was to snow-blow the Childcare drive so the last,  lone child and single member of the staff could leave. We had around five inches then, at 5:00, and have aound seven now, at 7:00.  The drive home was a creeping crawl. Coming down the steep hill into town I saw a policeman pushing a car with spinning tires up the hill, well away from his cruiser and its flashing blue lights.  You don’t see that every day.

Now I’m home and there are very few things that could pry me from my chair and out the door again.

20141126E satsfc 20141126E rad_ec_640x480


We received a total of a foot, tapering off to light snow by midnight. Winds remained fairly light and the pressure never got below 29.85. Temperatures remained mild, and this morning it is at 34 in Manchester to our east and 28 in Jaffrey to our west. The snow was very sticky, and all the trees are burdened and stooped, especially the evergreens, which barely show any green at all, and resemble big blobs of white. Everwhites, perhaps, or that is what they will be until the wind picks up. 

I’ve been out shoveling this morning, to prove to my sons that the old man is tougher than he appears, and to make them feel guilty for sleeping late.  The snow was fairly light until I got to the pile the plow made by the road. Then I spent a lot of time leaning on my shovel, except for a brief time shoveling vigorously because a car was passing, and I wanted to keep my reputation.  I used to have the reputation of being “hale”,  but now I think I’m called “spry.”  I’m not sure I like the demotion.

I’m not sure when we got our internet connection back. One of my sons rebooted the computer, and there it was.  I went to look at my favorite blogs, and at Weatherbell saw Joseph D’Aleo claim places had two feet of snow. We usually get the most, because we face the east in these hills, and I doubted very much that Flatlanders down in the cities could get two feet, when we only got a fluffy foot that settled to ten inches by morning.  I thought this might be one of those rare occasions where I’m right and Mr. D’Aleo is wrong, but then I’ll be darned if he didn’t go and offer photographic proof:


In Canada that would be “61 cm of snow fell this morning,” and the joke would make no sense. Nor do we make sense for celebrating Thanksgiving five weeks too late.

Be that as it may, thanks for visiting and HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

Oh, I nearly forgot the Afterward maps: (Note the new lake-effect snows, and the small storm being whisked south of us.)

20141127 satsfc 20141127 rad_ec_640x480


I was looking “upstream,” for hints at what the weather will be like downstream, here in New Hampshire, after our Thanksgiving snowstorm, and I came across this Dr. Ryan Maue map at the Weatherbell site. It is an anomaly map, showing if temperatures are above or below normal, and shows the conditions 90 hours from now, on Saturday.

The map shows it will be a little below normal round here, in the fading north winds after our Thanksgiving storm, but then I look northwest to western Canada…

Yikes!  That light purple is temperatures more than 50 degrees below normal, Fahrenheit. In actual fact the coldest spots are off the color-code key to the right of the map, which only goes as low as 50 below normal.  If you look at the small writing at the upper right, you see the lowest is actually -63.6 of normal.  Double Yikes! (Click maps, or open-to-new-tab, to clarify and enlarge.)

Calgary cold Nov 25 gfs_t2m_anomf_noram_16

In terms of actual temperatures, it looks like the core of that cold will touch -50, but Calgary may be to the edge and “only” get to -23. (-31 Celsius.)

Calgary cold Nov 25 gfs_t2m_noram_31


They can keep that stuff up there, as far I’m concerned. For heaven’s sake! It isn’t even December yet!

My hope is that the cold clashes with the above normal air to the south, and brews up a big west-coast gale. Some models are showing California getting some needed rain as a storm hits them at the end of the weekend. If that storm would only suck in the cold, and swirl it around with Pacific air, it would be much milder when it came east.