Tibet's 'worst snowstorm ever', 7 killed

More harbinger of the Northern Hemisphere winter to come?

 A bulldozer cleans snow on the Sichuan-Tibet road in Nyingchi, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region Oct. 30, 2008.

A bulldozer cleans snow on the Sichuan-Tibet road in Nyingchi, southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region Oct. 30, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)

LHASA, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) — The death toll has risen to seven, and one person remains missing, as a result of the worst snowstorm on record in Tibet, local authorities said Thursday.

The seven people killed either frozen to death or were crushed by collapsing buildings. About 144,400 heads of livestock died in the storm, which also knocked out telecommunications and traffic in parts of Shannan prefecture.

In Lhunze County, 1,348 people stranded by damaged buildings or blocked roads had been rescued, the county government said. Rescue operation for the remaining 289 trapped was still underway.

The worst-hit county had 36 consecutive hours of snowfall from Sunday, with an average snow coverage of 1.5 meters. Four people died and one remained missing in the snowstorm.

The rescued people have been moved to other villages, sleeping in schools or government buildings.

A road linking Lhunze to Cuona County reopened on Thursday after 63 hours of snow clearing efforts of armed policemen and transportation staff.

Cuona had been isolated from the outside for three days due to the road blockage.

The Tibet regional civil affairs department has allocated relief materials such as clothes and tents to the affected areas.

h/t to Dr. Roger Pielke


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Leon Brozyna

If Tibet can’t handle a little snow and cold, what’s the outlook for the rest of us? Warmer weather is kinder weather; bring on global warming any day. Consider the alternative.


In the top right corner of the photo you can see the CO2-laden exhaust coming out of bulldozer as it clears the snow. Classic.

doug janeway

It’s going to be a cold, cold winter for the northern hemisphere. Brrr.


That’s just great. I’m due to go to Tibet in a couple of weeks.

Perry Debell

The BBC is ignoring this, for now. 07-58 am UK time.

Neil Jones

Live it up! It’s going to be a loooong winter


I don’t understand this nonsense post’s about snow in this blog. Weather is different than climate.
For example, this snow storm in Tibet was fueled with a lot of moisture from a tropical cyclone in north Indian ocean. Another example, in Alpes last days there was a big snow accumulation for the date. But just a few days before there was a strong positive temperature anomaly in Alpes. This kind of posts are just that, nonsense madness, to excite the crowd. Even Al Gore with all its exaggerations and misrepresentations looks like a saint compared to this stuff.
REPLY: Listen up Jonas, and everyone else because I’m getting weary of having to explain this every time I post a weather event.
1. I’m a former TV meteorologist. Weather is my life. This blog has a long history of posting about weather events.
2. If I was on TV right now, I’d run video of this. It is a normal day for any TV weather report to show video of interesting or unusual weather around the world.
3. I said not one word about climate in the short one sentence intro. You are the one who thinks the post is about climate.
4. The post is categorized “weather”. Not climate, not politics, not Al Gore, and I take exception to your “nonsense” comparison of my reprinting a news story from Xinhua news agency to Al Gore fabrications. If I made an animated video of polar bears wandering the Gobi Desert, then you might have a case.
5. If you don’t like reading about weather events, find another blog to read, but don’t heap this rhetoric on me again simply because I report about weather. Read the masthead: “Commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, technology, and recent news by Anthony Watts”
To make it clearer, I’ve now edited the masthead to add weather and climate change to the list of items discussed.
Anthony Watts

Les Francis

Josh, comment at 22:18:50,
That would probably be Carbon Monoxide coming out of the exhaust (not CO2) a far deadlier gas. (Has been known to be used in suicides)

CPT. Charles

I see a disturbing consistency here…this harken’s back to the early ’08 storms that hit China proper [I would give you all links, but my best resource site has wussed out and scaled back posting ‘negative’ stories involving China…]. Those storms caused considerable havoc…collapsing homes, power outages, and a later storm that stranded millions [4.5+] just before their Lunar New Year.
While the storm event is remarkable [1m+ snowfall], it says as much about China [construction standards and infrastructure] as it does about the current state of the climate. If we head into a global cooling phase, countries like China [and the region in general…], configured for milder climate, will face considerable problems.
This will not bode well for China, or it’s southern neighbors. As this is a climate science site, I’ll leave it at that. Climate-driven geopolitical dynamics, as fascinating and scary as that subject can be, should be discussed elsewhere.

Jonas (03:56:53) :
“I don’t understand this nonsense post’s about snow in this blog. Weather is different than climate.”
If you look at the second line from the top of this page you will read “Commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, technology, and recent news by Anthony Watts.” It seems to me this post fits that mission statement inasmuch as there is are claims of “worst snowstorm on record in Tibet” and “144,400 heads of livestock died”. You are the first person to use the word climate in a reply, please administer one dope slap to yourself at your earliest convenience
“For example, this snow storm in Tibet was fueled with a lot of moisture from a tropical cyclone in north Indian ocean.”
Thank you for that addition, feel free to cancel the dope slap. I had only seen the comment (see my post in http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/10/30/chill-in-the-air-part-2-us-breaks-or-ties-115-of-cold-and-sets-63-new-snowfall-records/ ) “The wet season for Tibet is generally March to September, so should be soon coming to an end.”


Jonas (03:56:53) : says,
I don’t understand this nonsense post’s about snow in this blog. Weather is different than climate. This kind of posts are just that, nonsense madness, to excite the crowd.
I think you miss the point, remember the flooding in china which was headlined all over the globe, the BBC made a meal of it, this level of monsoon rain which was NOT unprecedented is also just weather but it is used by the AGW fanatics to promote global warming, reporting this WORST EVER snowstorm just levels the playing a little and indicates that these events are just weather and nothing to do with AGW which does NOT exist.

Patrick Henry

Parts of Alaska may well have just had the coldest October on record. Look at the temperature record for Fairbanks. High temperatures are generally below the normal low.
Governor Palin cringed in the debates when she was asked about global warming. Most likely the result of being coerced by McCain people into incorporating his flawed belief system into her answers.

Bruce Cobb

Jonas: Even Al Gore with all its exaggerations and misrepresentations looks like a saint compared to this stuff.
Seriously? You must have exceedingly powerful AGW blinders on for Al Gore to look like a saint. What “exaggerations and misrepresentations” with regard to this posting are you even talking about?
Like zombies, the AGWer trolls come here, repeating their pet phrases like “weather is not climate”, hoping against hope as their AGW religion crumbles around them, to turn a few more humans (climate realists) into non-thinking zombies. Fortunately, science and the truth are on our side.

Feeding the trolls bears only encourages them to raid the garbage bins more frequently.

Patrick Henry

My prediction for October – UAH will come in below September at about +0.10.

Steven Hill

Al Gore was right again……Global Warming = snow, snow, snow and more ice.
165 records were broke the other night for cold in the US, it’s global warming at it’s best.

anna v

I take exception to the dictum “weather is not climate”.
Weather is an instantaneous sampling of climate, i.e. all its measures should be within ( lets be statistical) 2sigma of the values given by climate. When it is very far off the scale of climate, one could, in principle calculate how probable/improbable this manifestation is.
Otherwise “climate” has no meaning. Thus the answer to comments “weather is not climate” when an unusual manifestation is reported is that one is not reporting the weather event per se, but how low a probability it represents.
When I was in grade school, back in the late 1940’s we learned that the climate of Greece was temperate. Climate was characterized as humid, dry, “continental”, i.e. very cold in winter/ very hot in summer ( Russia for example), tropical,etc.
The past year I have seen that a lot of classification progress has been made since then.
We are currently having in Athens, Greece, a very mild beginning of November, warm and humid, no rain for a month, temperatures 16 night to 26 in the day. Unusual? No. It has a folk name: donkey summer.


Let’s all give Jonas some credit for this: “Even Al Gore, with all its exaggerations and misrepresentations”. You are catching on Jonas. Now, what were you saying? Was his Nobel noble? Did his documentary deserve an Oscar?

Patrick Henry

Climate modelers have gone back and forth between forecasting that Northern Europe will burn or freeze as a result of global warming. The current “climate” thinking seems to depend on the current “weather.”
El Nino is climate. La Nina is weather. Heat waves are climate. Cold spells are weather. Hurricane intensity is now measured by the amount of coverage on cable news, which is considerably larger than 50 years ago.


The AGW true believers cannot stand for weather to be discussed unless they can manipulate it into supporting their apocalyptic faith.
That a true believer can now contain the two ideas- Gore is a liar and AGW is still happening is an improvement, however. We may get through this cascade without destroying the world economy and damaging the environment even more.


The definition of ‘climate’
1. The prevailing ‘weather’ conditions in a particular region
2. A region having certain ‘weather’ conditions ie; lives in a cold climate.
To say weather isn’t climate is like saying milk isn’t dairy.

Douglas DC

As we speak here in NE Oregon,I am waiting for the first big snow of the Season.
(Fall) putting studs on today. I am expecting another hard winter…

Bruce Cobb

Patrick: El Nino is climate. La Nina is weather. Heat waves are climate. Cold spells are weather. Hurricane intensity is now measured by the amount of coverage on cable news, which is considerably larger than 50 years ago.
And when all else fails, they can always blame it on “climate chaos”, the mother of all AGW ideology phrases. The more they lie, the more they have to lie to cover up the lies. Oh, what a tangled web they weave.


Why would it be a harbinger? According to the satellites through Sept (and it would take a nearly unprecedented fall to change in Oct), the Northern Hemisphere temperatures are above normal. Maybe we could get a post on the heat waves in the Northern Plains, western Russia, and Greenland? Really, the only thing climatologically interesting about the eastern US, London and this snowfall is that the long-wave pattern is very amplified at the moment.
REPLY: Point me to a news article, such as the one from Xinhua I posted here, and I’ll put it up for discussion. – Anthony

Tom in Florida

Climate vs weather.
This layman’s view is that climate describes the general range of weather one can expect in an area. It does not exclude extremes of weather on a very short term basis. Weather is the description of the current conditions.


Douglas DC don’t get over excited this winter could go two ways right now:
1. The East Coast and Mid-West will have a hard, cold winter.
2. There will be a trough in the PNW and the East with a ridge in the middle giving the east coast and the PNW a harsh winter.
To Jonas,
Apparently someone didn’t pay attention in science class. If you knew anything about how weather and climate work then you’d know that weather events can signal large-scale changes that are slowly taking place with the climate.


Jonas (03:56:53).
There is always positive an negative temperature anomalies. Local anomalies isn’t that interresting. Annual temperature anomalies for larger areas are more interresting, as well as monthly temperature anomalies for the whole earth is interresting for those interresting in temperature change — often called climate change (one definition of CLIMATE is 100 years of average weather).
Interresting due to the linked 2007 news article about lack of snow in the Alps is *not* any single temperature anomaly but the fact that snow didn’t melt much this summer and rapidly increases in the Alps. This makes the article looks like crap, and any article written as the lie anthropogenic global warming is real I think should be highlighted as crap!

Mary Hinge

Mangan (11:17:06) :
“Local anomalies isn’t that interresting.”
They are if you live where those anomolies are happening!

Frank. Lansner

Its true that there has been warmth in sep-oct all the way from eastern europe over Siberia to northern China. This warmth period as last yeat apeared when very big areas of the arctic was ice free and heat from the upper layers of the arctic ocean then was released to the atmosphere.
Even though this has kept huuuge areas of Siberia etc warm, global temperatures has not risen enourmesly, just a little in sep-oct. This is because of all the cold we see elsewhere: West europe, Africa, southern Asia, over many oceans, Ecpecially in the south, near Antarctica. Also South america, Latin america has been cold in the period.
A little black/white: The cold evidence we see appears to me to be the real news, because the warmth over Siberia is probably most due to the thinner ice/the polar hole that originates from events happening in previous years, thin ice etc. The thin ice from 2007 (originating from winds, AMO etc) dictated that more would melt this year and thus that we would have a warm siberia. The news is that most of the rest of the world is cooling.
The heat lost from the polar sea is lost on the longer term, so its just a short sighted event too.
What very very interesting now is, the the polar hole is closed, Siberia is switching from warmt to cold very rapidly, see:
Europe: http://wxmaps.org/pix/temp4.html
China: http://wxmaps.org/pix/temp5.html
Compare first coming weeks with next coming weeks
Do this for Africa, Southerns asia etc too
Actualy, the topitc of the thread here, the Tibet storm in principle could be a result of this switch WARMER than usual to COLDER than usual over short period?
Anyway Fred, i think we will see that the real news is eminent cooling now, and i believe now that La Nina starts in the pacific too, we will see temperatures within 6 months that goes colder than anything we have seen in 2008, globaly. But yes, that is just my personal view, correct.


Mary Hinge: “[Local anomalies are interresting] if you live where those anomolies are happening!”
Phew! In a thread before I showed you proof that your words [are incorrect], and you repeated the [incorrect statement] instead of argued my answers, and this argument must be the most [incorrect] I’ve seen after Jonas criticism that Watts information isn’t interresting to people in general.
You suggest that positive and negative temperature anomalies in the Alps shall be reported becasuse weather is interresting for those who lives there!
Actually Jonas criticized Anthony for posting things which isn’t interresting in a climate context, and he used temperature anomalies as an example of something similar (but not so interresting) in the opposite direction.
So what do you mean when you argue that local temperature anomalies are relevant issues for Anthomy’s blog? (Anthony’s post about loads of extreme temperature records occuring was interresting though.)
All I say (to Jonas; your comment I don’t understand) is that snow and ice is relevant in a climate debate context where lack of snow alarmist articles like this are published:
[REPLY – A bit of restraint is called for. Besides, it enhances effect. ~ Evan]

Frank. Lansner

Here the development of Siberia temperatures over 3 weeks. This will have quite an effect on global temperatures:


Anthony – you don’t have to use any of these as they are getting dated already, but they are examples of things that were going on at the same time as the NY/NJ/PA and London snowfalls. And while I can understand your frustration with comments such as from Jonas, you have to realize that a large majority of your “weather” posts are about colder than normal events (just check October’s entries under the “weather” category). That really blurs the line between the climate change skeptic part of your blog, and what you perceive or intend to be just the weather entries.
Moscow’s warmest October on record:
(maybe UHI?)
Here’s a couple of human-interest type stories about the heat in the SW US:
Melting candy could be problem in Valley this Halloween
Halloween high of 92 will make the going gooey

Douglas — the Oregon Department of Transportation is requiring Sno Park permits 2 weeks earlier this year in an attempt to recoup some of last year’s costs when record snowfall forced ODOT to spend $7 million over its budget for snow removal on state highways and Sno-Park areas.

anna v

Fred (12:42:50) :
Well, as human interest stories I would not rate melting candy with 90F on the same balance with 7 deaths from 1.5 meters of snow, or road accidents from early snowfall.
As I said above the degree of deviation of the local weather sampling from the climate of the region is what makes it worthy of notice. I would not think that warmth in the SW of the US is so much different of average temperatures for the time and the region. It is not a binary system.

Adam Soereg

AGW again, it can’t be anything else…
Why global warming was rebranded to climate change some years ago? You can blame climate change for anything, any type of extreme weather, including severe cold snaps or snowstorms. In the case of global warming you can’t do that, no one will accept any association between catastrophic warming and a heavy snowstorm.
Unfortunately, this will give a “wonderful” opportunity for the media to use all unusual (or extreme) weather events for spreading fear about an oncoming “climate apocalypse”.

Adam Soereg

Maybe one of the greatest evidence for this rebranding campaign can be seen on Google Trends: Search volume for global warming is decreasing slightly since early 2007, while ä href=”http://www.google.com/trends?q=climate+change&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0″>climate change is still steady.

Frank. Lansner

Fred, the Moscow warm i have explained above.
Fred: What is your quest?
You know that the whole media spectra is hyping every possible and impossible kind of warming news or warming event.
Why on earth do you have a problem when there is a blog that tries to focus on the cool events too??????
If you want equality in the media, GOGOGO and make the rest of the media present the COOL events too.
If you succeed, there will no longer be need for theese blogs, and many of us can use our time differently. You would be a hero.


This is O.T. but take a look at http://www.climate-uk.com/index.html where the Central England Temperature average for October has just been published at 9.7C, that is -0.7C off the long term average. It’s freezing in Scotland too – the Pink footed Geese are heading south in numbers!

Perry Debell

Being an erudite Englishman, the first thing that caught my eye was the gormless phrase “Weather is different than climate.”
The phrase “This differs from that” explains my early irritation with the Jonas post.
Who would say “This differs than that”? It does not make sense.
Equally, the phrase “This differs to that” also is senseless.
Therefore, in the interests of avoiding further blights on my language. please note that the phrase “This differs from that” is the key to understanding that the grammatically correct phrasing should be “Weather is different FROM climate.”
Have you got that Jonas? Oh, by the way, yes, we do know that. That’s because we understand language and numbers.
Remember this. Britain and America are two nations, divided by a common language!
Your mindset suggest to me that, for you, simple sums are an indecipherable foreign language. Otherwise you would not be supporting AGW. You probably have dyscalculia. Sorry about that.

Mary Hinge

Mangan (12:04:53) :
I haven’t a clue what your trying to say here. I was just stating that an anomoly is of more interest if you are being affected by it, surely you must agree with that or is it so ingrained in you that you have to disagree (gain say) with anything I have to say?

Mike McMillan

Les Francis (04:27:10) :
Josh, comment at 22:18:50,
That would probably be Carbon Monoxide coming out of the exhaust (not CO2) a far deadlier gas. (Has been known to be used in suicides)

Actually, the exhaust would be CO2 and H2O, with some CO mixed in. What you are seeing in the photo is carbon soot, which will settle on the snow causing it to melt and reduce the earth’s albedo. I don’t see any skiers in the photo, but it’s still early in the season.

Mike McMillan

Perry Debell (14:23:28) :
Being an erudite Englishman, the first thing that caught my eye was the gormless phrase “Weather is different than climate.” . . .
I wasn’t going to comment on the grammar, but hooray. ‘Different’ seems more a sideways distinction, apples/oranges, red/green, etc. ‘Than’ is vertical, comparing degrees of similar things – larger/smaller, more/less, red/pink. I have found, however, that sometimes ‘different from’ leads to some pretty awkward constructions.
Apart than that, you Brits sure are lucky you have us Colonials out here to preserve the purity of the language.

Mike Bryant

It might not be a bad idea to post some of those stories about warming. The one about halloween candy melting would certainly get alot of comments. So lame.

realist gun nut

I cannot understand how people cannot tell the difference between bulldozers and front-end loaders. Hint, bulldozers have tracks, like tanks.
REPLY: Probably due to it being written by the Chinese at Xinhua. That is their caption – Anthony


Looks like Sonora and Tioga passes are closed through the Sierra as of today. Not sure if they will bother reopening them, they usually don’t after November 1st once they close due to snow. Tioga was closed briefly in October but they cleared it.
I did a little spreadsheet today and graphed it out. Fairbanks, AK had only two days with highs above “average” for the date in the month of October. They had only five days with a low temperature above the “average” for the date. In the last 15 days the daily high temperature has reached as high as the “normal” daily mean temperature only once. It is cold up there this month. Daily mean temperatures are currently running consistently 10 to 15 degrees below normal. The ground is going to freeze deeper than normal this year, I think.

Les Johnson

Both the NOAA and the Environment Canada are predicting warmer than normal winters.
Does anyone have info on the accuracy of these short term models, from past years? Predicted vs actual?

Anthony these posts are incredibly important to the Climate Change debate and you have the only site that routinely posts about this side of the issue. In a media world were every heat wave in the middle of July is a sign of the coming apocalypse it is refreshing to see what the media intentionally omits. Please keep these posts coming because you can discuss climate change until you are blue in the face and these sort of weather events is all the average person uses to judge what is happening. I am sure to many who have been brainwashed by Al Gore the mere existence of extreme cold weather events will give them pause and maybe, just maybe persuade them to be more skeptical of the hysterical rhetoric pushed by the AGW extremists. Thanks again and keep them coming.


Al Gore looks like A saint. Man this is best laugh I’ve had all day .Let me get this straight .A major snowstorm is not really news worthy because it has tropical moisture .Then why is it that the hurricanes of 2005,especially Katrina which directly hit Mississippi not New Orleans,why is that news worthy? It was caused by a at one time tropical storm.

Tim L

I can prove that this snow storm is caused by CO2.
find a pop dispenser and open the valve on the co2 can
place your hand in front of the gas coming out, it feels cold, very cold!
ICE COLD!!!! Yep that is it alright TOO much CO2 in the air is causing
this cold climate change …..
Thanks for your all your hard work.
please use/ware a helmet when banging head on wall !!!!!!!!!!!!!