Over 650 snow records set in USA this week – another wonky surface station located

UPDATE : The NWS responds about the station issue, see below. – Anthony

Almost 60% of the contiguous USA covered in snow.

A volunteer walks along the practice green as snow falls during the Match Play Championship golf tournament, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, in Marana, Ariz. Play was suspended. Photo: Ross Franklin – click for the story

While pundits spin attempts at linking snowfall in the Northeast USA to AGW, much like they do in the summer during heat waves, we find that Nature is just taunting them with snow as far south as the Mexican border in Arizona. And there is more to come, in the next week, we may see snow into Florida. During the last week, 652 new snow records were set in the CONUS as seen in the map below:

CONUS_Snow_records_2-23-13

The record furthest south, in Paradise, AZ, of 6.3 inches snowfall, beat the old 2 inch record going all the way back to 1896. Paradise, AZ is just 40 miles from the Mexican border. You can see all the snow records yourself here.

And according to the NOAA NOHRSC, 57.5% of the CONUS has snow cover.

nsm_depth_2013022205_National

I also had a look at temperature records this past week, where there were 92 new record low temperatures all the way into Florida, and only 20 new high temperature records set:

CONUS_High-low_records_1-23-13

One record in particular, at Jal, NM piqued my interest, because it was in the middle of a bunch of record low temperatures. Not only that, it beat the old record high in 1953 by quite a margin, besting it by 7 degrees:

Jal-NM_record_high

There are no new high temperature records anywhere close to this station, and it stands out like a sore thumb.The nearest official hourly reporting station in Wink, TX just 26 miles away, shows a high of only 62 on Friday February, 22nd according to this data from Weather Underground sourced from NWS:

Wink_TX_2-22-13

Source: http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KINK/2013/2/22/DailyHistory.html

Another station to the North, Hobbs, NM, 23 miles to the North, another official NOAA airport station, also shows no new record high on that day:

Hobbs_NM_2-22-13

Source: http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KHOB/2013/2/22/DailyHistory.html

The weather in the area that day was sunny, mild, breezy, and dry:

Hobbs_Wink_obs_2-22-13

Source: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/maf/version.php?site=MAF&issuedby=MAF&state=&product=RWR&format=CI&db=1&version=2013-02-23+00%3A02%3A12&go=Select

I had a strong hunch that this station in Jal, NM may have poor siting which contributed to the new record anomalously warm high on Friday, it turns out my hunch was correct.

According the NCDC metadata, the Jal station is a Class A station, meaning it is part of the climate monitoring network. While not part of the USHCN, it does serve as a station used for infill and pairwise comparisons when trying to homogenize the surface temperature record. The NCDC location metadata was a red flag to me: JAL POLICE DEPARTMENT WITHIN AND 2 MILES SE OF POSTOFFICE AT JAL NM

With just a little research, I was able to locate a photo of the station, courtesy of a survey page from New Mexico State University. The photo showed yet another parking lot weather station:

Jal-NM_station_photo1

In the photo above (which I have annotated) the Standard Rain Gauge is clearly visible and what looks like the MMTS temperature sensor shelter on a pole is in the distance near the front of the building. Such placements are typical, they try to get over grass where they can trench a cable back to a window or a wall opening to the display in the office.

A further check of metadata revealed the station is located at 32.1103 -103.1872, within the town according to NCDC metadata, and this Google Earth image:

Jal-NM_station_photo3

While that lat/lon puts the station in the parking lot, I note that typically most GPS readings in NCDC’s metadata are good to only about 100 feet. And sure enough, right where I suspected it was, was the telltale shadow of the MMTS shelter. Some annotation was added to the Google Earth image to help you visualize what I know from years of experience doing aerial station surveys.

Jal-NM_station_photo2

The photo above has an imaging date of 2/7/2011, seen in lower left – winter time, just slightly over a year ago. Click the image to enlarge it for a closer view.

So to summarize:

1. We have a new record high that is anomalously warm, 96 degrees F. No official nearby stations set any comparable high temperatures or  new temperature records in the same time frame. It appears all stations experienced similar warm dry breezy weather that day.

2. We have a NOAA temperature sensor a mere 7 feet from the sidewalk and 16 feet from a  large brick building (according to the ruler function in Google Earth and the photo from the NM State survey page).

3. We have a massive parking lot beyond that, and a major road just beyond the parking lot, plus a semicircular drive. Essentially the temperature sensor is surrounded with heat sinks.

4. We have a low albedo surface, dry brown grass, under the temperature sensor in February as evident in the Google Earth photo from a year ago, there’s no reason to suspect this year would be any different.

5. The station is located within the UHI bubble of the town.

So given the sunny dry weather with a lack of nearby comparable temperatures or new records, heat sinks all around, the parking lot, the building, the low albedo of dry grass under the sensor, it seems entirely likely to me that this is a false high temperature record.

I have sent a note to NWS in Midland Odessa to have them investigate.

Update: The original photo of Snow on cacti provided by Scrape TV stated on the Scrape TV article it was from 2013. Alert reader J Philip Peterson pointed out the photo they used was from 2007. I’ve updated the photo at the head of the story for accuracy. – Anthony

UPDATE2: 2/25/13 7AM PST Here is what the NWS Midland says in an email to me:

Anthony,

I did find that JALN5 COOP did erroneously report 96 degrees.  Unfortunately, the report did make it to a preliminary report OSOMAF.  I checked the database use to compile the record to see if the report was corrected, and the database had updated to show the data as missing.  This means that the official record will not include the bad report.

The last available RERMAF online is the latest one in our AWIPS system as well.  Historically, our site has only issued RER products for the MAF site (also the only site for which daily and monthly climate products are generated), though expansion in the future is possible.

Though the graphic in the article compares observations to the official record and appears to show a new record at Jal, reports gathered from COOP observers in real time should always be considered preliminary.  COOP observations are QC’d daily and at the end of the month before they are submitted as final.  Not all COOP sites are ideally sited, but the overriding problem with the Jal report appears to be sensor malfunction.  The high temperature data has been edited for bad data for several days.

The record should show that a new record has not been set at Jal.

Thanks for the heads-up and seeking clarification on this issue.

Regards,

Greg Jackson

Information Technology Officer

NWS Midland, TX

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Likely the high temp record is a dyslexic anomaly – 96 should be 69…..
REPLY: Right, if so, it would not be a record then. This data was entered by touch tone Weathercoder over the phone, so entirely possible – Anthony

Jimmy Haigh

So by the logic of the warm-mongers: we’re gonna fry!

Theo Goodwin

Anthony, you should start a training company for NWS employees. You could train them in siting, management, and evaluation of weather stations.
Thanks for an interesting detective adventure.

Mike Bromley the Canucklehead in Cowburg

Not only is Nature taunting us, but so is “Nature”…..

H.R. (off fishing in Florida)

CO2… is there nothing it can’t do? It’s magic!

Mark Albright

Also some of the “record high temperatures” should have been reported as “record low high temperatures” such as these two for California at Lancaster and Palmdale:
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LOS ANGELES/OXNARD CA
515 PM PST WED FEB 20 2013
…RECORD HIGH AND LOW TEMPERATURES SET TODAY AT AT FOLLOWING
LOCATIONS…
A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 49 DEGREES WAS SET AT LANCASTER
AIRPORT CA TODAY. THIS TIES THE OLD RECORD OF 49 SET IN 1962.
A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 48 DEGREES WAS SET AT PALMDALE
AIRPORT CA TODAY. THIS TIES THE OLD RECORD OF 48 SET IN 1962.
A RECORD LOW TEMPERATURE OF 40 DEGREES WAS SET AT UCLA TODAY.
THIS TIES THE OLD RECORD OF 40 SET IN 1990.

Locally no records were set, but we (N45°22’59.31″ W86°53’49.35″) are getting close to our long term average snowfall after a couple of thin years. I told Milady Wife at breakfast that it’s likely time to get a snowblower for my tractor.

Richard M

The red dot in Tenn. looks a little weird as well.

Jim

The tempreture could be correct. Just taken when a hand was on the thermocoouple to see if it changed. Recorded as the high.

Yancey Ward

Well, clearly, the surrounding locations must be in error, and their temperatures need to be adjust upward. February 2013 in the Southwest US was the hottest on record.

Yancey Ward

Also, what is up with the record high in Tennessee?

Grant

I live near Twain Harte, Ca. Where snow is common enough but the smallish storm that brought about 8″ of snow in about 3 hours on Tuesday also saw snow down near sea level as well. It’s been a mild winter with a very cold December but a warm January. If things don’t pick up precipitation wise it will be two consecutive winters with less than average rainfall and I’ll have to listen to the idiot news commentators about global warming all summer. Doesn’t anyone remember the 70’s drought in California?

mark ro

But, but, the model says ” It’s clear that snowfall will decrease in marginal areas because it will simply be too warm to snow much of the time.”
http://summitcountyvoice.com/2013/02/23/global-warming-new-model-helps-pinpoint-snowfall-changes/

Otter

I thought they claimed we would be seeing hotter colder winters?

Jeff L

On related note, winter storm watches & blizzard watches here in the Colorado front range for tonight & tomorrow with the latest system dropping in out of the Pac NW. Good, tight model consistency indicating this will be our biggest snow this season (in what has been a very dry winter). Lovin’ it! We need the moisture. Snow day tomorrow!

MikeH

Would the wind be a factor in the false readings? I noted that the winds seemed a little strong, 12 and 20 knots. If the winds were wicking heat off of the building or parking lot and the weather station was receiving that warmed air, could it be a contributer to the false high?

michael hart

Do any weather stations have web-cams on site? Presumably, snow on the ground can give a quick rough check for temps around freezing point.

And # (6):
“it does serve as a station used for infill and pairwise comparisons when trying to homogenize the surface temperature record.”
If this doesn’t get corrected, it will artificially smear that grid higher !!

Otter says:
February 23, 2013 at 8:27 am
I thought they claimed we would be seeing hotter colder winters?
===========================================================
Along with less or more drier wetter snow.

Claude Harvey

I’m telling you, guys, “We’re all gonna’ burn up and die! Our grandchildren will never see snow!”
Oh, wait! That was the “old” story. The new story is that, “We’re all gonna’ get ‘changed’ to death!” Hard to keep track of AGW prognostications, isn’t it?. I think Ma and Pa Kettle may be getting a bit suspicious of “them ‘gubment expert fellas'”.

David Klepping

I’m sorry but 2/7/2011 is slightly over TWO years ago, not one as you state.

I love that picture of snow and Catus.I will try to paint it.
Alfred

Mike Barnes

If all you say about the site is correct, how many high temperature records has it been setting? Not to deny the claim that this is an anomalous reading, but its readings should be out of whack all the time.

The record high red dots on the map in the San Diego/Orange County region of Southern California were not record highs, but record low maximums. No record high temperatures have occured in this area in February which is running about 4 degrees cooler than “normal” (which is actually the average of the last 30 years). We all know that the concept of “normal” is invalid in our constantly shifting climate.

Sam Hall

Anthony, be careful with Google Earth. I have seen locations off by more than 100′ when compared to land surveys and site visits.

Dan in Nevada

Transposition seems like a good bet. But the elephant in the room is the proximity to the parking lot which creates a lot of opportunities for idling trucks, etc. to affect temperatures long enough to report an extremely high false max. What happens when the roofers come out and park their tar heaters, if that’s the term, there to maintain the flat roofs? How can this possibly be considered a “Class A” site?

OssQss

Um, er, well I could not stop my keyboard and mouse again 🙂

Bloke down the pub

While not part of the USHCN, it does serve as a station used for infill and pairwise comparisons when trying to homogenize the surface temperature record
Let me see if I get this right. When this station sets a record high the other stations are adjusted to match. When it sets a record low, it is adjusted to match its neighbours. Is that close enough for government work?

Theo Goodwin

Dan in Nevada says:
February 23, 2013 at 9:35 am
“Transposition seems like a good bet. But the elephant in the room is the proximity to the parking lot which creates a lot of opportunities for idling trucks, etc. to affect temperatures long enough to report an extremely high false max. What happens when the roofers come out and park their tar heaters, if that’s the term, there to maintain the flat roofs? How can this possibly be considered a “Class A” site?”
Excellent point. Warmists claim (insist) that the parking lot site would raise the temperature only once and could be easily accommodated in the math. The truth is that the parking lot means that there is a menagerie of influences on that station. My favorite example is two government employees idling their government vehicle next to the public tennis court that I am playing on while they eat a leisurely lunch. If you think that sucker is not hot then you are nuts.

What about that one in Southwestern Tennessee just above the Alabama/Mississippi border? Record high surrounded by record low highs.

It looks to me like a car parked and idling just past the walkway with a mild wind moving the heat in the direction of the sensor could have caused the anomaly. I like the 69/96 idea too.

with that large of a difference the raw data for the station would be flagged for “regional inconsistency” .so a few months from now folks will complain about raw data being thrown out because of QA. anyway it will be interesting to see what the Qa process outputs down the road when the data is checked before being used in homigenization.

RACookPE1978

Sam Hall says:
February 23, 2013 at 9:19 am

Anthony, be careful with Google Earth. I have seen locations off by more than 100′ when compared to land surveys and site visits.

No, the (potential) Google earth error of several hundred feet is meaningless – we have the actual four-lane highway position, building position around the weather station, and parking lot position around the actual photograph of the temperature station. Moving the entire assembly a few feet east/west/north/south will not change things. it’s like moving the city – the middle of the city will still stay the same relative distance inside the city’s UHI zone of higher temperatures. Hwy 18 is running north-south, so the shadows prove the building is immediately east of the thermometer.
Specifically, note that the weather station (thermometer box) is on the west side of a “U” shape building, less than 15 feet from the heat reflecting from the building walls and less than 20 feet from a large parking lot reflecting heat energy “UP’ from the pavement the entire day. Granted, the box is exposed to (potential) northerly winds, but winds were from the east a few miles away in Texas, from the west part of the day here in NM (where the urban heat would be concentrated even in this small a town), and not from the north at any nearby station.
The heat radiated all afternoon from those U-shaped building walls so close to the thermometer box over so many degrees exposure on the box’s east side is the big immediate influence.

Pamela Gray

There are two more just as interesting. Pendleton (probably at the airport) and that one in the middle of the bible belt surrounded by purple dots. Must of been near a Wednesday afternoon sermon at the local Baptist church.

RACookPE1978

Steven Mosher says:
February 23, 2013 at 10:06 am

with that large of a difference the raw data for the station would be flagged for “regional inconsistency” .so a few months from now folks will complain about raw data being thrown out because of QA. anyway it will be interesting to see what the Qa process outputs down the road when the data is checked before being used in homigenization.

Please show us 25 specific evidences of previous “regional inconsistencies” (hot spots) actually being eliminated from Hansen’s NASA-GISS’s homogenization program. Say, find just one record high eliminated per year for each of the past 25 years.
Alternatively, find 25 instances where “cold” records have been used to reduce the hotspots: What happens is not that hot spots are eliminated by recording the real temperatures at cooler areas, but all cold records are moved up (averaged up) into their warmer neighbors.
Within Hansen’s code for his homogenization program, show us the “flags” that highlight such hotspots for manual over-riding or manual correction and elimination.

Ack

Why didnt this little storm, that just rolled across middle America, get a fancy name like nemo? Or did i miss something?

Manfred
Theo Goodwin

Steven Mosher says:
February 23, 2013 at 10:06 am
“with that large of a difference the raw data for the station would be flagged for “regional inconsistency” .so a few months from now folks will complain about raw data being thrown out because of QA.”
That is an incomplete solution because it does not produce an actual reading of genuine data. In the age of computers, why not flag the reading as “temporary aberrant reading” and record the entire aberration for examination later by humans? The larger benefit would be that you would have a record of aberrant readings and proof that weather stations next to parking lots are worthless.

RockyRoad

H.R. (off fishing in Florida) says:

February 23, 2013 at 7:52 am
CO2… is there nothing it can’t do? It’s magic!

Especially if your “CO2” stands for “Careless Official Observation”.

Theo Goodwin

RACookPE1978 says:
February 23, 2013 at 10:22 am
Yes, give us the evidence that RACookPE1978 asks for.

RockyRoad

Steven Mosher says:
February 23, 2013 at 10:06 am

… before being used in homigenization.

The only “science” I know where “homogenization” is not only tolerated, but encouraged. If I did that as a mining engineer my butt would be tossed to the curb before quitting time. That’s why your results (yes, I blame it on all who agree with such deplorable antics) are both questionable and laughable. Over time, it’s getting more and more difficult to justify such “adjustments” as logical or desirable.

RACookPE1978

Manfred says:
February 23, 2013 at 10:27 am

World snow cover from sea ice page
http://home.comcast.net/~ewerme/wuwt/cryo_compare_small.jpg

An image for the northern hemisphere for 2/21/2008 (the February immediately after 2007-2008 low point in northern sea ice extents) would be more informative than that of February21 2007.

Theo Goodwin

Manfred says:
February 23, 2013 at 10:27 am
Pay special attention to Germany. It is five years in a row for Germany. Skepticism is mushrooming in Germany, On top of that mushroom is a Green plus Government rock that is heavier than any other in the West.

Luther Wu

Ack says:
February 23, 2013 at 10:24 am
Why didnt this little storm, that just rolled across middle America, get a fancy name like nemo? Or did i miss something?
______________
it was called Storm “Q”.
http://www.wunderground.com/news/winter-storm-q-states-20130220

Dr Evil

The test of my new snow machine has gone well….

There’s also a Red High Record in Maine, not far from a Blue Record Low in NH.

JDN

@Anthony: would you know how to get a hi-res picture of the snow on cactii? It’s nice. I’d like to make it a wallpaper for my computer.

Mark.R

Eric Booth says:
February 23, 2013 at 7:39 am
“Likely the high temp record is a dyslexic anomaly – 96 should be 69…..”
The same thing has been done here too a number of times IE they said it was 36.1c and a near record when realy it was 31.6c.

Theo Goodwin
That is an incomplete solution because it does not produce an actual reading of genuine data. In the age of computers, why not flag the reading as “temporary aberrant reading” and record the entire aberration for examination later by humans? The larger benefit would be that you would have a record of aberrant readings and proof that weather stations next to parking lots are worthless.
This is what I have been banging on about lately.
Total responsibility for climate records and historical data should be taken away from NCDC, and handed back to each State. It would be quite easy then for a few local operators to check every site, even with physical visits, to ensure that measurements are reliable, and that any adjustments to the historical record, including UHI, were made on the basis of known local information and experience.

pat

Simple. In accord with the latest model, the pole sometimes reaches Mexico. Only Warmists know when though. And they will only tell afterwords.