Great moments in snow removal

With Chicago, New York, and Boston buried, they are trying the best they can to get the city out from under the thick blanket of snow, this well known satirical image of Al Gore using a flamethrower comes to mind:

Liv writes in the MIT alumni forum that truth is often stranger than fiction, because Boston city government did in fact propose using flamethrowers to remove snow.

Sixty three years ago Boston received so much snow that then Mayor James Curley took a look at it and began pleading with then MIT President Dr. Karl Compton for help. “I am very desirous that [MIT] have a competent group of engineers make an immediate study as to ways and means of removing the huge accumulation,” he wrote, “…be it by the use of flame throwers or chemicals or otherwise.” The mayor was desperate.

Sound familiar? Current Mayor Thomas Menino was quoted yesterday exclaiming, “This is relentless; it just doesn’t stop coming.” Indeed, Boston has already received more than 60 inches of snow this winter, some 20 more than the seasonal average, and more is on the way. Federal law prevents the city from dumping snow into the Charles River (too many contaminants), so the city is charged with finding ever more places to pile ever higher mountains of snow.

An article over the weekend in the New York Times pointed out that other cities, like Minneapolis, have dealt with this problem by investing in snow dragons, which are pricey machines capable of melting, filtering, and safely disposing of 30 tons of snow per hour. According to the Times piece, Boston has rebuffed the idea in the past but is reconsidering. Public Works Commissioner Joanne Massaro says that “any option is on the table.”

Any option, including reaching out to MIT?

“No,” says MIT Facilities Director John DiFava, “We haven’t heard from the Mayor’s office.” It’s probably for the best, since the crews are already busy. In the last few weeks, they have been working around the clock to deal with the record snow.

“At this point, it’s not necessarily the clearing it away, it’s the getting rid of it,” says DiFava. “When the snow first starts to come you plow it out of the way, but as it builds and doesn’t melt you start to lose space. It starts to fill in and the streets get smaller and the walkways get smaller, and then you’re faced with trucking it out.”

DiFava says MIT crews are piling snow in a campus recycling lot and several other lots in the northwest part of campus.

“We’re lucky to have property on campus where we can pile it,” he says, “but if this keeps up, they’ll close too. Then, I don’t know what.”

Time to dig out those flamethrowers?

h/t to Alek O. Komarnitsky

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67 Responses to Great moments in snow removal

  1. Deborah says:

    I’m seriously thinking about finding some sort of pavement heating system to install under my driveway when I get it repaved next year. With our electrical coming from our friendly neighborhood nuclear plant it wouldn’t be to awfully expensive to flip a switch at night before bed and have a clear driveway in the morning, right?

  2. pat says:

    Flame throwers? lol. They might as well pee on it.

  3. Russell C says:

    And the carbon footprint for flamethrowing (including committee meetings to study the matter and print reports) would be how big?

  4. Curiousgeorge says:

    Eventually Mother Nature wins. Always.

  5. 1DandyTroll says:

    Very ironic that some people don’t want the polar ice to melt but when it snows to ice in their own back yard they’re ready to go all mental with the funky flame throwers.

    But of course I like the pro-active idea though, to melt the snow slowly so as it don’t melt all at once and create such a nasty flood that happens about the same time every year. Nah, better then to melt the snow when it’s still freezing cold, err, or, well, at least if one is into ice skating. I wonder are they into big mann sized yellow balloons too? :p

  6. dave ward says:

    “Federal law prevents the city from dumping snow into the Charles River (too many contaminants)”

    What!!! – Isn’t it going to end up there anyway when it melts? Does Federal law ban rain from falling in the river, or is that not contaminated?? Goodness knows what they would do if an engine-less Airbus dropped in…..

  7. Olavi says:

    I’m glad that you have that catastrophic gobal warming there, because we had it in november and december. Now we have plesant mild winter here in Finland. Be patient, that snow melts away before summer :lol:

  8. Saladin says:

    LOL! That reminds me of Dave Barry’s Garden flame weeder!

  9. William Mason says:

    Now that sounds like a fun job. I would love to do that. /no sark

  10. Kev-in-Uk says:

    wouldn’t it be great if it backfired!

  11. Urederra says:

    The french are selling a thermal snowbuster here.

    By the way, Yesterday I posted that letter on tips and notes. I didn’t know that it was already on WUWT radar.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/tips-notes-to-wuwt/#comment-589389

  12. latitude says:

    Until they invented these computer games…
    ..no one would have believed that heat could hide so well

    Someone tell me again where all that heat is hiding..
    All that warm that makes it cold and snow….

    (temp map of Arctic)
    http://stevengoddard.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/sfctmp_01-fnl.gif

  13. tim maguire says:

    Ever had a camp fire on a snowy night? One of the crazy things about snow is that fire does a very poor job of melting it, at least out in the open (ovens do fine).

    I saw my first snow dragon last night. One of the very few entrances to my neighborhood was blocked off by a huge mountain of snow; nearby there was a strange big yellow steaming box with a funnel out the bottom pointing into a sewer and bucket loaders were shoveling snow into it. And here today, you’re telling me what it is. Isn’t the internet wonderful?

  14. George Tetley says:

    Watts the fixation with seeing the asphalt? Would you beleave there are cities in our world that run compactors over the road snow ? Mother nature in time will do her thing and it will melt, the only problem is that in America is that 40% of the nuts behind the wheel have a left hand thread ! And the other 60% try to get through winter on summer tyres.

  15. GaryP says:

    Perhaps there is a use for these otherwise ridiculous windmills. Its not urgent to melt the snow on a given day so you could wait for a windy day to use the power to melt snow. One two megawatt windmill running at 18% rated power on average should be able to melt 650 metric tons of ice per week.

    Of course a 24 inch snow storm drops enough snow so that this would only melt the snow from less than 2 km of a two lane road. Need lots of windmills.

  16. Larry in Texas says:

    This is just another in a long list of examples of how we have let so-called “environmental regulation” become the tail that wags the dog, to the detriment of us all. Minneapolis has to buy “pricey” machines called “snow dragons” to deal with a problem we used to just deal with by letting the stuff melt into various rivers and creeks, slowly and naturally. Because of so-called “contaminants.” It is another example of absurdity. If Balzac were alive today, he would have an excellent sequel to his novel “The Human Comedy.”

  17. VICTOR says:

    jajajajajajajajajaajajajajaajajajajajaajaja
    poor Al

  18. Tom B says:

    All kidding aside, I think it’s a fine letter. I’m hoping everyone is taking note that this letter is from 1948 – long before any climate change scare. He’s seeking help from the brightest people he knows of. The “flame thrower” comment is nothing more than a chance to let them know that no idea is out of bounds. His desire to address both immediate and future concerns is laudable.

  19. dave ward says:
    February 3, 2011 at 10:16 am

    ““Federal law prevents the city from dumping snow into the Charles River (too many contaminants)”

    What!!! – Isn’t it going to end up there anyway when it melts? Does Federal law ban rain from falling in the river, or is that not contaminated?? Goodness knows what they would do if an engine-less Airbus dropped in…..”

    I’m assuming that snow removed from roads with all the oil, chemicals and trash throw on them is contaminated to some extent. I’m not sure how big of a concern this would be though.

  20. Shelly E says:

    In 1957 I had a short term job with Exxon’s R&D group in New Jersey. Oil was so cheap and in surplus we had two projects to get rid of the surplus. We were trying to find ways to convert oil into food and we had a prototype truck that melted snow so the resulting water could be flushed down the sewers. Now, we try to make motor fuel from food and a politician reinvents our snow-melting truck. What goes around comes around.

  21. MarkB says:

    “What!!! – Isn’t it going to end up there anyway when it melts?”

    When snow melts, it goes into storm drains, which go to a treatment plant where much of the chemicals, oils, and doggie doo-doo are removed. The Charles river is damed at its mouth, so it’s a slow-draining pond near Boston. There are fisheries in the Charles, and we don’t want them killed off. Those of us who fish really do care about this – not just the green nutters.

  22. MarkB says:

    @Larry in Texas

    “Because of so-called “contaminants.”

    So if I put those ‘so-called contaminants’ in your drinking water, you won’t mind? Let’s see… dog feces and urine, automotive coolant and oil, any random drippings from tanker trucks, and the random garbage that collects on our streets. You’re cool with drinking that soup?

  23. R. Shearer says:

    For some reason, Chicago doesn’t abide by Federal law and dumps snow into the Chicago river anyway.

  24. John Cooper says:

    Clearly we need to compress all the piles of snow into blocks of ice and transport them to the Himalayas to restore the glaciers there. /sarc

  25. Brian H says:

    Hm, reminds me of a vid of a ’60s (?) UK snow-clearing tool used by the railroads (?): a heavy-duty engine with two jet engines facing forward. Worked fine.

  26. truthsword says:

    Dave Ward,

    There is a little bit of difference between directly dumping snow/chemicals directly into a body of water, and it melting and running naturally through natures filtration system….

  27. rob m. says:

    @MarcB: Are you sure the Boston’s storm drains go to a water treatment plant?

  28. Alan Clark of Dirty Oil-berta says:

    MarkB says:
    February 3, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Most cities have dual sewer systems, sanitary and storm. The sanitary sewers go to the treatment plants while storm sewers run to a river or the ocean. Not many cities could justify the cost of providing waste-water treatment for storm water and run-off.

  29. tty says:

    When snow melts, it goes into storm drains, which go to a treatment plant where much of the chemicals, oils, and doggie doo-doo are removed. The Charles river is damed at its mouth, so it’s a slow-draining pond near Boston. There are fisheries in the Charles, and we don’t want them killed off. Those of us who fish really do care about this – not just the green nutters.

    The Charles River catchment area is about 300 square miles which converts to about 20 million tons of water for each inch of rain. That’s more than 5 billion gallons, must be a pretty big treatment plant. And an awful lot of storm drains.

  30. Adam Gallon says:

    These will do the job!
    http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2009/08/jet-engines-on-trucks-for-fun-and.html
    I’ve seen photos of similar mounted on old tank chassis, used in England in the 47/48 winter.

  31. jknapp says:

    I flew into Boston during the first big snow storm this year and they were busy plowing the runways. The big pile of snow was being scooped up and dumped into big yellow boxes with lot’s of connections (Gas? Oil? Electric?) of some type. I assumed that they were melting the snow so it could drain into the storm sewers. I found later that they are prohibited from just scraping it into the bay at the end of the runway because of environmental regulations.

    Was I really seeing them take our precious fossil fuels and use them to create (Gasp!) CO2 pollution just to melt a bit of snow that will melt from solar energy in just a couple of months?

    It seems that they were actively replacing solar energy (sustainable) with fossil fuel energy (unsustainable). Where the rest of us are being told that we must do the opposite. It seems that when the enviroment hits the economic’s of reality ….

    Or “It depends on whose ox is being gored”

  32. Scott R says:

    I find it hard to believe that Boston treats its storm drain water. It would require treatment plants hundreds of times the size of those used for sewage. Probably easier to dam the river and run it all through a treatment plant…

  33. Jeremy says:

    Federal law prevents the city from dumping snow into the Charles River (too many contaminants),

    Wait, wha..?? Come again? Too many contaminants fall from the sky?

  34. bob paglee says:

    Even those roughneck oil drillers are apparently hurting, as evidenced by an interesting article in today’s RigZone daily e-mailed news. I’m pasting a copy below.

    It mentions the possible connection between sunspots and global cooling, but unfortunately it doesn’t mention the latest research at CERN in Switzerland that is looking at how cosmic ray penetrations of the atmosphere may seed more Earth-cooling clouds. A weaker heliomagnetic field (as likely indicated by reduced sunspot activity) may allow more cosmic ray penetrations. A report on the CLOUD chamber experiments at CERN may come within a couple of months, and could shatter the carbon-myth theories about global warming.
    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Musings: Meteorologists At A Loss to Explain The Winter Weather
    Parks Paton Hoepfl & Brown 2/3/2011
    URL: http://www.rigzone.com/news/article.asp?a_id=103811

    Another huge snowstorm moved through the mid-Atlantic and Northeast states last week, and forecasters are calling for more snow this week and possibly next. In New York City last Thursday, 19 inches of snow landed in Central Park. That snowfall brought the city’s January snowfall total to 36 inches, well above the 1925 record of 27.4 inches. The snowy winter has people upset because previous winters have not been so bad, although last year when a blizzard descended on Washington, D. C., President Obama was moved to describe the storm as a “snowmageddon.” He was quick to point out that his daughters didn’t quite understand why school was cancelled since in Chicago this was a normal winter experience.

    This winter has brought 51.5 inches of snow to Boston, easily topping the city’s winter average of 42.3 inches. The record snowfall for the city was experienced during the 1995-1996 winter when Boston was buried under 107 inches of snow. New York so far this winter has experienced 56 inches of snow, although its record was also experienced in 1995-1996 when 75 inches fell.

    Besides the dramatic snowfall records this winter, average temperatures also have been colder than normal. Importantly, the winter weather has impacted much more of the United States than normal. On January 11th, every state except Florida had snow on the ground, including Hawaii where there were seven inches atop the dormant volcano Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii. Slightly over 70% of the nation’s areal extent was snow covered that January day as shown in Exhibit 6.

    Exhibit 6. January 11, 2011, Shows Snow In 49 States

    Source: NOAA

    Recent media articles have focused on the altered weather pattern that has been impacting Northern Europe and North America along with the Arctic for the past two winters. As we have written about, the polar vortex, a weather pattern that influences the location and movement of the jet stream, seems to have shifted bringing the cold weather. When there is a strong pressure difference between the polar region and the middle latitudes of the planet, the jet stream, a wind pattern that moves from west to east and normally across Canada, shifts into a tight circle around the North Pole and contains the frigid winter air at the top of the world. When that pressure differential shrinks, the jet stream weakens and drifts southward bringing cold air into the middle latitudes (the United States and Europe) and allowing warm air to move into the polar region. This pattern shift has happened intermittently over many decades; however, it has been unusual for it to weaken as much as it has in recent winters. Last year, one index had the vortex hitting the lowest winter-time value since record-keeping began in 1865. It was nearly that low last December.

    Throughout the decade ending in the mid 1990s, the polar vortex was strengthening resulting in much warmer winters on average in Northern Europe and North America. This pattern led some climate change supporters to claim that global warming was responsible for the near end to traditional winter weather. Now that the pattern has reversed, and in a big way, climate change supporters are claiming that global warming is impacting the Arctic and is shrinking the Arctic sea ice cover, which contributes to the weakening of the pressure differential and the shift in the jet stream. Smarter climate change supporters are beginning to say it is too early to tell whether these weather changes are related to global warming, and certainly a two year timeframe is insufficient for overthrowing previous climate change theories dealing with the polar vortex.

    AccuWeather.com’s severe weather forecaster, Joe Bastardi, recently produced a video in which he offered an explanation for why his winter weather forecast missed the record snow and cold. He is both an entertaining and smart weather forecaster in our judgment. He firmly believes that natural forces help determine the weather and by seeking to find analog patterns in history is a way to understand the development and path of weather and storms.

    According to Mr. Bastardi, the changed weather pattern has a lot to do with La Niña, a weather pattern in the South Pacific Ocean that is associated with the cooling of the surface water and can alter the Northern Hemisphere’s wind patterns bringing cooler and wetter weather to the U.S. and the Atlantic Basin. Mr. Bastardi has found that when there are back-to-back La Niña years, temperatures across the United States get progressively cooler. If the La Niña period is then followed by an El Niño, winters get even colder. He bases his conclusions on looking at the analog years for back-to-back La Niña years such as were experienced in 1949-50, 1954-55, 1973-74, 1998-99 and 2007-2008. In his view, “something is going on that is bigger than we understand.”

    The original AccuWeather.com winter weather forecast for 2010-2011 called for winter to be focused primarily in the Midwest and Northeast. The severity of winter would be contested in the southern portion of these various states. It was expected that the southern tier of the U.S. would not experience much of a winter and that Florida would be warm.

    Exhibit 7. Original AccuWeather Winter Forecast

    Source: AccuWeather.com

    Unfortunately, Mr. Bastardi’s original forecast has proven to be way off base. The entire half of the country from the Plains states to the East Coast and south to the Gulf Coast has been treated to many ice and snow storms that have impacted and at times have paralyzed parts of the country, including disrupting the holiday travel plans for many Americans. The cold weather was so bad in December that it impacted the citrus crop in Florida with the resulting loss of fruit driving up orange juice futures and grocery store prices.

    Exhibit 8. Latest AccuWeather Winter Forecast

    Source: AccuWeather.com

    Atlanta, Georgia, has had 5.9 inches of snow so far this winter with two months still to go. That compares with the city’s record winter snowfall of 10.3 inches in 1982-1983. Both Georgia and Florida recorded their lowest average December temperatures on record last month. So far in January, 155 daily snowfall records have been broken. Most of the records were in the Northeast but they stretch south to Louisville, Kentucky, and Wilmington, North Carolina.

    The latest data for the Pacific Ocean show sea surface temperatures averaging 0.2o C cooler than the long-term average. Mr. Bastardi believes that since the Pacific Ocean is such a large body of water that when it cools the ocean sucks in much of the heat of the planet. This can lead to a cooler planet for an extended period of time as it will take a reversal of the weather cycle to warm the Pacific Ocean.

    Exhibit 9. PDO Cooling And Sucking In Planet Heat

    Source: AccuWeather.com

    Mr. Bastardi has also become quite interested in sun spot activity. The current sun spot cycle (Cycle 24) is producing as few spots as last experienced during the late 1700s and early 1800s. Importantly, sun spot forecasts have been reduced in recent years. The absence of sun spots appears to correlate with colder temperatures on the planet. That is best demonstrated by the chart in Exhibit 10. As shown by the data, the Maunder Minimum period from 1645 to 1710, when there was an absence of sun spots, just happened to coincide with the extremely cold winters experienced in Northern Europe during pre-industrialized times and is referred to as the “Little Ice Age.”

    What Mr. Bastardi shows in his video is how the sun spot forecast made by National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) scientists has changed over the past few years. We were not able to find both charts from his video, but we did uncover a similar chart showing the earlier sun spot forecast. That chart is contained in Exhibit 11. It shows that the NASA scientists expected that the sun

    Exhibit 10. Little Ice Age Coincides With Lack Of Sun Spots

    Source: Robert A. Rohde, Global Warming Art, Wikimedia Commons

    spot count would range between 90 on the low side and 140 on the high end, reflecting the peak number of sun spots to be observed during Cycle 24.

    Exhibit 11. Original Forecast Anticipated Normal Activity

    Source: NASA

    Sun spot cycles have demonstrated considerable variability during their life, ranging from as short as nine years in length to as long as 14 years. The average length of sun spot cycles is about 11 years. Exhibit 12 shows two pictures of the sun – the sun on the left has many sun spots while the one on the right has none. The left picture shows the Solar Maximum while the right picture shows the Solar Minimum. Today’s sun looks more like the Solar Minimum picture.

    The original sun spot forecast for Cycle 24 was issued in 2006 and it was recently revised and is shown in Exhibit 13. It now calls for a peak in the count to be somewhere around 85 with a low count of about 35. The central value is estimated to be 59, which is well

    Exhibit 12. Sun With And Without Spots

    Source: Windows2universe.org

    below the low end of the prior sun spot forecast of 90. In the video, while Mr. Bastardi discusses the fact that he believes the world is moving into a period of global cooling, he says he doesn’t believe in the sun spot theory completely because he doesn’t know enough about it and how it might be interacting with the other driving factors behind climate change. He doesn’t rule it out, either.

    Exhibit 13. Latest Sun Spot Forecast Is Much Lower

    Source: NASA

    Mr. Bastardi also mentions that in the early 1990s at the time of Glasnost, there were several scientific papers written by Russian astrophysicists arguing that the upcoming sun spot cycle (Cycle 24) might see the count fall to close to zero. These scientists, therefore, believed that the planet was heading into another “little ice age.” Mr. Bastardi disavows that forecast but acknowledges that there is “something going on that we haven’t seen before” and that it is happening “on the cold side, and not the warm side.” He points to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) that is producing the cooling Pacific Ocean waters and the La Niña weather pattern. There is also the dramatic drop in sun spot activity. He believes these natural forces are just as important to determining the future of the planet’s climate as carbon dioxide emissions and Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) factors. As Mr. Bastardi puts it in summing up the importance of the four drivers for the weather he just identified, “one of these Emperors has no clothes” and we will find out in the near future, which one it is. It will be interesting to see how much money is allocated in the Obama administration’s next budget proposal for research on global cooling.

    Musings: Meteorologists At A Loss to Explain The Winter Weather
    Parks Paton Hoepfl & Brown 2/3/2011
    URL: http://www.rigzone.com/news/article.asp?a_id=103811

    Another huge snowstorm moved through the mid-Atlantic and Northeast states last week, and forecasters are calling for more snow this week and possibly next. In New York City last Thursday, 19 inches of snow landed in Central Park. That snowfall brought the city’s January snowfall total to 36 inches, well above the 1925 record of 27.4 inches. The snowy winter has people upset because previous winters have not been so bad, although last year when a blizzard descended on Washington, D. C., President Obama was moved to describe the storm as a “snowmageddon.” He was quick to point out that his daughters didn’t quite understand why school was cancelled since in Chicago this was a normal winter experience.

    This winter has brought 51.5 inches of snow to Boston, easily topping the city’s winter average of 42.3 inches. The record snowfall for the city was experienced during the 1995-1996 winter when Boston was buried under 107 inches of snow. New York so far this winter has experienced 56 inches of snow, although its record was also experienced in 1995-1996 when 75 inches fell.

    Besides the dramatic snowfall records this winter, average temperatures also have been colder than normal. Importantly, the winter weather has impacted much more of the United States than normal. On January 11th, every state except Florida had snow on the ground, including Hawaii where there were seven inches atop the dormant volcano Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii. Slightly over 70% of the nation’s areal extent was snow covered that January day as shown in Exhibit 6.

    Exhibit 6. January 11, 2011, Shows Snow In 49 States

    Source: NOAA

    Recent media articles have focused on the altered weather pattern that has been impacting Northern Europe and North America along with the Arctic for the past two winters. As we have written about, the polar vortex, a weather pattern that influences the location and movement of the jet stream, seems to have shifted bringing the cold weather. When there is a strong pressure difference between the polar region and the middle latitudes of the planet, the jet stream, a wind pattern that moves from west to east and normally across Canada, shifts into a tight circle around the North Pole and contains the frigid winter air at the top of the world. When that pressure differential shrinks, the jet stream weakens and drifts southward bringing cold air into the middle latitudes (the United States and Europe) and allowing warm air to move into the polar region. This pattern shift has happened intermittently over many decades; however, it has been unusual for it to weaken as much as it has in recent winters. Last year, one index had the vortex hitting the lowest winter-time value since record-keeping began in 1865. It was nearly that low last December.

    Throughout the decade ending in the mid 1990s, the polar vortex was strengthening resulting in much warmer winters on average in Northern Europe and North America. This pattern led some climate change supporters to claim that global warming was responsible for the near end to traditional winter weather. Now that the pattern has reversed, and in a big way, climate change supporters are claiming that global warming is impacting the Arctic and is shrinking the Arctic sea ice cover, which contributes to the weakening of the pressure differential and the shift in the jet stream. Smarter climate change supporters are beginning to say it is too early to tell whether these weather changes are related to global warming, and certainly a two year timeframe is insufficient for overthrowing previous climate change theories dealing with the polar vortex.

    AccuWeather.com’s severe weather forecaster, Joe Bastardi, recently produced a video in which he offered an explanation for why his winter weather forecast missed the record snow and cold. He is both an entertaining and smart weather forecaster in our judgment. He firmly believes that natural forces help determine the weather and by seeking to find analog patterns in history is a way to understand the development and path of weather and storms.

    According to Mr. Bastardi, the changed weather pattern has a lot to do with La Niña, a weather pattern in the South Pacific Ocean that is associated with the cooling of the surface water and can alter the Northern Hemisphere’s wind patterns bringing cooler and wetter weather to the U.S. and the Atlantic Basin. Mr. Bastardi has found that when there are back-to-back La Niña years, temperatures across the United States get progressively cooler. If the La Niña period is then followed by an El Niño, winters get even colder. He bases his conclusions on looking at the analog years for back-to-back La Niña years such as were experienced in 1949-50, 1954-55, 1973-74, 1998-99 and 2007-2008. In his view, “something is going on that is bigger than we understand.”

    The original AccuWeather.com winter weather forecast for 2010-2011 called for winter to be focused primarily in the Midwest and Northeast. The severity of winter would be contested in the southern portion of these various states. It was expected that the southern tier of the U.S. would not experience much of a winter and that Florida would be warm.

    Exhibit 7. Original AccuWeather Winter Forecast

    Source: AccuWeather.com

    Unfortunately, Mr. Bastardi’s original forecast has proven to be way off base. The entire half of the country from the Plains states to the East Coast and south to the Gulf Coast has been treated to many ice and snow storms that have impacted and at times have paralyzed parts of the country, including disrupting the holiday travel plans for many Americans. The cold weather was so bad in December that it impacted the citrus crop in Florida with the resulting loss of fruit driving up orange juice futures and grocery store prices.

    Exhibit 8. Latest AccuWeather Winter Forecast

    Source: AccuWeather.com

    Atlanta, Georgia, has had 5.9 inches of snow so far this winter with two months still to go. That compares with the city’s record winter snowfall of 10.3 inches in 1982-1983. Both Georgia and Florida recorded their lowest average December temperatures on record last month. So far in January, 155 daily snowfall records have been broken. Most of the records were in the Northeast but they stretch south to Louisville, Kentucky, and Wilmington, North Carolina.

    The latest data for the Pacific Ocean show sea surface temperatures averaging 0.2o C cooler than the long-term average. Mr. Bastardi believes that since the Pacific Ocean is such a large body of water that when it cools the ocean sucks in much of the heat of the planet. This can lead to a cooler planet for an extended period of time as it will take a reversal of the weather cycle to warm the Pacific Ocean.

    Exhibit 9. PDO Cooling And Sucking In Planet Heat

    Source: AccuWeather.com

    Mr. Bastardi has also become quite interested in sun spot activity. The current sun spot cycle (Cycle 24) is producing as few spots as last experienced during the late 1700s and early 1800s. Importantly, sun spot forecasts have been reduced in recent years. The absence of sun spots appears to correlate with colder temperatures on the planet. That is best demonstrated by the chart in Exhibit 10. As shown by the data, the Maunder Minimum period from 1645 to 1710, when there was an absence of sun spots, just happened to coincide with the extremely cold winters experienced in Northern Europe during pre-industrialized times and is referred to as the “Little Ice Age.”

    What Mr. Bastardi shows in his video is how the sun spot forecast made by National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) scientists has changed over the past few years. We were not able to find both charts from his video, but we did uncover a similar chart showing the earlier sun spot forecast. That chart is contained in Exhibit 11. It shows that the NASA scientists expected that the sun

    Exhibit 10. Little Ice Age Coincides With Lack Of Sun Spots

    Source: Robert A. Rohde, Global Warming Art, Wikimedia Commons

    spot count would range between 90 on the low side and 140 on the high end, reflecting the peak number of sun spots to be observed during Cycle 24.

    Exhibit 11. Original Forecast Anticipated Normal Activity

    Source: NASA

    Sun spot cycles have demonstrated considerable variability during their life, ranging from as short as nine years in length to as long as 14 years. The average length of sun spot cycles is about 11 years. Exhibit 12 shows two pictures of the sun – the sun on the left has many sun spots while the one on the right has none. The left picture shows the Solar Maximum while the right picture shows the Solar Minimum. Today’s sun looks more like the Solar Minimum picture.

    The original sun spot forecast for Cycle 24 was issued in 2006 and it was recently revised and is shown in Exhibit 13. It now calls for a peak in the count to be somewhere around 85 with a low count of about 35. The central value is estimated to be 59, which is well

    Exhibit 12. Sun With And Without Spots

    Source: Windows2universe.org

    below the low end of the prior sun spot forecast of 90. In the video, while Mr. Bastardi discusses the fact that he believes the world is moving into a period of global cooling, he says he doesn’t believe in the sun spot theory completely because he doesn’t know enough about it and how it might be interacting with the other driving factors behind climate change. He doesn’t rule it out, either.

    Exhibit 13. Latest Sun Spot Forecast Is Much Lower

    Source: NASA

    Mr. Bastardi also mentions that in the early 1990s at the time of Glasnost, there were several scientific papers written by Russian astrophysicists arguing that the upcoming sun spot cycle (Cycle 24) might see the count fall to close to zero. These scientists, therefore, believed that the planet was heading into another “little ice age.” Mr. Bastardi disavows that forecast but acknowledges that there is “something going on that we haven’t seen before” and that it is happening “on the cold side, and not the warm side.” He points to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) that is producing the cooling Pacific Ocean waters and the La Niña weather pattern. There is also the dramatic drop in sun spot activity. He believes these natural forces are just as important to determining the future of the planet’s climate as carbon dioxide emissions and Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) factors. As Mr. Bastardi puts it in summing up the importance of the four drivers for the weather he just identified, “one of these Emperors has no clothes” and we will find out in the near future, which one it is. It will be interesting to see how much money is allocated in the Obama administration’s next budget proposal for research on global cooling.

  35. Cam_S says:

    Russell C says:
    February 3, 2011 at 10:06 am
    And the carbon footprint for flamethrowing (including committee meetings to study the matter and print reports) would be how big?

    —————

    This got me thinking…

    If one were to use flame throwers to melt snow, wouldn’t the extra carbon based fuels being burnt cause more global warming. And that, in turn, would cause more snow fall.

    Oh no! It’s a vicious cycle.

  36. Malaga View says:

    Let off some steam with the guys from Minnesotans From Global Warming

    http://www.minnesotansforglobalwarming.com/m4gw/videos/

  37. agimarc says:

    The one size fits all EPA clean water rules lead to some real bizzaro local solutions to the new costs. There is an EPA rule that waste treatment plants must remove 30% of organic waste from incoming sewage. This is a problem if your incoming water is very clean, as it is here in Anchorage. Around 20 years ago, the requirement was going to lead to a $135 million new treatment plant, which we couldn’t afford. So the local solution was to dump fish waste from commercial fishermen into the inbound stream so the existing treatment plant would meet the 30% requirement. EPA was just fine with that solution.

  38. cwj says:

    Most cities now do not treat stormwater runoff. There was a big effort starting in the 1970′s to separate storm sewers from the sanitary sewers, so while sanitary treatment plants now are more effective, stormwater is generally not treated.

    In the midwest, snow that has to be hauled off is generally piled a short distance from a creek (by EPA command). When it melts it has to run overland, which provides some removal of particulates, especially if the meltwater runs through grass. Most of the pollutants in urban stormwater are attached to particulates, or in oil which tends to attach to particulates, so the method has some beneficial effect.

    There is also a large quantity of general litter (paper and general garbage) in snow that is hauled from streets and parking lots. Piling snow by, rather than in a waterway is a simple expedient that allows the litter to be picked up easily after the snow is gone.

    In the late 1970′s the City of San Francisco (which had and has a combined system) examined the sources of heavy metals in its wastewater discharge. The largest source of heavy metals, inorganic greases and oils, and asbestos was stormwater runoff. The mass quantity of heavy metals in runoff was more than any industrial source.

  39. Curt says:

    I was at MIT for the blizzard of ’78, which dumped over 36″ of snow in one day in the city. Boston was shut down for an entire week, with the Army stationed at entrances to the city with orders to confiscate the cars of anyone trying to drive into the city without proper authorization. A month later, they still had dump trucks operating around the clock taking loads of snow out to suburban landfills.

    In those days, the Charles River was so filthy that the idea that dumping snow into/onto it could hurt its water quality was ludicrous. Attempts by MIT students to measure its depth with a plumb bob failed because the water just gradually thickened with depth — there was no “bottom” to find.

  40. Harry Bergeron says:

    Mayor Curley was spectacularly corrupt, even well before he became mayor.
    “The Last Hurrah” was based on his almost entertaining doings.
    http://is.gd/NFtWI9

  41. George E. Smith says:

    “”””” Well back to the deep oil drilling injunction.

    The oil industry was standing ready with pelnty of large tanker ships, so they could pump all that belching oil out of the water into those ships. After all, the oil industry were after that oil; weren’ they ?

    Well the problem was that lovely pristine oil was contaminated with sea ater. Well not to worry, oil floats on water, so as the oil settles to the bottom in the tankers, you simply put a hose down to the water, and pump the sea water, back into the sea. Eventuqally you will have a tanker pretty much full of fairly clean oil; and the small remaining sea water content, can be removed later when you start to process the oil/

    The FEDERAL GUMMINT prohibited the oil industry from doing that,because they said that the water pumped back into the dirty ocean where it came from,was contaminated with oil,(well like the ocean already was you see).

    Total imbeciles we have running the Federal Gummint. So all that valuable oil was simply lost. The profit from it could have paid the entire cost of the cleanup. We need some adult supervision in the Nation’s Capitol.

  42. Gayle says:

    Large parking lots and malls in northern states used to utilize incinerator pits to deal with snow. I don’t know exactly how they worked because their use was halted for environmental reasons (contaminated runoff) before I was old enough to see them in action. The mall near our house in Lincoln, NE had one – just a big concrete pit to dump the snow in and a big gas-fired burner of some sort.

  43. Grant from Calgary says:

    Gigantic Orbital mirrors. Simple. /(sarc on simple)
    But truly a reasonable solution if SpaceX builds the F-XX when compared to snow removal budgets for a city.

  44. Baa Humbug says:

    The problem seems to be in locating land to store the snow until natural melting.

    I may have a solution that would be fair to all on both sides of the AGW debate. /sarc on

    All the snow collected should be dumped on the properties of AGW alarmists and their supporters, as in “here, have your Global Warming.”

    During summer heatwaves, all the heat should be collected and dumped on the properties of sceptics and their supporters, as in “here, have your Global Cooling

    People can nominate and register as an alarmist or sceptic. Would be fair allround.

  45. Darren Parker says:

    The Australian Aborigines set the bushland on fire to hold back the Glaciers. (see The Book of Wirrun for more amazing historical tales from the Australian Aborgines whose history dates back over 40,000 years)

  46. ImranCan says:

    The obvious problem with trying to melt the snow is that, if the temperature is below 32F, the water will just refreeze and turn the city into a giant ice rink. Brilliant idea.

  47. Theo Goodwin says:

    “snow dragons, which are pricey machines capable of melting, filtering, and safely disposing of 30 tons of snow per hour. ”

    That machine is moving fast. It takes a lot of ground to hold 30 tons of snow.

  48. Don says:

    “People can nominate and register as an alarmist or sceptic. Would be fair allround.”

    I would switch my allegience at each equniox.

  49. Gary Hladik says:

    Snowmobiles!

  50. cwj says:

    I would really (actually really) like to see an analysis of the relative costs of melting vs hauling snow. I’m sure there would have to be some discussion of the efficiency of heat input into the snow vs the length of haul. Possibly some discussion of the costs of using a backhoe to pile the snow higher as I have seen done in this area. Land rent could be a factor, but farmland might be had cheap when frozen. Though compaction from the weight of the snow could be an issue.

    All my training in construction engineering is over 40 years old and so is all my data. Besides it’s in some box somewhere in the basement, so I’d have to get all that information all over again, considering the number of boxes in my basement.

    OK well, what it comes down to is: I’d like someone with more current knowledge to do the analysis and provide enough information that I could play with the numbers.

  51. mike g says:

    @ Deborah

    I suspect your local utility would be happy to pay for the pavement heaters and their installation if you agree to run them so many nights a year. That should give you an idea of how viable your idea is.

    Kind of like the local gas company giving and installing free pool heaters to anyone who wants one down her in south Alabama. I had a friend take them up on that deal. His first bill for heating his pool for a December weekend was over $1000.

  52. mike g says:

    Seriously? The snow is allowed to melt naturally and flow into the Charles River, picking up more contaminants as it flows, but cannot be dumped there?

    I suggest the city of Boston simply ignore any federal prohibitions against the practice and pay the fines. How expensive can it be? The city of Atlanta has been sending raw sewage south in the Chattahoochee River since forever because it’s cheaper than upgrading its sewage system to keep pace with growth.

    How can Atlanta get away with dumping raw sewage and Boston can’t get away with dumping snow?

  53. wayne says:

    A lot of soot on top does wonders when you have

  54. Deborah says:

    Thanks Mike G, but I don’t ask anybody to pay for anything for myself. I do fine without subsidies. And as for the viability of my idea, I’m not heating a pool in December up to 80 degrees… I’d be heating a driveway up to 35 degrees in the winter. Just a few degrees above freezing should be enough to help dislodge the ice from my driveway and keep my truck (yes, full size at that) from bottoming out from the extra curb height left behind from the city plows going by.

  55. Don V says:

    I saw a news program this evening that gave interesting information about how Chicago plans on dealing with all their snow. Apparently they use these big yellow boxes that have jet engines screaming into them, and they use front end loaders to dump snow into them. They called them “snow melters”, and they show one in action. The snow melts and goes down the storm sewers at O’Hare. Here is the video:

    http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=7938188

    I wonder what the urban heat island effect 15 of these have on the “official temperature” kept at O’Hare?

  56. Atomic Hairdryer says:

    I’ll happily take funding (and lots of it) to put my name into development for dealing with the problem of stubborn snow. Just need a small reactor and a large fan. Worried about impending ice ages and advancing glaciers? No problem, fixed installations could also be provided.

  57. John Marshall says:

    Good idea until you realize that the snow melts then refreezes where it does the most damage.

  58. pkatt says:

    So if Arctic ice reflects solar energy back into space and keeps the oceans from absorbing heat (heard that somewhere) Does snow on the ground in do the same thing for land?

  59. Jim says:

    The picture is a fake, we all know that Gore gets his masseuses to do his dirty work.

  60. Roger says:

    Clearly we need to compress all the piles of snow into blocks of ice and transport them to the Himalayas to restore the glaciers there. /sarc

    Even better, we could send it all to the Arctic to keep it from going ice free in the next few years. That would probably be cheaper than a lot of Al Gore’s ‘global warming’ schemes.

  61. Nonoy Oplas says:

    Anthony, I used the above picture in another weekend fun re Al Gore cartoons, http://funwithgovernment.blogspot.com/2011/02/weekend-fun-8-al-gore-cartoons-c.html. Thank you.

  62. Rickvid in Seattle says:

    So, how much snow did fall in 1948?

  63. bob paglee says:

    The Sun, in heating my black asphalt driveway does the trick if I just remove most of the white stuff that sends the Sun’s helping rays right back. When I had it retopped with new blacker asphalt a few years ago, I made them dig out a couple of inches on both sides of the old driveway surface to get nice new straight edges, so the driveway is now about 4 inches wider than before. This has doubtless caused my local urban heat ialand’s temperature to increase, and helped GISS to promote its flawed graph of increasing global temperature as measured by improperly sited land-based thermometers. I should be ashamed, but GISS should be more so!

  64. Amino Acids in Meteorites says:

    The Al Gore action figure. “He’ll make global warming one way or another!”

  65. Amino Acids in Meteorites says:

    Mr. Trenberth, are you looking for that missing warmth global warming?

  66. Mike says:

    I have lived on snow and ice. Tire chains. It’s a little bit of work, but it’s not a mystery.

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