New winter temperature proxy in UK: "grit"

UPDATE: BBC and Reuters is reporting (h/t to reader FergalR) that:

‘Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said he had asked the government’s chief scientific adviser to assess whether the country was experiencing a “step change” in weather patterns due to climate change and whether it needed to spend more money on winter preparations.’

Maybe they’ll have a look at Met Office climate models and CRU with a real investigation.

Record grit reserves in Lincolnshire ‘60% gone’

Sustained snowfall and how temperatures have meant gritters have worked round the clock. Image: BBC

More than half the grit stocks held by Lincolnshire County Council have already been used, officials have said.

Despite starting the winter with 31,600 tonnes – 8,000 more than usual – the council said it had already used about 60% due to persistent low temperatures.

It had spread almost as much salt this year as it did for the whole of the 2007-08 winter.

The council said the next delivery was not due until mid-January so resources would be used carefully.

Councillor William Webb, Executive Member for Highways and Transport, promised to keep main routes open.

He said: “We’ll keep on gritting whenever it’s needed – be that 1pm on Christmas Day or Midnight on New Year’s Eve – whilst ensuring that appropriate quantities are being spread and salt isn’t wasted.

“We greatly value the assistance of farmers, contractors and even private individuals in supporting our tireless efforts to ensure safety for motorists and pedestrians.”

The authority covers 1,869 miles (3,008km) of Lincolnshire’s main routes, including all A and B roads.

While the amount of snow seen at the beginning of the month is not forecast for the next few days, temperatures as low as -7C (19.4F) are expected to be widespread.

Related – On December 2nd, this BBC story said:

Road salt is ‘disappearing fast’, Welsh councils warn

Snow plough being loaded

The unseasonably early snow has led to pressure on councils' road salt supplies

At the London Evening Standard, it seems at least one official is confident though, or maybe he’s “hiding the decline” of grit:

Today Boris Johnson promised Londoners the capital was prepared for anything that the elements could throw at it. He said: “Even if it snows 24 hours a day, morning, noon and night for two weeks, which has never happened before, we have enough grit for our roads.

Forecasters said the second big blast of the winter could last until Christmas and warned London to brace itself for “the main event” tomorrow.

It takes “true grit” to make such predictions in the face of nature.

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Winter.
A season for True Grit.
Won’t the Met Office be proud!

JinOH

OMG – now we have a global salt shortage! Save the salt! Tax everything!

“resources would be used carefully”, presumably means “We won’t be gritting your road.” Down here in Surrey the B road that links us to the outside world was not gritted at all in this snowfall nor in the last one.
Presumably the local councils have been continuing to believe the Met Office.

Grumpy old Man

I’m waiting for the Chief Scientist to apologise for misleading the public into believing that cold winters were a thing of the past – but I’m not holding my breath.
BTW, does anyone have the figures for windfarm output as a % of maximum planned power production for the last 3 weeks?

So instead of snow, it is the road salt which is ‘disappearing fast’. Sure, Dr Viner predicted exactly this.

Kev-in-UK

mighyt be more accurate than flippin tree rings! LOL

rms

When it snows in UK, everyone thinks “grit”. Few thinks “snow plough or plow” or “show shovel”.
Grit on 20-30 cm of new, un-plowed snow is, well, just a mess.

If it gets any warmer, we'll freeze to death

Here’s the Daily Mash from a couple of months ago: councils begin not getting enough salt for winter

Latimer Alder

It always pays to take what Boris says with a little pinch of salt. His style is not the calm, considered bureaucrat.

Breaking news-on the BBC
Chief Scientist of UK has been asked by British Govt to re look at climate models bearing in mind the successive cold winters.
A Chink of light or merely the excuse to blame global warming for the global cooling?
Tonyb

Phillip Bratby

Down in Devon, in the mild south west of England, I can report that I have been cut off from the outside world by deep snow for the second time this December. It was -15.6degC last night. Last winter I recorded a minimum of -17.9degC, but I was only cut off once.
The wind is not blowing and so all those wind turbines will be drawing power from the grid to stop themselves icing up. My oil tank level is falling at an unprecedented rate. Fortunately I took note of Piers Corbyn’s forecast for the winter, so I have stocks of food and oil. The Met Office is only 20 miles away and I ignored their forecast of a milder than normal winter.
This Mann-made global warming is definitely worse than I thought.

Phillip Bratby

I should have added that the local authority leaves a few bags of salt at the side of the road and leaves it up to people to look after themselves. It’s tough if you aren’t in a town or on a main road. Most people live in towns and cities and their votes count more than fural folk.

James Bull

Yesterday I travelled from my home in Ashford Middlesex (under Surrey council) to Hounslow (a London borough) at the council boundary the road condition changed from a compact snow covering to broken up ice and slush and clear tarmac.

Here is the link referred to in my 12.38
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/887a7b9c-0ae4-11e0-9b58-00144feabdc0.html#axzz18XxaT6hM
Philip Bratby
I am on the south coast of Devon-where are you?
tonyb

“Road salt is ‘disappearing fast’, Welsh councils warns”
Blame it on global warming, everyone else does 🙂
Meanwhile in my own hometown an announcement from city-council
http://www.maassluis.nl/index.php?simaction=content&mediumid=2&pagid=13&stukid=39185
“Door schaarste momenteel geen strooizout voor particulieren” – wich says, we are running out of salt so we are not giving it to the locals anymore, wich is good because last week we made the headlines in national papers because of improper behavoir by those same locals when they found out that free salt means only a single bucket of free salt.
Must be civil unrest caused by Global Warming, what else could it be?

george

well, here just outside Oxford we had about a foot yesterday. quite rare especially before Christmas. Anybody got any links to good climate catastrophe quotes from 20 years ago? I seem to remember someone saying something about not seeing snow in the UK again.
ps grumpy old man, here is a good link to recent UK power production broken down by type
http://www.geog.ox.ac.uk/~dcurtis/NETA.html

John Barrett

@James Bull
Ah well, that’s the old UHI effect – from the depths of rural Surrey to the Metropolis
(And if anyone’s ever been to Ashford Middx, they’ll appreciate
the irony ).
But really, Hounslow is required to keep the Heathrow Airport approach roads clear, despite there being no planes.

JohnM

To highlight why the met are wrong, again, here is a newspaper article from the start of this year….it seems the learning-curve is a bit straight:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/dominic_lawson/article6982310.ece

Geoff Sherrington

Feedback at work. The more salt is used, the further the trucks have to go on snowy roads until they reach a tipping point where the empty trucks can’t get to the salt. Is ‘tipping point’ the right word for these trucks?
Is not salt a chemical that has more potentiasl harm than CO2? Better tell the USA EPA about it.

Jockdownsouth

Grumpy Old man December 19, 2010 at 12:12 am –
“BTW, does anyone have the figures for windfarm output as a % of maximum planned power production for the last 3 weeks?”
Look on the website below (it doesn’t work on Chrome for some reason but does work on Firefox) and scroll down near the bottom to a table headed “Current generation By Fuel Type”. As at 09:30 UK time on Sunday it shows wind 0.6% current (no pun!) and 0.8% for the last 24 hours.
http://www.bmreports.com/bsp/

JohnM

And here is the National Grid page for windpower, no doubt somewhere in the site is the current amount generated by same but you’ll have to dig.
http://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/Electricity/Data/WindPowerOperation/
Here is the current demand data, updated regularly, with various national/international interconnectors shown:
http://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/Electricity/Data/Realtime/Demand/

Grumbler

“Phillip Bratby says:
December 19, 2010 at 12:42 am
Down in Devon, in the mild south west of England, I can report that I have been cut off from the outside world by deep snow for the second time this December. It was -15.6degC last night. Last winter I recorded a minimum of -17.9degC, but I was only cut off once……”
Be interesting to get an update on Otter farm in Devon, much heralded as the future of farming
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/agriculture/crops/5785670/Olives-and-peaches-blossom-in-Britain-as-farmers-adapt-to-climate-change.html.
A few years ago the farmer went over to Mediterranean crops particularly olive trees. They die at -15C.

David L

tonyb says:
December 19, 2010 at 12:38 am
Breaking news-on the BBC
Chief Scientist of UK has been asked by British Govt to re look at climate models bearing in mind the successive cold winters.
A Chink of light or merely the excuse to blame global warming for the global cooling?
Tonyb”
Not a chink of light. Notice how they are saying “step change” and “climate change”. Handily they’ve already primed the public awhile back by shifting from global warming to global climate change. They’ll rework their models to say the northern hemisphere’s “global” climate will get colder and everyone else will get that much hotter. Damn the data, full steam ahead with the models!

David, UK

“Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said he had asked the government’s chief scientific adviser to assess whether the country was experiencing a “step change” in weather patterns due to climate change…”
Doesn’t it bug one that they always have to get that key phrase “due to climate change” mentioned (whether alluding to warming or cooling). He couldn’t simply have asked whether the country was experiencing a “step change” in weather patterns – and left it that, could he? It just makes you want to scream at them that the climate has always, is now, and always will CHANGE. It’s just what climates do, fickle bastards that they are.

Nigel Brereton

In the UK.
Channel 4 news last night reported that emergency services were asking owners of 4*4 vehicles for assistance in ferrying staff, nurses and doctors, to their places of work as there was a serious problem with staffing levels at hospitals due to the snow.
Those of us that own these ‘poluting’ vehicles pay double the amount of road tax than a standard vehicle because the government wants to reduce their numbers on the road!
I have no problem at all in helping out at a comunity level and will gladly assist when needed. I only ask that government policy be re-evaluated in order to ensure that emergency services are provided with the vehicles required to meet their needs in this cooling climate and the taxation classes adjusted back to the pre green hysteria levels.
Simple request, no pressure!

Mark S

I’m on the County Down coast in Northern Ireland. Because of the proximity of the sea, we don’t tend to get much lying snow. Yesterday we woke up to 10 inches of snow, with more in the drifts.
After dinner last night we had more lightning than we had all summer.
I’m told it struck a large wind turbine a few miles away.

Phillip Bratby

Tonyb: I am in north Devon, inland.

oldseadog

Grumpy old Man,
Chrisopher Booker in the Sunday Telegraph today says “down to 0.1%”, so I looked at george’s link and Mr. Booker is right.
But it didn’t go all that much higher, either, even when the wind was blowing.

Stefan

Well our politicians are framing all this in public as:
– our power stations need replacing
– we won’t let the lights go out
– we need to attract business to invest in building new ones
– we’re raising taxes, carbon prices, etc. to help bring business in, and tackle climate change
Well I don’t know how the world works, but I wonder:
Carbon emissions seems to be a cover. It is ideal because everyone accepts it politically so nobody can dispute it. The lights have to stay on, but we “have to be green”, and we need business and subsidies to build the plants, and we can’t have the public questioning big business, nor getting in the way of planning applications, nor questioning why prices are going up.
On the plus side it sounds like all those wind farms are softening people up for new nuclear. I mean, once you’ve allowed your sacred conservation principles to be sullied with bird killing natural beauty destroying windfarms, what’s a few nuclear plants here and there? They look positively neat by comparison.
And all those subsidies for “green” can open the door for subsidies for nuclear.
The snow is perfect timing in that respect. It reminds the people that staying warm is vital to our nation.

Cold Englishman

The MET was telling us last night that we could see -4 or even -5C, but as I walked my Labrador this morning, my ears told me a different story, must have been well south of -10C. But I suppose if you let the WWF run Robert Fitzroy’s marvellous Met Office, what can you expect.
I also saw the Minister for Transport on TV, whose name I can’t remember, he’s that brilliant, wailing that when it snows we should expect disruption.
But never mind, we have a Prime Minister whose father in law owns some windmills, a Deputy prime Minister whose wife is a director of a windmill manufacturer, so what could possibly go wrong? Five years ago, when I retired from business, those details would have been considered a good old fashioned “conflict of interest”, but not today. What a travesty!

Kate

There is an interesting take on Can-con in the Daily Mail from AGW fanatic Fred Pearce –
18th December 2010
Sandal-wearers won’t save us from global warming – but greed and the U.S. Navy will
FRED PEARCE,
Environmental Consultant to New Scientist
His steely eyes and jutting jaw speak of his determination. His medal-festooned uniform underlines his power. Rear Admiral David Titley is a sea warrior, but also a scientist with a passion. He is the U.S. Navy’s chief oceanographer and director of its climate change task force. Yes, the U.S. Navy has a climate change task force. With 450 staff.
“We in the U.S. Navy believe climate change is real,” Titley says. “It’s going to have big impacts, especially in the Arctic, which is changing before our eyes.” He predicts an ice-free Arctic in late summer by 2020. Without a shield of permanent ice, the fabled north-west passage, the graveyard of Arctic seadogs for centuries, will become a maritime superhighway. And, with the shallow Arctic seabed cluttered with oil rigs, he predicts the Bering Strait between Alaska and Siberia “will have the same strategic significance at the Strait of Hormuz” – the entry to the oil states of the Gulf.
As a military strategist, Titley is planning for this. But he also fears a warmer world. He fears more failed states, chaos if the monsoon switches off and hundreds of millions of Asians go hungry, and rising sea levels resulting in millions of angry migrants washing round the planet like environmental flotsam. He said all this in the U.S. government pavilion during the climate negotiations in Cancun earlier this month. The U.S. Navy top brass showed up in force in the Mexican resort.
Whatever sceptical Republicans back in Washington may think, the Pentagon is deadly serious about global warming. It even has its own targets for cutting emissions of the greenhouse gases. Titley says he is fighting a new war – to protect America from climate change.
Somehow, that is reassuring. At least someone in authority seems to be taking climate change seriously – because over two weeks in Cancun, the diplomats charged with putting together a new UN climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol’s current emissions targets, which expire at the end of 2012, seemed to be living in a cocooned universe, where words were all that were needed to save the world.
They don’t get the science in the way Titley does. For them, it was a triumph to fly home from the Moon Palace, a sprawling golf resort near a lagoon outside Cancun, with a piece of paper everyone could sign. Climate peace in our time – even if the agreed text ducked all the controversial issues, promising to discuss them at some future date. In Cancun, nobody agreed to do any more than they promised in the disastrous talks last year in Copenhagen. And Japan and Russia will do less, having announced they will accept no more targets. Now, none of the six biggest polluting nations – China, the United States, Japan, Russia, Indonesia and India – will accept legally binding targets on their emissions. Unless that changes – and nobody in Cancun could say why or when it might – then the UN climate negotiations, which have stumbled along for 18 years since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, are doomed.
Yet somehow, the climate diplomats convinced themselves, as the sun rose over the lagoon last weekend, that they had conjured up a triumph to make the world forget about Copenhagen. The conference chairman, Mexican environment minister Patricia Espinosa, basking in 5am applause, called it “a new era of international co-operation on climate change”.
Nonsense. This was worse than Copenhagen. It was Copenhagen without the sense of failure. Without a sense of reality. Plan A, the UN plan for new legally binding emissions targets, looks headed down a blind alley.
So are we doomed? Does Titley have to tell the Pentagon to prepare for war against future generations of climate terrorists? Maybe not. Because, as Plan A stumbles, Plan B is up and running. And Plan B may save us.
Plan A, the UN process, assumes that fighting climate change is a big, expensive burden that all countries must share. But divvying out burdens is hard. Nobody wants them. That’s why negotiations grind on year after year. Plan B is not about burden-sharing. It is about profit-making, green growth and new technology. It is built on optimism rather than pessimism. And Plan B is taking off.
I was in Cancun for the talks. But as the days passed, I spent less and less time chronicling the blather of the diplomats. It was moonshine at the Moon Palace. Instead, I cruised the numerous side meetings, where experts were discussing deeds rather than words. And what I heard was staggering. People you would never suspect of being wedded to fighting climate change – rear admirals and farmers, shipping magnates and loggers – were all discussing their plans to cut their pollution and create a new low-carbon world, without the UN or any other global agreement. Because they wanted to, and because it will make them money. Many environmentalists hate them for it. They want burden-sharing and hair shirts. They insist we must all suffer to fight climate change. But the truth is we are at a tipping point where green burden-sharing gives way to green profit-seeking. Green technologies will soon be cheaper than dirty technologies. Consumer power means companies need a clean image to sell their products. And governments are making big pledges to cut their emissions unilaterally, regardless of the UN.
Take China. It won’t accept legally binding UN emissions targets because it can’t stand the rich world telling it what to do. But it is doing more right now to cut its carbon dioxide emissions than the UN would dare to demand. In Copenhagen, it promised to improve the carbon intensity of its economy by 45% by 2020. That means it will cut by 45% the amount of carbon dioxide it emits into the air for every dollar of GDP. Now that target is cemented in the next five-year plan, which starts next month. China is now the world’s biggest producer of wind turbines and solar panels. Green technology is its entry point into another global market. Soon it will be top in electric cars, too.
You won’t spot it from the rhetoric coming out of Washington, but the United States is racing to catch up. President Barack Obama’s hopes of getting climate laws through Congress are dead, but America is the world’s top spender on research and development for low-carbon energy technologies. And the world’s largest wind farm is in the oil state of Texas. Spinning windmills are replacing nodding donkeys.
OK, Americans haven’t given up their gas-guzzling cars. But California and many other states have their own anti-carbon legislation that is making them a lot cleaner. Two years ago, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger passed into law “cap-and-trade” legislation – providing economic incentives for reducing carbon emissions – that comes into force in 2012.
Then there is Brazil. After China, it is the world’s fastest growing economy. Brazil is a staggering economic success story built on wrecking the nation’s natural resources – such as trashing the Amazon rainforest and ploughing up its vast grasslands, known as the cerrado. But here is a statistic you probably won’t know. In the last six years, Brazil has reduced the rate of destruction of the Amazon by 70%. It has satellites surveying every hectare and public prosecutors taking action against every fire-setter, illegal logger and chain-saw-wielding cattle rancher. In Brazil, there is a hugely influential zero-deforestation campaign. Manufacturers and retailers of everything from leather shoes to beef steaks and garden furniture are demanding raw materials untainted by deforestation.
Last week, the country’s largest bank, Banco de Brasil, announced it will refuse credit to soya bean farmers invading the forests. Brazil is the cutting edge of a global transformation that has seen deforestation decline by 40% in the past decade. Its contribution to carbon dioxide emissions may now be below 10%.
In Cancun, I heard Brazilian ministers give the details of a government plan to cut CO2 emissions to 39% below business-as-usual levels by 2020. They will do it by ending deforestation and turning tens of millions of hectares of farm soils from carbon emitters to carbon absorbers. Environment minister Izabella Teixeira’s boffins detailed schemes for absorbing carbon by rehabilitating cattle pastures and growing crops without ploughing – just planting the next crop in holes drilled into last year’s stubble. Brazil has probably the best agricultural researchers in the world. They have turned the country into the world’s biggest exporter of sugar, coffee, soya, beef, poultry and orange juice. So they will probably do it.
What else is coming down the track? Europe has already passed into law its 20% emission cut. Mexico, Ethiopia, Indonesia, South Korea and many others have serious carbon reduction plans.
During the economic slowdown, shipping line Maersk, the company with the huge container ships that bring our Christmas presents from China, started sailing its vessels slower. There was no hurry. Slow speeds turned out to cut emissions by 20%. Now Maersk says it will stay slow even as the economy speeds up. Cutting emissions also cuts fuel use – just one example of how carbon efficiency equals economic efficiency.
In Cancun, an organisation called the “Carbon War Room”, set up by Richard Branson, published the emissions figures for almost the entire world fleet of commercial vessels – 60,000 ships. With the UN talks again failing to find a way to include international shipping and aircraft in future national emissions targets, the aim is to get the world’s shipping lines to go green by showing it is more profitable. Next up at the war room: aviation. Then other energy-guzzling industries such as steel, aluminium and cement. Branson, with his nose for the essentials, says we have to prevent 17 gigatonnes of carbon emissions by 2020 to keep the world on track to stop two degrees of warming. Only big business, acting in its own self-interest, can close that “gigatonne gap”. Plan B says it will.
British climate economist Lord Stern says the world is entering an era of “low-carbon growth”. A UN deal could help provide sticks and carrots – like a carbon trading scheme to boost the market forces needed to close the gigatonne gap. But it could also hinder.
The endless talk from the UN roadshow as it has moved from Nairobi to Bali to Poznan to Copenhagen to Cancun, with Durban next year and probably Doha the year after, seems to be getting in the way of progress. And we badly need progress. For the nightmare scenario is that, if we face millions of starving people and billions of climate refugees on the march, not all the ships and missiles in the U.S. Navy will save us.
Fred Pearce reported on the Cancun conference for New Scientist magazine.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1339475/Global-warming-Sandal-wearers-wont-save-greed-US-Navy-will.html#ixzz18Y5tlowI
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Kevin B

What needs to happen in the UK is for ratepayers and taxpayers to stop giving the state money until they start doing the jobs we pay them to do, rather than trying to force us into living our lives according to some utopian vision.
Locally we should demand that Counccils close all the Climate Change departments and spend the money saved on keeping the roads clear and picking up the rubbish – you know, the things we actually employ them to do – rather than telling us what lightbulbs to use or spending money on issuing three or four diferent coloured bins for each houshold and then failing to collect them because the streets are blocked with ice and snow.
Nationally, we should demand that the Government plan to provide us with abundant energy at the cheapest price in order to continue our development as a high tech society, rather than taking us back to the days of windmills, and if we are going to spend taxpayer’s money on science, spend it on ways to produce cheaper energy for the world in order to bring the developing countries up to our standard of living rather than drag us down to theirs.

Phillip Bratby

Grumbler. I was wondering about the olive farm near Ottery. I haven’t heard anything about it for over a year now.

Richard111

All that salt will eventually end up in the sea.
Now that is anthroprogenic polution.

Metryq

@JinOH: Peak Salt

dwright

Heh I grew up in southern Alberta, Canada
The gravel trucks were the best thing to follow at night in a blizzard.
When I got older I would pass them, looking at the upside down SUV 4/4’s in the ditch.
A Shelby Daytona with good tires, just had to remember to not light the turbo in a corner, and never lift when it started to slide.
Knowing how to drive is half the battle, folks.
PS the front splitter made a great snowplow, 4 inches off the ground.
POOF trough snowbanks at 80 mph. I miss that car.

Sean McHugh

‘Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said he had asked the government’s chief scientific adviser to assess whether the country was experiencing a “step change” in weather patterns due to climate change and whether it needed to spend more money on winter preparations.’

This means that the brutally cold winter needs to be due to Global Warming for there to be a need for grit preparedness. So . . . wait for it . . . if they conclude there is a need for grit preparedness, Global Warming must be the culprit! Obviously this is the ‘grit proxy’ for AGW measurement.

Patrick Davis

“tonyb says:
December 19, 2010 at 12:38 am”
I am confident that they will find that this winter, and the 3 previous, cold winters will all be inline with AGW theory and computer model predictions.
Nothing to see here. Move along. Pay your carbon taxes and shut up.
“rms says:
December 19, 2010 at 12:30 am”
Its not really grit, there is a large salt content, and it rusts cars out in no time. The real issues is that the salt causes the snow to melt, but with persistent cold as experienced in the UK these last few winters, it re-freezes to ice. If the snow is not cleared with a plough, it compacts, and turns to ice. Snow is relatively easy to drive on, if you know what you are doing, even without snowchains, but ice is a different ball game. Black ice you can’t see on the road, and if you lose traction on that, you’re just along for the ride.
The last time I saw snow on UK roads was in 1994 on the M4, between Newbury and Swindon. A little snow flurry a couple of miles long across the motorway and we had people creating their own exit ramps into farmers fields.
Not only is the education system being dumbed down in the UK (Australia and NZ too) the driving standards have been dumbed down too.

We had about 3 and a half inches of snow yesterday here in West London, and very pretty it looks too (until Monday morning comes along, that is.)
Here’s the link to that classic article in the Independent (sadly the comments have now been deleted):
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/snowfalls-are-now-just-a-thing-of-the-past-724017.html
And here’s the poem London Snow by Robert Bridges that was quoted at the end of the article. I think this was published in 1890 (?), which would coincide with a rather chilly period here in the UK:
http://www.poetsgraves.co.uk/Classic%20Poems/Bridges/london_snow.htm
According to this site, the winter of 1890-91 was execeptionally cold:
http://www.ukweatherworld.co.uk/forum/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=6544&start=1
Re warmer winters and early springs, here’s a useful reference by Steven Goddard:
http://arcticsnap.com/index.php?id=58
I notice that the Potsdam Institute are theorising that the current cold winter, and the one before that, could be due to melting ice in the Barents-Kara Sea:
http://www.pik-potsdam.de/news/press-releases/global-warming-could-cool-down-temperatures-in-winter
That sneaky global warming! First it causes warm winters and sinister early springs. Then it shrinks the Arctic ice and gives us freezing winters (as revealed by computer models.) What will it do next? My greatest fear that it will start to give us a long series of boring average winters. That would be the worst scenario, because we’d know that it was just lurking somewhere, planning its next move. :o)

Patrick Davis

“Kevin B says:
December 19, 2010 at 2:20 am”
You can go to jail in the UK for not paying your “council tax”. I had one coucil threaten me with that very action. Received an unvieled threatening letter once claiming I had not paid my council tax. The councils prefer direct debit, but, at that time, a standing order was an alternative method of bank payment, but you have control over the debit although there is a little delay, which I chose. So I wrote a letter to my local council requesting my day in court and I would be bringing documentation proving I’d paid “on time”. Never heard back.
I suggest continue to pay the tax, but write to the council. They are (Well were, not sure now) obliged to respond in writing. If you can get anough people to act the same way the councils might change their tone.

george

Cold Englishman, when the met office says -6 for Oxford, we generally get -10 or colder 4 miles outside. Last night was -11 (when I got up at 7) and Benson was -12 at 8.
you can check the actual weather station temps here
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/education/teachers/latest_weather_data_uk_rolling_archive.html

James Evans

‘Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said he had asked the government’s chief scientific adviser to assess whether the country was experiencing a “step change” in weather patterns due to climate change and whether it needed to spend more money on winter preparations.’
Do these people really not get how stupid they sound? A couple of frigid winters and this must be a “step change” due to climate change. Before that we had a couple of warm winters, which had everyone in a panic, because our children would never, ever, ever see snow. Can we just get these people some sedatives or something?

Darkinbad the Brightdayler

Yep, differences between weather and climate taken as a given, the possibility of a step-change is really there in the last five years data, but, it must be only one possible model amongst many being explored in paralell.
The trouble is, the media like to leap from one hobby horse to the next, certain that they are certain this time.
A true statistician is comfortable with uncertainty.

Patrick Davis

“Nigel Brereton says:
December 19, 2010 at 1:35 am”
I drove 4×4’s in the UK practically all my driving life (And I really enjoyed my converion of a Land Rover 90 to V8 4-speed auto). I was always called upon to help out, recover vehicles, assist in bad “weather” or even simply clear the rubbish “fly tippers” and others drop on white roads, RUPPs and Byways so that Ramblers and Horse riders, and 4×4 drivers as well, could use the “roads” for their recreational needs. We always received sh*ttly looks from these types even though what we were doing was clearing things up for them.
Now in Aus, I drive a Subaru.

Philip Bratby
Interesting the effects of the sea here-and of course we are the English Riviera Ha Ha.
About plus 1C at moment. Heaviest snow the last few days here in the ten years I’ve lived here.. (a Couple of inches)
tonyb

There needs to be a reminder that AGW has been saying that the trend towards a Positive NAO (with mild winters in UK and Europe) was probably anthropogenic in origin and that models predicted a continuation of this tendancy. IF we revert to negative NAO dominance they cannot suddenly change their tune.
http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2010/12/18/nao-is-the-winter-of-our-discontent/

Irish winter

rms, you are right. Few thinks “snow plough or plow” or “show shovel”.
The AGW with the “cold winter and snow is a thing of the past” didn’t help. They didn’t prepare.
Ireland has a similar problem than the UK. I tried to buy a snow shovel here in Ireland but they were sold out and they might not get any new ones before next year. Footpaths and side roads were not cleared for about 2 weeks because of this.
I guess the snow shovel industry collapsed because of AGW.

M White

“Maybe they’ll have a look at Met Office climate models and CRU with a real investigation.”
LOL

Roy

When I was a boy at school in the 1950s and 1960s it was very unusual for schools to close because of snow, even during the winter of 1962-63 which was the coldest in Britain for over two centuries. I do remember my school being closed for a day once because the heating system wasn’t working because of leaks from frozen pipes. In contrast hundreds of schools have closed all over the UK after snow in the last three winters.
Traffic levels were a lot lower in the 1950s and 1960s so it is probably somewhat unfair to compare the effects of snow on transport then and now. In other ways we are better prepared today. Only a minority had central heating in the 50s and 60s but now, although there are still quite significant numbers of people, mainly pensioners, who live in houses that they cannot afford to heat properly it is unusual not to have central heating. There have been improvements in insulation too. ( Ironically one of the main reasons for that is to save energy and combat global warming.
Those improvements to house insulation are a positive benefit of the green campaigns against global warming but most people would agree that cutting back on waste and improving the efficiency with which energy is used are highly desirable goals regardless of what is happening to the climate.
On the minus side I think there is little doubt that belief that global warming would make snow a thing of the past is a major factor in us being unprepared for winter whenever we have to venture outside our houses. The increases in taxes on energy and the waste of money on wind turbines that stand idle when they are most needed are other consequences of “green” policies.
When the government’s chief scientific adviser is looking into the question of whether or not we should expect more cold winters (he would have to be pretty stupid to say “no, in a few more years snow will be a thing of the past) he would be neglecting his duty if he failed to consider why Piers Corbyn, who does not believe in the theory of man-made global warming, was able to predict that we would have a very hard winter whereas the Met Office which is staffed by global warmers failed to do so.

Roy (2010/12/19 at 3:28 am)
“Piers Corbyn, who does not believe in the theory of man-made global warming, was able to predict that we would have a very hard winter whereas the Met Office which is staffed by global warmers failed to do so.”
Exactly my point (above) also. Their “climate change tinted glasses” make them blind to alternatives.
For school closures, blame the “safety nazis” and “who can I sue?” culture. My daughter’s school closed becasue they did not have the manpower to clear all the path of snow and were concerned about the risk of children falling.

M White

Grumpy old Man says:
BTW, does anyone have the figures for windfarm output as a % of maximum planned power production for the last 3 weeks?
You may find some of the information you require here
http://www.bmreports.com/bsp/bsp_home.htm

1DandyTroll

@dwright
‘Knowing how to drive is half the battle, folks.’
I’ll test that hypothesis once I have dug out my car.