Monday, February 28, 2011

Satellite Image - Recent Snowfall

The attached satellite image is from Monday, February 28, 2011 at 18:25 UTC (12:25 PM, CST) and centered on Nebraska.

The area of white in the center of the photo is the current snow cover on the ground in northern Kansas, southeast Nebraska, northern Missouri and southern Iowa. This area was snow free until the snowfall of February 24-25, 2011. Note the slightly gray area in Southeast Nebraska near the northern edge of the snow cover, this is the location of Lincoln. With the cleared roadways in the city of Lincoln, the Lincoln metro area shows up as less white compared to the surrounding rural areas. Note Lake MacConaughy in western Nebraska has some ice cover on the west and East end of the lake.

The White area in the lower right hand corner of the image is cloud cover over Southeast Missouri.

There are some clouds in south central South Dakota but otherwise the white in the top portion of this image is snow cover.
LINK to the NWS map and snowfall amounts:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Winters in Big 10 cities

With UNL's entry into the Big 10, we will now be in a conference where all of the schools are located in a part of the country with cold winters. But, cold is a relative term and there is a fair amount of variance in average winter temperature and snowfall throughout the conference. I didn't compile snowfall statistics, but Lincoln would likely come in near the bottom among Big 10 cities in terms of total seasonal snowfall.

But what about temperature? Well here we have a little more room to brag. Over a 91 day period from the last part of November through the end of February, the average daily temperature in Lincoln is 32 degrees F or colder. How does this compare to other cities in Big 10 country?

Number of days where the daily average temperature is 32 degrees F or colder:

1. Minneapolis, MN: 124
2. Madison, WI: 111
3. East Lansing, MI: 102 (Lansing was used)
4. Ann Arbor, MI: 92
5. Lincoln, NE: 91
6. Evanston, IL: 90 (Chicago O'Hare was used)
7. Iowa City, IA: 86
t8. West Lafayette, IN: 82
t8. State College, PA: 82
10. Urbana, IL: 78
11. Bloomington, IN: 59
12. Columbus, OH: 58

So we rank a little higher than the middle of the conference for this statistic. I doubt anyone is surprised to learn that Minneapolis and Madison are the coldest spots, but some might be a little surprised to see that we are a shade colder than Chicago (when using this statistic). Of course, comparing data from these cities should be done with some caution, as weather station location and instrumentation will have some effect.

There are, of course, other measures for determining who has the worst winters. If we were looking at wind chills, subzero temperatures, or days with highs below 10, it is likely that Lincoln would be in the top half of the conference in those categories as well. Conversely, our snowfall amounts are meager compared to some cities in the Midwest (even though snow can hang around for relatively long periods of time), we will probably be sunniest city in the conference, and we are more apt to have a day in the 50's or 60's in the winter than many others in the conference. So there is some balance to the cold at least.

Another balancing of that cold is our summer, which is likely the warmest of any in the Big 10, but that's a story for another day!

February 20-21, 2011 Snowstorm

Weekend Midwest Snow Totals Ending 7am 2/21/11
A powerful spring storm brought a wide range of conditions to the region and much warmer temperatures to the Midlands. Highs Sunday ranged from the single digits in the northwest Nebraska Panhandle to the 72 degrees at Falls City! Thundershowers moved through parts of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa...with freezing rain farther north. At 1:48pm Sunday afternoon, Verdel in Knox County reported up to a quarter of an inch of ice. Farther to the north, a swath of heavy snow stretched across South Dakota into Minnesota into Iowa. For more ice, sleet, snow, and blizzard storm reports check out the following link:,FSD,OAX,LBF,MKX,MPX,ARX/201102190600/201102211800/0100 .

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Its Called "Global"..not "Nebraska"..Warming

Click Here for a large version of the poster.

Year 2010 was tied for the Warmest on Record for the Globe with 131 years of data.

A colder than normal day, or a colder than normal week, or a colder than normal month, or a colder than normal season or a colder than normal year in your location, your state or your region does not negate the fact that the Earth is warming.

Weather is different than climate. Weather exhibits the day to day variation and climate looks at all of the variation in an attempt to determine the long term trend. When we consider the entire globe, there will appear to be contrary evidence with regions not exhibiting the trend that exists for the majority of the Earth.

A good analogy would be the stock market. Obviously the trend will stand out, yet there are numerous ups and downs in that trend. And, your particular stocks might be losing ground while the trend still exhibits an upward trend. And conversely when the stock market exhibits a downward trend, there are always a few individuals who are going against the trend and their stock portfolio is rising in value.

Bottom line: It’s called “Global Warming” and refers to the average of the entire globe over a period of time. There will always be some exceptions for some areas of the globe, but as long as the majority of the earth is warming, then the trend is called “Global Warming”. Looking at the monthly global anomaly maps or the U.S. statewide rankings, included here, clearly exhibits the fact that there were regions of the Earth and states in 2010 that “bucked the trend” and did not exhibit warming. However, the overall global average temperature at the end of 2010 was still tied as warmest on record.

The phrase “Its Called Global Warming, not Nebraska Warming” is a reminder that it can be cooler than normal or merely near normal in Nebraska during some months and even for the entire year, but that does not mean “Global warming “ is over or does not exist. That is, what is happening in Nebraska may not represent the global average.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

La Niña Predictions, Feb. 2011 Update

ENSO stands for El Niño Southern Oscillation and refers to oscillation back and forth from El Niño to La El Niño conditions. The attached graph produced by the International Research Institute (IRI) shows the various computer model projections of the current La Niña

On the graph, anything below the -0.5 line indicates a La Niña phase, and above the +0.5 line indicates the El Niño phase and in between +0.5 and -0.5 would be classified as "neutral".
Some of the models have the La Niña lingering into next Summer while some models have La Niña ending and a return to "neutral" conditions by next Summer. It is interesting to note that some of the models have a repeat performance of the La Niña conditions for next Autumn going into Winter 2011-12

Although there are many variables that can be used in predicting seasonal weather patterns, the existence of a La Niña, or El Niño can play a major role in our ability to produce seasonal outlooks.

January 2011 Arctic Ice Cover

From The National Snow And Ice Data Center.
Conditions in context
Air temperatures over much of the Arctic were 2 to 6 degrees Celsius (4 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal in January. Over the eastern Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Baffin Bay/Davis Strait and Labrador Sea, temperatures were at least 6 degrees Celsius (11 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than average. Temperatures were near average over the western Canadian Arctic Archipelago and Scandinavia.

As in December 2010, the warm temperatures in January came from two sources: unfrozen areas of the ocean continued to release heat to the atmosphere, and the wind patterns accompanying the negative phase of the Arctic oscillation brought warm air into the Arctic. Near the end of January the negative Arctic oscillation pattern broke down and turned positive, which usually favors ice growth. It is unclear how long it will remain in a positive mode.

January 2011 compared to past years
January 2011 had the lowest ice extent for the month since the beginning of satellite records. The linear rate of decline for the month is –3.3% per decade.

Ice extent for the Arctic as a whole increased at an average of 42,800 square kilometers (16,500 square miles) per day through the month of January, which is about average.

January 2011 U.S. Temperature & Precipitation Anomalies

Temperature Highlights
•Across the contiguous United States, the average January temperature was 30.0°F (-1.1°C) which is 0.8°F (0.4°C) below the 1901-2000 average.January 2011 was the coolest January since 1994 when the average temperature was 28.3°F (-2.1°C), breaking a long string of warm or near-normal Januaries.
•Cooler-than-normal conditions dominated most areas east of the Rocky Mountains while the western coastal states of California, Oregon and Washington were above-normal in January.

Precipitation Highlights
•Despite several large winter storms across the contiguous United States, January was the ninth driest on record, much drier than normal. Average precipitation across the contiguous United States was 1.48 inches (38 mm), which is 0.74 inch (19 mm) below the 1901-2000 average.
•Precipitation for the month of January was record dry for New Mexico (0.55 inch [14 mm] below normal), while both Arizona and Nevada had their second driest January. Notably, Nevada's extreme dryness followed a record-wet December for the state. Other states whose precipitation averages were much below normal were: Virginia (5th driest), Oklahoma (8th), North Carolina (9th), and California (10th). Meanwhile, much above normal precipitation fell in North Dakota and Nebraska.
•The lack of precipitation across the Four Corners region tied with 2003 as the driest January on record for the Southwest climate region. Its January precipitation of 0.23 inch (6 mm) was nearly 0.7 inch (18 mm) below the 20th century average. The West climate region also had very low precipitation, resulting in its eighth-driest January.
•January extended a pattern of continued dryness and drought across a wide band of the southern United States. The three-month period (November-January) was the 3rd driest such period for North Carolina, 4th driest for South Carolina, 7th driest for Arkansas, and 9th driest for New Mexico. Average precipitation in Montana (8th wettest) and North Dakota (10th wettest) was much above normal.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

January 31-February 2, 2011 Snowstorm

The two photographs show abandoned cars on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. Traffic came to a halt on Lake Shore Drive at the peak of the storm and city officials had to rescue the drivers and passengers.
The map on the left shows the total snowfall from the late January, early February snowstorm that travelled from Oklahoma up into the Great Lakes region. Almost two feet of snowfall occurred in the path of this system and combined with sustained high winds created blizzard conditions.