Climate

Preparing For Frankenstorms: “The most powerful low pressure system in 140 years of record keeping” slams the Southwest.

This is a guest repost from Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson.  I may need to add a new category — uber-extreme weather.  The anti-science crowd has been strangely silent about this uber-storm, though they love to tout cold snaps as evidence of nonexistent global cooling (see “Disinformers to media: Please make case for something that isn’t true using data we don’t believe“).  For more on the records set by this story, see Capital Climate’s “Strong Pacific Coast Storm Breaks Rainfall, Low Pressure Records.”

California Winter Storm 2010The “strongest winter storm in at least 140 years,” swept through the Southwestern United States last week, “bringing deadly flooding, tornadoes, hail, hurricane force winds, and blizzard conditions.” Rain dumped on Los Angeles, San Diego, and Phoenix, as mountains received up to four feet of snow. Wind gusts exceeding 90 miles per hour, tornadoes, and water spouts spun off the monster storm. Over 159,000 people lost power in the storm’s wake. Meteorologist Dr. Jeff Masters wrote on Friday that the storm was “truly epic”:

We expect to get powerful winter storms affecting the Southwest U.S. during strong El Ni±o events, but yesterday’s storm was truly epic in its size and intensity. The storm set all-time low pressure records over roughly 10 – 15% of the U.S.-over southern Oregon, and most of California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah.

California has been pounded by a series of winter storms and rains,” said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger during a news conference in Los Angeles. “The storms brought wind gusts of up to 80 miles [an hour] across the mountains and the canyons, major highways and roads were closed, flights have been grounded, thousands of homes and businesses lost power, more than 2,100 homes were evacuated. Sadly and unfortunately, some people lost their lives.”

However, this record storm is only a preview of what is to come in a warmer world. The USGS Multi Hazards Demonstration Project at the California Institute of Technology is developing the ARkStorm scenario to “tackle what would happen if a series of powerful storms lashed at the state for 23 days“:

In the scenario, the storm system forms in the Pacific and slams into the West Coast with hurricane-force winds, hitting Southern California the hardest. After more than a week of ferocious weather, the system stalls for a few days. Another storm brews offshore and this time pummels Northern California. Such a monster storm could unleash as much as 8 feet of rain over three weeks in some areas, said research meteorologist Martin Ralph with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who is part of the project. It makes the latest Pacific storm system look like a drop in the bucket.

“Ironically, the team had scheduled meetings at Caltech to learn about the fictional storm’s impact to dams, sewage treatment plants, transportation and the electrical grid,” the Associated Press’s Alicia Chang writes. “About a dozen canceled due to the storms.”

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81 Responses to Preparing For Frankenstorms: “The most powerful low pressure system in 140 years of record keeping” slams the Southwest.

  1. dhogaza says:

    You might want to say “Dr. Jeff Masters”, to make it clear that he really *is* a PhD-trained scientist-type meteorologist, rather than one of those TV weather-reader Anthony Watts-like ones.

  2. John P says:

    Have you begun your grasping at staws mode. Seriously a case of weather if I ever saw one. This has got be your worst blog post scince the Minneapolis Bridge Collapse was caused by Global Warming.

  3. BobSmith says:

    Aside from the whole coastal flooding, desertification of the middle of the country, and resource shortages… all that aside… these “freak” weather occurances are going to kill off a lot of animals and plants that can’t deal with the sudden change. I mean not just a large number of them, but the entire species. But who cares.

  4. Ihatedeniers says:

    As an ex Californian I can tell you Joe that we would get some intense storms nearly every winter,but they are obviously getting bigger but less frequent. So when they happen they are like this but in between storms drought conditions prevail.

    P.S Is it really “the worst storm in history” as you said or just California’s worst storm?

    [JR: It looks to be the worst “winter storm” to hit the SW. I fixed that.]

  5. anniversary says:

    Last Time Carbon Dioxide Levels Were This High: 15 Million Years Ago, Scientists Report http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091008152242.htm

  6. Ihatedeniers says:

    Anniversary: I am in a good mood right now so I am not even going to look up how warm it was then. Curse you deniers.

  7. Leif says:

    Another informative blog site by Dr. Cliff Mass of UW here in the NW. http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/
    He was all over this low pressure anomaly with inside reports. He tends to be quiet during boring weather and currently talks about appalling math text books in the region but is worth a look at action time. Although Washington did not set a record for low pressure, we did set a record for duration of low pressure. This system had the weather community big eyed and I am sure more will be reported on it as time goes by.
    The low pressure record was not just broken it was smashed, and yes Joe, I believe a uber-storm category is warranted.

  8. Leif says:

    Ihatedeniers, #4: “… worst storm in history…” The problem with statements like this is how you measure “worst storm.” If you are one of the “dead” folks I would put it on the top of your list. However the size of this puppy and record low pressure was what appeared to make folks take notice more than the “localized,” SW, flooding, death toll, and property damage. It reminds me of the current flap over the Himalaya Glaciers being gone by 2035. Technically no, as pieces and sections may in fact remain for hundreds of years, but practically, in there ability to provide reliable water for a large portion of humanity? Well that is another question all together.

  9. Leif says:

    Another aside question. Does anyone have access to a “same scale” satellite photo of this as yet unnamed system at full development opposed say Katrina? It might make a good visual.

  10. espiritwater says:

    Anniversary says:
    “Last Time Carbon Dioxide Levels Were This High: 15 Million Years Ago…”
    ————————-

    On Jan.17, a poster gave reference to a site (New Scientist) which said that according to a new modelling system, a major antarctic glacier has passed its tipping point and is poised to collapse in a catastrophe that could raise global sea levels by 24 cm.

    Guess this all ties together. Everytime I promise to put my computer cord away and concentrate on other things, more bad news shows up!

  11. Craig says:

    Let’s suppose this was a ‘500-year’ kind of event. By that, I mean something that is so rare as to have a probability of occurring once every 500 years. Since we only have 140 years of data, and nothing like this has occurred in that 140 year span, then how can we know if the frequency of such events is increasing, or if this was just that rare confluence of conditions that are required to have a once in 500 year kind of storm?

  12. Simon Grant says:

    “the most powerful storm in recorded history”

    How do they prove the claim?
    The deniers will have fun with that line.

    [JR: Masters reports it as the worst “winter storm” to hit the SW, which was the primary source Brad used for this post. I fixed that. The Deniers have “fun” making up stuff and attacking people for what they didn’t say so we try not to lose the lot of sleep worrying about what anti-science disinformers might say.]

    According to the Guiness Book of World Records, the lowest sea-level
    pressure ever recorded was 25.69 inches in the storm Typhoon Tip. It was
    recorded 300 miles west of the island of Guam in the Pacific Ocean at
    latitude 16 deg 44 min north, longitude 137 deg 46 min east, on Oct. 12,
    1979. The U.S. record is 26.35 inches, produced by the 1935 Labor Day
    hurricane (they didn’t yet use names for hurricanes as is now done) which
    crossed the U.S. coastline at Matecumbe Key, FL at 10:00 p.m. on Sept. 2,
    1935. It is likely that even lower barometric pressures have occurred, at
    least momentarily, at locations over which strong tornadoes have passed,
    but apparently such short-lived events do not qualify as records.

    [snip]

    Looks like the storm in LA is just that. A strong storm.

    [JR: Looks like you are wrong.]

    weather is not climate.

  13. dhogaza says:

    weather is not climate.

    But climate impacts weather.

    And comparing tornadoes with a storm stretching from Baja California to the Pacific Northwest is silly on many fronts (one of them being that this storm spawned an unusual number of tornadoes which, being tornadoes, had higher wind speeds than the sustained winds or gusts reported for the storm itself).

    “Looks like the storm in LA is just that. A strong storm.”

    Who to believe, a random person on the internet or PhD meteorologists like Dr. Jeff Masters, who called the storm “truly epic”? Smashing low-pressure records over 10-15% of the United States doesn’t happen often …

  14. MarkB says:

    On a slightly related note, recent Atlantic hurricane study:

    “The number of major Atlantic hurricanes per year may almost DOUBLE by the end of the century in response to global warming, according to a new study.

    A team of hurricane researchers suggests that damage from a larger number of very strong — Category 4 and 5 — hurricanes is likely to outweigh a projected decline in less-intense storms”.

    “”This is important because, for example in the United States, 80% of the damage is done by storms of Category 3 and higher,” says Kerry Emanuel, a hurricane researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.”

    http://www.climateark.org/shared/reader/welcome.aspx?linkid=149468

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/327/5964/454

  15. TH says:

    Weather models don’t consider carbon dioxide, because it has no direct impact on the weather. I don’t see any theory being proposed here – just wild unsupported speculation based on a fear of CO2.

  16. On the fence says:

    Surely there’s a better path to pursue than one-upsmanship…as summed up here. Any ideas?

    http://bigjournalism.com/rtrzupek/2010/01/21/ready-for-act-two-the-global-warming-drama-will-play-on/

  17. dhogaza says:

    Weather models don’t consider carbon dioxide, because it has no direct impact on the weather. I don’t see any theory being proposed here – just wild unsupported speculation based on a fear of CO2.

    No, they’re initialized with the best current data available – this morning’s weather buoy water temp, air temp, wind etc etc etc.

    Of course the sea on average is warming due to climate and therefore on average weather models are being fed slightly higher current temps, so therefore weather models consider the *warming effect* of increased forcing as CO2 is increased.

  18. Dano says:

    Leif: go to the archives for the GOES-W and GOES-E and lay them side by side.

    BTW, no Pineapple express yet, altho the 500 mb chart shows a 5-high N Hem pattern trying to set up. Hopefully it won’t be in SEA next week when I’m there…

    Best,

    D

  19. TH says:

    dhogaza,

    Weather models do not consider CO2 in any way, shape or form.

    Ocean temperatures off California are running below normal. I don’t see any science being presented here.

    http://weather.unisys.com/surface/sst_anom.html

  20. TH says:

    If someone has a scientific explanation for what caused the large storm, the discussion needs to start there and logically progress backwards to root cause.

    The fact that CO2 is elevated is not an argument, it is just a disconnected piece of information. The national debt is also elevated, but I doubt that affects the weather.

  21. Roger Sowell says:

    So, a massive storm brought much-needed rain and snow to the Southwest and Western United States. Can someone tell me, please, exactly why this is a bad thing? Secondly, the sheer hubris of those who claim it’s a big deal to have unprecedented low pressure — compared to when? The fact is that no one knows what the storms were like before reliable barometric pressure readings were available.

  22. Leif says:

    TH: This weather system covered a large portion of the NE Pacific. I can assure that the “weather” of the Pacific North West has been unusually warm for a good portion of January. We have been having ~50 degree F highs for quite a spell. (48+ Lat., north of Maine) Today and the rest of the week projected as well. You need to look at the big picture to see climate. Most sea surface temperature readings only vary a couple of degrees C for any given spot. There is still lots of energy even in a “cold” ocean. The primary effects of large systems is there ability to “track” weather systems toward unfamiliar destinies.

  23. PSU Grad says:

    TH,

    Since you’re a devotee of the unisys maps, did you not see anything unusual over the past week regarding the 300mb (jet stream) wind speeds off the west coast of the US? I’d been watching that for about a week, muttering “uh-oh” with each model run.

  24. PSU Grad says:

    Roger Sowell,

    “So, a massive storm brought much-needed rain and snow to the Southwest and Western United States. Can someone tell me, please, exactly why this is a bad thing?”

    You apparently didn’t read the post:

    “The storms brought wind gusts of up to 80 miles [an hour] across the mountains and the canyons, major highways and roads were closed, flights have been grounded, thousands of homes and businesses lost power, more than 2,100 homes were evacuated. Sadly and unfortunately, some people lost their lives.”

    So it was more than a refreshing arrival of rain. Let’s put this in simpler terms. If you’re very hungry, a Big Mac (or whatever) can help satisfy that hunger. Now try ten Big Macs. Oh, the hunger might be satisfied, but I suspect there will be other effects as well, some of them decidedly unpleasant.

  25. Leif says:

    Roger S. Although we do not have reliable barometric pressures for more than a few hundred years, we do indeed have viable records for the recent past and when any record is not only broken but smashed by ~0.1 in. Hg. the folks that make a living at weather take notice. I direct you to Cliff Mass site above. As for the needed rain? “It is an ill wind indeed that blows no one some good.” The problem is that BIG systems tend to produce STRONG results and not the gentle, reliable, sustaining results we have grown to know and love.

  26. TH says:

    Sea surface temperatures are below normal across most of the north Pacific ocean. It has been warm in Seattle, but most of the country has been running cold since the end of September.
    http://www.hprcc.unl.edu/products/maps/acis/WaterTDeptUS.png

    In 2005, LA got over 30 inches of rain in about 12 weeks. In 1980, Phoenix got so much rain that every bridge but one washed out over the Salt River, which was carrying more water than the Mississippi. Snow Bowl ski area had a base depth in excess of 10 feet that winter.

    California and Arizona are normally either in a drought or a flood. If you want to make a link to CO2, you are going to have to present some evidence.

  27. PSU Grad says:

    TH,

    “In 2005, LA got over 30 inches of rain in about 12 weeks. ”

    Do you remember anything odd about 2005? Maybe this:

    “The year 2005 was the warmest year in over a century, according to NASA scientists studying temperature data from around the world.”

    Full link here: http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/2005_warmest.html

    Now I can’t say there’s a direct link between the two, I’m not a climatologist. But it should prod someone like yourself to do some further research.

    I don’t know about 1980, but I do know that when I lived in northern CA in the winter of 1982-83, it seemingly never stopped raining. But the rain didn’t come in one massive jolt, it just seemed to rain throughout the winter, sometimes harder, sometimes more softly. In fact, we set a rainfall record that winter, a record which was broken a decade or so later.

  28. Dano says:

    Please do not feed the TH troll.

    Best,

    D

  29. TH says:

    Yes, we know that El Nino tends to bring a lot of rain to California and Arizona. Are you claiming that El Nino is caused by CO2?

  30. TH says:

    I see, someone who challenges your viewpoint is a “troll.” No science happening on Romm’s site today.

  31. PSU Grad says:

    “Please do not feed the TH troll.”

    I wouldn’t call it feeding, more like shining some light. The strong probability that he has no idea what the jet stream was doing before the storm hit, and why that might be important, tells me everything I need to know.

  32. Leif says:

    TH: Back at you. Weather is a function of energy imbalance across the earths surface attempting to equilibrate. When you try to look at climate by looking at the small average temperature change, ~+0.8C, it is like trying to see a curve in a line pulled taught by looking perpendicular to the side. However by sighting the length of the line you will readily notice a slight curve with the lightest weight to deflect. The energy imbalance of the earth’s system has been calculated and is currently ~ 0.5 W/m2 which is equivalent to the energy of ~ 50,000+ Nuclear blasts a day, each and every day, going off. (http://climateprogress.org/2009/12/31/science-the-hottest-decade-ends-maunder-mininum-solar-cycle-24-global-warming/ com. 50+++) That much additional energy in the system surely is sufficient to intensify storm systems, displace jet streams, evaporate more water to fall as rain, floods, or even snow in the winter.

  33. Roger Sowell says:

    I did read the article and maintain that this storm was not a big deal. 80 mph winds are small compared to hurricanes with their 200 mph winds. The west coast regularly receives similar 80 mph winds, not only in this storm. The storm’s total rainfall is also very small, as the most rainfall was just over 10 inches north of Oxnard, California in a week’s time (per NWS for the Southern California region). Houston gets that much rain in one day. The deaths are regrettable, but more people die in hurricanes than in this storm. The point remains, this would be the lowest-pressure storm compared to only our very recent experience. To believe that, in the 4 billion year history of the earth, this particular storm set any kind of record is preposterous.

    [JR: You can “maintain” whatever beliefs you want. The facts say this was more than a storm of the century.]

  34. Rob Mac says:

    It really isn’t wise for people who understand AGW to get all excited every time there is an extreme weather event that could lend support to the theory of AGW.

    This site was rightly mocking reporters and AGW deniers who were claiming the fact that it was cold in January somehow disproved AGW. By the same token, the fact that there are sometimes big storms does not prove AGW in any way shape or form.

    [JR: I cover the uber-extreme events that are consistent with the science of AGW, which is happening. The disinformers use non-extreme events to argue for something that isn’t happening, global cooling. Big difference.]

  35. TH says:

    Leif,

    It is winter and the earth’s temperature has dropped by nearly 2C since the July maximum, like it does every year. It is absurd to try to correlate a particular storm to some sort of average “energy imbalance” calculated across an entire year. A change in cloud cover alone can change the temperature by 10-20C.

    Not only are SSTs on the cool side in the northern hemisphere, but snow cover has been near record extent. December was the second snowiest on record.
    http://climate.rutgers.edu/snowcover/chart_anom.php?ui_set=1&ui_region=nhland&ui_month=12

  36. Leif says:

    Roger and TH: You guys are something else. TH, did I not say that increased evaporation would imply more snow in the winter? Roger: Nowhere did I say or imply that “this” event was the strongest storm in the last 4 billion year history of earth. (you might want to check that as your anti-Science peers, many argue a much shorter time frame). What I said was that within the time frame of modern record keeping this event is note-able. Perhaps something can be learned from it.

  37. MarkB says:

    TH,

    “California and Arizona are normally either in a drought or a flood.”

    One observation is that the U.S. has had a trend towards more extreme precipitation events, coinciding with global warming, of which manmade activities are the primary contributor. These observations are also predicted by climate models. While one can argue endlessly about what exactly contributes to a specific storm, the overall increasing trend is not “normal”.

    http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cmb/images/cei/dk-step4.01-12.gif

  38. MarkB says:

    “To believe that, in the 4 billion year history of the earth, this particular storm set any kind of record is preposterous.”

    Deniers don’t get very far without the strawman fallacy.

  39. Richard Brenne says:

    Any meteorologists (Leif? Anyone?) out there to confirm this: My understanding is that low pressure can be a measure of the potential energy of a weather system.

    Low pressure systems would need to be compared for the same latitude and longitude, whether over water or land, time of year, etc. Comparing Typhoon Tip over water in a much different climate and time of year to this in the far more arid Southwest is apples and oranges (and due to winds highly propelled fruit at that).

    Global warming means more water evaporates off the oceans creating more water vapor and the heating more energy in the atmosphere which will manifest itself in myriad ways, this storm with it’s record low pressure being one of them.

    We can’t predict how, when and where the individual more extreme events will manifest themselves, we just know that measured globally and over enough time, we will see more of them. And we are. And this is one powerful example.

  40. MarkB says:

    Last month’s SST anomaly was the highest for any December on record, with a further spike towards the end of the month.

    http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadsst2/diagnostics/global/nh+sh/monthly

    UAH satellite data shows record values so far this month as well, both for sea surface and atmospheric anomalies.

  41. James Newberry says:

    According to numerous recent findings and analysis of paleoclimatology (eg. Pagani at Yale, Oppenheimer at Princeton, Dickens at Rice), all present political and policy discussions are hopelessly mired in 20th century thinking. These new findings indicate climate sensitivity of CO2 doubling (to 560 ppm) to be twice as large as previously forcast, i.e. 6 degree C not 3C. This means the planet is only beginning to respond on a ramping-up curve to radiative forcing from PAST emissions, especially those of the last quarter century. All coasts will be hit hard, possibly lost, from current concentrations of 430 ppm equivalent and rising.

    So let us spend our treasury on bank bailouts, atomic fission and fighting in Afghanistan, Pakistan and any other stans we can think of to keep our war economy going.

  42. Mariss says:

    Good grief. I’ve lived 40 years in Orange County, CA, the very bulls eye of this purported monster storm. There was nothing unusual about it; we got 4″ of welcome rain evenly spaced over a 5 day period. No mudslides, no floods, no trees blown down. The “90MPH winds”? A single 5-second wind gust at the Newport Beach pier due to a thunderstorm microburst. Please find something else to worry about; this wasn’t it.

  43. TH says:

    Leif,

    Where do you see increased temperatures? SSTs are low in the north Pacific and US temperatures are also below normal for the last 4 months.

  44. Leif says:

    Richard,#39: I am not a meteorologist, but a still living commercial fisherman and outdoors man. Weather is more than a hobby. The size of this event, not any one part of it, with the exception of the low pressures, are what lifted eye brows. In that way it might even be similar to the snow event over the eastern N America of the winter. With more energy in the system I would expect to see larger weather systems, not necessarily more ferocious ones at least up front. A huge system may brake records for low pressures but because of it’s size have relatively benign effects. As pointed out the eye of a hurricane can exceed these lows but size does matter. That is why I would like to see a scale comparison of say Katrina with this unnamed event. Am looking.

  45. Mariss says:

    Mark B,

    Sorry to disappoint you; everything IS normal and there IS nothing to see. The real storms were in the late ’70s. That was when hillsides slid and homes were destroyed. Remember Bluebird Canyon in Laguna Beach?

    http://landslides.usgs.gov/learning/photos/california__u.s._/laguna_beach_and_blue_bird__ca_landslides

    Keep some perspective; a single SUV on its side and a video of a little debris flow down a street isn’t very impressive. See the tree behind the SUV? It still has all of its leaves. It must have been some ecologically sensitive tornado to spare the tree while ravaging the SUV.

    [JR: And yet this storm broke multiple records. Go figure!]

  46. PSU Grad says:

    “That was when hillsides slid and homes were destroyed. ”

    I hope you have more than that to support your case. Because CNN showed quite vividly why that hadn’t happened. I believe it was the state that installed some devices (I’m not an engineer, don’t know what they were or how they work) to stabilize the hillsides. Without those devices, which weren’t there in the good old late 70s, this particular hillside would likely have fallen.

    And I’ve seen a tornado spare one house and ravage the one next door; they’re capricious that way.

  47. TH says:

    So how do you explain the “Great White Hurricane” of 1888?

    http://www.infoplease.com/spot/blizzard1.html

  48. Leif says:

    Mariss, #46: What is it that you folks don’t get. Size matters. Imagine that all your hundred year life span you have battled folks your own size. Some of those guys have been very strong and vicious. You have however prevailed with acceptable losses to your community. Then one day a “gentle” giant comes down the pike. This fellow is magnitudes bigger than what you have looked at in the past. Although only a few of your kin folk were lost by his mostly innocent passing would you not be compelled to watch and learn from his passing, to see if he represented a new population out there somewhere? Perhaps he is in fact single freak. On the other hand your most skilled and learned and trained “watchmen” out there have been predicting his arrival and more just like him over the horizon. And they just might be getting stronger! More ENERGY!

  49. MarkB says:

    TH,

    Glad you mentioned that. I have a log from one of my ancestors in NYC that describes the amazing blizzard of 1888, which dropped heavy snow, with the wind piling up towering snow drifts. It occurred in mid-March, a week before spring officially began.

    Arguably, the 2006 storm, which occurred in mid-February was a bit stronger.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_blizzard_of_2006

    As always, individual storms (record or not) do not indicate a trend. We must look at the long-term (see post #37).

    Now when NYC gets a foot of snow in January, global warming deniers scream “global warming is a scam!” Times have changed.

  50. Additional record reports (8 pressure, 15 rainfall) have been posted at CapitalClimate (link at the top of the post).

  51. Mariss says:

    Leif #49,

    Ok, you say “more ENERGY!” So where did this “energy” go? How did it manifest itself? There were no phenomenal rains from San Francisco to San Diego, there were no phenomenal snowfalls in the Sierra Nevada and there were no phenomenal winds anywhere.

    FYI: A 90 MPH wind gust is nothing unusual in Southern California. The Chamber of Commerce would never mention this but every fall Southern California gets seasonal northeast winds called Santa Ana winds. They easily gust over 100 MPH in the usual windy places such as east-west oriented canyons. A place here in Orange County called Fremont Canyon (15 miles from Disneyland) recorded a 112 MPH gust this past fall. It didn’t even make the papers.

  52. Mariss says:

    PSU Grad #47,

    Tornadoes can do strange things; this one spared everything except one solitary hapless SUV.:-) That was the sum and extent of the damage; a single SUV doing the backstroke.

  53. Richard Brenne says:

    Your weather during a storm with low pressures that broke records over multiple states might have been benign (and storms have learned not to rage anymore in Orange County, where the Republican majority denying their existence has sent storms into a [sometimes tropical] depression), but that doesn’t really speak to the global trends we’re talking about here.

    Look at Leif #45 and especially #49 again and see if you can understand what we’re saying. Plugging your ears with your fingers and screaming “money money money money money money money” like Joel Grey in Cabaret isn’t really a response.

  54. Leif says:

    Mariss, #52: Where did that “ENERGY GO”? Well gosh! I thought you would never ask. About 90 % of it is in the oceans. The top ~2,000 feet of ocean has increase its temperature about 0.5 C. That alone took the energy equivalent of over 300,000,000 nuclear bombs in the last 50 years. It went into melting the Arctic Polar Ice Cap and glaciers the world over. GTs a year. It went into drying the ground, evaporating lakes and rivers. It went onto more evaporation of oceans to condense as increased rain or snow fall. After all that and more happened what was left over heated the air the world over ~0.5C or 1F. It is all accounted for. That means that if your today, January, temperature is -20F, it would of been -21F had all this not taken place. It is all there and accounted for. No doubt you can and will find bones to pick and mistakes in math. In the end you trust science implicitly when you fly, drive, boat, eat, get sick,…. What is different about climatic science that makes it any different with you? Could it be that you have been brain washed by multibillions of dollars of advertising budget spent with the sole purpose of convincing you of your god given rights to consume.

    Never go to sea in a boat you would not be proud to have as a coffin!

  55. anniversary says:

    41, these facts need more attention!
    =====
    These new findings indicate climate sensitivity of CO2 doubling (to 560 ppm) to be twice as large as previously forcast, i.e. 6 degree C not 3C. This means the planet is only beginning to respond on a ramping-up curve to radiative forcing from PAST emissions, especially those of the last quarter century. All coasts will be hit hard, possibly lost, from current concentrations of 430 ppm equivalent and rising.
    =====
    From this point on it will get only worse, people should have this in mind. Prepare, change technology, stop emission of greenhouse gases, put the denial industrie on trial and adapt as good as you can.

    In the process there will be economic growth – the only growth we have left. Fossil energy is just not capable to produce the ecnomic we had before the global financial disaster.

  56. Gary P says:

    ““bringing deadly flooding, tornadoes, hail, hurricane force winds, and BLIZZARD conditions…..mountains received up to FOUR FEET OF SNOW….

    However, this record storm is only a preview of what is to come in a WARMER world.”
    ————–
    Huh? And I suppose the huge increase in desert dust found in the ice cores from the ice age layers was due to the decrease in droughts. After all its the IPCC told us that a warmer world will have more droughts. It must be because in a warmer world there will be less water evaporating from the oceans and therefore less rain…

    [JR: Huh? SW will get drier, other parts will get wetter. Try to follow the literature.]

  57. Mariss says:

    Leif #55,

    1) I think you missed the point of the question so let me rephrase it. This past week’s storm is being touted as a “Frankenstorm” and a “gentle giant with a lot of ENERGY!”. So, given both characterizations, one scary and the other sort of cuddly, I would expect it should have been remarkable in some perceptible way. It wasn’t. Maybe like dark matter, this excess energy isn’t palpable in any sensible way.

    2) “My god given right to consume”. I think this phrase succinctly summarizes the very core of anthropogenic global warming science and explains why the cart is before the horse. Perhaps that’s why there is a near ecstatic pleasure amongst the adherents in projecting imminent doom while merely suggesting otherwise results in hostility and denial. A sane person feels relief when a threat proves to be unfounded. Since I don’t question your sanity it means AGW never was about science at all.

  58. Leif says:

    Gary P. It is important to note as well as extensive droughts can be closely followed by flood conditions of increasing intensity. I draw your attention to the South East US of recent memory. Not exactly premium growing conditions if you ask me. What happens to your food bill should we have a large similar event in the “bread basket” of the Nation. Just one season?

    Then maybe another 10 years later? Or five?

  59. Ross Hunter says:

    I’m coming late to this post and I’ve read the entire comments thread. I’d like to voice my high regard for the regular commenters here, as well as for Joe’s work.

    I read this site for its science and its policy acumen – a rare combination. The comments form part of a scientific and lay discussion that amplifies and builds on Joe’s posts. A great blog has great readers, and the comments are important.

    You guys are the most patient people, you were being trolled by several people who usually don’t last long here. Some sites now just delete incorrigible deniers out of hand.

    As a concerned reader I encourage you to feel free to delete and blacklist deniers without apology or explanation. The discussion by the knowledgeable here is far too valuable, to me at least, to be obscured by the junk science and sophistry of those who would rather tear down than build up.

    [JR: Thanks. Sometimes I let a few of the anti-science crowd through with their disinformation just so people see what the talking point of the week is and/or what we’re up against. And sometimes I just miss ’em, since I don’t generally premoderate comments from newbies.]

  60. espiritwater says:

    TH, it isn’t just the fact that an unusually large storm smashed the Western coast; the point you seem to be over looking is that we’ve had a tremendous amount of climate catastrophes the last several years. I’ve NEVER heard anything like all these climate disasters in recent years! Perhaps you’re too young to tell the difference; I can.
    From awful floods occurring in places that didn’t have floods before, to fires out west occurring almost constantly during summer months. The North and South poles are melting! Millions of acres of trees are dieing (not millions of trees, million ACRES of trees dieing). The island nation of Tuvalu is going under water. It’s just one climate disaster after the other. And unfortunately, it’s going to get much, much worse.

  61. TomG says:

    Gee, who do I know whose initials are TH?

  62. Leif says:

    Mariss, #58: Well obviously I am a glutton for punishment tonight so I am attempting one more time.

    “Frankenstorm” verses a “gentile giant.” You do not seem to be happy with “BIG” being an important characteristic without being “rip and tear” ugly. (Even though she/he had some of those components.) “Frankinstorm” was BIG compared to the size of all known past systems. Extending from Baja to the Canadian border plus. A “gentle giant” in that he/she did not do all that much damage but size was orders of magnitude bigger than what we have related to in the past. The imagination runs amuck at the potential for a storm of this size with a bone in it’s teeth. Think living with pussy cats for a lifetime and having a tiger walk across your yard and only crushing a few flowers but you will damn sure take notice. If you had an ounce of smarts you might even think about taking some precautions.
    Part two is gibberish.

  63. Richard Brenne says:

    Ross Hunter (#60), this is the kick-a climate site, huh? I absolutely agree with you.

    Leif, you’re on fire (I mean this in the best possible way, not so much literally)! All your comments and especially #63 above are wonderful and helpful metaphors, though I’m not sure the trolls and deniers would notice their housecats had been replaced by a large adult tiger if it used the sofa they were sitting on as a litterbox.

  64. Richard Brenne says:

    Ross Hunter (#60), this is the kick-a climate site, huh? I absolutely agree with you.

    Leif, you’re on fire (I mean this in the best possible way)! All your comments and especially #63 above are wonderful and helpful metaphors, though I’m not sure the trolls and deniers would notice their housecats had been replaced by a large adult tiger if it used the sofa they were sitting on as a litterbox.

  65. Richard Brenne says:

    This is the kick-a climate site, huh Ross Hunter (#60)? I absolutely agree with you.

    Leif, you’re on fire (I mean this in the best possible way)! All your comments and especially #63 above are wonderful and helpful metaphors, though I’m not sure the trolls and deniers would notice their housecats had been replaced by a large adult tiger if it used the sofa they were sitting on as a litterbox.

  66. Neven says:

    “As a concerned reader I encourage you to feel free to delete and blacklist deniers without apology or explanation.”

    This has probably been discussed here before, and I know it has been on RC, but I believe the best thing is not to delete denialist trolls, but to make their comments invisible and give people the option to click on them if they want to read them and the fruitless debate that ensues. I don’t know how easy or hard this is to implement though.

  67. Leif says:

    Trolls, to have or not to have? As frustrating as it is dealing with trolls an restating the same arguments over and over, I feel a few serve a function. I am sure that Joe has a list as long as your arm of unwelcome folks, but these are our neighbors and coworkers. By sparing with them from time to time we become nimble with our rebuttals. We learn from others and refine our own presentations. No doubt many trolls are unreachable but surely some folks passing thru get hooked on science. Getting mobbed by trolls however will just make me go out and mess in the garden. The beauty of this site is all the wonderful dedicated folks who bring interest and diversity to numerous topics one might not initially associate with climate change. To you all, thank you, and if I have to spit out a troll from time to time, so be it.

    Two Palms UP,

    Leif

  68. Dano says:

    Folks can contact Greasemonkey and have them update their code to include this site, then we can effectively ignore trolling. Nincompoopery such as above in my view should be treated with disdain or ridicule or ignorage. Surely by now these geniuses can find out for themselves if they truly want to know. Otherwise, they are effecting the S:N to effectively spam information dissemination.

    Best,

    D

  69. Neven says:

    Leif wrote: “Trolls, to have or not to have?”

    Both if you’re making their comments invisible (with a standard statement as to why this is done) but clickable to anyone who wants to read them and waste time and energy.

  70. Leif says:

    For those interested in the size of the low pressure system that sparked this whole thread go to
    http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/
    Be repaired to swallow your gum.

  71. Leif says:

    A comment on my last post. The eye of this record breaking low pressure system is about the size of the WHOLE Gulf of Mexico! Put “Katrina” in that context.
    “Repaired” should read prepared.

  72. Dano says:

    A comment on my last post. The eye of this record breaking low pressure system is about the size of the WHOLE Gulf of Mexico! Put “Katrina” in that context.

    No. Not even close.

    HTH.

    Best,

    D

  73. Wit's End says:

    I think JR strikes the perfect balance of trollisms. He lets just enough through to spark vigorous debate, but never so many that the conversation is swamped by idiots.

    I have learned much from the posts here – and even more from the lively conversations, our host’s responses, and links in the comments.

    It’s quite impressive and a source of much speculation just how it is done, but it is what brings me back every day.

  74. Mariss says:

    Am I banned here?

  75. Leif says:

    Mariss, #75: It does not appear so, however you might try some reasoned comments and you might even find some friends. I would add that “reasoned” does not imply capitulation, quite the contrary. If you have spent time here at all you will find a wide range of topics and discussions with numerous pros and cons. In many a discussion, I find myself changing view points numerous times and have even witnessed refinements in Joe’s thinking because of submitted comments. Way cool site! Stick around and see what you can learn. It is free and fun. Show me a better deal than that!

  76. Leif says:

    Mariss, #75: One other point if I may. Please go to Cliff Mass blog, Comment #71. Read his latest post, (Tues. 1/26), and at the bottom is a weather map of Frankenstorm. Notice the size of the low pressure “EYE,” Now place that “eye” on the Gulf of Mexico. Find a sat. photo of Katrina. Compare. Compare “eye” size of both. Do you have any insights? Compare maximum low pressure for each “Eye.” Cliff has a couple of previous posts about the same system. Read, they are not long. Cliff is a PhD professor at UW in Seattle. Come back and talk to us.

  77. Leif says:

    An interesting aside of this weather system. This morning on Cliff Mass he talked about inverse barometric pressure effects. Within a big low pressure area sea level rises. Think sucking on a straw. Most of the time this effect goes unnoticed. However, our “gentle giant” produced high water levels almost TWO, (2), feet higher than predicted. See the graphs on his blog site. (Com. #71)

  78. Dano says:

    Notice the size of the low pressure “EYE,” Now place that “eye” on the Gulf of Mexico.

    It’s not an eye. Please. Take a basic Metro class before you start with the doomisms. It is a very similar phenomenom to a denialist spending 5 minutes on The Google and declaring AGW a hoax.

    [/old grumpy weatherman]

    Best,

    D

  79. Leif says:

    Dano: I apologies for my syntax goof. I tried to place “eye” in quotes only because it is the center of the system. My exercise here is attempting to show anti-science folks that BIG is an interesting function of this weather system that has been labeled a “Frankenstorm” and then did not produce significant damage. I have no doubt new terms will evolve with increased familiarity of systems like this should the need arise.
    As for “doomisms,” I thought I was being careful to place this “Gentle Giant” in a better perspective than the “Frankenstorm” as reported.

  80. Leif says:

    Something to ponder: This “Gentle Giant” raised the predicted high tide water level at Astoria, Oregon and Neah Bay, Washington, almost two feet. Fortunately during a 1/4 moon when high tides were minimal. Had this event happened a week later or during any big tide we would have a preview of mid century predicted water levels. Since this event lasted days a high tide of some form would certainly be encountered, unlike transitory events that last only hours as a rule. Much water front property is currently threatened as is at extreme tides. Two feet more water is not to be taken lightly. Add a wind???