Thursday, January 19, 2012

What Happened to all U.S. Snow?

This article explains perfectly what's been going on in the atmosphere this winter and why there has been very little snow in the lower continental U.S. states. It also features quotes and explanations by my friend and colleague, Dr. Bill Patzert.
What Happened to all the Snow? by Dauna Coulter for NASA Science News
SOURCE: http://www.terradaily.com/reports/What_Happened_to_all_the_Snow_999.html

Winter seems to be on hold this year in some parts of the United States. Snowfall has been scarce so far in places that were overwhelmed with the white stuff by the same time last year.
Here's a prime example. "The Mammoth Mountain ski resort in the Sierras of California got more than 200 inches of snow last December," says NASA climatologist Bill Patzert of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "This December they got less than 10 inches."
Snow in the Rockies (only) seen by NASA's Terra satellite 1/17/12. Cr: NASA

Temperatures have flip-flopped too. There were 583 new heat records broken in the first five days of January in the US.
"It's 86 degrees in Los Angeles today [Wednesday, January 4th]," says Patzert. "Everyone thinks it's July! In fact, it's warmer now in LA than it was on July 4th last year. And it's been in the 60s and 70 even in the Dakotas lately."
On January 5th in Bismark, North Dakota, it was 62 - a marked departure from their average 23 degrees for that day. It was 66 in Denver, Colorado, where it's usually in the low 40s on that date.
What's going on? Patzert identifies two culprits: La Nina and the Arctic Oscillation.
First of all," he explains, "we are experiencing a La Nina pattern of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. This pushes the jet stream and the cold arctic air northward."
"On top of that, this year's Arctic Oscillation has been stronger."
The Arctic Oscillation is the whirlpool motion of the air around the North Pole. When this motion is weaker, like last year, cold air escapes from that whirlpool and heads southward to the US.
"This year the whirlpool has been more forceful, corralling the cold air and keeping it nearer the pole. That has reinforced the La Nina impact."
While the corralling action of the Arctic Oscillation has kept snow away from parts of the contiguous United States, it has brought extra snow to places inside the whirlpool.
"The strong positive AO has kept the Jet Stream north," says Patzert. "Snow-delivering storm tracks are pounding Alaska."
Cordova, a small coastal town about 150 miles east of Anchorage, has been especially hard hit. More than 18 feet of snow has fallen so far this winter. Snow dumps are full, roads have turned into one-lane "snow canyons," and National Guardsmen have been sent in to help residents dig out.
Even heartbroken snow-lovers of the lower 48 don't want that much white stuff. But they'd like some.
"Be patient," advises Patzert. "We haven't gotten to the heart of winter. Hold off on selling the new dogsled. There's plenty of time for snow. It ain't over till the Siberian Huskies sing."

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Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next