Remember when Al Gore and Katharine Hayhoe told us that a record snowfall in Erie, PA was proof of global warming? Never mind.

From Al Gore’s “climate reality project” article: A ‘PERFECT STORM’: EXTREME WINTER WEATHER, BITTER COLD, AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Let’s start with the record five-plus feet of snowfall accumulation in Erie, Pennsylvania, in late December. Does this disprove global warming? “Exactly the opposite,” explains my colleague, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University.

Global warming is leading to later freeze-up of the Great Lakes and warmer lake temperatures. It is the collision of cold Arctic air with relatively warm unfrozen lake water in early winter that causes lake effect snows in the first place. The warmer those lake temperatures, the more moisture in the air, and the greater potential for lake effect snows. Not surprisingly, we see a long-term increase in lake effect snowfalls as temperatures have warmed during the last century.

 


But wait, that 50″+ record has just been, ahem, denied.

A State Climate Extremes Committee has nullified the 24-hour and monthly Pennsylvania State snowfall records from Erie in December, 2017, due to questionable measurement practices.

On 14 February and 9 April 2018, a State Climate Extremes Committee (SCEC) convened to verify / validate a report of a 50.8 inch snowfall in Erie, Pennsylvania over the 24-hour period spanning 25-26 December 2017. In addition, the total snowfall accumulation for the month of December in Erie measured 120.9 inches. If verified, the 24-hour snowfall and monthly maximum snowfall would become
new records for the state.

The committee considered the following factors in their decision: the genuine nature of the measured snowfall, meteorological plausibility, and methods and practices of observation. After reviewing the observational evidence, the SCEC voted (1-4) against accepting both the 24-hour snowfall and the monthly accumulated snowfall values. In particular, the committee could not, beyond a reasonable doubt, find the following snowfall amounts to be true and valid:

• LOCATION: Erie, PA International Airport (COOP ID: 362682)
• DATE: 25-26 December 2017
• SNOWFALL: 50.8 inches (24-hour)
• DATE: December 2017
• SNOWFALL: 120.9 inches (monthly total)

The SCEC-recognized 24-hour snowfall record of 38 inches occurred on 20 March 1958 in Morgantown, PA. The record for monthly maximum snowfall of 117.8 inches was reported in Laurel Summit, PA
during February 2010. These values remain intact as the statewide records for Pennsylvania.

Review of Observing Practices & Equipment

The paid snow observer, who is not with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), did not have experience measuring snowfall at the airport prior to that which fell during December 2017. Their first snow measurements occurred at the Erie Airport on 7 December 2017. NWS CLE indicated that all five observers were either trained by NWS personnel or provided with instructions, which were left with their manager, to train the remaining personnel prior to measuring snowfall. NWS CLE personnel indicated there was not sufficient time following the retirement of the previous observer to provide optimal training for all of the new observers. In addition, NWS CLE had a vacancy in their data collection unit since June 2016, which was also a contributing factor to less than optimal time for training new snow observers. These observers were familiar with and instructed to follow the NWS snow measuring guidelines. During the training, one snow board was designated for new snowfall and marked with a snow stake and traffic cone nearby (Figure 3). Snow was officially measured and the board was cleared 4 times per day. During the training, snow depth was explained as the total depth of snow on the ground at the time of observation and the observers were encouraged to get a snow depth by measuring snow in untouched areas that were representative of the total snow on the ground. The observers were told that sometimes an average depth would be appropriate if conditions were particularly windy and significant drifting was occurring. In addition, a second snow board was placed in the “triangle-shaped” area that could also be utilized for snow depth purposes (Figure 4).

NWS officials learned the following about the observing practices which occurred during the event on 25-26 December 2017:

– A traffic cone was used to stabilize the snow board from blowing due to high winds. Although resourceful, this practice may have impacted the snowfall accumulation (Figure 5).
– The snow board was always placed on top of the snow after a measurement was made, although there was higher snow around the board, allowing for a cratering effect.
– The snow board did not always make it on top of the highest snowpack after each clearing.

Snowfall reported by other observers in the Erie metropolitan area near the airport location reported 18 to 22 inches less snowfall over the 24-hour period in question. (Figure6)

Full report: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-content/extremes/scec/reports/20180723-Pennsylvania-Snowfall.pdf

h/t to Dr. Ryan Maue

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78 thoughts on “Remember when Al Gore and Katharine Hayhoe told us that a record snowfall in Erie, PA was proof of global warming? Never mind.

    • not really, has to do with the way the wind is blowing during lake effect snow. Used to drive from Iowa to Michigan once a month, during the winter you could be driving in clear weather, hit a major snow event, then back into clear weather is the span of a few miles. it’s just lake effect snow.

    • But when it does snow, you better be awake and ready to work. Several years ago, they had to postpone the Tuscon Open tournament because the greens were white.

    • Reminds me of a Jim Berry cartoon I saw years ago. There is a weatherman’s convention. In walks a man with a cape & a top hat. One person whispers to another “He’s the great one…he is the Phoenix weatherman and he’s only wrong 8% of the time.”

  1. Government work at its finest! Ha! This clearly demonstrates the lack of concern by government officials for getting “it right.” Sure lots of excuses, e.g., retirements, sick leave, no time to train, etc. Yet I will guarantee that no one at the site especially the managers or the next office up the line have even a tinge of guilt for not properly doing their assigned duties.

    • Yeah, but despite the efforts of Algorebull to create anxiety where there is none, I checked my records for my area for those same dates, and all we had was normal humidity, thin snow, no real accumulation, chilly but bearable temperatures, etc., etc., etc.
      The birds showed up looking for food, as usual, and the squirrel tried to steal it from them, to no avail.
      Normal winter, normal weather. What’s this all about, again?

      • The world is ending, Sara. It’s taking forever and I can’t tell the difference so far.

      • I know, John. It’s the reason I have several bottles of wine (reds and whites) in the fridge and keep hoping that if the end is near, it won’t come in the midst of my creating the most awesome grilled cheese sandwich on the planet. To be enjoyed with one of those reds and some grape tomatoes, of course.
        The things we suffer through…. uh, for the sake of science, of course.

    • The world has warmed up since the end of the last ice age.
      Yes it has, thank the deity of your choice.

      • “The only thing constant is change…”
        Attributed to Greek philosopher Heraclitus, and frequently quoted by good Geology professors.

    • can you say … ‘Polar Vortex’!!!!!! ewwwwww ohhhhhhh … that’s a good one … REALLY SCARY-sounding … nobody wants to get sucked into a … vortex, let alone a POLAR one!

    • The observed satellite temperature trend since 1979 has probably been partly the result of improvements to human wellbeing through economic advancement and any attempts to forestall that development will have far worse consequences than a continuation of that gentle warming, if it occurs.

      • Basic logic tells this truck driver that a better indication of a changing climate in the great lakes region would be a record of when the lake effect snows begin and end every winter and not the freqency or magnitude of lake effect snow events .
        A few years ago I was headed to a facility on Fire Tower road in Tonawanda, NY. I-90 was closed at Hamburg due to an intense lake effect snow. People were stranded in their vehicles for up to 18 hours. I drove southeast and then North to get around it. When I backed into the door at the facility in Tonawanda there was not a flake of snow on the ground or in the air. Seven miles Southwest of where I sat they had about three feet of snow on the ground and they were in a snow emergency. That is characteristic of lake effect. I’ve seen it many times driving I-90 from Cleveland to Syracuse and Canadian Hwy 20 along the eastern shore of lake Huron.

    • AMP,

      you seem to suggest that at one time “climate change” didn’t happen, when did it start to happen?

      Did it start in 1918, 1950, or 1979 ….. WHEN DID IT START AMP?

  2. I suspect a similar fate awaits most if not all the recent “records”.
    Unfortunately that fate will take 8 months to be “discovered” and a correction posted. However the posting will be buried deep within whatever publication deems it necessary with the advertisements. meanwhile the loons will continue to run amok with their hair on fire, and no mention of it will be made in the lame-stream media.

  3. I noticed here in Australia this year Spring is about 6 weeks early, but as all the trees started budding at the same time as the early Spring I think I’ll just put it down as natural climate variation.

    • It’s weird, isn’t it? Here in Melbourne the cherry trees and jasmine started flowering a week ago. And this after a very cold winter.

      For those in the northern hemisphere who want to compare, mid-August here is the equivalent of mid-February. We’re at 38 deg latitude, so roughly San Francisco.

      • just getting days over 12c and nights over 5
        but manchurian pear and my willow tree are flowering/budding
        as of last week.
        grounds saturated and you couldnt plant or the seed rots.
        SW Vic

        • Melbourne’s very dry. Today I noticed that Solomon’s Ford (on the Maribyrnong River) is down almost at summer levels. There’s green grass everywhere, but the ground is dry. Not super-dry like I remember before droughts, but still drier than it should be.

    • I have an entire neighborhood – township, too – of trees that at the end of April this year had not yet opened their leaf buds. Photos, too. April is our mid-Spring month, so when it’s that late, you know it’s cold.

  4. Lake effect snowfall is what got me interested in going into meteorology in the first place. I remember this event because I saw it coming 48 hrs in advance, and alerted Drudge. Late freeze-up? Give me a break. Lake Erie doesn’t get ice covered in December. This was an unusually early and cold outbreak of arctic air, but what was more unusual was the wind direction setup which was ideal for a single, stupendous lake effect band that was also unusually persistent. Weather, Katherine. Quit blaming everything on the bogeyman.

    • Roy Spencer

      I’m no scientist, but this emphasises my abiding belief that measurement of temperature alone is fraught with human error.

      I don’t imagine for a nanosecond that 200 years ago, or even 100, it would be a scientist trudging out into the snow/blazing sun/rain etc. to the Stevenson screen to take weather measurements, it would have been the tea boy.

      Similarly, it wouldn’t have been a responsible officer chucking a bucket over the side of a ship to measure water temperature, it would have been the cabin boy. And the ships would have been taking the routes of least resistance i.e. the well travelled shipping lanes.

      It seems contemporary temperature data is still riddled with the same human error.

      • HotScot
        I suspect you are unfairly malaigning the care and professionalism of sailors and scientists in the past who I suspect did not play anything like as fast and loose with observation as today’s so-called climate scientists who are merely looking for confirmation of their model led attempts to make nature do as their pay checks require.
        I have some old Victorian Royal Navy midshipman log books keeping daily weather records aboard ironclads at sea in th Mediterranean in the 1890s.
        They are meticulous and you can be sure that any carelessness would have been met with severe consequences. Any adjustment to the raw data wouldn’t have been tolerated, nor would it have even occurred to honest men to do so tampering in those days. Still less would there have been shrill protestations from anyone to justify such conduct. Today, well you don’t have to look hard…
        (The weather was much like today…hot, damn hot)

        • Moderately Cross of East Anglia

          I daresay the RN’s record were regimented. I doubt the Merchant Navy would be quite as meticulous.

          • Regimented doesn’t mean correct. It just means they followed procedures. Were those procedures the correct way to do things to determine global warming? I doubt anyone knows or can know.

    • “This was an unusually early and cold outbreak of arctic air, but what was more unusual was the wind direction setup which was ideal for a single, stupendous lake effect band that was also unusually persistent. Weather, Katherine. Quit blaming everything on the bogeyman.”

      This gets puzzling. Never mind, it didn’t happen, and besides, it was due to arctic air.

      • They got a heavy snowfall, Nick. But not a record. For that you have to go back to 1958. But that was just weather, Nick. Because there was no climate change back then.
        The old days, when people didn’t faint and piss themselves every time a cloud went over.

      • Who says it didn’t happen Nick? That there was heavy lake effect snowfall (a perfectly normal weather event) on that date isn’t in question. The question is what was the amount? They couldn’t claim it a record because they failed to accurately measure it.

        • I’m sure Nick Stokes and his friends can ‘homogenize’ a new record. They have an impeccable record at ‘up’ for the present and always down for the past.

    • Please. Remember the appropriately frightening terminology … an “outbreak of arctic air” … is a POLAR VORTEX!!! Ohhhhhhhhhh mammmmmmma … we all are getting Vortexed … right up the, uh, lakefront.

      • I wonder constantly how arctic air can “break out”. And I get no answers. Is there special music that accompanies the ‘break out’? Inquiring minds want to know.

        • It’s the Disneyfication of weather.
          Just as Disney attributes human thoughts, feelings and motives to animals, so the same has been done to weather.
          (How else do you explain “The Storm Channel” constantly claiming a weather event “targetted” a community?)
          Obviously, Arctic air has been held prisoner by Ma’ Gaia until Man’s CO2 melted the lock.
          https://youtu.be/qYcB_0ZHRkE

  5. Global warming is leading to later freeze-up of the Great Lakes and warmer lake temperatures.

    There are other effects than straight up global warming. I was trying to get an idea of how much Lake Erie used to freeze historically. The bigger deal might be how much water is in the lake.

    I think one of the biggest reasons we don’t get the freezes like we used to it that the lake level has remained fairly high. link

    In the above link there is also a lot of talk about discharge from power plants.

    Things are complicated but folks looking to make a point usually ignore the complications if they find a tidbit that seems to bolster their case.

    • Have the Great Lakes and the passages between them been dredged to allow shipping? Has vegetation been cleared from the lake bed? Anything that makes the water flow faster will delay or prevent freezing.

      In Europe many rivers don’t freeze up like they used to because the channels have been straightened out, and the water now flows much faster. E.g. the Danube in Austria, where the old arms (now still water) freeze up, but the main channel doesn’t.

    • Rainwater being discharged from storm drains that drain cities is likely to be warmer than the streams of yesteryear.

    • Just a few years ago lake levels were low, and that was blamed on global warming, too. It’s just laughable!

    • Checkout https://www.glerl.noaa.gov/data/ice/

      There’s not much of a trend. Lake Erie is the shallowest of the great lakes and usually freezes over in January. That generally brings an end to the worst (i.e. best) of the lake effect snows but the storms still bring lots of clouds.

      This suggests more of trend with Lake Erie freezing over less often that in the late 1970s or so:

      https://www.glerl.noaa.gov/data/ice/imgs/eri.jpg

      All in all, though it’s a pretty noisy signal.

    • So said snowboarder/warmist … the Flying Tomato. Soon, he won’t be able to jet around the world to anymore mountain resorts to flip-around a half-pipe of … natural … snow. Nope. No more $$$ millions $$$ for skateboarding on snow. Ohhhhhhhhhh mammmmmmaaa.

  6. Researchers at St Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia found a fascinating link between high rate of regicide and severe drought. The assassinations often happened during years of low rainfall that led to poor harvests, leaving Roman soldiers hungry and more likely to mutiny. A mutinous army invariably led to a catastrophic loss of support for the emperor, who was far more likely to be murdered, according to the study published in the journal Economics Letters.
    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/register/how-rain-brought-down-roman-emperors-dk5xmqp6n

    • No, not Hayhoe. She accurately predicted the permanent drought in Texas back in 2012. Wait…oh yeah, she got that one completely wrong. The drought was broken in 2013 by heavy rains. 2016 was the highest rain total on record in Texas. 2017 was not far behind due to Harvey.
      Why is it that these fools are not held accountable for their completely incorrect predictions?

  7. This report was posted on CoCoRaHS’s FB page, https://www.facebook.com/CoCoRaHS/ – I commented:

    First red flag:

    The paid snow observer, who is not with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), did not have experience measuring snowfall at the airport prior to that which fell during December 2017.

    Second red flag:

    50.8 inch snowfall in Erie, Pennsylvania over the 24-hour period spanning 25-26 December 2017. … The snow board was always placed on top of the snow after a measurement was made, although there was higher snow around the board, allowing for a cratering effect.

    Third red flag: The reported snow depth during that day of the storm changed from 3″ to 28″. While lake effect snow is light, fluffy and drifts well, that’s quite a discrepancy!

    Conclusion: there’s a place for CoCoRaHS volunteers.

    Addendum: on liquid-equivalent data:

    The SCEC recommends that liquid equivalent measuring
    equipment and appropriate training/guidance are provided to the observers. The NWS should consider providing supplemental funds to pay observers, if needed.

  8. That would be the same Katherine Hayhoe who’s in Scientific American crying about sexism related to her work. She puts so little honest effort into her climate activism she has loads to spare for feminist activism.
    I wish I had a ready made excuse for abject failure.

  9. Another state record which needs banishing is the 119 F reported at Prineville Oregon, elevation 3200 feet, on 29 July 1898. The coop observer form is marked “unreliable” for July and August 1898. In the 21st century Prineville Oregon has not recorded a temperature higher than 104 F.

  10. “Remember when Al Gore and Katharine Hayhoe told us that a record snowfall in Erie, PA was proof of global warming? Never mind.”

    Err basic logic error.

    Occurance of X proves Y.
    You think X happened, therefore Y
    You find out that X may not have happened.

    Note this says nothing about the argument that if X, then Y.

    because, Not X.

    • That often happens on the alarmist side. You’re a little late to the party, though. We already knew their logic fail.

  11. As a child in the snowy 1950s, I dreaded the times when it would be “too cold to snow”. We had a long driveway and I had to stand in the cold waiting for the school bus without having time to duck back into the house to warm up. I looked forward to the milder periods when it was warm enough to snow.

    Because of global warming, it will be warm enough to snow in lots of places — for a while. (Eventually, it will become too warm to snow almost anywhere.)

    And because of global warming, the atmosphere will retain more water vapor, meaning that there will be more snow in places where it is warm enough, but not yet too warm, to snow. For a while.

    None of this is complicated or contrary to reason or the observable facts of nature — unless one chooses to make it so.

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