Winter Heat and Cold Diary… December 17-19, 2017

Tuesday December 19th… Dear Diary. Here is today’s climate change related topic:

Persistent Heat Leads to Drought

This is fairly obvious, but I did want to show what episodes of record warmth are quickly doing  to the Southwest from data supplied by the climate scientist who coined the phrase “Ridiculous Resilient Ridge,” Mark Swain. First we see drought conditions developing over the Southwest this winter:

We’re now in the second half of December, and season-to-date rainfall totals in Southern California remains 95% below average. Still looks mostly dry next 7-10+ days.

  We can clearly see the difference between last season, which was thankfully wet, and this dry season in California on satellite imagery:

Note the lack of green colored vegetation in the Sacramento Valley and marked decrease in snow cover in the Sierra this December.


Here is a quick check of maximum temperatures for tomorrow:

Wednesday will be a relative warm day from the Southern Plains eastward through much of the Southeast where we may see a few record reports. You can see the beginnings of the arctic outbreak from North Dakota into northern Minnesota. Get that Christmas shopping in before it gets beastly cold later this week.

Here is one more note on the warmth in Alaska:

The Climate Guy

Monday December 18th… Dear Diary. Here is today’s climate change related topic:

Time for a Global Temperature Checkup

There was no surprise when both NOAA and NASA datasets came out this morning indicating that the planet is still running a fever despite a cool La Nina intensifying. If it wasn’t for La Nina global averages would be near those of 2015 or 2016 as of November 2017. As it stands now November 2017 was either the third warmest November on record (NASA dataset) or 5th warmest (NOAA dataset). Keep in mind that global averages are calculated to the nearest tenth of a degree Fahrenheit or Celsius:

Departures from the 20th-century global average temperature for November, 1880-2017. Image credit; NOAA/NCEI



We are seeing the third-warmest year on record thus far…as reported and quoted by Dr. Jeff Masters of the Category 6 Blog here:

“Each of the first eleven months of 2017 have ranked among the top five warmest such months on record, giving 2017 the third highest January–November temperature in the 138-year record: 0.84°C (1.51°F) above the 20th-century average. This is behind the record year of 2016 by 0.12°C (0.22°F), and behind the second-place year of 2015 by 0.03°C (0.05°F). The near-record warmth in 2017 is especially remarkable given the lack of an El Niño event this year. Global temperatures tend to be warmer during El Niño years, when the ocean releases more heat to the atmosphere. This year is almost certain to be the planet’s warmest year on record that lacks any influence from El Niño, and will likely be the second or third warmest year in recorded history. Earth’s four warmest years of the last century-plus are virtually certain to be the four years from 2014 through 2017.”

The Category 6 Blog goes into great detail in association with global temperature records, the current state of La Nina, drought, and sea ice. Please read it.


Now I can report that the first major arctic outbreak for the U.S. this winter season will be a slam dunk, as far as a forecasts go, happening across most of the nation by Christmas. The only remaining question is how intense this frigid outbreak will be. By the 26th below freezing temperatures should reach the Gulf Coast and much of the Southeast:

From Ryan Maue:

 I anticipate that some record lows will be broken, particularly in the Rockies, but just how many is uncertain. Yes, in this day and age of global warming life threatening record cold can still occur.

Quoting expert Ryan Maue:  “While temperatures are forecast to be much colder than normal, models are not predicting record cold. Maue characterized the upcoming outbreak of Arctic air as a “seasonable polar vortex episode.” He said it does not look anywhere near as intense as the punishing January 2014 polar vortex outbreak that broke scores of records.

From Judah Cohen:

From Bob Henson:
The only area that probably won’t see cold weather or far that matter precipitation is the drought and fire plagued Southwest: (From Adrian Harpold)
 I may add more relevant information if it crosses my radar later this evening

The Climate Guy


Sunday December 17th… Dear Diary. Here is today’s climate change related topic:


No, this post isn’t about leaving oil and coal in the ground, although I could write an article as long as War and Peace on that subject. Rather my message today is on leaving one’s home or abandoning one’s community because of climate change…a heart wrenching  prospect. As we work our way through the 21st century and beyond there will be various reasons for “leaving,” which I would like all to think about. Before I go through them think about when you were a naughty kid stepping on or stirring up an anthill with a stick or disturbing a birds nest. You might do this one or two times, but eventually the critters get wise and build their nesting grounds elsewhere. I’ve seen birds abandon their nests if it is touched by human hands.

Humans can be a little more stubborn than lower animals building their “nests” back repeatedly if disturbed or even destroyed by mother nature. This week I’m wondering if people will build again in fire zones across California whether in Santa Rosa to the north or near Santa Barbara where the Thomas Fire is currently the largest conflagration for December in that state’s history. Who wouldn’t want to rebuild their home on their property, though. For most it’s not cost effective to just pack up and leave. The paradigm shift this century might be changing attitudes towards property and property rights, though, because of added societal stress. Carbon pollution is going to be stirring up a lot of human ant hills this century.

It’s obvious what is going to happen across sea level coastal areas, the arctic tundra, or on remote, small islands. The land under homes is just not going to be there to rebuild eventually depending upon how much carbon we dump into the atmosphere. Once insurance gets too costly many will decide not to rebuild as might be the case in some areas of California. For now we see a wash, rinse, repeat attitude…If it’s broken, it will be fixed again and again at the expense of  medical, police, or fire rescuers. I’m wondering how many billion dollar disasters it will take coming in one year out of one country before that nation’s property rights come into question, and I’m not writing about just in flood zones.   

Earlier this year I saw some articles suggesting that some portions of the Middle East will get to hot to live in. Will it get too hot for people to stand to live during the summer at Phoenix? This past summer’s southwestern U.S. heat wave raised and singed a few eyebrows. Heat eventually may cause some people to leave their long held residences.

One solution is much better construction, but that can prove to be costly. Many will just pack up and leave as was the case in the Plains during the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s or out of New Orleans due to Katrina in 2005. Will Puerto Rico be rebuilt after Maria in 2017?  Thought to be located in an area that will not be severely affected by climate change since it sits far enough away from any new coastline and is relatively temperate, could my home town Atlanta’s population swell to detrimental levels by century’s end from “climate refugees?” City planners should definitely keep climate change in mind. Let’s all work hard to keep “leaving” at a minimum. 

Dear Diary… Walla On 12/18 I have just seen this related article: 

An American Beach Story: When Property Rights Clash with the Rising Sea

The American ethos of individualism is clashing with public officials’ efforts to protect coastal towns against sea level rise. Beach homeowners have resisted these efforts in many areas, resulting in legal battles.

(InsideClimate News)

Here is another recent article in association with the “leaving” topic:

In the coming months I’m going to try to put some hard numbers on the breaking points for when people have to leave and not be able to return home whether it be from sea level rise, fire, melting tundra or just plain heat. Float me a note if you have some information to post.


Well, now back to slogging through synoptic weather patterns that could potentially lead to record temperatures. Mainly due to the “Rediculously Resilient Ridge” the first half of December has seen many record highs coming out of the western U.S. Interestingly there have not been many record lows coming out of the East, but that could change by Christmas. From Daniel Swain:

“Extremely amplified pattern over next 2 wks could bring extreme weather to many parts of Northern Hemisphere, but exactly where/when still uncertain. Does appear that there will be a pretty impressive manifestation of “Warm Arctic/Cold Continents” pattern.”

 Using different graphics here is what I’m seeing, geopotential height wise, on Christmas Day:


Here we see a large, cold vortex centered just south and west of Hudson Bay with a cold trough extending  into the western U.S. There is nothing abnormal about this configuration. There are two global warming signals, though…the ridge with high heights over the eastern U.S., and a very persistent “RRR” over western Canada and Alaska. It will be interesting to see what the verified chart looks like come Christmas. I see the potential for some record cold in the Rockies, but eastern warmth may more than compensate cold numbers on that “records scoreboard.”

What happened to the Thomas Fire today? Here is one answer:

What about tomorrow?

This is hard work! Thanks to everyone working the . Improving weather conditions should allow firefighters to make progress on the fire Monday-Tuesday.

I’ll be adding more relevant information as the day progresses if it crosses my radar.

The Climate Guy


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