December 2009: Second Snowiest on Record in the Northern Hemisphere

England Buried In Snow – image from The Times

According to the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab, last month had the second greatest December Northern Hemisphere snow cover since records were started in 1966.  Snow extent was measured at 45.86 million sq. km, topped only by 1985 at 45.99 million sq. km.  North America set a record December extent at 15.98 million sq. km, and the US also set a December record at 4.16 million sq. km.

click for interactive source

Source: December Snow Cover from Rutgers University

Source: December Snow Anomalies from Rutgers University

This is not an isolated event for 2009, as can be seen in the graph below.  Seventeen of the last twenty-one Decembers have had above normal snow cover.

Source: December Snow Cover Anomalies from Rutgers University

Nor is it an isolated trend for the month of December.  January, 2008 was the second snowiest January on record, and six out of the last eight Januaries have had above normal snow.

Source: January Snow Cover Anomalies from Rutgers University

October, 2009 was the snowiest October on record in the US, and sixth snowiest in the Northern Hemisphere.  Twelve of the last fifteen Octobers have had above normal snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere, similar to the pattern of the 1970s.

Source: October Snow Cover Anomalies from Rutgers University

A favorite mantra of the global warming community is that reduced snow cover will reduce the albedo of the earth and provide positive feedback to global warming – causing additional warming.  Clearly that is not happening, at least not during the October through January time period.

2010 is also getting off to a fast start.  Most of Europe and North America is covered with snow, as is much of Asia.

Daily Snow Cover from Rutgers University

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Brrrrrrrrrr. If that snow makes it to my neck of the woods, I’ll have to buy some warmer clothes.

Retired Engineer

Absurd. There is no snow. No ice. Everything is melting. Except where it isn’t.
Looks like the UK has a lot of snow. What does that do to wind turbines? Blade unbalance, anyone? Considering that they plan to run the entire country with them.
(this is so long it probably won’t work, but I have yet to figure out tiny.url)


The weather outside is frightful, the damage to AGW delightful…

In unrelated news, the Sun continues to produce anaemic sunspecks in an abject travesty of a solar cycle.


Of course, we all realize that this is “rotten” snow…
Down here in SC we had 2 good snow storms in December which rarely happens, much less having the snow stick around for as long as it has. Asheville, NC (home of the NCDC) still has snow on the ground…. go figure.

Robert M

I’m sure that someone will trot out the old, “This is not inconsistent with our models” fare. Someone needs to ask those guys exactly how much snow and cold it would require for them to admit that their models have nothing to do with reality.

Kevin Kilty

Something I have noticed this winter season is the seesaw of statistics–Cold, snowy October followed by fair November, then a rough December. So on this basis, maybe January will moderate some, then look-out for spring.
The winter of 1948-1949 was hell in the western U.S. I wonder how some of the months of that winter season would compare?

Douglas DC

Actually feel sorry for the lady in the 2CV- good car in weather not on hills.
mainly due to the clearance and FWD…


What are the predicted effects of AGW? Is it colder and more snow? Or warmer and wetter? Hmm…

Michael Jankowski

Can’t wait for the “extreme weather events are consistent with the theory of anthropogenic global warming” statement.

rob m

Isn’t there an increase of precipitation when CO2 rises? (ie. Global Warming)


Do the Brits have snow tires?

photon without a Higgs

NOAA animation of last 31 days of snow cover. It ends with January 10, it isn’t just for the month of December.

photon without a Higgs

I voted ‘yes’ because of the Arctic blast that’s reaching southward and turning what would have normally been rain in January into snow.


Saw this on Gizmodo. Brrrrrr!

photon without a Higgs

A favorite mantra of the global warming community…
They also say that warming will cause increased snow in winter from the humidity that warming creates. But this extra snow is not from a warming climate but from a cooling climate. So their hypothesis couldn’t apply to this snow.


Cross Country skiing anyone??

Carl Chapman

Remember, weather isn’t climate (unless it’s hot weather in which case it proves that Global Warming is true).

Methow Ken

A few good graphics like these from the Rutgers Snow Lab are indeed worth a 1000 words (and then some). All one can say is that right now wherever the sun is shining in the Northern Hemisphere, a whole lot of solar energy is getting reflected from all of that snow-covered ground. . . .
SIDEBAR: CNN had a pretty good few 5 minutes or so on CNN Newsroom tonight; on the extent of the cold and snow cover all over the Northern Hemisphere. They didn’t focus on climate change; but gave a pretty good overview of how cold and snow-covered it is in much of N.A., Europe, and Russia.


If you are not into Skiing, how about dog sleds and snow shoes. I hear the Inuit would eat the dogs if things got really tight. Can’t do that with a snow mobile!!


Interesting. I suppose snow cover is a little harder to fake than temperatures (although who’s counting these millions of square units?). 17 of 21 Decembers is fascinating, especially since that includes what is supposed to be the two warmest decades ever.
However I noticed that February through September show BELOW average snow cover, and in fact if you follow the links and fiddle with the dates, months like June show 19 of the last 21 years having much below average snow cover…
…this data almost suggests that summers and winters are both becoming more extreme… thoughts?


lots more in here anthony….
9 Jan: Philly Inquirer: Climate expert in the eye of an integrity storm
By Faye Flam
Mann points out that the hockey stick is not widely seen as a smoking gun implicating human activity in global warming. And it was not the giant graph used in Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. That was a graph of the carbon dioxide component of our atmosphere – which also is rising sharply.,,
Michaels also flagged an e-mail in which Mann discussed a reference he was writing for Jones. In that, Mann misstated a number called the “h index,” which measures a scientist’s productivity and influence.
Mann said it was just an error in a hastily typed private e-mail, in which he meant to say 52 but instead said 62. He produced a copy of the official letter, in which he got the number correct.
He said he was surprised that Michaels would castigate him over a typographical error. “They’ve sunk to a new low,” Mann said of the e-mails. “This shows they’ve given up legitimate debate.”
There is still much debate over how big a role human activity plays in the current warming trend, and how the future will be affected. Climate science – and earth science in general – is not expected to make the kinds of sharp predictions that chemists and physicists can make with repeated experiments. “It would be nice if we could do controlled experiments,” Mann said. “But we have only one Earth.”


jonova: The Carbon Market Blinks — $130b trainwreck slows
Point Carbon issued a report this week estimating that the world wide market in carbon trading in 2009 totalled around $136 billion dollars, which is not much higher than the 2008 figure. After years of living in a rapacious bubble, prices are about 60% below the peaks of 2008, carbon traders are starting to peel out into other commodities, and the sails are looking decidedly flat on the Maxi Yacht known as Carbon-Credits Inc….ETC

Increased snow cover will increase the albedo of the earth and provide positive feedback to global cooling – causing additional cooling. Not a good thing.


Carl Chapman (19:51:23) :
>Remember, weather isn’t climate (unless it’s hot weather
>in which case it proves that Global Warming is true).
Umm…I’ve suffered a defeat by a hair in posting that.


“Because Steven Mosher had the files several days before they reached the internet.”

Leon Brozyna

I know, I know – it’s weather, not climate, but it’s getting old (both the weather and hearing that lame mantra).
Buffalo’s snow season started a bit late but we’re now about 3″ above the season average through today, with a few more coming in tomorrow. Guess I can look on the bright side – we haven’t had a string of days with snow totals measuring over 6′ – yet.

R John

I voted “no” on the poll – the long term trend for the next 15 days is for warmer, zonal pattern to develop. Here in the central part of Illinois, it is rare for us to keep snow on the ground for more than two weeks. I suspect that much of it will melt off if the forecast is correct…


I would like to think we were better than a bunch of savages being hypnotized by a witch doctor. But alas……
The ancient give us your virgins and your crops or we’ll ruin the weather trick is as old as humanity. You gotta give Gore et al credit for going with what works.
The modern witch doctors made a grave mistake in claiming there was only one direction to to the anger of the gods to which they alone were privy.
Even a third rate purveyor of snake oil knows to focus on the anger not the outcome…….LMAO


Well, temps. have now warmed up across Canada. I’m in the warmest location where it’s a balmy 12 deg. C (53.6F). Unfortunately, it’s been umbrella weather, with no end in sight. Welcome to the “Wet Coast of BC”.
Damn you El Nino!!


Voted No.
We lost at least 50 percent of our snow cover in the past two days here in Southern Alberta. By next weekend ,I’d guess a large portion of where I live will be bare. (90% bare : 10% snow)


That smart car wasn’t looking too smart… old technology seems to work fine, however:


just found your thread on the michael mann interview. been watching too much tennis and must have missed it.
REPLY: You can’t take your eyes off WUWT for more than a few seconds or you’ll miss something. – A


Clive (20:46:42)
Voted No.
We lost at least 50 percent of our snow cover in the past two days here in Southern Alberta. By next weekend ,I’d guess a large portion of where I live will be bare. (90% bare : 10% snow)
The first nations of Southern Alberta referred to chinooks as “Snow eater”. Just when the cross country skiing here in Calgary was excellent….guess I have to drive a little further.

Pamela Gray

If cooler summers are upon us, such as was seen in Europe for two years, we be in for trouble. It isn’t the amount of snow in winter that is the telling measure, it is the amount that does not melt in summer because of cooler temps that brings on the next little ice age.


Alvin (19:43:04) :
Do the Brits have snow tires?
They are available, as well as snow chains which for the vast majority of England would probably be more cost effective.
Most major roads are clear, just getting to them can be a problem.

We’ve had a warm year overall in eastern Oz, and there’s been plenty of reportage of that. Curiously, however, we’ve had a drought break during an El Nino – with little discussion. The opposite situation would have been hyped for sure. Also curious: the lack of reportage of the very damp, very cold winters of ’07 and ’08.
Thanks for the post…but couldn’t some alert WUWT reader in the Second-Best Hemisphere find a Prius buried under snow?

Steve J

Talk about snow jobs.
Who is paying $136 Billion for carbon offsets?
What are these folks smoking? I have several bridges for sale.
Oops, I forgot – global warming is causing the snow – It never snowed before and we really want to kill all plant life (by hiding the CO2).
Does anyone else think the insane are out of the asylum?

Mariss Freimanis

I am a EE and not a scientist but I have followed AWG from its inception with a great deal of interest. It is my right as an informed person just as it is anyone’s right to understand the world we all live in.
What amazes me is we should be apologetic and offer proof man made global warming doesn’t exist. I believe from what I learn that there is be global warming. I believe it is a good good thing; we are still coming out of the Little Ice Age and temperatures have yet to fully recover from that episode.
What concerns me more than anything is the wholesale dismissal that anything good can come from warming temperatures. The message from AWG proponents is:
1) Our climate is perfect now.
2) CO2 is a toxin.
3) Human activity affects the climate.
1) Who says? What is the norm? 200 years ago it was a little cooler, a thousand years ago it was warmer. 15,000 years ago it was ice-age colder. Who picks what’s just right? Let me help out here; humans are hairless apes and they do best when temperatures are 25C or better.
The northern hemisphere has a disproportionate land area north of the tropics. An awful lot lies above the arctic circle. Can you imagine a world that was warmer and made these lands productive and livable? It would be a warmer world than we have now.
2) CO2 is the staff of life. All mammalian life depends on flora. We happen to be humans. Herbivores eat plants, we eat plants, we eat herbivores who eat plants. Meanwhile plants eat CO2. Our present levels of CO2 are at near famine level concentration for plants; trees die when concentrations drop below 200 ppm and we are at only 380 ppm. Plants need CO2; every indoors pot farmer knows this, that is why they flood the growing area with 1,000 ppm CO2. They are the true pragmatists.
CO2 may be a greenhouse gas but it’s a poor one in effectiveness and quantity. The 800-lb gorilla is water vapor, it is far more potent and far more plentiful. Why pick on CO2, its concentration has always lagged temperature by centuries rises in the past. It is a follower, not a leader. It has no effect on temperate directly.
3) Human activity. This is pure hubris. Where ever did we get the idea we are so important we think what we do has any effect on our earth’s climate? A few medium size volcano eruptions can place more CO2 and SO2 in the atmosphere than all of our human efforts. A little bit of humility would go a long way to understanding our true place in the greater scheme of things.
We have people that thought otherwise. They came up with 1-3 for the most debased of reasons, to make money. The CRU crew and others were government funded (as opposed to big oil funded) scientists and they crafted a nearly perfect crime. Their sponsors, the politicians, invented a way to make money with cap-and-trade. Meanwhile the scientists whored-out science itself to keep the grant money coming in. It was a match made in heaven and this synergism worked very well for 15 years until Nov 21, 2009.

Baa Humbug

Yeah yeah weather isn’t Climate. But didn’t these wags take measurements of weather from thousands of individual locations (each with it’s own micro climate) and extrapolate 100yr Climate projections from those?
What if Yamal Peninsula (of the tree ring fame) experienced weather extremes during the 2000yr reconstruction? Didn’t these wags claim this data was indicative of global climate? They produced hockey sticks from this data to “prove” their point.
They can’t have it both ways, if weather isn’t climate (and it isn’t) than any weather data isn’t useful.
These data should be put aside along with the IPCC and a whole new climate regime started.


It is only a matter of time….rather moments….when “they” declare this NH record snowcover…as being caused by AGW.
Everything is caused by AGW. Hot….cold…..snow….rain….drought.
Believe what you want to believe, Michael Mann, and your limp-wristed hockey team that never plays by the rules.
But, sports aside, I personally am more apt to “believe” in the fact that humans (not exempt from swarm or schooling complexities) do, even in their current level of evolution, behave just like other “lesser” species, that is, in a SWARM fashion.
We are only beginning to breach this area of study in organism behavior….and humans are not exempt.
Nay….the great hoax of the AGW religion is a great case study.
The earth is cooling dumb-***! Prepare for it. Or prepare to meet a darwinian end.
Norfolk, VA, USA


Mariss Freimanis (22:00:13) :

I am also an EE by schooling and we seem to have reached similar conclusions independently of each other.

Dr A Burns

Strange that the Arctic sea ice extent is still rather low.
REPLY: well, that’s where you’d be wrong for example

David Corcoran

Retired Engineer (18:58:53) :
What does that do to wind turbines? Blade unbalance, anyone?

It’s worse than that. Large modern windmills can throw 4′ long shards, (javelins, really) of ice up to several hundred meters. These can skewer cars, pets and houses.

Galen Haugh

joshuahedlund (20:02:19) :
…this data almost suggests that summers and winters are both becoming more extreme… thoughts?
Reply: I’ve read scientists that say weather will get more extreme just before another ice epoch begins. Considering the timeline since the last glacial and the length of this interglacial, it could very well be that’s what we’re seeing. And when it comes (for I believe it is inevitable), everyone (but global warmers in particular) will be shocked with the totally inhospitable weather nature will be serving up. Snow accumulations across Canada, Russia and Europe could amount to 10 feet a year with little or no melting in the “summertime”. Grim, indeed.


The White House has already confirmed that it’s because of CC.


Check out the UK Winter Deaths for the last few years (35,000 last year). This year they think it could be much much worse.
Who told you that warming is bad ?


It depends on how you look at arctic ice coverage. If you look at 30% coverage like DMI does, then we have the greatest coverage today that we have had in the past 5 years. If you look at 15% coverage, then we are pretty close to where we have been for the past 4 years.
The thing is that maximum coverage has no relationship to where we will be at summer minimum. 2006, for example saw pretty low maximum coverage but greater summer minimum than any year since. 2008 saw much more coverage at winter maximum but had less coverage at summer minimum than 2006 had.
If you look at these graphs you will see that ice area is *just* outside of 1 standard deviation from the average … or just about “normal”. Ice extent, however is lower but right about where it was last year. Having a “normal” ice area but a lower ice extent means that what ice exists is compacted and more consolidated than normal. Imagine you have 100 square miles of ice but it is broken and scattered. The ice area is 100 square miles but that ice extends over a great area. Now imagine you have 100 square miles of ice but it is consolidated. You still have 100 square miles of ice, the area didn’t change, the the extent changed. In my opinion, the only thing that matters is area, not extent. It is area that tells you how much ice you have. Extent only tells you how stormy it has been.
You can have a greater “extent” with a given area but in the end you still have just as much ice. For climate purposes, area is the only thing that matters, in my opinion.

Layne Blanchard

I voted no. In a completely unscientific analysis, I seem to have noticed that these extreme cold periods see-saw in and out. I’m not betting Jan will set a record. But February…. ?
The warmers seem to think we’ve had a couple sunspots, so now we’ll warm up. But I’m expecting a protracted decline over several years. Spots or no spots.
If we start another Dalton (or worse) I’m expecting that more snow will fail to melt from higher elevations at lower latitudes in successive summers.

Patrick Davis

On Channel 10 news tonight in Australia, while it’s getting a bit warmer here in Sydney, there are freezing conditions in Florida apparently, turtles “out cold” due to the cold waters, ice-locked cars. Citrus fruit growers are a bit concerned about the predictions of more cold to come. Price of OJ to rise? And -42 in Nroway, a 20 year record.
2010 will be an interesting year.