NOAA Newsflash – It was cold this winter!

Verifying what we’ve already known from news reports and global metrics (it was a cooler than expected winter nationwide and worldwide) NOAA just issued a press release saying that we had the 54th coolest Winter since records began in 1895.

In the contiguous United States, the average winter temperature was 33.2°F (0.6°C), which was 0.2°F (0.1°C) above the 20th century average – yet still ranks as the coolest since 2001. It was the 54th coolest winter since national records began in 1895.

With 113 complete years of records, 54th would put it slightly below the mean position of 56.5. While there was a lot of worldwide cold and snow events, the map of the USA shows that much of the southeast had a very mild winter, which fits with the kind of pattern seen with La Nina.


Click for larger image

NOAA also has detailed analyses of January 2008 and February 2008 available online. January came in 49th coolest on record, and February came in at xx coolest. I say that since NOAA didn’t offer a similar “coolest” comparison for Feburary, opting instead to highlight the “54th coolest winter” in the February 2008 analysis. But NOAA did say:

February was 61st warmest in the contiguous U.S. and 15th warmest globally on record.

I wonder why they switched descriptions from “49th coolest” one month to “61st warmest” the next?

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March 13, 2008 6:01 pm

Here in Australia we`ve just had a cold summer – but watch this space !!
Southern Australia is in a late heatwave. The city of Adelaide has just had 11 days straight of +35degrees (95F) Today and the next 4 days are all forecast to be 38+ (over 100). Melbourne is heading for a week of this too.
I`ll bet you this will make world news ahead of any cold spells !

ranier of salisbury
March 13, 2008 6:28 pm

As a frequent reader, but never a poster until now, I observe Lee hasn’t had a positive thing to say about anything or anybody so far. Maybe some preemptive trashing would fit his style. Go for it Lee!

March 13, 2008 6:30 pm

It was a wierd winter here in NC. January was officially “normal”, but we had several days of near record heat (~70 F), countered by several days of it not getting out of the 30s. I pass by a small lake on teh way to work every day and 1 week there was ice on it every morning. That’s actually pretty rare here.
Feb started out very cold, but ended up overall a little above normal.
Overall it was one of the cooler winters I’ve had in my back yard in the past several years. Last year on New Years, the wife and I built a porch. In T-shirts and shorts.
Overall, I’d say NOAA missed the farq out of this winter:
While Icecap pretty much nailed it:
Nice job Joe!

Roger Carr
March 13, 2008 6:54 pm

DK: I’m living that Melbourne weather you mention. Crikey! it’s hot.
And so around the chorus ran
“It’s keepin’ dry, no doubt.”
“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“Before the year is out.”

March 13, 2008 7:27 pm

Roger, DK
Sounds like a Wattsup hotspot here in Melbourne!

March 13, 2008 9:37 pm

the average winter temperature was 33.2°F (0.6°C), which was 0.2°F (0.1°C) above the 20th century average – yet still ranks as the coolest since 2001.
Imagine how cold it would have been without NOAA’s thumb on the scale.

March 14, 2008 1:04 am

I have been graphing the data, trending it, measuring its variance. The dramatic cooling trend of the last few months does not yet constitute significant evidence against the hypothesis that the world is warming steadily and consistently at about 0.2 degrees centigrade per decade.
If, however, the hypothesis proposed in “the chilling stars” is correct, and if the solar wind remains dead, and the solar sunspot cycle inactive, as is looking increasingly probable, then we should expect the present trend to continue for several years, in which case it is soon going to get surprisingly cold.
So we don’t yet have evidence. We might soon have evidence.
If solar hypothesis correct, there is a good chance for world temperatures to fall about a degree or half a degree a year for the next four years or so, and then stay down for several decades.
The evidence may be in soon. It is not in yet.

Bob B
March 14, 2008 2:41 am

Hansen’ GISS temp shows the coldest since 1994. Anthony maybe you can do an analysis for DJF between the 4 datasets?
REPLY: Only three months? Cherry picking! HORRORS! 😉

Bob B
March 14, 2008 3:56 am

It;s a data point. You seem to be getting picked up by the Drudge report a lot. So your posts go along side the AGW cherry picking to balance it out.

March 14, 2008 4:42 am

The NOAA chart is just plain wrong!
In southeastern Michigan where I live, the average temperature for February was just over 5° F BELOW AVERAGE.
February was one of the coldest in memory and I am over 60. It was also one of the snowiest.
Just where is NOAA coming up with their data?
This is an image of our data for February:

John Willit
March 14, 2008 5:03 am

A 0.6C decline in temperatures over a year and it is just “natural climate variability.”
A 0.6C increase in temperatures (just for certain periods of time that is) since 1978 and it is global warming – obviously not climate variability.
Obviously, we need to more clearly define “natural climate variability.”

March 14, 2008 5:59 am

Its said that people in finance play trends. Look at the trends, see anything? If not – gravy – if so, smashed potatoes.

March 14, 2008 6:23 am

What is interesting is down near the Bottom of the NOAA page.
“February Temperature Highlights
February was 61st warmest in the contiguous U.S. and 15th warmest globally on record.”
Why is there such a huge discrepancy between the US and Global rankings?
Is global warming only occuring outside the US? Or more likely, the global records don’t show the high temp peaks that were experienced during the 30’s and 40’s. Which this is an interesting point, given that much of the global temp data from that time period is based upon estimates, rather than actual temp readings.
if you look at the GISS global temp charts:
And compare that to the US temp charts:
In comparing those, Dr. Hansen’s global temps only reflect about a -.2 C drop in temp between 1940 and 1970.
This is very interesting, because looking back at the infamous 1975 Newsweek article on “The Cooling World’ shows a temp drop of about .65 degrees during that period of time. So what happened to the global temp data for that period between then and now?

March 14, 2008 7:26 am

In other words, a year of weather which fits with the models of global climate change. I would italicize “weather” and ‘climate” but can’t figure out how to do it. . . .

David S
March 14, 2008 8:17 am

My appologies if this is a bit off-topic.
It seems that the global warming debate which has certainly entered the realm of politics may now also enter the court system. “The founder of the Weather Channel wants to sue Al Gore for fraud, hoping a legal debate will settle the global-warming debate once and for all.” Story at :,2933,337710,00.html
This is an interesting idea. It may be the best way to bring about a real debate on the AGW theory.

March 14, 2008 8:37 am

That tiny little twig is not sturdy enough to hold you up, fatfinch. Better start flapping your little wings if you want to avoid the maws of the cold and hungry wolves.

March 14, 2008 9:04 am

No Sunspots- Sun Still Quiet
Again this week Sunspot activity has been next to (if not at) zero. This quiet has persisted for the entire month and according to reports, it may continue for some time to come.
The NOAA ‘low view’ is projecting Sunspot activity to be at zero …

Bob B
March 14, 2008 9:26 am

RE, No sunspots
The Stereo behind images show sunspots to appear soon

March 14, 2008 9:27 am

Boy I’ll say it was cold!
When was the last time arctic sea ice grew 11,000,000 sq. km. over one winter?

March 14, 2008 10:36 am

Again, CA is slow / down. DOS attack / hacking? In response to outing of Tamino’s nonsense?
REPLY: I’m doing a restart now. I’ll see what the logs say.

March 14, 2008 11:20 am

Anthony, one thing that stands out to me on the PDO graphic is that the previous warm period looks to be at least 40 years long (cut off before 1900). It might be that the warm phases are longer than the cool phases and that the switch won’t happen for quite some time now.

Bill in Vigo
March 14, 2008 11:39 am

I was just thinking. I know it hurts my little brain but we had 3 minor snow events here in NE Alabama this year. The last time we had measurable snow was 2000. We didn’t have any temps at my location below 12f but we had many mornings below 32f more than I can remember since I moved here in July 97. In that length of time I can only remember 2 other snow events.
I have only started to keep temp and precip records in the last 6 months but will start to make comparisons soon.
I am looking forward to some of them. We in the Southeast are supposed to have had a mild winter but we have had good rain.\
some thoughts

March 14, 2008 12:37 pm

To italicize, use the start italics <i> and stop italics </i> commands:
<i>Italicize me</i>
Italicize me
To make a hyperlink:
<a href=""&gt; Watts Up? </a>
Watts Up?
Save this on your PC. It works on many blogs and improves readability for others.

March 14, 2008 12:48 pm

The USA versus RoW difference was mostly a NH versus SH difference, which largely dissapeared in February as the SH ‘caught up’ with the NH cooling.
BTW, the current ‘record heatwave; in Australia is restricted to a smallish area of the south coast and is due to heavy rains across the interior.

March 14, 2008 1:34 pm

Colder than average: Isn’t that what we should expect from global “warming,” when additional energy in the atmosphere gives higher highs, and lower lows?

March 14, 2008 5:56 pm

Thank you Arthur. We saved it. Or, should I say, We saved it./i>
Plus we can add our blog link: fatfinch

Roger Carr
March 14, 2008 6:27 pm

Philip_B: BTW, the current ‘record heatwave; in Australia is restricted…”
And being right in that designated hot-spot (the sound of the F1 cars limbering up for tomorrow’s first race of the season at Albert Park filtering through the window) leaves much to be desired. Oh to be in England… or America…

March 14, 2008 6:40 pm

The arguments have been made that we should expect many more extreme high temperature records, but that hasn’t really been the case in the U.S. for the past decade. Therefore, the argument has been made that we should be experiencing higher low temperatures, but that hasn’t been happening for the past decade.
Now GW apologists are saying that bitterly cold weather with a lot of snow is the result of global warming.
It seems that if there is a contra-indicator to warming, it must be caused by warming… because it must be warming.
I suggest you go over to Climate Science and read what Roger Pielke has published recently… to wit: global warming should be indicated by an increased frequency of high temperature records. Cold is, indeed, a contra-indicator to warming.

March 15, 2008 1:22 am

Global warming isn’t about very high highs and very low lows, it’s about very slightly higher lows and slightly less than imperceptibly higher highs.

March 15, 2008 6:13 am

Re: Temperature records
A running average of record high – record low temperature records (for each calendar day or day in each month) for a selected set of stations would make an interesting metric with lots of data points. In the stock market this kind of metric is considered a measure of recent momentum up or down.
Any ideas where the data could be sourced from?

March 15, 2008 7:24 am

Like I’ve said before, I really want to see an analysis of just the lows. I want to see every data point thrown out except the data points immediately preceded and followed by a higher temperature. Take that and then perform an analysis.

March 15, 2008 11:59 am

This article in Climate Science explains what high temperatures are the only important metric in establishing whether long-term warming is occurring:
Furthermore, over the past decade in the U.S., almost no new statewide monthly high records have been established.
True, some daily record high temperatures have been established, but many of them are tying old records set decades ago. NOAA takes away records previously established and credits the most recent year with the record in the event of ties.

steven mosher
March 15, 2008 6:12 pm

Philip B. You can get daily data from ushcn or ghcn.
if google is not your friend then write again and I’ll hunt up the direct linakge
for you

Gary Gulrud
March 16, 2008 9:11 am

“Science is being savaged, by people who claim to be scientists.”
I second Kim’s eloquent assessment.

Alan D. McIntire
March 16, 2008 1:15 pm

I became aware of the “record” problem when I was a freshman at a relatively new high school, only 4 years old when I started attending. Naturally, there were a lot of school records being set each year in various sports. The first year, there’s automatically going to be a new school record in every event measured. Assuming a relatively constant number and relative ability of students each year, the second year about half of the old records will be broken, the third year about 1/3 of the records will be broken, and now that my old high school is about 40 years old, only about 2 1/2 % of school records will be broken in a year. In general, the precentage of records being broken is proportional to the logarithm of the time period.
If temperature records in the US go back to 1880, roughly 1 in 128 should be broken each year. For a given date, roughly 1 in (128 *365) or 1 in 46,720 should be broken for each date of the year, assuming no trends. With a warming trend, new highs should be somewhat more frequent than that, with a cooling trend, less frequent than that.
Here I’m guessing, but I suppose the number of new records with a constantly increasing temperature trend should be rougly proportional to
time / (1 – (T/SD))
where SD is the standard deviation in temperature
from year to year, say about 0.1 degrees, and
T is the linear trend fit, say 0.01 degrees per year.
In my example, if the world was warming up at 1C per century, and the standard deviation in temperature is 0.1 C per year, you’d expect 10/9
as many records as the logarithmic prediction.
With constantly decreasing temperatures, again
given the above figures, you’d get only 9/10 as many new highs as a strictly logarithmic projection-
Since the real climate shows increasing from 1880 to 1940, decreasing from 1940 to about 1970, and increasing again from about 1970 to 2000, fudge factor adustments for new records will be slightly more complex than that.

March 18, 2008 7:14 am

Somone who knows more than me check out this ENSO forecast:
If I read this correctly, we’re forecast to have La Nina all year. Yes/no?

Gary Gulrud
March 18, 2008 8:58 am

MattN: I’m no expert (Kristen B. may well be, see the La Nina thread sticking around thread) but these ENSO forecasts seem to be ‘for jollies’. Kristen indicated that the warming off S. America is seasonal and La Nina will regain momentum next fall.

March 22, 2008 10:42 pm

I became aware of the “record” problem when I was a freshman at a relatively new high school, only 4 years old when I started attending.
Wow, you were quite the advanced young tot!

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