Half of the USA is covered in snow

This is something you don’t see every day. We recently heard that Canada had a white Christmas EVERYWHERE, the first time in four decades. Here we see that the USA has an increased albedo (surface reflectivity) for about 1/2 of it’s land area.  The increased albedo combined with low sun angle this time of year conspires to keep ice and snow unmelted.

Look for a long and extended winter weather pattern as we head towards the spring equinox, which can’t get here fast enough.

Here is a more colorful view of snow depth on Dec 25th from the National Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center:

Click for larger image

Jim G reports in comments:

On Dec 18th, the coverage was 59.4%

h/t to Ron de Haan and Fresh Bilge


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Graeme Rodaughan

More climate scientists need to step away from their computer monitors, walk out of their “climate controlled” offices and discover the real world outside the building.


Yup, a lot more people gonna be shovelin’ a lot more global warming this winter!! I’ll listen to the Farmers Almanac before the IPCC and Modelers.


International Falls is running over 11 degrees below the December average so far this month based on NWS prelim. data summaries. Brrrrrrr


Anthony, don’t you know by now that snow and cold are simply weather events?
It’s all explained here:

Jim G

I wouldn’t have thought to look there.
On Dec 18th, the coverage was 59.4%

Roger Sowell

Agree, it is rather snowy.
And, here is a website from NOAA that shows the northern hemisphere ice (in yellow) and snow cover (in white). This is updated daily.
“If it were not for global warming,
We would all be living in igloos.”

Roger Sowell

And now, for the link:

Jeff Alberts

You’d think all that change in albedo would cause some sort of tipping point. The fact that it hasn’t tells me that the climate isn’t nearly as sensitive to internal changes as we’re led to believe.

Leon Brozyna

From Western NY, downwind of Lake Erie —
With temps in the 40’s and some serious rain on Christmas Eve, the foot and a half of snow out front has diminished to a couple inches. Technically, a white Christmas was had, though it was more a covering of frozen white slush. Saturday promises more rain with temps nearing 60, which should pretty much finish off that white stuff by Sunday.
Unfortunately, this is but a temporary reprieve. Until the lake finally freezes, we face not only the snow from the normal winter storm but also periodic lake effect snow events.
Overall, with so much snow on the ground this early in the season, it looks like we’re facing a really long cold season.


The tipping point is avoided so long as the snow appears only in the winter, when we get relatively little sunlight anyway. If we had 50% of the US covered in snow in July that would be a big problem.
I used to have the impression that the precession of the equinox (about 24,000 years) would cause ice ages when the winters were farther from the sun and summers closer. More recently I’ve realized that the ice age would happen the other way around. It’s cold summers that causes ice ages; our albedo is lowest in the summer and so it is the distance of the earth to the sun in summer that influences norther hemisphere ice ages. Now I’m going to go look up the data and see if this agrees with what the experts are saying. It’s been decades since I’ve read any of this stuff.


The article mentions nothing about record warmth, only about warmth. Big difference.

Terry Ward

Mick (00:08:31) :
To be fair to Paul it does mention “potential” for “some” record breaking warmth in the Midwest. Que sera, sera.
Having watched precipitation events for the last couple of months, partly out of my dislike of HadleyMet/CRU and their pantomime villain predictions, I am not surprised by close to 60% snow coverage of the US. The amount of record precipitation events is very interesting and we will see extended and deeper cold in Jan/Feb/Mar. Couple that with moisture and we get chaos here in the UK where even the “wrong kind of leaves” will disrupt train travel and the average driver fails to appreciate the dynamics of rubber and oil forming as a layer over tarmac that water/snow then turns into “all icerinks lead to Rome”.
I predict record sales of snow-chains 😉
“Oh no you don’t”.

Dell Hunt, Jackson, Michigan

I’ve posted this before, but thought it is appropriate again here.
(To the tune “Let it Snow)
Oh the weather outside is frightful.
But to the “skeptics” it’s so delightful.
Temps have dropped down low.
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!
Al Gore promised global warming.
But instead it’s been cold and storming.
And solar activity has dropped way low.
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!
Since sunspots have dropped out of sight.
A Global Cooling trend has started to form.
Proves the “skeptics” are proven right,
More CO2 does not cause Earth to warm.
The Solar Cycle is still slowly dying,
And Global Warming we are “good-bying”.
So as long as sunspots stay at zero,
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

Thomas J. Arnold.

The World is cooling, glaciers in the Alps will start to recover and I fear that Britain will have in the next two years a fearsome Winter ala 1947, I must admit at this juncture that a bit of Global Warming is not so bad!! I do not read climate models and I hope that I am wrong but I do read the signs Like the PDO and that tells me that the Northern Hemispere is cooling – the United States is feeling it now and we have saying over here that
“what happens over there will happen over here.”
Once again I hope that I’m wrong. In the studies I made when I studied Glaciology, always what fascinated and amazed was the fact that weather could change so rapidly and I am talking (as you are all aware) of years even months!!!

Stephen Wilde

The global snow cover isn’t far from average as yet:
That will change if the US stays cold and snowy when Russia, China and Europe catch up

Don Shaw

The headline on Drudge for this was Record Warmth. I agree with you, but that was the headline. Was it sarcastic?

OT: Nice to see the Arctice sea ice extent has started to climb again. Anyone know why it stalled there for a few weeks? Canada (where most of the arctice sea ice is) has been in a deep freeze for the since around December 12, which is when the stall happened. While snow built up all over Canada, the sea ice stoped freezing. This is very odd to me.


Look at the last graphic.

carlbrannen (23:16:29) :

The tipping point is avoided so long as the snow appears only in the winter, when we get relatively little sunlight anyway. If we had 50% of the US covered in snow in July that would be a big problem.
… It’s cold summers that causes ice ages; our albedo is lowest in the summer and so it is the distance of the earth to the sun in summer that influences norther hemisphere ice ages.

In the 1970s during the news coverage about the incipient ice age (you know, the coverage that didn’t really happen), one suggestion was that if one winter’s snowfall didn’t melt during the following summer that would be enough trigger a rapid ice age. Flying across the country the following winter I concluded that the snow would have to cover all the conifers to have any hope of surviving the summer. Conifers are dark trees – I have a lot photos on Kodachrome 64 film, a fairly contrasty slide film. Pines and spruces in settings that include other ground or sky are nearly black, a lot less than the 18-19% refectance photographers expect from an average scene.
So I got a lot less concerned about a new ice age. And I had nearly reconciled myself to getting to watch the start of a historic event. Sigh.
This decade I had nearly reconciled myself to seeing New York City become the new Venice and Orlando develop a seacoast theme park. Fortunately I was holding out for the solar minimum that was expected a couple years ago and the next PDO flip. Still waiting for an official declaration of solar minimum. Still hoping for a paralyzing snow storm in Washington DC for Inauguration Day.


We’re forecast for temps in the mid-60s around Boston on Sunday. That might not be “record”…but it’ll take care of what snow we have left. The rains and 50deg temps yesterday knocked off most of the 16″ I had at my house, probably down to about 4-5” now, with some bare spots on the lawn.
Very strange weather patterns.
I finally took a look at Tamino’s site yesterday. Very interesting. They seem to take all of the jokes we make about “snow” being “proof” that there’s no AGW, and claim we’re being serious about the statements…kind of funny to read. Most of the posts seemed pretty self-righteous, at least to me.
One thing I didn’t see was much scientific discussion.
Oh well.

Mike Bryant

I’ve read (Was it Isaac Asimov?) that the thing that starts an ice age is an increase in precipitation. Apparently the extra snow lasts longer into each summer which cools the earth until it hits the “tipping point”. So I guess that’s a reverse tipping point.
At this site:
You can look at the last three years and see the trend on maximum snow depth in the continental USA.
The last one is almost 60′ deep. I guess it’s somewhere in the Rockies. I wonder how much of it is compressing into ice?
If you check summer dates you can see that more snow is hanging around through the summer.
Probably means nothing but it IS interesting.

Karl Brennen: “It’s cold summers that causes ice ages”
December with La Nina in Lima,Peru (Now) Max.Temp:24°C, Min:18°C
December with 1998 El Nino, same place, Max.Temp.32°, Min:…
If, as it is obvious, there´s a temperature lag in the oceans ( a time for heating up and a time for cooling down) something happened a few years before or years before that 98´ El Nino, though Dr.Leif says nothing unusual happened just in 98 it would be interesting to revise figures before this event. (We know what happened after…the warming hysteria)


As I’m driving today from the mid-South, through Tennessee, Kentucky, and up into southern Ohio, I’m thankful that the “record warmth” that Paul is referring to will keep the roads free of ice and snow. I hope this warming continues until after the new year, when I return home.
But I’ve got my chains, just in case. 😉

Fred from Canuckistan . . .

That snow coverage looks very close to the ice coverage at the end of the last ice age . . . a little further south in the west, but darn close.
Is the map trying to tell us something. We are right on schedule for the next ice age as this current interglacial period is very long in the tooth.

Alec, a.k.a Daffy Duck

Published December 26 2008
The ice cometh, earlier than usual
If the big lake seems to have an unusually placid appearance off Duluth’s shores these days, it’s because you’re looking at ice. The western tip of Lake Superior has frozen over in December for the first time in recent memory….


Corrected: “This is something you don’t see every Christmas Day.”

Steve Keohane

Let’s see. Dec. 18th, coverage 59.4%, Dec. 26th 49.7% ??!!?? From this url http://www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/nsa/index.html?region=National&year=2008&month=12&day=18&units=e
posted above by Jim G (22:34:34). Does this make sense? The record snowfall for Aspen Mtn. in Dec. is about 80″. They’ve had over 100″ this year, so far. Expecting another 5-10″ today, with about 15″ yesterday. I’ve got 2-3 hours of work to clear my drive this AM, time for a hearty breakfast.

Roger Sowell

Chemical Engineers Know AGW is Bunk
Not only scientists are skeptics. Recently Dr. Pierre R. Latour, world-renowned PhD and professional licensed chemical engineer, offered this scathing analysis of the entire matter.
http://www.hydrocarbonprocessing.com/index.html?Page=14&PUB =22&SID=715446&ISS=25220&GUID=D5E78EC9-18EA-4C76-9A48-D4D92 79140FB

Ed Scott

The downside of alternate and renewable, clean energy technologies. The reality of “new-old” technologies sets-in.
New opportunity for entrepreneurs: Solar panel and turbine blade defrosters.
Solar Meets Polar as Winter Curbs Clean Energy
Old Man Winter, it turns out, is no friend of renewable energy.
This time of year, wind turbine blades ice up, biodiesel congeals in tanks and solar panels produce less power because there is not as much sun. And perhaps most irritating to the people who own them, the panels become covered with snow, rendering them useless even in bright winter sunshine.


” Still hoping for a paralyzing snow storm in Washington DC for Inauguration Day. ”
I second the motion. A blizzard so bad that the swearing in must be done indoors and the speech as well, forcing Obambi to strike out the passages about global warming and the need to combat it.

Dodgy Geezer

“So what about the record warmth being forecast?..”
Didn’t you know? This is warm Global Warming snow….

David Segesta

Speaking of albedo, here’s a plan to increase it mechanically. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081222114546.htm
Looks like its time to buy stock in aluminum foil companies.

Robert Bateman

What about the 10 degree drop in wintertime temps we got this year?
Alright, who’s the wise guy? Who shrunk the ionosphere?
All that darn warming, and our winter is back to what it was 100 – 150 years ago.
The sign says “Welcome to Freezerville”.

We had a welcome bout of thawing yesterday, but there’s still a lot of snow left, and the snowploughs haven’t reached our little corner of Vancouver Island for the past three days so travel is still difficult out here in the boonies. Sidewalks on the way into Nanaimo are up to three feet plus deep in snow, and snow is still coming down.
“Weather isn’t climate.” Well next time there’s a nice warm day and the pro AGW crowd are clamouring that it’s the ‘nth warmest on record’ and ‘we should do something’, maybe those of us on the skeptical side of the fence should remind them; it’s just weather, the cyclic behaviour of which we have little or no influence over.
Last Canadian White Christmas in 1971? Oh well, the next one won’t be back for another forty or so years and maybe we can have a nice Christmas barbeque instead as usual next year. In the meantime; back to shovelling.

Dell Hunt, Jackson, Michigan

Roger Sowell (22:45:46) :
Agree, it is rather snowy….
“If it were not for global warming,
We would all be living in igloos.”
The really good news is that Global Warming may be over.
The really-really bad news is that Global Warming may be over.


Nobody here is thinking ahead much. What will happen in spring when all of this snow/ice accumulation starts thawing out?

Jeff Alberts

carlbrannen (23:16:29) :
The tipping point is avoided so long as the snow appears only in the winter, when we get relatively little sunlight anyway. If we had 50% of the US covered in snow in July that would be a big problem.

If that were so we’d never have gotten out of the first ice age which occurred. There are forces which drive the albedo, not the other way around, IMHO. Albedo, CO2, they’re followers not leaders.

Mike Kelley

Our nearest lake has about 8 inches of ice already. Thank goodness we live in one of the “banana belts” of Montana or it would be thicker. It has been horrific over East and North of Billings with lots of sub-zero and wind.

Retired Engineer

David Segesta (08:52:17) : Covering that much desert with foil and expecting it to stay in one place with wind and all? I think those guys are wearing aluminum foil hats.
Dell Hunt: Without Global Warming, I’m not sure many of us would be living at all. Food production depends on being able to grow food. 🙂
In southern CO, some of our snow has evaporated, but we are supposed to get more this afternoon. Last year I had 130 consecutive days of some snow in the back yard, beating the old record of 76 days. Only 26 so far this year.

Tom in warm within normal limits Florida

Back into the 80’s this weekend here on the southwest coast of Florida. Sorry.


problems with mass of atmosphere calculations:
assume 90 percent of the atmosphere is within 20 km.
the volume of the 20 km is 8000 *4/3 *pi or about 32000 km^3
this is about 3 e18 liters. Since the average density in those 20 km is about about .4 there is about 40 liters per mole or about
7.5 e 16 moles of gas in the total atmosphere. this is about e3 to e4 different than the usual 10^20 moles of gas quoted in the literature. what am I doing wrong?


Pretty soon you are going to be telling us because only 1/2 the country is covered in snow, it’s a sure sign of man caused global warming.

Patrick Henry

Europe is just starting into one of thire coldest weather patterns in decades right now as well, after near record snow this autumn in the Alps, Pyrenees and North Africa.

John M

Jeff (06:05:20) :
Jeff, that is one strange looking curve.
Note, those who like to follow these things should capture that image. I think it’s volatile.

Roger Sowell’s link doesn’t work [it appears that a subscription is required], but there is a fascinating exchange in the Letters to the Editor section: click
Dr. Latour’s deconstruction of AGW is well worth reading [see “Author’s reply” following the first letter].

It’s called global warming people. Since the glaciers are melting, there is more moisture and that turns into snow.


Heavy snow forces cancelation of flights, trains in Japan

As a native of one of the farthest northerly states, blanketed with snow, I am now happy to be a transplant to one of the most southerly states…without snow! Sorry family!!

the Day After Tomorrow… it’s happening!