WaPo's 'baked in goodness' of climatic hyper-adjectives

It has been obvious for years that there’s a “say anything” aspect to climate and weather reporting that has gotten out of hand. Today I saw a prime example of this sort of hyperbolic exaggeration in action via Twitter.  The Washington Post Capital Weather Gang often does some very good reports on weather, but sometimes when they stray into the realm of climate and records, they get just a little too excited.

For example:


Source here. Here is the article they Tweeted about, saying:

This winter’s shocking warmth in the Arctic, some seven degrees above average, has oozed into the Alaska which is experiencing one of its mildest recorded winters.

So far this winter, Alaska’s temperature has averaged about 10 degrees above normal, ranking third warmest in records that date back to 1925.

And, for the first time on record, not a single observing location in Alaska has recorded a temperature of minus-50 or colder.

No -50F readings so far? And this is a bad thing?

They don’t seem too pleased about being corrected on that baked and roasted terminology:


For reference, Common oven temperatures (such as terms: cool oven, very slow oven, slow oven, moderate oven, hot oven, fast oven, etc.) are set to control the effects of baking in an oven, for various lengths of time:


And the reality of actual temperatures right now in Alaska is:


This sort of exaggeration is what happens when you think only in terms of anomaly temperatures that are branded hot reds in the map above – you lose sight of the real temperatures.

In the current temperature map, we see a number of 30’s and 40’s in southeast Alaska, but not a one that could be called a “baked” or “roasted” temperature equivalent. Given the normals seen below in the following tables, I don’t see these temperatures as meriting the level of alarm that WaPo assigned to them.


Average Temperatures for Alaska in February

Average temperatures for February at cities, towns and parks throughout Alaska are listed below in degrees Fahrenheit and Celsius.

The tables give the normals for maximum and minimum temperatures based on weather data collected from 1981 to 2010 by the US National Climatic Data Center.

Southeast Alaska

Average February temperatures
High °F Low °F Place High °C Low °C
43 33 Annette Island 6 0
35 25 Glacier Bay 2 -4
30 14 Haines -1 -10
37 28 Juneau 3 -2
41 31 Ketchikan 5 -1
41 32 Sitka 5 0
39 29 Wrangell 4 -2
36 23 Yakutat 2 -5

South – Central Alaska

Average daily temperatures in February
High °F Low °F Place High °C Low °C
27 14 Anchorage -3 -10
16 -5 Gulkana -9 -20
33 20 Homer 0 -7
33 23 Seward 1 -5
28 9 Talkeetna -2 -13
31 21 Valdez 0 -6

Southwest Alaska

February temperatures: daily averages
High °F Low °F Place High °C Low °C
18 4 Bethel -8 -15
34 24 Cold Bay 1 -4
27 11 King Salmon -3 -12
36 26 Kodiak 2 -3
12 -10 McGrath -11 -23
28 10 Port Alsworth -3 -12
29 20 St Paul Island -2 -7
34 30 Shemya Island 1 -1

Interior Alaska

Average February temperatures
High °F Low °F Place High °C Low °C
10 -13 Fairbanks -12 -25
17 -2 McKinley Park -8 -19
7 -13 Tanana -14 -25
9 -14 Tok -13 -26

Far North Alaska

Average February temperatures
High °F Low °F Place High °C Low °C
-8 -20 Barrow -22 -29
5 -15 Bettles -15 -26
6 -8 Kotzebue -14 -22
15 -1 Nome -9 -18
-10 -24 Prudhoe Bay -23 -31

National Climatic Data Center. NOAA’s 1981-2010 Climate Normals.


81 thoughts on “WaPo's 'baked in goodness' of climatic hyper-adjectives

  1. Pretty sure they didn’t mean ‘baked’ in the literal sense. Even when the temperature is 100F nobody is literally baking.

    • Hm. So that’s why Anthony wrote, baked . Thanks, Bill 2 and also…roasted (just FYI…. for all the other literalists around here….).
      You will probably be (MUST be, given such a remark) amazed to know that Anthony graduated from college and did quite well, too. (eye roll).

      • How? To me no one can be ‘baking’ or ‘roasting’ without sweat on their brow. It means feeling the heat. If one has to put on protective clothing to go outside, like furs or a freezer suit, no way is it ‘baking’ or ‘roasting’ out there.

      • A.D. Everard, PD isn’t worth your wasting your excellent writing and intelligent insights on. PD needs to be taken to school for his or her inane rudeness to you, so, here:
        PD: this is what your English teacher meant today when she said, “PD, someday, you will learn how to paint lovely word pictures with the grand palette that is the English language,” and then used her red pencil to edit your essay about “The Cremation of Sam Magee” like this:
        The cremation of Sam Magee was in a place that set in Alaska. is baking hot. I mean, it is cold and all, but even though their lashes froze and everything, compared to how cold it COULD have been, it was really roasting. You see, Sam Magee was from Tennessee and it seemed super cold to Sam, so that‘s why he was glad to “sizzle so.” And that’s how we know that the Klondike can be BAKING hot and roasting even if it is 0 degrees Celcius. In the interior of Alaska in the winter, the cold grabs you in its iron grip. If you use your brain, you can survive. If you are careless, it will kill you.
        And I would also like to tell you about Sam’s mother. She was a nice lady, but she kept the house too warm all the time. So, Sam couldn’t get used to the cold through his parka’s fold. No sirree. So, that poem is about how mothers can ruin a child for life. And even kill them because they can’t stand it any longer. I think Robert W. Service had a very hard childhood. I think his mother’s name was Maggie (mm hm) and he unconsciously got rid of her in his writing. And his grandmother’s name was Alice May. She gave him plums.
        The End.
        Please re-write this, PD. You are capable of much better. To help you, I would like you to just answer these questions with what you write: 1. Why did Sam Magee’s captain (the one whose voice Service uses to tell the story) agree to cremate Sam? 2. How did the captain feel about doing that to Sam? 3. What was humorous about the story?
        You can DO this PD!  Your revision is due by the end of class on Friday.
        Please tell your mother to call me.
        Ms. Moore

      • Janice – Thank you. That was wonderful and made me laugh out loud. 😀
        Toorightmate, yes, I thought the very same. It’s a game of words, emotive words at that.

      • A pet peeve of Yukoners is the tendency of Americans to assume and declare that ‘The Klondike’ is in Alaska.
        It isn’t. It’s in Canada. From the headwaters to the mouth.
        Sam McGee was from Tennessee but his creator was Canadian. Most of the gold-miners of the 1898 rush were Americans. We tried to build a wall but Mexico wouldn’t pay for it!

      • Thank you, Mebbe AND Old Sea Dog (yeah, you, too 🙂 ):
        CORRECTION: “The Cremation of Sam Magee” was … set in Alaska the Klondike
        … where my Washington State, USA great-grandfather (sorry about that, Meb) found a gold nugget the “size of a baby’s fist.”
        And, I think that, while Old Sea Dog is correct, for Service (born in Lancashire, btw) grew up from age 5 and began his young adult life in Scotland, the Canadians have a claim on him, for he fell in love with their country. British by blood, Scottish by heritage, and “Canadian” by choice.
        (Source: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/robert-w-service )
        Note re: ” ” for Bill 2 — that means that I do not consider Service to literally be a Canadian. (lol)

    • ‘baked’ in the literal sense
      it is hard to see how mostly below freezing temperatures can be called “baked”. more likely the WAPO climate gang got into the laughing tobacky and are themselves fully baked.

      • Since they are cooking the data, perhaps Baked Alaska is appropriate. Meringue on the outside, ice cream on the inside and flambeed with cognac.

      • ferdberple: You have to follow their logic. In order to bake a cake, you pour your batter into a pan and when baked, it is no longer batter but sort of a semi solid piece. And so when they are referring to Alaska in the winter time and the temperatures are such that you are baked or baking, this implies that water placed outside becomes a solid and so, kinda sorta gets baked and turns to ice.
        Don’t you understand global warming / climate change yet?

      • mebbe:
        Robert Service was a Scot. AKA The Other Scottish Poet Named Robert.
        Yes, Janice, me at the nitpicking again.

  2. so is it 7 degrees above average…….or is it 10 degrees above average?
    “ranking third warmest in records that date back to 1925.”
    So it’s been cooling then………the record highs are going down

    • When the PDO was positive and there were more frequent El Ninos, Alaska’s average winter temperatures increased by 5°F nearly tripling the global average and advocates embraced that warming as evidence of CO2-amplified climate change. When the PDO shifted back to its cool phase, Alaska and the Bering Sea have become the earth’s most rapidly cooling regions, but there was little coverage of that change and the reversion to a “deep freeze”.
      Read Wendler,G., et al. (2012) The First Decade of the New Century: A Cooling Trend for Most of Alaska. The Open Atmospheric Science Journal, 2012, 6, 111-116
      Now that we are in an El Nino and the PDO is headed back to positive, we will hear more about baked Alaska.If only “cooked temperatures” got such coverage.

  3. It has been obvious for years that there’s a “say anything” aspect to climate and weather reporting that has gotten out of hand. Today I saw a prime example of this sort of hyperbolic exaggeration in action via Twitter.

    I saw a similar example on “The Storm Channel”. I had it muted in the morning but the graphic said “rain targets Philadelphia”.
    Since when does rain “target” anything?

    • Another example within the last few weeks. They described the snow in Boston (I think it was) as the most in the last 60 years.
      What about the previous years?
      Make what’s “now” sound “different” than then.
      If it’s not, where’s the “Change”?

    • In a similar vein I’m always slightly irritated when a weatherperson says “the forecast is calling for…” WoD – weather on demand.

  4. “This sort of exaggeration is what happens when {you are “Here comes the cliff!!” desperate} –”
    The ear-splitting shrieks reported in the above post:

    Arctic roasts!

    shocking warmth in the Arctic

    Heh. I think I’ll just take another pot shot at those losers:
    Heh, heh, heh, all you Enviroprofiteers — your doom is sealed.
    Proven out of your own mouths.

  5. That’s what anomalies do to us. When you see an Alaskan January anomaly +7 °C, and an August anomaly -4 °C, you get an impression that January was much warmer than August.

    • When a strong El Nino include NW Europe with a red spot because it encourages a Euro high especially around the beginning of Winter with a Eastern based El Nino. The current El Nino has become central based, but a little too late to have any affect on the UK until just recently with declining strength.

    • This was my first thought on reading this post “Don’t they know there’s been an El Nino”! Hey Ho Hum.
      James Bull

  6. The operant fallacy in in all these hysterical fantasies of excessive heat is the assumption that, over time, temperature highs and lows will follow closely with their long term averages. If there has been one thing strongly reinforced by my over six decades of weather nerdery, it is that nearly the most rare of weather phenomena is the perfectly average day. I’ve spent 65+ yrs in SE Minnesota and although I haven’t bothered to do the math, I would make at least a small bet that days when the high or low or both was more than 10 degrees off average would represent a quarter to a third of most years. Our “climate” is not quite Alaskan, but many days are more severe than at least some parts of that state.

    • I started keeping temperature records here in Mechanicsville, VA (just outside Richmond) back in July of 2013. It’s been fun. With the aid of charts from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, I’ve been able to compare temps here with averages for RIC, Richmond International Airport, which is what they use for their official long-term (30-year) averages. I just now looked, and in 2.5 years, our temp has been at the long-term average for the date ten (10) times, or on average once every three months. On none (0) of those ten days were the actual high and low temperatures at the long-term high and low averages. For instance, say a day’s average here in Mechanicsville was 60, with a high of 70 and a low of 50; the average high and low for that date would have been (e.g.) 72 and 48, so in spite of having an average mean temperature, the day did not exhibit the long-term high and low. I can thus safely say that, in the 2.5 years of my records, I have never experienced a truly average day here in Mechanicsville. Now, if you factor in such things as precipitation (which I have also recorded), you take me further away from ever experiencing a truly average day. I guess I’ll just take what I get, and like it!

      • If Mechanicsville gets 45″ rain annually, then you don’t have an avg day unless you get 45/365.25 = .123″ precip every day. 🙂

  7. Red Hot – Blue Cool
    Seems they are going to the streets now. Gathering their flocks.
    Guess they have given up on trying to convert us.

  8. The High Priests of AGW threatened us with fire…… but, what got ’em in the end?
    Water is, ultimately, the main driver of climate on the planet earth.
    AGW’s Death Throes (and allegory)

    (“… I’m melting” — Wizard of Oz — youtube)
    Just zombies, now. Don’t be afraid. They only sound like they can do anything.
    But, WUWT, nevertheless, must fight on, shining the junk-science-exposing light of data on them, for zombies can frighten the ignorant into doing desperate deeds.
    Hurrah for WUWT!

  9. I would enter a lengthy comment here from Tucson, AZ – but at 66 degrees in my back yard at the moment, its darned hard to type with the full asbestos suit on…

    • lol
      [“Just” a single, one-line, lower-case, low key, small letter ‘lol’? Not even a period to follow? .mod]

      • Well, dear .mod (ahem) — I HAD promised to stop commenting (at 3:58pm), but, a minute later I saw Reality and just HAD to applaud, so I did so as inoffensively as I could, in 3 chars. But! THANKS TO YOU 🙂
        I got to write a whole lot more! Yay!
        Laugh-out-loud! Laugh-out-loud!
        Jingle all the waaaaay!
        Oh what fun it is to write
        on watts up — hope that’s okaaaaaaaay!
        (do I need to tell you what tune to sing that to? lol)

  10. Oh, man, those AGWers made me laugh….. I feel like I do when I listen to this!
    “Hamster Dance Song” (youtube)

    Huh? Oh. HAPPY. (<– that was for the 97% of WUWT readers who think that song is just "weird").
    Yeeeeee haw!
    Well, mostly this room is empty, so, I …. WHAT?? Stop commenting? Okay!

  11. OMG !!! It’s almost 1 degree in Ontario, Canada !! Pleeeeease, someone save us from this horrible heatwave ..AAAAAAaaaaaaaaa……….i’m meltiiiiiinnnnngggg…………….or not !

  12. For anyone who wonders whether any real baking or roasting can occur in extreme climate conditions, I’ve found this handy example of such things described from 1875 in Australia. Courtesy of SteveGoddard.
    Let’s reserve baking and roasting to mean baking and roasting.
    Even their casual, non-literal use should at least refer to unbearable sweltering heat.
    No matter how long you spend defrosting your freezer, it will never become an oven.

  13. And the beat goes on! From WaPo 2016.02.22:
    ‘Seas are no rising faster than they have in 2,800 years, scientists say’
    Article goes on to cite:
    ‘arcing back over some 3,000 years’
    ‘any of the previous 27 centuries’
    We need the hyperbole somewhere in the article when the data isn’t too frightening in lay terms.
    Coastal flooding is listed as a dire consequence of the 15 to 20-cm rise is sea level over the past 150 years. And? So? Even if true, for millennia humans have known to build on the rock and not upon the sand. You reap what you sow.
    For a list of some 250 coastal villages and settlements in the Netherlands lost to the sea (circa 1100 to 1700 CE), see:
    (Fishing settlements lost several thousands of years ago (now several miles out in the channel) can be found elsewhere).
    These days the Dutch seem to be doing just fine, thank you.

  14. capitol weather gang says “adjectives are relative to whats normal”
    Sorry guys, when you get busted for sensationalism, just man up. You just look silly to the rest of us who see through your cringe-worthy ploys for attention.
    ps nice to see Janice’s entertaining posts are back

    • Dave (in Canmore)! Thanks!
      More to come! (but, not too frequently…… some people get tired of having to scroll past J.M.’s comments all the time)

  15. It’s hyperbole folks. I have been known to describe a fine winter day as ‘sunbathing weather’. I leave it to you as an exercise to guess how many of those days I actually doffed my garments and laid down on the lawn to catch some rays.

  16. The biggest problem is that most people don’t understand how the atmosphere works, especially journalists, that to get cold outbreaks in mid-latitude regions around the world requires warm moist air to reach the Arctic circle so this cold air can be placed south. No warm moist air reaches the Arctic circle then the cold air traps there in a positive NAO circular oscillation and places South of it become relative much warmer in mid-latitude regions. This has been a big problem for especially alarmist climate scientists too as they don’t have a clue either. They should have known many years ago that when global warming was suppose to cause the NAO to become increasingly positive and failed, that it would trap cold air in the Arctic circle. Yet the claims were the Arctic was going to warm to ridiculous levels that failed again.

  17. While reading this it occurs to me that perhaps we are trying to measure the temperature in the wrong locations if we want to really get some idea about AVERAGE temp change. We don’t want or need the AIR temps, we want UNDERGROUND temps. It is well known that the temperatures in caves and fairly deep in mines is quite constant and happens to always be very close to the average outside temperature. If the sensor stations are fairly deep underground even seasonal variations are vanishingly small. The heat flux coming from the earth’s core is probably very constant from century to century thus the only forces changing the rate of heat flow is the changing outside air temperature through many feet of rock and dirt.
    Surely the average temperature in the arctic inside a mountain in Alaska will be different from the temp at a similar depth in Mt Kilimanjaro but only changes at a given location are of interest anyway.
    Perhaps starting over is a good thing!

  18. I wonder what Yogi Berra would have thought of Twitter.

    Nobody is on Twitter. There is no demographic group in the United States where a majority of that group has a Twitter account. More importantly, even people who are on Twitter aren’t on Twitter. 80% of users have 10 or fewer followers. 10% of users generate 90% of tweets. Most accounts lay fallow. If you’re one of the small number of Twitter elites who dominate the service, I get thinking that Twitter is very important. But it’s a delusion. Self-obsessed journalists: no one is voting based on your weird social norms.


  19. Well, maybe they assumed life forms off of Pluto were visiting Alaska – they could be literally baking relative to their home world.
    And I seem to remember that Al Gore was Super-Cereal (referencing the Manbearpig episode of South Park)

  20. WaPo of course makes no mention of atmospheric circulation… That’s what happens when reasoning only in matter of temperature anomalies over a set period of time: nice colors, flawed reasoning.
    Check the real world here:
    And tell us where warm air advections hitting Alaska come from in the past 24 h? And during most February? And since January 8? You just need to check goes15 as an every day dose of reality over fantasy or ideology.
    Hawaiian moist tropical air.

  21. Will the cold blob from the NW Pacific reach Alaska next winter? Will it be worse (colder) there? Will it last longer than the warm blob? ….. beats me. Will the capital weather gang choke on crow or will it be me?

  22. If 0 degC is baking what is a (very regular) mid 50 ‘s that is seen in western Oman every summer? They couldn’t find a word for it. Exaggeration is a sign of journalistic incompetence.

  23. Alaska the only place in the world where it’s possible to be baked to death and freeze at the same time !

  24. For the Capital Weather Gang, here are some adjectives “relative to what’s normal” in alarmist journalism:
    stupid, unwise, silly, absurd, rash, unreasonable, short-sighted, ill-advised, foolhardy, nonsensical, inane, indiscreet, ill-considered, imprudent, incautious, arrogant, conceited, assuming, pretentious, contemptuous, blustering, imperious, overbearing, haughty, scornful, puffed up, egotistical, disdainful, self-important, presumptuous, insolent. As you ought to appreciate 🙂

  25. Those who believe in and desire Catastrophic Global Warming use terminology that gives them away. A few years back sea levels were dropping. At the time, the folks at Colorado University’s Sea Level Research Group said it was a “speed bump” or “pothole on the road to higher seas.” Really, what kind of message are these people trying to send?

  26. I can’t believe no one noticed, not even Tony, that the legend they provide with the map (which does clearly show anomalies) shows absolute temperatures. Those “journalists” and editors at the WaPo, they are either stupid or dishonest.

  27. Without the use of wonderful hyper-adjectives the Warmistas would be hard pressed to come up with anything of interest to the General Population. That old CO2 meme just isn’t working anymore now that the Pause persists.

  28. The anomalies are just a way to hide the fact they absolute temperatures they’re reporting make no sense when judged against the historical proxies and temperatures.

  29. Quite right Anthony and thank you. It is, it was and will be all about LANGUAGE used and abused.
    The world’s most viewed site on global warming and CLIMATE.

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