Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Winter Storms Dominate Europe and Eastern USA

I posted early this fall that in order for a certain interesting scientific hypothesis to be creditable we needed a particularly miserable winter this year.  In short the hypothesis was predicting a bad winter and we were about to have a stress test.

How do you like it so far?

The Northern Hemisphere cooled early and hard this year.  We are now catching the resultant strong winter storm systems as warm moist air masses release their heat passing through and bury us with snow.  This will surely provide immoderate conditions right into late March.

In short, the hypothesis has not disappointed at all.

The recognition that the Atlantic oceanic heat engine has possibly strengthened northward having an impact on Arctic sea ice is novel and suggestive.  That the broad effect was and is to provide a warmer northern temperature regime is quite reasonable.  Yet this is done by shifting heat rather than adding or subtracting heat.  It is meaningless almost to explain apparent atmospheric variation with this mechanism.

The cosmic ray hypothesis has broadly coincided with the apparent broad weather cycles to appear to have predictive value, sufficiently to noting it on an annual basis.  I cannot imagine that is sufficient, but it is at least promising.

We know that the warming Arctic puts us in a warmer regime for possibly centuries. Been able to predict a foul winter accurately is economically valuable, particularly as the winter sets the limits on summer conditions and is possibly predictive of drought risk.

Record-breaking storm closes US federal government

People walk through the snow-covered National Mall in Washington on December 20, 2009. A ferocious snow storm blanketed much of the eastern United States, cutting power to hundreds of thousands of homes, paralyzing air traffic and stranding motorists. The governors of Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and Delaware declared states of emergency in advance of the storm, the worst to hit the region in decades. Photo courtesy AFP

US East Coast digs out from blizzard

Washington (AFP) Dec 21, 2009 - The United States on Monday dug out from a weekend blizzard that dumped record snowfall over parts of the East Coast, but many schools and businesses stayed shut as snow and slush clogged roads. In the nation's capital, Washington, federal government agencies were closed for the day after the snowstorm that saw up to 24 inches (61 centimeters) blanket parts of the region on Saturday and Sunday.

Snowplows cleared pathways in the main roads but many side streets remained impassable and sidewalks were icy, as forecasters warned the below-freezing temperatures would cause melted snow to ice over and make driving treacherous. But from Virginia north to New York and Maine, residents awoke to clear skies, with the worst of the storm well over as holiday shoppers scrambled to make up for lost time four days ahead of Christmas.

The three major airports in the Washington region reopened but travelers were advised to call ahead in case of delays. While road traffic was thinner than a typical Monday at rush hour due to the government closings, some minor accidents and skids nevertheless hampered the morning commute. The subway system in Washington resumed service to all stations, after limiting service to only below ground stations on Sunday, and Amtrak trains were operating on a reduced schedule across the northeast. Area schools that were not already on Christmas break closed for the day, though some universities inside Washington were open as students finished last-minute papers and exams. A football game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants in was set for later Monday at 8:30 pm (0130 GMT Tuesday), as snow-removal teams worked to rid the stadium of 25 million pounds (11 tonnes) of snow that covered the field and seats.

by Staff Writers

Washington (AFP) Dec 21, 2009

The federal government was closed Monday after a record-breaking snowstorm swept across the northeastern United States and put a damper on one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year.

Just days before Christmas, the eastern seaboard from North Carolina to New England was digging out from the worst blizzard in years, which closed train and bus service, paralyzed air traffic, crippled motorists and left hundreds of thousands of residents without power in some areas.

Americans pining for a white Christmas got more than they bargained for, with local officials urging residents to hunker down indoors as record snowfall wreaked havoc on roadways.

And with the roads and transportation in disarray, many churches canceled Sunday services and some schools planned closures ahead of the December 25 holiday.

Commuters faced uncertainty on Monday, as the region struggled to clear persistent snow and ice. Federal agencies and local jurisdictions were closed, with all workers except emergency employees excused from work.

In Washington, crews worked throughout the night to restore service to the Metrorail system, de-icing tracks and digging train cars out of the snow in rail yards.

The storm was a blow to the already reeling retail sector, which had been counting on cash registers ringing loudly on "Super Saturday" -- traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year -- to make up for weeks of lackluster sales.

"I think we can safely say that sales in the Washingtonregion were crippled," National Retail Federation vice president Ellen Davis told AFP.

Davis, whose industry group represents retailers across the United States, said because of the inclement weather, "people weren't eating at restaurants, there wasn't any impulse buying."

The last Saturday before Christmas usually rakes in some 15 billion dollars of all nationwide sales.

 Shoppers seeking to make up for lost time in the Northeast -- home to around a quarter of the US population -- found more closed stores, unplowed roads and limited transportation options on Sunday.

Airports in the Washington area, which woke up Sunday swathed in a deep white blanket under clear skies, limped back to operation and said it would take some time to reestablish normalcy.

"It's going to take a few days for the airlines to re-book everybody, so if anybody was planning to travel, they really need to check with their airline before they head out to the airport," said spokeswoman Courtney Mickalonis at Ronald Reagan National Airport.

The storm brought chaos to the annual year-end holiday travel season that officially began Saturday and lasts two weeks, through the New Year holiday.
As the monster storm barreled northward, the National Weather Service said snow across the Mid-Atlantic and New England states was slowly tapering off as it moved away from the coast.

Blizzard and winter storm warnings were discontinued after the weather system dumped over two feet (61 centimeters) in some parts of Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey and New York.

The storm at one point stretched some 500 miles (800 kilometers) across 14 states, affecting tens of millions of Americans.

The weather service said it was the heaviest snow storm ever to hit the US capital in December. A total of 16 inches (41 cm) accumulated in Washington, where snow does not usually fall until January or later, if at all.

Three people died on Virginia roads Saturday as some 3,000 accidents shut down interstate highways for several hours, according to the state's department of emergency management. The Virginia Department of Health confirmed one other storm-related death.

Bus service around the region was severely hampered, and suspended in places, hours after the storm had passed.

"There are huge piles of snow lining the edges of streets and blocking the bus stops," said John Catoe, general manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Rather than deferring their holiday purchases, Davis said, resourceful shoppers likely would try to make up for lost time in the final few shopping days before Christmas, which falls on Friday.

"You might see more people choose to purchase gift cards," she said.

"I would imagine there were people online all day yesterday as opposed to being out" at the shopping malls.

Big freeze kills at least 80 across Europe
by Staff Writers

Paris (AFP) Dec 21, 2009

The death toll from winter storms across Europe rose to at least 80 on Monday as transport chaos spread amid mounting anger over the three-day failure of Eurostar high-speed trains.

With tens of thousands stranded by the cancellation of London-to-Paris trains and hundreds of flights across the continent, new accidents and mass power cuts added to the big freeze tumult.

A car veered off an icy road and knocked concrete onto rails, derailing a Paris commuter train and injuring 36 people, police said. Three hundred people had to be evacuated from the train.

Another train in the Croatian capital Zagreb hit a buffer injuring 52 people.

Croatian investigators blamed the minus 17 degrees Celsius (1.4 Fahrenheit) temperatures for a brake failure, national television reported. European temperatures as low as minus 33.6 degrees Celsius (minus 28.5 Fahrenheit) have been recorded in Bavaria.

In Poland, authorities said 42 people, many of them homeless, had died of cold over three days after temperatures plunged to minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus four Fahrenheit).

Ukraine reported 27 deaths while six people were killed in accidents in Germany and three in Austria.

France has reported at least two deaths of homeless people, and the national power company briefly cut electricity to two million people on Monday saying it was necessary to avoid an even bigger blackout amid surging demand.

More flights were cancelled in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain and main highways were blocked across Europe where some regions had more than 50 centimetres (20 inches) of snow.

The breakdown of the Eurostar service under the Channel, linking London with Paris and Brussels, has symbolised Europe's suffering.

After the nightmare of more than 2,000 people stuck in the tunnel when five trains broke down Friday, tens of thousands more people have missed trains cancelled since then, with Eurostar announcing a "restricted" service for Tuesday.

But those trains will only run for passengers originally due to travel Saturday or Sunday, with the remainder of the backlog to be cleared over the next few days. Normal service is not expected to resume before Christmas Day.

The French transport ministry has ordered an investigation into the breakdown, which Eurostar said has been caused by trains unable to handle the change from freezing temperatures outside to warm temperatures in the tunnel.

Eurostar said it had launched its own independent review.

The winter storms caused other disruption across Europe.

Air traffic was again badly hit as temperatures remained glacial: minus 20 degrees Celsius in Sibiu in Romania, where more than 50 centimetres of snow fell, and minus seven Celsius in Venice, Italy.

Seven hundred people spent the night on camp beds at Amsterdam-Schipol airport and more flights were cancelled after dozens were grounded Sunday.

The Dutch rail network was also badly hit with the railway company advising commuters to stay at home.

Heavy snowfall led to more delays and cancellations at Frankfurt and Duesseldorf airports in Germany, where more than 500 flights were cancelled or redirected on Sunday.

Twenty percent of flights out of Paris-Charles de Gaulle were cancelled Monday. The main RER commuter train line running east to west across the Paris region has been out of action for 12 days because of a strike.

Spanish civil aviation authorities said 174 flights from Madrid-Barajas airport were called off. Flights from Lisbon to Madrid were among those hit while main roads in northern Portugal were cut by snow.
Brussels airport also reported cancellations and delays.

After more snow falls on Moscow, authorities sent out 13,000 dump trucks to clear the streets as chronic traffic jams built up.

In Britain, more airport delays hit passengers while snow forced the postponement of Wigan's English Premier League football match against Bolton Wanderers.

1 comment:

George said...

lol!!! So now global warming is causing winter to be colder and the snow heavier.. lol.. Sorry, I don't believe any of this crap.. nobody is in immediate danger. In the 1970's, "global cooling" was the buzzword and we were all going to die a horrible frozen death.. I think they said by about this time too.. hmmm.. No, I think global warming, aka "climate change" is about money and control.. Truly a progressive agenda.. and I don't mean that in a good way..