48 Responses to Is that airlifted snow on your Olympic ski mountain, or is your enormous helicopter just happy to see me?
“Hopefully, winter will come back,” says Tim Gayda, a leader of the Olympic organizing committee.
WARNING: This post contains the following brain-busting quote from a Vancouver Olympic official — “We really shattered the all-time [temperature] record,” he said. “It’s El Ni±o, and there’s something else that nobody understands at this point. It’s El Ni±o Plus.”
In one of the greatest coincidences in human history, Vancouver just blew out its monthly temperature records a mere three years after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said warming in the climate system is unequivocal:
January temperatures were the warmest on record and the trend is continuing this month, says Environment Canada meteorologist Matt McDonald, one of 30 forecasters working the Winter Games.
This year, the average temperature in January was 44.9 degrees, besting the previous warm record of 43.3 in 2006 and well above the historic average of 37.9 degrees, according to Environment Canada weather data.
McDonald says the mild temperatures are expected to continue, and rain “” not snow “” is expected for much of the week.
This is the first time in history that Erickson Air-Crane’s “specially fitted Sikorsky S-64 has been hired to make it snow,” USA Today reported this week. [The website Jalopnik is the source of the top picture and the headline.]
But no, we’re not going to calculate the carbon footprint of this effort. Why should we? It’s just a coincidence that it’s been so damn warm, right?
Everyone knows you can’t make a direct connection between carbon emissions and this January in Vancouver which is so damn warm it crushed the record set so long ago that toddlers can’t even remember it. It’s just a coincidence that we are now in the warmest winter globally in the satellite record.
It’s just like that chain-smoking guy who got lung cancer. The fact that he smoked two packs a day is a coincidence. You can’t prove it — so keep smoking, already. Sure the statistics show the warming footprint — Record high temperatures far outpace record lows across U.S. — but individual events are just coincidence. I’m telling you.
BUT this type of purely coincidental extremely warm weather is completely consistent with the predictions of climate science. Indeed climate science says we are likely to see far, far worse, far, far more often. So that means those crazy folks in other countries who don’t believe it’s all just a coincidence feel obliged to maybe, possibly do some thinking about what it all means for the Winter Olympics, as AFP reports:
Global warming is starting to worry the International Olympic Committee, with concern mounting over how it might affect future Games.
IOC president Jacques Rogge said it was an issue discussed in meetings on Monday ahead of the Winter Olympics here, with the issue of Cypress Mountain, just outside of Vancouver, highlighting the problem.
The mountain is the site for the freestyle and snowboard events but has been plagued by a drastic lack of snow caused by the warm temperatures which have seen Vancouver enjoying unseasonal highs of around 10C (50F).
Lorry loads of snow have been carted in to the venue and media banned from visiting in an effort to get it ready in time.
“Global warming of course is a worry, it is a worry for the entire world,” Rogge said.
“It might affect, in the long-term, the staging of Winter Games but I can tell you that today in the evaluation committee meeting we asked for statistics….
Rogge said global warming would be a key issue examined in awarding any future Winter Olympics.
“Global warming is definitely a factor that must be taken into account in Olympic preparations,” he said.
“In awarding the event to a host city, we must look at the climate and snow conditions and geography, as well as ways to alleviate any lack of snow.”
Asking for statistics? Who the heck do they think they are? Next thing you know, they’ll be asking for … models, and we all know how unreliable those are!
Now the anti-science crowd goes supernova over anyone who even mentions the possibility that global warming could have anything whatsoever to do with record-smashing temperatures while at the same time injecting extra moisture into the atmosphere somewhere else that happens to be cold enough for that extreme precipitation to come down as snow. Who could believe all that sciency talk that getting lots of snow requires two things simultaneously — temperatures cold enough for snow and lots of moisture in the atmosphere — and that climate change could affect those factors differently in different parts of the world?
So I won’t say it. Not I. It’s a coincidence, much like the fact that I was born on my birthday.
Interestingly, though, USA Today does feel obliged to offer some sort of sciency explanation for the warmth:
For the past week, the giant helicopter and a convoy of dump trucks have been shuttling tons of snow from higher elevations in a frenzied effort to salvage two Olympic events from the grip of El Nino.
The persistent warm weather pattern, which draws warm, humid air from the Pacific Ocean, has prematurely coaxed daffodils into bloom, produced veils of pink and purple on confused ornamental trees throughout the city and on Saturday brought families to sun themselves on the scenic waterfront concourses.
How interesting. So one well-documented weather pattern is reported to be the sole cause of this record warmth — even though this was not even close to the strongest El Ni±o in recent memory. And yet there’s no mention at all of the well-document, unequivocal warming of the climate that human emissions are very likely to be a large cause of — even though it clearly boosts the temperature baseline from which this rather moderate El Ni±o warms up a given region.
Now that doesn’t seem quite fair. Why isn’t the fact that there is an El Ni±o just a coincidence, too?
After all, the January temperature record Vancouver just beat was set in 2006, which not only wasn’t an El Ni±o, it came close to being a La Ni±a (see page 26 of this NOAA report). Why doesn’t USA Today say this warming is “consistent with” with what you expect from an El Ni±o, rather than simply directly attributing it. I mean if an El Ni±o is called “persistent” after only several months, what the heck the you call global warming, which has been around for decades — a juggernaut?
I’ve put this post under humor because I just don’t know where else to file it.
UPDATE — [warning please put your head in a vise before reading]: I just saw the Washington Post piece, “Amid all the warm weather, the forecast calls for hauling in snow at the Vancouver Olympics,” and the quote from Tim Gayda, the vice president of sport for the Vancouver organizing committee, simply defies sarcasm:
Warm, wet El Ni±o winds from Hawaii that occasionally bring unseasonably warm weather around the region are known locally as the “pineapple express,” but the effects rarely last more than a few days.
January, however, was the warmest in Vancouver since record-keeping began in 1937, with a mean temperature (the average of the high and low daily) of 45 degrees, more than seven degrees above the norm (38 degrees) as well as five degrees above the previous high.
“We really shattered the all-time record,” he said. “It’s El Ni±o, and there’s something else that nobody understands at this point. It’s El Ni±o Plus.”
[Pause to clean up gray matter now shattered and scattered all over the vise.]
There’s something else that nobody understands at this point. There’s something else that nobody understands at this point. What could that something else be that adds warmth to El Ni±o? Nobody understands….