December cold – unprecedented?

BBC news has reported that 40,000 homes are still without water in Northern Ireland after the recent spell of freezing temperatures. Many have been without water for more than 10 days, and reservoirs are being drained due to an unprecedented number of leaks since the thaw. Calls to a few friends confirmed that, yes, it is bad – friends in Lisburn have been without water since Christmas Eve due to a frozen mains supply (i.e. not in their house); others in Belfast report low water pressure. Water is being rationed in places.

Was it really that cold? A search of the BBC site revealed “‘Baltic’ Northern Ireland” tucked away on the BBC NI news page. Castlederg in the West of the province recorded a low of -18°C on 20th December – a new record. The thing about Ireland is that it sits on the very western fringes of Europe, bathed by the warm Gulf Stream (which is why Doug Keenan considered the 7000 years of Irish tree ring data so important that he pursued Queen’s University through FOI requests). Ireland, despite its latitude, just doesn’t do ‘very cold’ (or ‘very hot’ for that matter).

When I first got interested in climate I ended up corresponding with Tonyb about the temperature records of the Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland. These stretch back to 1796. Incidentally there are a couple of WUWT posts featuring Armagh in the last year (here, here and here). How does this current cold month compare with the historical record at Armagh? Was the recent cold unprecedented?

The currently incomplete December record for Armagh consists of raw data – three automated readings per hour. Rather than waiting until they calculate the December average I looked for nearby stations on Weather Underground and found Glenanne PWS, about 15km to the SW of Armagh. The average temperatures for the two stations over the month of November is plotted in Figure 1. This gave a good linear fit (R^2 = 0.889) with an offset – Armagh being on average colder by just over 1°C.

Figure 1. Average temperatures for Armagh and Glenanne N. Ireland through November 2010

Figure 2 shows the December data for Glenanne on the same scale. Up to the 28th December, the monthly average is -0.86°C. Mild conditions are expected for the next three days and, if I plug the forecast max/min (29th 8/6; 30th 8/4; 31st 6/2) into my spreadsheet to complete the month, the monthly average rises to an estimated -0.23°C for Glenanne, remembering that this is an approximation for Armagh, which is typically colder.

Figure 2. Average temperatures for Glenanne N. Ireland through December 2010

In the Armagh historical record, which I have for 1796-2002 from [1] the average temperature for December is 4.9°C; January average is colder (4.1°C). There are just two individual months colder than December 2010: January 1814 (-2.2°C) and January 1881 (-0.9°C) which puts this one as the third coldest on record at Armagh (2010 might yet tie with 1881 when the actual average for the month is published).

Coldest months according to the Armagh record:

  1. January 1814 -2.2°C
  2. January 1881 -0.9C
  3. December 2010 -0.2C
  4. February 1855 0.0C, January 1963 0.0C
  5. February 1895 0.2C
  6. February 1947 0.4C
  7. January 1985 0.5C, December 1878 0.5C

The list above also puts it in perspective with respect to other extreme years in living memory – most notably 1963 and 1947. According to the Armagh records none of the coldest months in these years saw such extreme cold as the Christmas period this year. The Arctic cold cut though the mild Atlantic air this year resulting in a monthly average 4-5°C below normal (Figure 3).

Figure 3.

Even without all the warming we have been led to expect ;-) December’s cold probably can be described as unprecedented. I’ll await with interest the actual December figures for Armagh (and those from the Met Office). As for this being caused by global warming – bull – it was just an extreme weather event. They happen. Go back >100 years and they happened then too.

Reference

[1] C.J. Butler, A. M. García-Suárez, A.D.S. Coughlin and C. Morrell. Air Temperatures at Armagh Observatory, Northern Ireland, from 1796 to 2002 Int.J.Climatol. 25: 1055-1079 (2005) [Full paper]

UPDATE – from the Daily Mail (h/t Spectator in Tips & Notes).  Looks as if this will be a similar record in other parts of the UK too:

“Met Office figures show that the average temperature from December 1, the first day of winter, to December 28 was a bitter minus 0.8c (30.5f).

This equals the record December low  of 1890.”

The article goes on to point out that December is rarely the coldest month in the UK and a continued cold spell could beat the record set in 1683-84 of -1.17C.

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101 thoughts on “December cold – unprecedented?

  1. On the one hand, this is not news.

    The temperature has been within the normal bands of past experience and there is no evidence here (in isolation) of any change in the climate.

    On the other hand, this is quite interesting and it is probably a many sigma event, if you assume that the trend in the temperature has been rising at say 0.7 or o.8 degrees celsius per 100 years and that the “consensus” expectation is that this rise is now beginning to accelerate, due to the steadily increasing rate of human CO2 emissions.

    But then, apart from UHI, the temperature at many individual locations in Australia has also not been rising for up to the last 150 years.
    Strange that!

  2. The Daily Mail is reporting, that because of the Big Freeze, lots of new boilers are breaking down, because of the low temperature..

    The irony is, that these new boilers are replacing the old reliable ones because of the Kyoto protocol, in theory more efficient and that since 2005 it is actually illegal to fit anything else.

    I hvae had 2 of these in 12 years!!! compared to my parents 30 years and still going strong.

    Unintended green consequences again..

    Daily Mail: “Five years ago, New Labour heralded them as the modern, clean and green way to heat your house. As a result, today there are already eight million ‘condensing boilers’ in homes across Britain. In fact, since 2005 it is illegal to fit any other kind.

    At the time, John Prescott claimed they would massively reduce your carbon footprint and slash your fuel bills. As a result, every year some 1.2 million old-style ‘dirty’ boilers are scrapped in Britain and replaced by this wondrous new variety.
    However, the recent cold snap has revealed a major problem with them. Tens of thousands of people found themselves shivering as their shiny new boilers cut out without warning”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1342357/Central-heating-break-big-freeze-Heres-.html#ixzz19aCkilz0

    So the message is clear: if you have an old boiler, provided it is working properly and is serviced regularly, you are almost certainly better off keeping it until it is beyond economic repair. Parts will be cheaper, it will be less likely to break down and there is no danger of it stalling on the coldest night of the year.
    If you’re worried about your carbon footprint, just remember that the touted efficiency savings are theoretical figures and might not reflect reality. In a well-designed, well-insulated new home that incorporates the ­latest heating technology, a condensing boiler might be more efficient.
    But most of us do not live in such homes – we have poor insulation and ageing pipes and radiators. Remember, also, that manufacturing each new boiler has a ‘carbon cost’ in itself that must be ‘paid back’ by the new boiler.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1342357/Central-heating-break-big-freeze-Heres-.html#ixzz19aD80oer

  3. It’s interesting to note that each of this records occurred during cool periods—coincidence?

    1.January 1814 -2.2°C [1790-1820 cool period]
    2.January 1881 -0.9C [1880-1915 cool period]
    3.December 2010 -0.2C [1999-? cool period]
    4.February 1855 0.0C, [1840-? cool period]
    January 1963 0.0C [1945-1977 cool period]
    5.February 1895 0.2C [1880-1915 cool period]
    6.February 1947 0.4C [1945-1977 cool period]
    7.January 1985 0.5C, [1945-1977 cool period]
    December 1878 0.5C [1880-1915 cool period]

    The list above also puts it in perspective with respect to other extreme years in living memory – most notably 1963 and 1947 [1945-1977 cool period]

  4. From the Daily Mail – The UK’s largest circulation daily newspaper (7 million plus)
    (another similar comment might be stuck in spam?)

    Daily Mail: Did your central heating break down in the big freeze? Here’s why…

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1342357/Central-heating-break-big-freeze-Heres-.html#ixzz19aJ4AAUe

    “Five years ago, New Labour heralded them as the modern, clean and green way to heat your house. As a result, today there are already eight million ‘condensing boilers’ in homes across Britain. In fact, since 2005 it is illegal to fit any other kind.

    At the time, John Prescott claimed they would massively reduce your carbon footprint and slash your fuel bills. As a result, every year some 1.2 million old-style ‘dirty’ boilers are scrapped in Britain and replaced by this wondrous new variety.
    However, the recent cold snap has revealed a major problem with them. Tens of thousands of people found themselves shivering as their shiny new boilers cut out without warning.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1342357/Central-heating-break-big-freeze-Heres-.html#ixzz19aIsFFJA

  5. Never has one word carried so much power and weight as “bull”.

    I’m trying desperately to decide if I ought to laugh, cry, or pour another glass….

    Unprecidented? No. But Little Ice Age Peer? Oh yeah…

    Well done. Just very well done.

  6. Thanks for the post Verity.

    The histogram confirms just how exceptional the month of Dec was.

    At the depth of the cold I travelled between Crumlin and Antrim a journey of about 8 Miles and was astonished to observe double-digit subzero temps the whole way – in the afternoon! (OK my car’s thermometer isn’t calibrated, but I would think it should be within +/- 1 C)

    No one here remembers such unrelenting cold – fortunately no water pipes froze and so far the water supply has not been interrupted.

  7. In Feb ’63 I drove my Mini Cooper “S” on the Thames from Old Windsor [Bells of Ouseley pub] to Runnymede weir and back [4 in car]. Will this coming few months be as constantly cold enough to freeze the Thames and hold a number of mad young motorists without the ice breaking [It was really thick!]

  8. Yes, but the models they are feeding are getting hungry and require that 2010 be one of the warmest on record,, so it isnt that cold in December until the official ‘adjusting’ has been completed. (By the way Squeeler in Animal Farm never changed the figures, they were always just ‘adjusted’).

  9. The Daily Mail has a daily circulation of around 2.1 million second to the Sun’s 3 million so I’m not sure where Barry Woods found his figure

    Interestingly though, the Guardian only has around 300,000 – 100,000 (down from 10 years ago).

    [Typo’s now correct? 8<) Robt]

  10. Silly rabbit, tricks are for scientists. You measurement should be done by taking the 15 warmest average daily temperatures over the course of the winter. Sheez. Amateur scientists…

  11. Can someone help me out here please.

    I’ve just been reading in on a comment thread for the Telegraph http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tomchivers/100050213/joe-bastardi-has-a-wonderful-name-but-hes-still-wrong-about-global-warming/ and the thought occurred to me that I don’t recall ever seeing a statement/opinion (from someone who knows about this cos I don’t) as to what the global AVERAGE temperatures were during the last ice-age and those before.

    If it’s a silly question I apologise unreservedly…..I’m curious that’s all.

    Can someone assist?

  12. Dear Brian Johnson, I would like to get a newspaper report on your driving trip at Windsor on the frozen Thames. Can you help me please?

  13. OT but someone asked about the BBC program on Polar bears last night.

    I watched it in HD – it was a nice story about the bears and the remote controlled “bear cams”. A few bears got caught on the Island with their cubs when the pack ice blew away one night – global warming was mentioned but after a couple of months the pack ice returned early (due to weather) and saved the bears – a story about bears not global warming.

  14. Barry Woods says:
    December 30, 2010 at 12:49 am
    The Daily Mail is reporting, that because of the Big Freeze, lots of new boilers are breaking down, because of the low temperature..

    Here in South Western Pennsylvania an area known as the Laurel Highland, it’s common to see temperatures well below freezing during the winter months. In my 61 years, I have seen temperatures dip to -17 F (-27 C) in December and as high as 69 F (20.55 C), the extreme in both directions. Most heating contractors generally size heating appliance based on heat loss of a home and the outside ambient temperatures we might expect to see over the winter. Living here in South Western Pennsylvania it is best be prepared to see temperatures in the single digits at sometime during the winter months. I remember my father saying, plan for the worst and hope for the best. When I was a kid that inferred having a good stock pile of wood and coal in the basement.

    WHY THE BOILER FREEZES
    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1342357/Central-heating-break-big-freeze-Heres-.html#ixzz19aD80oer

    The one thing that stands out in this article, is why the installers or the manufactures would recommend taking the plastic condensate pipe to a outside drain pipe exposing it to the elements. However if you live in an area where freezing is rare, that may be common practice. All the condensing boiler I have seen installed here in my area, the plastic condensate pipe drains to an inside waste drain.

  15. Ecrotratas,
    I actually watched the Beebs polar bear show, expecting it to be full of gw nonsense…but…but…it wasn’t. It was bizarre. I actually stopped what I was doing and started listerning very carefully…but it didn’t really ‘go off on one’ like I expected it to.

    For sure, it was the usual natural history nonsense, assigning human emotions to animals, projecting etc. And it did make me laugh when its storyline ran concern for the mother bear left stranded on Svalgard when the ice retreated (but no GW hysteria) as if it was a desperate plight of one bear that missed the bus…but then introduced loads of other bears who seemed quite well fed…I suppose the bbc does not do irony.
    But overall, as a window piece for GW alarm……it did not follow the mantra.
    I’m actually quite shocked. In a nice way. Maybe there is hope for the BBC yet…

  16. First a disclaimer: My weather station is not ideally sited (no where on my property is) and the results should not be used in any decision making process.

    I’m on the East side of Northern Ireland at 54 deg 31′ 55″ N and 6 deg 02′ 21″ W.

    So far this December the temperature has ranged from +9.2 C (yesterday) to -13.6 C (morning of 21st but recorded as 20th since before 09:00 UTC). This latter was the lowest temperature I’ve recorded since I started keeping records in 1993.

    More significant, in my opinion, was the continuous frost between 13:08 UTC on 17th and 09:38 on 26th. I’ve never recorded a frost of anything like that duration before. Snow that fell on 16th and 17th kept its powdery structure until the thaw on 26th.

    However, now the Atlantic seems to be back in charge, temporarily at least.

    Incidentally, the minimum corresponded with a total eclipse of the Moon on the day of the Winter Solstice. Maybe the IPPC can find an alarming link there.

  17. Much of the coastline of southernmost Norway, which is also bathed in the Gulf Stream and has an average temperature around 0C in December, ends up around 8-9C below the average this year. For most stations this is 1-2C below the previous records, and some stations have records going up to 150 years back.

    This follows November, which also broke most records.

  18. Now that’s cold when you have to keep your boiler wrapped up in a warm blanky. The new regs on diesel are just as crazy. Here in Wallowa County, Oregon, diesel tanks now have a sticker on them saying they can no longer guarantee freeze proof diesel. Why? Green additives. So now we hook up heater blocks to electricity to warm up with engine block before starting it. Thus adding to our already rising electricity bill. And why is that rising? Required green additives.

    The way I see it, eventually, dems won’t be seen in any governmental building for at least 30 years. The party has destroyed itself. 2012 can’t come soon enough. Maybe it is time for impeachment, censorship, and just plain tar and feathers over dereliction of duty. I for one have had enough and 2012 is too far away.

  19. About the condensing boiler failures: it appears that nobody has taken into account the environmental footprint that is the consequence of prematurely scrapping 1.2 million boilers and having to build and install their replacements. On top of this is the environmental implications of the coercive adoption of boilers that have a noticeably shorter service life. All this to save a 10-15% in fuel costs. This is economic and environmental madness given that the whole exercise is justified solely on reducing CO2 emissions. What we do know about CO2 is that there is a positive correlation between it and crop yields. The issue of temperature forcing is still an open debate, at least amongst open minded people.

  20. Are the published global temperature records, along with their adjustments, peer reviewed?

    Isn’t this a hole in the process? If the temperature sets are not peer reviewed, how can anyone know that the underlying methodology in collecting, compiling and adjusting the sets is corect? There could very well be errors that were missed due to lack of peer review.

    Doesn’t this call into question any published papers that use the data? The result could simply be GIGO, based on unfounded assumptions. Until there has been a peer review, how can anyone trust the published records?

  21. Actually, this cold weather is much more extreme and much more unprecedented than you imply.

    In the UK, we do not do cold Novembers and Decembers – Jan and Feb perhaps, but not Nov and Dec. You may need to check this with the records, but I think you are comparing apples and oranges, if you are judging this December against previous Januaries and Februaries.

    It will be interesting to see what Jan and Feb 2011 bring, now that the North Sea is much colder than normal, having already cooled off with six weeks of freezing Siberian winds.

    .

  22. If water mains are freezing, this means they have not been buried deep enough. Utility crews know what the “frost line” is and nobody would think to dig a trench any less deep. This is one of those “everyone knows” in the culture of people who run backhoes. It comes from experience. After all, who wants to have to fix a line in bitter cold weather? I thus look on the news of widespread mains freezings as anecdotal evidence that the current cold weather is outside the experience even of the generation of those who wrote the construction standards in effect at the time the mains were laid.

    NB: see this detailed discussion for one midwestern state: http://climate.missouri.edu/news/arc/feb2010.php

  23. Denmark:
    The so far coldest december was 1981 with an average of -4,0 degrees C.
    Around 26 dec this year, the december average was – 3,7 degrees C.
    However around 28 dec, on Danish TV weather news due a prognosis of a few more cold days, the speaker made clear that this december would definetely break the 1981.

    So for now, best prognosis is: December will be all time coldes in Denmark.

    K.R. Frank

  24. Glow Bull Worming has already destroyed most of the annual winter crop of fruits and vegetables throughout most of FL, with the possible exception of strawberries. (The farmers turn on their sprinklers to give the berries a nice coating of ice to keep them at a balmy 32F, at least for a few hours, unless the wind is blowing too hard or the freeze lasts too long.) If your area usually gets its winter produce from FL, be prepared for your fruit, vegetable and orange juice prices to skyrocket in the next few weeks. Orange juice prices have already hit their 3-year high mark and we’re only a week into “winter”.

    It would be interesting to have one of WUWT’s statisticians do a little research on the state’s historical temperature data and tell us Floridians if we should be getting ready to move to Hudson’s Bay for surfing or start building ski lifts on the sides of our infamous gypsum stacks. ;-)

  25. Yep, I agree, the problem isn’t the boilers, the problem is the piping of the waste water line. You could A. insulate it B. Run it inside ( though I understand lots of older british houses run waste plumbing onthe outside of the house!) C. Install a water line heater for the 5 days a year it’s that cold. D. Pipe some hottish waste water down it from time to time.

    What amazes me the Lisbon MAIN line freezing. How the heck does that happen? Seriously. Do you know hard it is to freeze running water in pipe? You really have to work at it.

    And: “reservoirs are being drained due to an unprecedented number of leaks since the thaw” Errr… that’s just bad civil engineering, what the heck kind of reservoir is affected a few days of weak ice, and leaks so badly as a result that they have to drain it?

  26. I was just saying how much the North Sea had cooled over the last six weeks. Well, the Irish Sea has also cooled too – it now has ice-floes in it! This is how unprecedented this Nov and Dec freeze is here.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1342731/Welcome-frozen-wastes–Cumbria-Freezing-sea-creates-eerie-wilderness.html

    And these cool seas will do nothing to keep us warm when the cold Jan and Feb months hit us, like they would usually.

    And
    Buckwheat – you mention a ‘frost line’ for water pipes. Errr, N Ireland does not have a ‘frost line’, it never freezes there. This is how unprecedented this freezing is – nobody even dreamed of buring the pipes deeper.

    .

  27. vukcevic says:

    The BBC Bear programme was ………bearable, just, containing as it did some palpable mistruths and subliminal rather than overt AGW deceptions, complimenting the mawkish sentimentality that overlays any furry animal report.

    As to the CET, how can any sane person reading the Met graph come to a conclusion that unprecedented catastrophic Global Warming is ocurring?

    Presented with this, even the intellectually challenged ragbag of career politicians that sadly now have become the incumbents at Parliament would not be fooled into believing the crap.
    I had never before noticed the cathartic qualities of snow. It muffles the footfalls and sounds of everyday living whilst silencing the clamour of fools.

  28. I wonder if anyone has worked out how much more expensive it’s going to be for all those folk with new condensing boilers that now have to keep them on all night to stop them icing up? Of course that only works down to a certain temperature. After that the drain pipe tends to freeze up and eventually the boiler will cut out automatically. A huge rush in the UK for insulation for the pipes has also meant a shortage of insulating materials. But then I guess that’s why they call it living memory. All my pipes are insulated because I can recall the last long cold winters. No doubt folk have also been forgetting to insulate or drain outside taps and pipes in Northern Ireland.

  29. Pamela Gray- 16F at my place in Union Co. (S. LaGrande, a little bit of UHI heated
    area-three schools , one hospital all with steaming physical plants. I am awaiting the
    City Plow/sander with bated breath. I will turn blue with lack of O2 and cold at the
    same time, if I do….
    Being from an old UP Railroad family I wonder if UP (Union Pacific ) is using the Bio
    crap diesel? they have a couple of SD-45 antiques that the local yard uses for right
    of way maintenance . They sit a lot, not running, out in the switch yard. What happens if the diesel is gelled in the tanks and you need to plow snow? I also wonder about the local Governments and the snow removal effort along with oh busses,
    and other govn’t vehicles this is worth following…

  30. theBuckWheat says:
    December 30, 2010 at 6:57 am
    About the condensing boiler failures: it appears that nobody has taken into account the environmental footprint that is the consequence of prematurely scrapping 1.2 million boilers and having to build and install their replacements. On top of this is the environmental implications of the coercive adoption of boilers that have a noticeably shorter service life. All this to save a 10-15% in fuel costs. This is economic and environmental madness given that the whole exercise is justified solely on reducing CO2 emissions…..

    Ditto the car scrappage scheme. The position in the States may have been different but here in the UK, the government introduced a subsidy (because of the economic problems) to subsidise the purchase of new cars when scrapping a vehicle over 10 years old. This was promoted on its enviromental credentials of reducing CO2. However, the difference in fuel economy between a 10 year old vehicle and a new one is only a few miles per gallon, probably less than 7%. The enviromental damage/CO2 footprint in building the replacement car and scrapping the old car far out weighed any reduction in CO2 emissions due to better fuel consumption.
    In any event, if the politicians really believed in CO2 emissions from vehicles having a significant impact, they would overhaul the traffic light system so that traffic is kept running rather than needlessly held up at lights when there is no traffic on the other road. At night all traffic lights could be set to flashing amber for caution. Likewise, public transport other than rush hour service taking people to work and home from work would be scrapped. I do not know what the average occupancy of a bus is but where I live, it is unusual to see more than 10 passengers on a bus, 5 to 8 would be typical and only 1 or 2 not uncommon. A bus puts out about the same pollutants as 30 small cars. It is crazy to have buses driving around most of the day with only half a dozen people on board. This is exacerabted by traffic problems caused to other road users by buses and bus lanes which increases journey times for cars and thereby needlessly increases the CO2 emissions from cars due to extended journey time. There is no grown up thinking in any of this, but what can you expect from polliticians.

  31. If I recall correctly, a new world record high, wherever it occurs (apparently imminent a year or so ago) according to Hansen et al, was going to be the final proof of global warming being upon us. How would a new world low fit into the picture?

  32. We would like to know from our friends in the UK, the following: How are those new tall Wind Mills, recently installed there, working under this obvious consequence of Global Warming?, how many pollutant “fossil fuel” power centrals will you shut down this year?
    Have you noticed, while watching you every morning in the mirror of your bathroom, that you are becoming every day greener and greener, though a bit kind of grayish lately?


  33. Barry Woods says:
    December 30, 2010 at 12:49 am

    So the message is clear: if you have an old boiler, provided it is working properly and is serviced regularly, you are almost certainly better off keeping it until it is beyond economic repair. Parts will be cheaper, it will be less likely to break down and there is no danger of it stalling on the coldest night of the year.

    Our 18 year old boiler had problems during the recent cold spell, and the plumber commented that the prices of spares was going up significantly as the manufactures want you to scrap your old one and buy their new shiny ones.

    However, Barrys sentiments are correct, the life of the new boilers is only about 10 years according to our plumber, which is about how long it takes to get your money back.

    On a different note we have just had our house fitted with cavity wall insulation, virtually for free, thanks to HM government throwing money at these green projects. Well worth investigating I would say, as I never thought we would be eligible for anything.

  34. Ohh, whilst I’m on – I have just had an e-mail from our local Chief Inspector wanting those of us with 4×4 ‘Chelsea tractors’ to volunteer to help get his police officers to work should the need arise again.

    So, on the one hand, you are a social pariah for driving such an anti green car and are made you pay though the nose for the privilege, then, on the other hand, the state wants you to volunteer your ‘dirty’ car to help the local plod get to work.

    It must be part of that big society I keep hearing about.

  35. I’m an avid reader of WUWT and enjoy all the banter at the end of each news story that is put out. However, at some point all this banter is not going to change the fact that the LUNATICS have not only taken over the asylum but they are hell bent on sending us all back into the fricking Stone Age (via ice age).

    We can all have a chuckle when it comes to the green boilers breaking down but at the end of the day there is going to be a real human cost with these junk scientists driving an agenda that is destructive. How much human suffering will it take before the public says enough is enough? How many lives will it take or how much personal property is confiscated before the altar of Al Gore’s religion is smashed to bits?

    Sorry guys but I’m more pissed off today because of the duplicitous people we’ve all put in charge. Just seems that everyone can see that the emperor is butt-naked but the emperor just doesn’t give a damn and presses on.

    It just seems as though there is no hope to reverse all this insanity!

  36. Winter may be coldest in 1000 years

    BRITAIN’S winter is the coldest since 1683 and close to being the chilliest in nearly 1,000 years. . . the average temperature since December 1 has been a perishing -1C. That makes it the second coldest since records began in 1659.
    The chilliest on record was 1683/84, when the average was -1.17C and the River Thames froze over for two months. But with January and February to come, experts believe we could suffer the most freezing cold winter in the last 1,000 years. . . .
    Although official weather records only go back to 1659, weather experts said the centuries from 1100 to 1500, dubbed the “Medieval warm period”, would not have produced winters as cold as today.
    So 2011 could end up being the coldest winter of the last millennium.

    Could the Thames freeze over in January/February?
    http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/view/169577/Winter-may-be-coldest-in-1000-years/

  37. Merrick says:
    December 30, 2010 at 4:48 am

    > Since when is December 1 the first day of Winter?

    Since a long time. It’s widely used as the start of meteorological winter. The winter solstice is the start of astronomical winter.

    You’ll often see weather and climate data grouped in three month periods, e.g. DJF for winter, MAM for spring, etc. Sometimes the in between three month periods are used as cheap smoothing, e.g. JFM and FMA.

  38. CBC just announced the top weather stories for 2010 for Canada.

    First was the Olympics. You know it’s unusually warm when snow has to be trucked to the Rockies in February.

    Second was Hurricane Igor. Even in a season with more numerous Atlantic hurricanes , such a late season storm is unusual. Even weirder: it hit Newfoundland as a hurricane.

    Third was the unusally warm year across Canada. A mild winter was followed by a warm spring and a hot summer. All above normal.

  39. If, as PM says above, that the Baltic Sea is freezing early, why does the artic sea ice show a decrease over prior years? (see the sea ice link on this page). There is a step decrease, perhaps an instument error?

  40. Sorry about the misattribution in my previous comment. My computer is doing all sorts of weird things today;quite frustrating.

  41. Re: BBC polar bear programme

    Very good programme – I loved every minute. The only sly bit of agitprop went something like this:

    “… the mother has raised her cubs for what she knows could be increasingly ice-free conditions…”

    Other than that it was good. Great close-up footage.

  42. Right now: Belfast 5C, London 7C.

    Ric: meterological winter – new one on me. Winter starts December 21st for Environment Canada.

  43. J from Canada
    Consider long term investment to the west of Hudson Bay. The Hudson Bay’s leg of the Arctic magnetic field is fading out, the Siberian one is getting stronger. Polar vortex tends to move away from the geographic pole towards magnetic. Siberian winters are going to get really nasty, while Canada can look forward to the new age of prosperity due to its winters getting less severe.
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/MF.htm

  44. Coldest December?

    I think I have discovered the source of the recent extreme cold weather here in Michigan and around the Country.

    I think it has something to do with the sports prediction that the Detroit Lions would win three games in a row when Hell freezes over.

    ;>P

    Happy Holidays from this M4GW (Mighigander 4 Global Warming)

  45. For the CET record , Dec 2010 will be in the top 10. It looks like we will miss out on the ultra rare <0C month, last seen in 1890.

  46. J the Olympics where held in the Coast Mtn. range not the Rockies.

    Eleven hurricanes have hit Newfoundland since 1775, 1775, 1866, 1873, 1886, 1891, 1893, 1939, 1958, 1995, 2000, 2002. Igor number 12.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Newfoundland_hurricanes

    As for Canada’s mild winter just how accurate the temperature record is the question- https://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/23/government-report-canadian-climate-data-quality-disturbing/

    The CBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is our version of the BBC.

  47. theBuckWheat says:
    December 30, 2010 at 7:08 am

    … I thus look on the news of widespread mains freezings as anecdotal evidence that the current cold weather is outside the experience even of the generation of those who wrote the construction standards in effect at the time the mains were laid.

    One really nice thing about looking at past freezings is that it removes thermometer uncertainties – questions about the quality of 18th and 19th century thermometers or about observation times and errors of 20th century reports and later changes.

    Of course, it still leaves in problems regional changes (e.g. London Bridge vs the Thames ice fairs) and conditions (e.g. snow cover for the season and other weather variability). That something watery froze is proof the temperature got below freezing, whether it happened 100 minutes, 100 years or 100 millennia ago.

  48. It weather, but I am on Phoenix visiting relatives. It’s COLD. To get a hard freeze tonight. Snow level is about 2500 feet. Road from Sedona to Flagstaff is closed. I-17 from Flagstaff to Phoenix is closed. There are avalanche warnings posted for San Francisco Peak.

    Interstate 40 stretching through Kingman, Flagstaff and Holbrook (milepost 71 to 250) has been closed in both directions due to winter driving conditions.

    I-17 northbound remains closed north of State Route 179. Traffic at this time is being diverted to southbound I-17. Drivers are advised to detour in advance or delay travels to avoid congestion at the turnaround.

    I-17 southbound is closed at Airport Road, about two miles south of Flagstaff. Traffic is being rerouted back to the north. Travel south from Flagstaff at this time is not recommended; no reopen time has been established.

    State Route 89A remains closed from Pumphouse Wash at milepost 386 to Forest Highlands Road at milepost 397 due to winter conditions and resource allocation.

    In other words, avoid travel in northern Arizona. If you are already there, hunker down and stay warm for a couple of days.

    Freeze warnings extend from Phoenix East to the California line and South to the Mexican border.

  49. des332 says:
    December 30, 2010 at 3:33 am

    the Guardian only has around 300,000 – 100,000 (down from 10 years ago).

    Pretty soon we won’t have the Guardian to kick around anymore.

    The owners of the Guardian keep it going, they can do this as they also own …er.. Auto Trader. Buying and selling motors. Weird, eh?

  50. >> Gary
    >> If, as PM says above, that the Baltic Sea is freezing early, why does the
    >>artic sea ice show a decrease over prior years?

    Just guessing, but I presume more cold air heading south means more warm air heading north. But the flip-side will be the albedo. All that white stuff a long way further south than normal must make a huge difference to the insolation, especially in the spring. Last year, the snow on the Scottish peaks lasted until July-August.

    .

    .

  51. @ John McManus says:
    December 30, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Right now: Belfast 5C, London 7C.

    Right now: Pittsburgh, 3C (38F) …and this is only the second day since Thanksgiving we’ve been above freezing.

    Cold is a matter of perspective, I guess. :))

  52. Pamela Gray says:
    December 30, 2010 at 6:31 am

    Right on, Pamela. That translates directly into investment advice. Invest in tar, feathers, and rails.

  53. Don Easterbrook says:
    December 30, 2010 at 1:13 am
    It’s interesting to note that each of this records occurred during cool periods—coincidence?

    1.January 1814 -2.2°C [1790-1820 cool period]
    2.January 1881 -0.9C [1880-1915 cool period]
    3.December 2010 -0.2C [1999-? cool period]
    4.February 1855 0.0C, [1840-? cool period]
    January 1963 0.0C [1945-1977 cool period]
    5.February 1895 0.2C [1880-1915 cool period]
    6.February 1947 0.4C [1945-1977 cool period]
    7.January 1985 0.5C, [1945-1977 cool period]
    December 1878 0.5C [1880-1915 cool period]

    The list above also puts it in perspective with respect to other extreme years in living memory – most notably 1963 and 1947 [1945-1977 cool period]

    Two points:

    1. You keep referring to 1999-2010 as a cool period. Yet, according to the UAH satellite data, the last 10 years has been the warmest decade on record and 2010 the warmest year of that decade. Not forgetting that the trend for the 1999-2010 period is positive.
    2. I’m not sure January 1985 belongs to the 1945-77 “cool period”.

  54. Frozen Europe may be newsworthy, but it’s still a bit parochial.

    Forecast for tomorrow in Toronto, Canada is 8C and New Year’s Day may be the hottest ever recorded with 11C (previous record was 9C) quite likely.

    There is what I would call “a dusting” on the ground at the moment here at 44 N./79W. It’s what the English call “an airport closing”, to judge by the laughable sights the news has had for a week now. That’s 100 guys with shovels snow, not “call in the army” snow.

    Nonetheless, I would say that the winters here have distinctly changed since around 1990. They are either colder with less snow, or warmer with less rain. The lake levels have toyed with low points last seen in the ’30s and the ’60s, so I can’t call it unusual, merely notable in a century-long context. Last winter was unusually snowy…for those who can’t recall prior to the ’90s…but was not particularly harsh by 1980s standards. This year has been as dry as any other of the last 20, but north of here, unfrozen Great Lakes combined with strong NW winds have produced significant snow events called locally “lake effect snow”. If the lakes freeze over, as they did in the past, you can’t get moisture from them to the same extent.

    There are fewer days, however, where the record high temperatures at Toronto aren’t from the ’90s forward. Heat island effect? Possibly. The two meterological stations of record are at a small airport down by the (moderating) lake and at the international airport to the northwest. Neither are leafy glades.

    So from the viewpoint of 40 years of noticing the local weather, there are changes. Spring starts earlier and fall later. Winter isn’t nearly as dire (although seemingly windier) as it once seemed. It is, however, quite variable. It’s now common to have green Christmases, green New Year’s Days, and a lack of snow on the ground that persists well into January. That part is relatively (15-20 years) quite different from the past.

    Take from it what you will.

  55. Re: Thames freezing over.

    If the Thames froze over for a month this February, I wouldn’t give it much creedence. Were it to freeze over each February until 2020, that’s a climate trend I can believe.

    I’m not sure that with all the barrage, bridges and other controls on the Thames that it’s even possible for it to freeze over now. I would imagine its use as a source of cooling water for industry means there’s a lot of warm water circulating back into it that would have some effect not present in Tudor/Stuart times when people used to hold fairs and run braziers to cook ye olde stickmeats, etc.

  56. Kay:
    Is that American thanksgiving or Canadian thanksgiving?
    Nova Scotia has been mild, probably less than 10 days below freezing since thanksgiving ( Cdn). Great for us but this would be cold for Costa Rica. You are correct: cold is relative.
    Ric:
    When I googled US weather service first day of winter, I got Dec. 21 the same answer as I got from googling Environment Canada.

    I suspect that Dec 1 ( or 5 from another source) is a convenient popular convention and Dec.21 is correct scientifically.

  57. nc:
    I think the answer to your problem about Canadian temperatures is answered by
    Nick Barnes at Clear Climate Code.

    Our Canadian government shows some antipathy to Environment Canada ( all civil sevants actually) and can’t be assumed to be truthful ( unlike that nice Mr. Blair). Leave it to an Englishman like Mr. Barnes to tell the truth.

  58. Alchemy– it’s called weather.

    BTW — always check decades old recollections against recorded temps/rain/snowfall for the time. results can be surprising.

  59. It is interesting to note that January 1814 tops the list. Many today think of the the influence of the eruption of the giant equatorial volcanoe, Mt Tambora and the ‘Year without a summer,’ that followed, but that was in 1815-16. The fact that this has happened in December will not be great news for all people of the north on both sides of the Irish Sea!

    I have transcribed the following that may bear some similarity to the current/future situation as the northern winter pans out!

    “From The TIMES Archive – February 2nd 1814.

    THE WEATHER

    LIVERPOOL, Jan 29

    The severe frost, which has continued so long, and produced such unusual inconveniences to the nation at large, and to this neighbourhood in particular, began to take its departure on Wednesday last, and has been succeeded (though not without laterutissions of returning frost) by a mild and gentle thaw. The interruptions and delays experienced by the mails have been greater than any thing of the kind before known, since the commencement of that valuable establishment. In all parts of the United Kingdom great irregularities have taken place, and in none greater than in the roads through which the mail passes from Liverpool to London.

    These irregularities have necessarily caused very serious inconvenience in the commercial world, as well as great uneasiness and distress to families and individuals, in various circumstances and situations. Even the want of newspapers has been felt as no slight grievance in the present critical state of public affairs, especially to many individuals in this and other places, to whom their daily repast of public news has become almost as necessary as their daily food.

    It is difficult to describe the agitation felt in this place for several days at the blowing of a horn, or any other indication of the arrival of a mail. A crowd was instantly collected, and as disappointments in this way, either from accident or design, frequently occurred, the public mind was kept in a state of constant suspense and fermentation. The general suspension of business, occasioned by the state of the weather, increased this curiosity and impatience.

    But the most serious evils of this distressful month have been felt by the lower class of mechanics, whose labours, in many instances, were wholly suspended by the severity of the weather: and this calamity was greatly aggravated by the dearness of the markets, which, from the stoppage of the usual supplies, took a sudden rise in most of the necessities of life. Articles of luxury experienced a still greater advance, but this was comparatively a slight inconvenience. We have much satisfaction in stating, that public and private charity were never, we believe, more active than during this calamitous period, by which alone the extremities of distress have, in some degree, been prevented.

    A Gentleman, who was upon the spot, informs us, that on Monday, the 24th alt. he witnessed, on the Solway Frith, a singular phenomenon. The Channel, from the English side to Scotland, was a complete body of ice, without any opening, even for a boat to pass, resembling in appearance a vast plain covered with rugged frozen snow. It extended as far to the Westward as below Workington, and presented a most singular aspect.

    Upon this subject, our Maryport Correspondent also writes us as follows:- – “The Solway Frith and channel towards the Isle of Man, for a whole of last week, presented a phenomenon never before witnessed by the oldest inhabitant. While the tide was making, all to the northward of Workington seemed like a plain covered with hillocks of snow, and on the ebbing of the tide, this scene was exhibited till the eye met the horizon. On Monday last, the revenue boat, stationed at Whitehaven, made an attempt to visit Maryport, to which place it got within about a mile, when it was enveloped among innumerable lumps of ice. Some of which were from 7 to 10 feet in thickness. The boat was obliged to return to Whitehaven. The oldest seamen say they never saw such a field of ice (as they term it) but in the northern latitudes, or on the banks of Newfoundland.

    The postman who goes between Penrith and Alston, it is feared, has been lost in the snow, as he has not been heard of since Tuesday evening, at which time he was seen in the village of Gamblesby, about half way from Penrith. He had two horses with him, which likewise have not been heard of.”

    Some of the words were my best guess at what the newspaper copy would allow me and are as close to verbatim as I can be sure of.

    Cheers

    Coops.

  60. Like some others I was a bit incredulous of claims of water mains freezing with the ranges of temperatures being reported. Here in southern Minnesota minimum cover for water mains is at least 7 feet and we still see watermains freezing, but it’s usually when temps stay below 0F for a number of continuous weeks and is likely to occur where subsequent regrading has reduced the cover over an old main. Places like Ireland would probably not have frost protection factored into their design standards, but water systems are highly stressed(80-90 psi routine pressures and 150 psi as a minimum standard they must tolerate) and even in less inclement climes require a substantial cover just to protect them from the effects of passing traffic. The temps reported may be locally exceptional but the relatively short duration of the event doesn’t seem likely to drive frost down to a level that would freeze a functioning water main, even if it only has cover sufficient to meet structural requirements.
    The BBC story suggests that the leaks in the system appeared after the thaw, which indicates they may have a more serious problem than temporarily frozen mains. The expansion and contraction of soils that happen when a frost cycle occurs substantially weaken roadbeds and, if vehicles with large axle weights are allowed to travel on roads which are coming out of a frost cycle, significant deformations of the road surface can result. If the water system has marginal cover those deformations can cause the slip joints on the mains to come apart. If in fact that is what has happened they are looking at an incredible effort and expense to restore the integrity of the system.

  61. Let’s look at the upside: If you were to pick a place on the face of the planet where a non-functioning shower or bath would cause the least inconvenience it would have to be the British Isles.

    Still remember the first evening I spent in London, when my request for a shower after the long flight from Australia saw my host direct me to a shared bathroom on the communal landing. There was no shower, just an ancient tub that you filled by feeding 20p coins into a gas meter, which generated just enough lukewarm water to float the short-and-curlies left behind by previous occupants.

    Of all the things the Poms do without — sunshine, good food, beaches, women who aren’t fed chip butties from infancy in order to achieve that blotched and proto-Pommy pasty complexion — a working bathroom is way down the list.

  62. Well I dont quite live in Northern Ireland, but I can see over the border from the house, so thats close enough.
    It was certainly cold! dam cold! the rivers were almost frozen over. I have a boat on the river Erne that was locked in 6″ of ice. Two older wooden boats were sunk yesterday as the ice broke up.
    The last time this river froze to any degree was less then 12 months ago (although only 2″, The lakes were 7″) Previous to that was 1963 and 1947. possibly, also in the 50’s as a friend of mine tells me he remembers crossing the frozen tributary, the Annalee as a child.
    An event was recorded in Irish history, where an army marched crossed the river Shannon at a place called shannon bridge on december 2nd 1602, but there was no bridge there at the time!

  63. NK,
    True, but while actually finding that data for arbitrary data points is easy (compare today to Dec. 29/85, for instance, gives a noon high at Toronto of -1.5 C yesterday vs. -5.0C on the same day 1985…somewhat meaninglessly), it is trickier to devise an average December-March temperature and total precipation for 1980-90 vs. the same for 2000-2009 for a given location.

    It’s possible to do it with the data available to the public, but it would take a considerable amount of old-fashioned tabulation.

  64. Why post about december temperatures before the month is over? You could have had real data
    Instead of NASA type extrapolated temperatures!

  65. Alchemy says: “…I’m not sure that with all the barrage, bridges and other controls on the Thames that it’s even possible for it to freeze over now.”

    You may be right. I understand that a lot of changes have been made in just the past 50 years that would make it a lot less likely to freeze solid.

  66. @Dave Wendt
    Good points about the expansion and contraction of road beds. I’ve seen that suggested somewhere else today and there are now serious problems being reported elsewhere in the UK (Wales, NW England).

    @Dinky Di Digger
    Your perception of the showering habits in the UK is rather outdated. Either that or you need to go upmarket a bit ;-)

    @40 shades of green
    yeah but it wouldn’t be as much fun!

    @jorgekafkazar & Alchemy
    I have wondered that too, especially with the amount of traffic you see on the river these days. It could be hard for the water to become stratified enough that the cold top layer would freeze. I suppose in prolonged cold the whole length/depth of the river becoming sufficiently cold would allow ice to form at the surface despite the disturbance.

  67. Vuk etc. says:
    December 30, 2010 at 8:49 am

    The cold now circles the N. Hemisphere, and I wonder if the Japan current now consists of an infinite loop of cold water.

  68. “Alchemy says: “…I’m not sure that with all the barrage, bridges and other controls on the Thames that it’s even possible for it to freeze over now””

    Actually, it is getting more likely now. The big heat generators that would have prevented the ice, like Battersea Power Station, have closed down. There is no industry on the Thames anymore, or in Britain for that matter, because everything is made in China. Shuffling money and financial gambling produces lots of hot air, but no heat.

    Plus the many bridges may assist. The biggest asset for ice formation was the old London Bridge, which had very small arches, and greatly assisted ice formation. Lodon Bridge is long gone, but we now have dozens of bridges to form ice-floes around.

    .

  69. The Met Office, based on their warmist theory, keep saying that a cold winter in the UK is ‘1 in 20’ and so is nothing very unusual.

    Three cold winters in a row is thus 1 in 8000, which means their warmist theory has a 99.9875% probability of being wrong!

  70. Ian Cooper says:
    December 30, 2010 at 2:56 pm
    ‘… he witnessed, on the Solway Frith, a singular phenomenon. The Channel, from the English side to Scotland, was a complete body of ice, without any opening, even for a boat to pass, resembling in appearance a vast plain covered with rugged frozen snow. It extended as far to the Westward as below Workington, and presented a most singular aspect.’

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1342731/Welcome-frozen-wastes–Cumbria-Freezing-sea-creates-eerie-wilderness.html
    ‘Magical: Two children gaze at the frozen foreshore on the Solway Firth as ice floes the size of cars wash in’

  71. Cumbria, right now, 5.4C.

    Well that makes it official. Spring has arrived early in Cumbria. Winter was cold but at only a few days long long, short.

  72. It was bitter here in East Anglia, but not as cold as the Ulstermen got. On the other hand, this morning I sat working in my study with the window open.

  73. rbateman says:
    December 30, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Hi Robert
    Not directly related but I hope it makes sense, I posted this on J Curry’s blog:
    here is my closing comment for year 2010:
    – No climate model is viable without including AMO and PDO events.
    – De-trending is not conducted properly
    – There is no understanding what the source of these events is.
    – Such inadequate information is grafted into climate models as if it they were predictable variables (which is nonsense).
    In this link
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CD.htm
    I show true relationship between AMO and PDO (properly de-trended, on 11 year m.a. bases, hence only up to 2005), as well as, the to the climate science ‘unknown’ variable, the North Atlantic Precursor (rounded to nearest integer), which is not a function of any solar or climatic parameter. Result is either an extraordinary coincidence or alternatively one of the possible climate drivers, that the climate scientist will have to pay more attention to.

    Happy New Year to all.

  74. The N. Ireland reference to “Baltic” cold is quite humorous. In the Baltics, I’m told, they refer to severe cold snaps as “Russian” cold! And, of course, european Russians talk of “Siberian” cold. But, in Siberia, they take pride in their records, and tell you that it’s “dry” cold, just like Arizonans talk about their “dry” heat. Weather is eternally variable, daily or monthly records ate relatively short-lived stations are not all that meaningful in the climatic scheme, and human expectation of seasonal stability is often misplaced.

    BTW, the Baltic Sea lies mostly below the Arctic circle, thus providing a negligible contribution to Arctic ice extent.

  75. Dinky Di Digger says:
    December 30, 2010 at 3:56 pm
    “typical Aussie diatribe”
    ================
    You’re just annoyed at England keeping The Ashes, aren’t you?

  76. At http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/station_data/ check the surface temperatures for Ireland at Valentia Observatory, Cork, Shannon and Dublin Airports, Casement Aero, Belfast and others in the area. All show continuing falls over the last three to four years of at least 1.4 degrees C. As many other places all over the world show the same extent of falls over the same period, I’m surprised it has not aroused more comment in the blogosphere, particularly as the warmists seem to have got so agitated over an alleged GT rise between a mere 0.7 and 1.0C over the last hundred years!. Am I missing something? Of course, I won’t hold my breath waiting for an explanation from any AGW believer.
    However, a Happy New Year to all from way down under in Tasmania, Australia – the best place in the world!

  77. J says:
    December 30, 2010 at 9:16 am

    nc says:
    December 30, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Warm Winter last year in Canada? Well, we had a bad winter in Wyoming, with the last snowstorm on May 12, and every time I searched for the source of the cold air, using satellite images and surface maps, I found it pouring over that lightly guarded Canadian border east of the Rockies.

  78. The UK official Meteorological Office site now (as at 3 January 2011) shows the final calculated December 2010 mean Central England Temperature (CET) as minus 0.7 Celsius. This makes it the coldest December since December 1890 (which was minus 0.8 celsius). As such it has been the second coldest December in the Central England record since 1659 – as far back as the instrumental record goes!.

    The final mean CET temperature for the year 2010 is also shown as 8.89 celsius. This makes it the coolest year in the record since 1986.

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