-50°F new all time record low confirmed in Maine

You may recall I wrote about the “Pain in Maine” a couple of weeks back in reference to the painfully cold weather there. Here was the bulletin from NWS:

Temps Map

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CARIBOU ME
0955 AM EST FRI JAN 16 2009

**********POTENTIAL STATEWIDE RECORD MINIMUM TEMPERATURE*************

AT 0730 AM EST THIS MORNING A USGS GAGE AT BIG BLACK RIVER RECORDED
A LOW TEMPERATURE OF -50F.  THIS EXCEEDS THE CURRENT STATEWIDE
RECORD LOW TEMPERATURE OF -48F SET ON JANUARY 19TH…1925 AT VAN
BUREN. THIS REPORT IS CONSIDERED UNOFFICIAL UNTIL A REVIEW OF THE
EQUIPMENT AND DATA BY THE STATE CLIMATE EXTREMES COMMITTEE AS TO
THE VALIDITY OF THIS REPORT. IF THE COMMITTEE ASCERTAINS THAT THIS
IS INDEED A VALID REPORT…A SEPARATE PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
WILL BE ISSUED AT THAT TIME.

It has been confirmed. Here is a public information statement from from the NWS in Caribou, ME. I’m appreciative of the detail the NWS used here to verify the reading.

Public Information Statement
National Weather Service (NWS), Caribou, Maine
11:30 AM EST, Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New All-Time Low Temperature Recorded in Maine

On the morning of January 16, as New England was under the grip of an arctic blast, an all-time low temperature of -50° Fahrenheit was recorded for Maine. It was recorded at 7:30 a.m. EST at a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) stream gauge on the Big Black River near Depot Mountain in northwestern Aroostook County. The previous record, -48° Fahrenheit, was set in Van Buren, Maine almost 84 years earlier, on January 19, 1925.

“It is exciting to be a part of this historic event.” said George Jacobson, Maine State Climatologist and Member of the State Climate Extremes Committee (SCEC), the group that vetted this measurement for consideration as a new all time minimum temperature record for the State of Maine. “But the real benefit to the State is in good weather and climate data being recorded daily by the NWS, USGS and other partners in the scientific community.”

The lowest temperature ever recorded in the U.S. was -80 degrees Fahrenheit on January 23, 1971 at Prospect Creek, Alaska, according the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). The lowest temperature recorded in the lower 48 states was -70 egress Fahrenheit on January 20, 1954 at Rogers Pass, Mont.

The existence of this temperature sensor owes to the partnership between the NWS Weather Forecast Offices in Caribou and Gray, and the USGS Maine Water Science Center in Augusta. This partnership resulted in installation of NWS supplied air temperature sensors on many existing NWS river forecast points and USGS stream gauges over the past several years. The aim of this partnership was to better serve society’s needs for high quality weather, water, and climate information.

Increasingly, partnerships such as this between the NWS and USGS are being founded to leverage resources used in weather, water, and climate research to better meet the public’s needs. This leverage has resulted in the nearly fourfold increase in the number of temperature reporting stations across the state of Maine between 1925 and 2009.

The process of challenging a state record is comprehensive. The initial report is considered unofficial until a review of the equipment and data is conducted by the State Climate Extremes Committee (SCEC) as to the validity of the report. These findings are submitted to the Director of the National Climatic Data Center for recommendation. The State Climate Extremes Committee includes: the National Weather Service, the State Climatologist, the Northeast Regional Climate Center, and the National Climatic Data Center.

Here is a brief summary of the process:

  • State Climate Extreme Committee activated.
  • SCEC conference call examined all available data.
  • Two temperature sensors and a data logger sent to the USGS Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility for testing.
  • Temperature sensors and data logger tested to a low of -50 degrees Celsius (-58.0 degrees Fahrenheit). Sensors performed within their specified accuracy of plus/minus .02 degrees Celsius over the entire temperature range.
  • SCEC reconvened. A vote was called for recommending the -45.3 degrees Celsius (-50 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature recorded at the Big Black River be submitted to the National Climatic Data Center as a new statewide all-time record low temperature for Maine. The vote for recommendation was unanimous.
  • NCDC Director approved SCEC recommendation.


Timeline of Events
01/19/1925 – W.H. Scott, a weather observer for the USDA, Weather Bureau, records a temperature of -48° Fahrenheit. Other notable temperatures from the area on that date were: -43° at Houlton, -41° at Presque Isle and Millinocket and -32° at Old Town and Winslow (all temperatures in Fahrenheit).10/1/1983 – USGS station 01010070 begins reporting river data for the Big Black River near Depot Mountain, in northwestern Aroostook County, Maine.

08/17/2005 – NWS temperature sensor installed.

07/26/2007 – Temperature sensor upgraded to current configuration.

01/06/2009 – Temperature sensor checked for accuracy by USGS.

01/16/2009 – Temperature sensor records -45.3° Celsius (-50° Fahrenheit).

01/16/2009 – NWS issues Public Information Statement advising of a potential new statewide all time record low temperature.

01/16/2009 – State Climate Extreme Committee (SCEC) activated.

01/21/2009 – SCEC conference call examines all available data. Operating range of temperature sensor questioned.

01/23/2009 – Two temperature sensors and data logger sent to the USGS Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility for testing.

01/30/2009 – Temperature Sensors and data logger tested to a low temperature of -50.0° Celsius (-58° Fahrenheit). Sensors perform within their specified accuracy of ± 0.2° Celsius over entire temperature test range.

02/04/2009 – SCEC reconvenes. A vote was called for recommending that the -45.3° Celsius
(-50° Fahrenheit) temperature recorded at the Big Black River be submitted to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) as a new statewide all-time record low temperature for Maine. The SCEC vote for recommendation is unanimous.

02/04/2009 – NCDC Director approves SCEC recommendation. .

h/t to Joe D’Aleo

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36 Responses to -50°F new all time record low confirmed in Maine

  1. odin749 says:

    Well -45.3 C sure is nice and interesting. In Melbourne here on Saturday it was +46.3 C, and ofcause everyone blamed the new record extream on Global Warming.

    It is clear that neither are evidence of either Global Warming or Cooling. Just records that need to be included in the overall record and trends, do the 2 cancel each other out, maybe.

  2. Fred says:

    Another example of Global Warming. After all, everything is an example of Global Warming.

  3. Tim L says:

    So they only do this in Maine?
    and do they do this for hi temps?
    remember the low temp thrown out , what happen there?

  4. Trobs says:

    I’m cold just looking at the temp

  5. Pat says:

    Midsummer, Sydney, Australia, higest maximum today = 23c. This will be quickly ignored on the news tonight.

  6. Leon Brozyna says:

    Nice explanation of the exhaustive attention paid to all factors before proclaiming a new record. The skeptic in me is satisfied.

    The cynic in me wonders, however, how many years will pass before GISS adjusts the temperature upwards.

  7. Pamela Gray says:

    That temp certainly does cancel out some stuff. Maine wild blueberries used to make table wine (since wine grapes won’t grow there) will likely freeze and die at this temperature. But then Quebec will be worse and they are (were?) Maine’s main competition for that little gem of a fruit. Wonder if this colder weather pattern variation will hit the Maine newspapers. Just two years ago, Maine’s MSM was moaning all over the bottom of the bird cage about losing their slice of the wild blueberry market to global warming.

  8. Jonathan Castle says:

    Anthony – O/T sorry, but can’t find a way to send this to you otherwise. Interesting article from The Scotsman newspaper about a speech by a climate skeptic, rabid response from AGW supporters and a namecheck for WUWT in the 4th comment.

    http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/latestnews/Global-warming-is-not-our.4966808.jp

    Mods – please relocate this to wherever is appropriate.

    Jon

    Reply: Contact information is available with a small investment in clicks. But here it is anyway. You can contact Anthony at info (at) surfacestations.org ~ charles the moderator

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    Temperature sensors and data logger tested to a low of -50 degrees Celsius (-58.0 degrees Fahrenheit). Sensors performed within their specified accuracy of plus/minus .02 degrees Celsius over the entire temperature range.

    01/30/2009 – Temperature Sensors and data logger tested to a low temperature of -50.0° Celsius (-58° Fahrenheit). Sensors perform within their specified accuracy of ± 0.2° Celsius over entire temperature test range.

    Please pick one…

  10. Harold Ambler says:

    That’s a good batch of cold.

  11. Justin Sane says:

    Just wait until Jim Hansen has massaged this data, it’ll probably end up the third warmest in history.

    REPLY: Totally an unfair characterization in this case. GISS only deals with climatic averages, not record events. – Anthony

  12. savo says:

    Hope it warms up a bit before I’m over there on holidays.

  13. abraxas says:

    It seems obvious that the weather is extreme, or unusual perhaps. As a lay person i find in incomprehensable that we do not have a total understanding of global temperatues.

    Surely until we have 90% planet coverage, with several accurate readings per day, any kind of real temperature reports wouldn’t be accurate enough to really analyse the trends? The biggest problem is no-one can tell from the data, only hypothesise, and all this politicising is evidence of the confusion.

  14. Rhys Jaggar says:

    To be fair, the NCDC January temperature chart shows that the West of the US was very much warmer than average and the northern mid-West and the north East very much colder.

    So although from the chart you can’t say exactly what the case was, I’d say it was slightly warmer in the US in January than average, but not much.

    Similarly in Europe, we’ve had nearly -50 in Slovenia and the Alps and UK have been colder, but the Balkans have been much warmer than average, as has Russia.

    It’s all swings and roundabouts, but we can say that this January has seen a lot of extremes………..

  15. MattN says:

    Still very odd. On daily AMSU temps, Feb09 is remaining significantly warmer than Feb 08.

    Where is the heat?

  16. Ric Werme says:

    Pamela Gray (21:06:22) :

    That temp certainly does cancel out some stuff. Maine wild blueberries used to make table wine (since wine grapes won’t grow there) will likely freeze and die at this temperature.

    Probably not a problem. New England had a nice blanket of snow at the time. At my home in sorta central New Hampshire, we were at a relatively balmy -17.5F and had 11″ of snow. (I assume you’re talking about low bush blueberries, I don’t know how high bush blueberries fare at -50. I’m not expecting problems for our area.) Highs around that date for us were 16-18F, see http://c-24-128-108-153.hsd1.nh.comcast.net/cgi-bin/wx_fetch?table=raw&year=2009&month=1&day=13&len=7&vars=out_temp&vars=dew_pt for an unpolished plot.

    One amusing effect I see in some springs are Forsythia bushes with bright yellow flowers on the bottom 1/3, none on the top because all the flower buds died in the cold and dessicating air during the winter.

    BTW, the site in Maine is along the eastern border, you wouldn’t guess that from the map. Also, the -50F is the coldest in all of New England, but no surprise there. The record in New Hampshire is -47F on top of Mt Washington (the home of the World’s Worst Weather) and I think also recorded in a valley community somewhere.

  17. Ric Werme says:

    One thing about this reading that intrigues me is that a prediction related to global warming is that the extra CO2 means that we will have warmer low temperatures because radiational cooling will be less effective. I’m sure they had ideal radiational cooling:

    Calm wind
    Any zephyr will mix up things and destroy the air inversion, the cold layer is very thin.

    Topography that is flat or in a depression
    I’m in a valley near a couple rivers, not quite ideal. The Concord Airport is flat (duh!) and near the valley, they often record temps a few degrees below me.

    Cold starting point
    We’ve had days with colder highs, the temperature swing was only 30 degrees, but that’s likely due to the lousy heating of the winter sun, a 40 degree swing would be more remarkable.

    Long nights
    You can see the moment of sunrise on my plots.

    Dry air
    The dew point started out at -10F, which very dry. While frost formed, the latent heat released didn’t slow down the exponential decay much.

    Snow cover
    Keeps the warm ground from heating the air.

    I certainly had excellent radiational cooling conditions, see http://c-24-128-108-153.hsd1.nh.comcast.net/cgi-bin/wx_fetch?table=raw&year=2009&month=1&day=13&len=7&vars=out_temp&vars=dew_pt&vars=wind which is like the previous plot except with wind included.

    So, what happened to the CO2 greenhouse effect? And how meaningful is Maine’s -50F record? On one hand, it’s just anecdotal evidence. However, it’s in a sample of thousands of winter days (and a thousand latter half of January days) so that suggests it’s empirical evidence. By showing that the CO2 greenhouse effect didn’t live up to expectations, it’s on the borderline of being an existence proof that the theory is wrong.

  18. Ric Werme says:

    Ric Werme (05:20:59) :

    > BTW, the site in Maine is along the eastern border, you wouldn’t guess that from the map.

    Scratch that – I think that’s what our TV news showed, apparently the site is in the cold area of the NWS map. Yes, the confirmation was news in New Hampshire, but that’s no surprise.

  19. Ron de Haan says:

    According Joe Bastardi the “Barbarian” (cold period) has arrived at the gate!

    In this article he explains that the Barbarian comes with a “triple crown” of cooling:

    1) Natural cyclical reversal
    2) Solar radiation reduction
    3) Increased volcanic activity

    “Decreased solar radiation leads to more cosmic dust, which in turn has an effect of increasing the speed of the Earth’s rotation, creating a negative global atmospheric angular momentum. Take a look at what is going on with that. http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/map/images/aam/glaam.gif Notice how negative it has been during this time of reduced radiation.

    The increased speed of rotation forces cooling at the poles, but there is something else that happens. Chances are this creates an increased stress on the earth, meaning more volcanic activity”.

    He also refers to historic evidence referring to a Danish report:
    Conclusion: 70- to 90-year oscillations in global mean temperature are correlated with corresponding oscillations in solar activity.
    http://www.tmgnow.com/repository/solar/lassen1.html

    It’s another interesting insight.

    Let’s see what the pack of wolves roaming WUWT have to say about this article, especially the link between our sun and volcanic activity.

    http://www.accuweather.com/ukie/bastardi-europe-blog.asp?partner=accuweather

  20. superDBA says:

    E.M.Smith (21:11:48)

    I’ve investigated this in the past, and the proper number is 0.2.

    However, read carefully! 0.2 over the “test range”. Does the “test range” approach -50C ?

  21. hotrod says:

    Related but not quite on topic, this item raises a question of temperature measurement accuracy. In the summary of the validation attempts it makes the following observation:

    Sensors performed within their specified accuracy of plus/minus .02 degrees Celsius over the entire temperature range.

    I assume that is typical measurement accuracy of modern day Stevenson screen sensor systems. I have been trying to find references for reasonable expectations for measurement accuracy for historical temperature measurements such as the old SST measurements made in canvas bucket and wood bucket manual measurements. From the limited descriptions I have found it sounds like these measurements were typically made with mercury bulb thermometers. My Weskler instruments sling Psychrometer has mercury bulb thermometers that are only indexed in single degree F increments. If someone was really intent on measuring to higher accuracy it is reasonable with these thermometers, that a diligent person could have estimated temps to an accuracy of .5 deg F at best. I also have a lab mercury bulb thermometer that is marked to .5 degree increments. I have not had the opportunity to examine first person typical hand blown mercury thermometers of that period, and have no idea what would be typical precision for their marking and if they were calibrated by the user against a known standard like ice/water mixtures to verify they read 32 deg F for the water ice mixture.

    Does anyone know the expected accuracy of manual temperature measurements that could have been expected in historical SST measurements and manual thermometer reading in Stevenson screen stations prior to electronic sensors?
    A reference source would also be useful if you have that?

    Larry

  22. Richard M says:

    odin749 (20:21:02) :

    “Well -45.3 C sure is nice and interesting. In Melbourne here on Saturday it was +46.3 C, and ofcause everyone blamed the new record extream on Global Warming.

    It is clear that neither are evidence of either Global Warming or Cooling. Just records that need to be included in the overall record and trends, do the 2 cancel each other out, maybe.”

    Not really. If one believes the AGW arguments then MORE record highs should occur. All time record lows should eventually disappear. Note also that AGW claims the polar areas will warm the most. This should also reduce the number of record lows

  23. hotrod says:

    I just found an interesting reference to discussion about temperature reporting errors in stevenson screens from 1898 in a google digitized document that some might find interesting.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=NQngPh92TPUC&pg=RA2-PA167&lpg=RA2-PA167&dq=stevenson+screen+accuracy&source=bl&ots=HvtFYQiOHa&sig=b2PzLOudwZ4SfrLQbVAVwt16cNI&hl=en&ei=Wf6SSe3JL5j8MsG6wP8L&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=6&ct=result#PRA2-PA165,M1

    Larry

  24. hotrod says:

    Correction — date is 1893

    Larry

  25. George E. Smith says:

    Well if you put a thermometer outside your back door, and record the temperatures every day for 100 years or so, then tomorrow you might expect about one chance in 100 that the temperature will be a new record low; or it could be a new record high; or maybe the rainfall is a new max for the day.

    So about 3.65 days per year you may get a new record low or a new record high, and if you just report those, well you can make a lot of news in the local paper. But not to worry you can do the same thing next year. Ho hum ! Some day has to be the all time record low; so why not today.

    George

  26. If TSI is the same all time then it is the CO2 in both cases: when it cools down and when it warms up…
    Many years ago John Langdon Davies explained about the “Will to believe” and the “Will to disbelieve”, none of them is science.
    So it is a good policy of WUWT to permit all theories about climate.

  27. gary gulrud says:

    Ron de Haan:

    Bastardi is creative which earns him high marks at the outset.

    I noted his “AMO has peaked”. We can expect 2020′s here in US to be a reprise of ‘Dust Bowl’ years and lower yields in the northern Plains until then with fewer degree days.

    The Russians obliterate NASA re: cycle 24. How the mighty have fallen!

  28. Sekerob says:

    For any cold spot there’s some offsetting hot spot, such as Victoria, Australia or Wagga Wagga. Climate does not have IBMY sizes, though some only do not look further than the end of the cul de sac.

    January UAH confirmed RSS 1 week later as +0.307C v +0.322C anomaly. More amazingly, the NH was per RSS +0.449C or 0.567C up from January 2008. UAH showed 0.447C. Which of the 2 has the “superior” algorithm claim to go with I don’t care, but global cooling seems to have lost steam.

  29. gary gulrud says:

    “but global cooling seems to have lost steam.”

    The meme has captured the imagination of the masses. Like a well-chewed shoe, good old ‘warmening’ makes us feel safe at night.

    Well, we shall see.

  30. George E. Smith says:

    “”” gary gulrud (12:13:31) :

    “but global cooling seems to have lost steam.” “””

    Well it certainly doesn’t seem to have poked its head back into any knind of warming territory relative to teh 1995 to to date. So even if it isn’t yet on any heating thunk, it is still consistent with the observation that some of the highest values of a function tend to gather around the maximum of that function, as in warmer years among the recent dozen of so;
    Don’t fret; if we get into a 20-30 year long cooling trend, that eventually turns around again; its a safe bet, that there will be a collection of some of the coolest years around that next minimum.

    It’s similar to the observation that some of the highest elevations on planet earth are observed to occur up in the mountains.

    George

  31. novoburgo says:

    Ric Werme (05:46:03) said;

    “BTW, the site in Maine is along the eastern border, you wouldn’t guess that from the map.”

    Ric the site is in extreme NW maine along the Quebec border in Township14, Range 16 WELS (west of the easterly line of the state), about 2 miles from the border. The previous record from Van Buren was along the NE border on the St. John river.

  32. Pamela Gray says:

    Speaking of, that list of Maine wines made from “vineless fruit” sounds delicious. I just might have to order me some. I don’t like white wine much and really dislike sweet wine. But red, fairly dry, wine made from wild blueberries sounds grand. Why is this wine not shipped to the west coast???? My gawd folks, we West coasters brush our teeth in red wine!!!!

  33. Pamela Gray says:

    It’s a MIRACLE!!!! A government agency blames ice extent anomalies in January on something other than global warming!!!!! Buy lottery tickets!!! Ask your sweetheart for her hand in marriage (or if not that, see if you can get to 3rd base)!!!! Hell!!! Call me and I’ll hand 3rd base to you on a silver platter!!!!

    (not really but it made for a nice finish on my prose)

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

  34. George E. Smith says:

    “”” Pamela Gray (18:18:48) :

    Speaking of, that list of Maine wines made from “vineless fruit” sounds delicious. I just might have to order me some. I don’t like white wine much and really dislike sweet wine. But red, fairly dry, wine made from wild blueberries sounds grand. Why is this wine not shipped to the west coast???? My gawd folks, we West coasters brush our teeth in red wine!!!! “””

    Besides Pamela; any fool knows that good wild blueberries come from Oregon. so phoo on Maine and Canada; they don’t know a good tasting blueberry if they tripped on one in the street.
    I eat ONLY Oregon blueberries; so get that straight!

    George

  35. Pamela Gray says:

    Except…that there are no wild blueberries in Oregon. We have huckleberries. We grow blueberries but they are not wild or native. We search for huckleberries in the mountains and even have a mountain with that name. No one I know of turns this prized berry into wine. It wastes too much of the berry. Better to freeze them, or make jams. If you go light on the pectin, the jam makes a delicious whole berry pancake syrup that is better, the menfolk tell me, than a date with the now divorced Shania Twain. The two berries are two different kinds of berry. Huckleberries are better. However, I have never tasted a wild blueberry and would very much like to. I would like to try wild blueberry wine even more.

  36. George E. Smith says:

    I must have been raiding somebody’s plantation; well sorry for that; I just picked a few to eat on the spot.

    George

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