Snow in Saudi Arabia in May?

snow_Al_Baha_051209

From the Saudi Gazette

In one of the rare occasions, Saudis enjoy the snowfall in Al-Baha city south-west of Riyadh, Tuesday. Torrential rains pouring down on Al-Baha accompanied by gusty winds were accompanied by snow capping the mountains and covering the valley areas and the forests of Al-Zaraeb and Khayrah.

The last report we had like this in mid January said that the snow and cold was the “worst in 30 years“. In January, snow isn’t unexpected in Saudi Arabia, it has happened before. But in May?

While the report says “snow”, the possibility exists that it could also be small hail from thunderstorms.

Looks like it is warming up fast though. The forecast calls for 93 degrees. Just remember, weather is not climate.

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66 thoughts on “Snow in Saudi Arabia in May?

  1. “Climate Chaos in Action!”.

    (Couldn’t be a spot outcome from a cooling trend could it?)

  2. If the Catlin Team makes it off the ice (without becoming the swimming three) they can truck on over to Al-Baha city and continue their snow and ice measurements. Maybe they can transplant a few polar bears so when the Arctic populations are gone there will still be a colony to repopulate from when the ice returns. Also, I’m curious about the forests of Al-Zaraeb.
    All of the above is in jest; I love snow – just not on my sidewalk. It is just a simple weather event.

  3. From Your text:

    Looks like it is warming up fast though. The forecast calls for 93 degrees. Just remember, weather is not climate.

    Oh! Don’t worry; here the National Meteorological Service has forecasted 122 F for the coldest states. :)

    I remember a frost on May in Monterrey when I was younger, about 40 years ago. These meteorological events are not atypical, but clear indication that weather is not climate.

  4. I know, I know … weather is not climate. So when does weather become climate? When the ice sheets start grinding down on Germany and France … or return to Central Park in NYC? Guess we’ll have to wait a few hundred years for that return to happen again — and all the CO2 we do/do not spew into the atmosphere will do nothing to stop it.

  5. If we’re going for captions again the Kiwi fruit one might be applicable here too for the bloke near the car.

  6. OT but it bothers me because its happening again just when NH ice is within 1SD (please see past records NOREX, NSIDC, etc… here at WUWT and

    http://mikelm.blogspot.com/2007/09/left-image-was-downloaded-from.html

    why always when it is within normal?
    Nearly all the ice measuring sites are not reporting since 1 May! Except DMI

    http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/icecover.uk.php

    maybe someone can find out why at least….
    In this case, to be clear, I am not assuming they are going to adjust down. If they are reporting new data please let us know. Thank you

  7. Looks like hail, not snow. In Southern Australia I have started lighting my fire place a month earlier than normal. Looks like a cold winter coming.

  8. OT, but please do have a look at this garbage: Belgian city goes veggie.

    Note the kindergarten maths of the statement that farming gives off “a fifth of global warming emissions.” I should think drinking a crate of good Belgian strong beer would probably offset Ghent’s entire effort. Idiots!

  9. It says nothing of the temperature in the article but the gentlemen in the picture do not looked dressed for freezing temperatures, my guess is hail.

  10. I was in Baghdad last winter (2007-2008) when we had the 510 thickness line dip all the way into the Gulf and Baghdad received snow…1st time most residents can remember. I went outside and caught some big flakes on my tongue and then remembered that we were down wind from a burn pit…so I stopped.

    But those flakes were huge and the snow stuck on the ground. It was awesome.

  11. Anthony,
    You just got paid by:

    http://www.arabmatchmaking.com/?gclid=CIX-7I6BuZoCFQkzawodKBNJbg

    just because I found the ad annoying… No real person looks as good as the girl in the ad looked… (partial confirmation of the ‘subject line leads to ad’ thesis.. still holding out for “Halle Barry Hot Antarctic Images” article.. ;-)

    While it looks a bit like hail to me, don’t we have “official” reports?

    FWIW, had 2 sunny days; now have a few tomato flowers (still no tomatoes) and it’s back to cold nights… Wind has a peculiar “blustery” quality to it and has for weeks. More chaotic and more total strength than usual. Very typical March end / Early April weather …

  12. Can’t make a hailball. That’s snow.

    I remember snow flurries in June down in Bricktown NJ back in the 80s. Temps are low 40s here past few mornings near West Point NY (no GISS warming trend). Very cold for mid May. Weather is not Climate. Weather is not Climate.

  13. „Weather is not climate“!?
    But what is CLIMATE; when WMO defines climate as: the average weather over a longer period of time, and the UNFCCC (Climate Change Convention, 1992) has not any definition on climate, but defines instead in Article 1 the following terms:
    1. “Adverse effects of climate change” means changes in the physical environment or biota resulting from climate change which have significant deleterious effects on the composition, resilience or productivity of natural and managed ecosystems or on the operation of socio-economic systems or on human health and welfare.
    2. “Climate change” means a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.
    3. “Climate system” means the totality of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and geosphere and their interactions.

    Is it possible to define ‚climate change’ if CLIMATE is not defined in the first place? Discussed in detail at: http://www.whatisclimate.com/

  14. OT: From what I can tell, according to this map on CT, NH ice is on a dramatic INCREASE (or NOT melting at all) as of 10th May, 2009. We of course are not able to compare anymore with 2009 at CT for some MONTHS now (not WEEKS “to be fixed” as alluded on the site), but if I recall this ice extent is quite greater/and thicker than May 1980

  15. I’ve experienced something similar when working in Saudi in the mid 90′s. Riyadh had a tremendous thunderstorm that resulted in hail stones the size of golf balls. The damage to cars and other soft skinned vehicles was tremendous. But most of the hail was small and the city was left with a covering that looked like snow. It all started to melt quite quickly, overwhelming the drains and flooding large parts of the city. Many cars were stopped in underpasses on the roads for protection from the hail, only to be lost from the flooding and large chunks of the city ground to a halt in the gridlock.

    So this is not unknown in these parts even during the so called warming 90’s. During the summer of 96 the temperature regularly got to 50 C during June and July, causing all sorts of issues for mechanical equipment and humans alike. Of course the press were not in warming hysteria mode then.

    I think too much has been emphasised about upper temperature records over the past 10 years in the media, so that we could be in danger of over emphasising snow hail etc as a sign of cooling. I think that best sign that a subtle shift has occurred in the “weather” is that I am sitting here in Mid May in England and it is still cold, with no hint of the BBQ summer so foolishly predicted by the met office.

    As a keen gardener I’m very tuned to the “weather” or “climate” and it is defiantly NOT good at present with many of my plants damaged again by cold weather and late frosts. So this season has started cooler than the previous 2 wet summers of 07 & 08. This summer is showing all the signs of being a summer of promise and hints of impending heat, interspersed with days of extensive cloud and disappointing temperatures.

  16. A look at COLA is showing pretty consistent global continental cooling everywhere (except INDIA)
    http://wxmaps.org/pix/clim.html (see temperature for each continent) Note that South America and Africa have looked this way for nearly TWO years now every day (been following it every day). North America has been looking this way for at least two months now (if I recall correctly?). I have found that a good indication of what to expect from monthly reported temperatures bu UHA, RSS etc.. is AMSU + COLA +SST.
    http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/ (AMSU see 400 mb)
    AMSU temps look to be about to dive into quite cold area for quite some time if we assume the current graph trend sticks (compared with 2008 data). This is getting really interesting and more concrete by the day (Cooling). I think that the silence from the other side (re actual data) is now deafening!

  17. Yes, it can snow in Saudi Arabia in any month of the year! It’s not common, but it’s not exactly rare, either. Jabal Sawda (Sawda Mountain) is a little over 3700 meters in elevation, and is located in the mountainous Asir region. There is a well-traveled highway that ends at a park near the top of the mountain. A few years back (around 2000, as I recall), it snowed on Jabal Sawda in August, resulting in many wrecked cars of panicked tourists.

  18. Didi you see or hear anything about the WWF’s statement today. Worth a laugh.

    I’m sick of hearing WWFs radio ad with the level 5 hurricane…over and over it’s been shown hurricane activity hasn’t increased with warmer temperatures.

    So when does weather become climate?

    climate = record warm temperatures
    weather = record cold temperatures

    Thought we covered that already!

  19. Actually, sorry, the graph doesn’t post well on that link. You have to click on the Google trends link and scroll the graph over to see the full graph. But it is still highly interesting.

  20. Climate is directly related to your GPS address (longitude, latitude, altitude). You can find about yours in any Atlas and garden store. It’s the same climate you had 1000 years ago. Weather pattern variations are the extreme edges of your climate you can experience from time to time and figure into the climate zone your area has been assigned regarding vegetation choices. Typical weather patterns for your climate are the day to day “chances are” expected weather situations you find yourself in per season. Climate is stable. Weather pattern variations swing to the edges. Typical weather is somewhere in the middle.

    Think Climate Zone, not Climate Change. Think Weather Pattern Variation, not Weather is not Climate.

  21. Alg;-)

    From my humble researches, the UN officially defines Climate Change as manmade, yet the IPCC officially defines it as a combination anthopogenic & natural causes, whether it actually looks at those is neither here nor there. So, one organisation, the UN, with a sub-group, the IPCC, both using differing definations of CC! There’s consistency for you.

    And it certainly looks like snow to me, must be in the Arctic then!

  22. It s obvious that skeptics and the fossil lobby have damaged the climate beyond repair.
    /laughing off :o)

  23. Pamela Gray (05:57:56) :That´s the secret of the OFA, they have actual records of many years back. Future generations will not have any real “official” temperature records due to political “massaging”.

  24. Re: AlanD (04:01:10) :

    Looks like spam to me. Got past Anthony’s filter.

    /Mr Lynn

    REPLY: Zapped, thanks, Anthony

  25. chip (22:30:34) said :
    Is this perhaps a recent pic from the Easter Egg hunt at Al Gore’s house?

    Personally, I wouldn’t put it past Al Gore to make the children in his “Vernal Egg Hunt” (don’t want to offend anybody) to (a) become Muslims (b) grow facial hair, and (c) wear the dishdash.

    Slightly OT (but only slightly, as we ARE talking The Kingdom of Saud here);
    new reports are saying that LNG (the stuff shuttled around on giant Thermos-bottle tankers) from Qatar (thank you ExxonMobil) may be practically FREE because Qatar produces ~48 barrels of “natural gas liquids” along with each 1000 cubic feet of gas. (this is a ridiculous ratio; I personally need confirmation).

    Natural gas liquids are highly prized as they are “light fractions” which are easy to refine and have no BS&W (“bottoms, solids and water). To give you an idea about hte properties of this stuff, in LDC’s (formerly Underdeveloped Countries) I have seen NGLs burned DIRECTLY in diesel engines; they tend to knock a little, especially if the NGLs aren’t allowed to degas for a while, but it works and burns cleanly.

    http://www.rigzone.com/news/article.asp?a_id=76043

    This will likely mean that the budding tight shale production in the USA (which has lately kept NG prices WAY down) will be under SEVERE pricing pressure.

    If the current administration wants REALLY wants to reduce carbon quickly AND lower our current account deficits, they should concentrate on Natural Gas initiatives (although I suggest putting T. Boone at the back of the queue, please). For the foreseeable future, Qatar looks willing to sell us LNG at or around $3/mcf (equivalent to $18/bbl oil). I say buy buy buy.

    Instead, we are going to get windmills. Oh, my aching sliderule.

  26. How much sea level rise will the melting of the snow on the mountain tops in Saudi Arabia cause?

  27. Just to fire up the discussion what is “weather” and what is “climate”, let’s drop a shoe on this:
    It took one year for the “Weather” to bring our planet from a warm period like today, into the last Ice Age.
    Was this a case of “Instant Climate”?

    So, wattsupwiththat?

  28. I’ll say it once again as I believe it has been missed (due to age of thread posted in). Weather is a function of climate.

  29. That photo looks like pea size hail to me.

    Maybe the snow was just in the adjacent mtns they refer to in the article, not in the photo. Not uncommon to see that combination of wx in So Cal in the winter (hail down low, snow in the mtns).

    Not sure how uncommon that would be for Saudi in May. Sounds like it is, but it would be better to put it in some sort of historical context.

  30. You know how the Eskimos supposedly have 100 different words for “snow” in their vocabulary? Well, in Arabic, there really is only one popular word. ثلغ Which is pronounced “thalge” where I was (and please forgive me if I spelled it incorrectly, I’m pretty sure it’s close) refers to any icy participate from the sky. I was told many times in Yemen that it was “snowing” by my English speaking friends when it was actually hailing. They didn’t know that there was a different word for the different types of participation.

  31. Ron de Haan (06:41:55) : what is “weather” and what is “climate”

    It is just a language issue. In spanish we have just one word for both: CLIMA=CLIMATE,WEATHER, the other word which it is used (rarely): TIEMPO, means weather but at the same time it means TIME.
    So with due “time”, weather turns into “climate”…
    Now, trouble begins when CLIMATE CHANGE appears . It seems to mean anything, any means to reach a political goal.
    This is why from laymen to astrophysicists we are entangled in this CLIMATE issue, as believers or as non-believers alike, both feeling or guts’ guessing that something will affect our well being in the near future and that there is something out there threatening us from a hidden, dark and pernicious dimension.

  32. This is way OT but I have to comment. I heard a radio report yesterday detailing a polar bear study in the Chukchi sea. the reporter was 100 miles from land on the ice pack with scientists that were tranquilizing bears. They mentioned that one of the bears was a spring record at 1266 pounds and in profile his belly was dragging on the ice. The report went on to discuss the imminent demise of the polar bears due to shrinking habitat. It sounds like the biggest threat is obesity.

    “I reject your reality and substitute my own.”

  33. Weather is not climate, and at this rate, nothing ever will be, including climate.
    You see, when weather meets the event horizon, the laws of meteorology and time cease to exist, and nothing, not even CO2, can escape a Climate Hole.

  34. Although “weather is not climate”, I think it is important to recognize that “Climate is an accumulation of weather”. Weather events are necessary but not sufficient for climate change. You cannot have cooling climate without cooling weather events, although you can have cool weather without a cooling climate.

    The important point is, that it is the accumulation of a large number of weather events that defines climate, so it is not entirely out of bounds to take note of extreme weather events as long as you understand that a single or isolated set of weather events does not necessarily indicate a change in climate — although they “may indicate a change in climate”. An accumulation of extreme weather events are required for climate to change.

    The problem is how do you rigorously define when an accumulation of weather events amounts to an early indicator of a change in the basic climate for an area. To use a mathematical concept, when do they show that the slope of the curve is starting to change.

    This is especially difficult when different disciplines use different definitions of what climate is. The Geologist sees a 30 year average of weather events as a meaningless data point in his/her million year / 100 thousand year view of climate.

    Using a 30 year average as the measure of climate you will not know for sure that climate has changed until 15 years after the inflection point where the slope changed. Is there a more sensitive statistical test that will indicate a slope change has occurred even if you cannot determine by how much?

    For the statistics guru’s here, would it be correct to say the following?

    In an absolutely stable climate the number of regional high temperature records would roughly equal the number of low temperature records.

    Likewise a cooling climate should show an imbalance with more low temperature records that high temperature records, and a warming climate would show an imbalance with a higher percentage of new high temperature records than low temperature records.

    Larry

  35. Pamela Gray (05:57:56) :

    Think Climate Zone, not Climate Change. Think Weather Pattern Variation, not Weather is not Climate.

    Brilliant explanation! We include Climate Zone for the classification of Biomes; equator zone, subtropical zone, temperate zone and polar zone. For example, Tropical Rainforest is situated mainly on the equator and subtropical zones, temperate forests on subtropical and midlatitude zones, Taiga on midlatitude zone and Tundra encircling the polar zone.

  36. Every natural phenomenon can be described as a function, as a curve, and as all curves having critical points, points of inflexion (“tipping points” when cash enters into the equation :-) ). Well. This post Snow in Saudi Arabia in May? may be indicative we are approaching that critical point, or point of inflexion (not, of course any GWr. tipping point whatsoever). Perhaps some mathematician around may find such a point for us?

  37. Adolfo Giurfa (07:50:14) :

    Ron de Haan (06:41:55) : what is “weather” and what is “climate”

    It is just a language issue. In spanish we have just one word for both: CLIMA=CLIMATE,WEATHER, the other word which it is used (rarely): TIEMPO, means weather but at the same time it means TIME.
    So with due “time”, weather turns into “climate”…
    Now, trouble begins when CLIMATE CHANGE appears . It seems to mean anything, any means to reach a political goal.
    This is why from laymen to astrophysicists we are entangled in this CLIMATE issue, as believers or as non-believers alike, both feeling or guts’ guessing that something will affect our well being in the near future and that there is something out there threatening us from a hidden, dark and pernicious dimension”.

    Muchos Gracias, Senior Adolfo

  38. I wonder if the recent spike of the oil price ha sanything to do with the snowfall in Saudi Arabia?

  39. I was an expatriate based at Abha Airport and lived a short distance away in Khamis Mushayt. I remember a few hailstorms during my stay there.

  40. hareynolds (06:32:53) :”new reports…that LNG may be practically FREE because Qatar produces ~48 barrels of “natural gas liquids” along with each 1000 cubic feet of gas….Natural gas liquids are highly prized as they are “light fractions” which are easy to refine and have no BS&W….This will likely mean that the budding tight shale production in the USA (which has lately kept NG prices WAY down) will be under SEVERE pricing pressure….Qatar looks willing to sell us LNG at or around $3/mcf (equivalent to $18/bbl oil). I say buy buy buy.”

    Either I don’t understand, or there’s something left out, here. Are you saying that the value of the NGL is high enough that the natural gas with it will be priced (low) as byproduct?

    Still, there’s enough carbon in natural gas that the end users must be punished for trying to keep their homes warm with it.

  41. No doubt, that is small hail. The article specifically mentions torrential downpours, which to me just screams thunderstorms and hail… especially considering it is supposed to be in the 90s the very next day. You can also see what’s called hail fog in the background of the photo between the two men. Also, as pointed out by somebody else, look at the way they are dressed. Doesn’t look cold to me that’s for sure. Deep accumulation of small hail can occur even when the temperature is in the 90s (as anyone who lives in the Great Plains can tell you). As for an earlier comment about being unable to make a “hailball,” well, that’s just not true at all. I’ve been able to make “”hailballs” on several occasions before (and have the pictures to prove it), even in the middle of summer. The title of this post is completely misleading. This photo in no way shows snow. It is a deep accumulation of small hail!

  42. With regards to weather not being climate and to put “climate change” and temperature anomaly in perspective.
    If I am eyeballing the temperature anomaly correctly I see about a 0.7 deg F anomaly for year 2000 from wikipedia. I just went through an exercise of checking actual temperatures for 2007 (which I used becuase it seemed like it had the most complete data set) and found that mean daily temperatures for Sacramento, California fluctuate sometimes beyond 10 F from day to day. (sure I could have used any location but since I’m closeby why not the Capital) Certainly these fluctuations (which occur both positive and negative I might add) would be noted as “weather events” so I went through and added 10 F to the mean temperatures of 25 days (that’s two days of hot weather events each month). Lo and behold poof we come up with a change in the average of 0.7 deg F for the year. Yes the equivalent of the dreaded anomaly which inspires thermaggedon. Conversely, 25 days being 10 F Colder in the daily mean reverses the yearly anomaly. Of course hot and cold events probably cancel each other out in a large enough sample size. So yes 25 days of 10 F “weather events” in any given year evidently is climate according to those watching the temperature anomaly. Yes I know I could have have just done this mathematically but I needed to see what kind of day to day temperature swings were “normal.” If you like Check 2007 data I pulled from http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/wraws/ncaF.html Of course this is a single location and wider ranges should drop the mean fluctuations etc but keep in mind that enough of these “isolated” events really can swing things.
    APE

  43. Here in Christchurch n.z we had our frist day this month when the air day temp was above a.v.g . So far this month we more than 2 c colder than a,v,g .

  44. As an addendum to my earlier post and as Anthony et al has shown to the world it doesn’t have to be stacked weather events at all. Note that 250-1 deg F days due to the latex paint or micro climate due to station siting also easily accounts for the anomaly. Don’t forget the adjusted minus raw graph by NOAA. What a mess!
    APE

  45. Hello ,
    i am Hani from Saudi Arabia Al Baha city
    ,this is interesting subject …But i agree with (DaveK)

  46. mark (23:20:13) :

    Here in Christchurch n.z we had our frist day this month when the air day temp was above a.v.g . So far this month we more than 2 c colder than a,v,g .

    Hey Mark in Cheech,

    I’m wintering in Antarctica. I’m pretty sure you know Christchurch is the gateway to the continent for those headed to Scott Base, McMurdo & South Pole. We’re fortunate to transit via Christchurch. It’s a beautiful city and very nice people.

    Dave

  47. Its a shame that Anthony Watts do this stuff again. It’s not the first time, nor the second, some time ago it was about snow in Quenia that was a hail storm too.
    How can an meteorologist unknown the differences between hail ou snow ? How can’t a meteorologist like Anthony Watts check a simple weather map like 850hpa temperature to verify if snow was possible in this circumstances.

    Reply: If Anthony finds it interesting, or thinks others might find it interesting, that is sufficient. ~dbstealey, moderator.

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