Remember The Winter of 2010

Recently the MSM has been bombarding everyone with the heat wave in Russia and before that the heat wave in the eastern US, both being “consistent with” CAGW (At least according to the alarmists). Now remember back to this past winter when we were told that cold and snow seen in the eastern US and around the world was just weather in the case of the cold and the snow was also due to CAGW. There case was rising temperatures cause more water to evaporated into the atmosphere, thus more water vapor to be turned into snow.  One problem with that while scenario. Besides needing water vapor you also need temperatures cold enough to produce snow, if the temps ain’t low enough you get rain. So if the temps are rising how is it all of sudden cold enough to produce snow? 

Well as I’m going to show in a couple of graphs you will see that the winter of 2009/10 was cold in the Washington DC area and that temperatures were not rising.    

First background: These temperatures are the December/January /February Seasonal average for each of these locations as determined by NASA GISS using USHCN data as the input. After copying that into the spreadsheet I found what the average is for that season over the entire life of the record, example in the case of Salisbury Md that means adding all the seasonal averages since 1907 then dividing by the total number of years we have observations for. Now instead of cherry picking a 30 year baseline I used that average as the baseline to calculate the anomalies from. Thus if you see a data point above the 0 mark on the graph it means it is x amount above the average and the same for a data point below. By doing this I couldn’t rightfully put everyone of these stations on one graph because the baseline is different for most of them based on how long their individual records are, besides it would get kind of crowded once you get past stations. I only used long term records that went up past February of 2010 and I’m going to present them from shortest to longest.   

First up is the seasonal record for the small city near where I live Salisbury Md.    

Salisbury Md


Now the seasonal winter average temperature for the Salisbury area is 3.93° C or 39.07° F and as you can see this past winter was much colder then average with a temp of 1.9° C or 35.42° F despite a .5° C warming trend since 1907. Matter of fact going by the graph it appears that 2010 was the 8th coldest winter on record in Salisbury with only (in order) 1918, 1936, 1978, 1963, 1977, 1920 and 1940.  

Next up is Laurel Md near Washington DC.  

Laurel Md


The seasonal winter average temperature for Laurel is 2.8° C or 37.04° F and as can be seen 2010 was colder then average with a temp of 1.2° C or 34.16° F despite a .5° warming trend since 1897. Unlike Salisbury, Laurel’s past winter didn’t crack it’s top 10, it’s in between 15th and 20th.     

Next up is the Royal Oak station which is the only rural station in the bunch. It sits on the Eastern shore side of the Chesapeake bay roughly directly east of Washington. 

Royal Oak


The seasonal winter average temperature for Royal Oak is 2.82° C or 37.08° F and as can be seen 2010 was colder then average with a temp of 1.6°C or 34.88° F despite a 1.75° C warming trend from 1895. Also this past winter didn’t break the top 20 for this station for coldest.     

Next is College Park Md.   

College Park Md


The seasonal winter average temperature for College Park is 1.1° C or 33.98° F and as can be seen 2010 was slightly colder then average with a temp of .7° C or 33.26° F. This station also has a warming trend of slightly over 1° C since 1895. Again the temperature doesn’t break into the top 10 or 20.     

Finally we come to the last and longest record Washington DC listed as Washington/National by GISS.  



The seasonal winter average temperature for Washington DC is 3.58° C or 38.44° F and as can be seen 2010 was colder then average with a temp of 2.5° C or 36.5° F, despite about a .75° C warming trend. Again the temperature doesn’t break intot he top 10 or 20.     

Now there is some things to take notice:     

  1. All the stations seasonal average temperatures are above freezing.
  2. All the stations 2010 temperature was lower then the seasonal average.
  3. Only one station had 2010 in their top 10 coldest years according to GISS based on that stations own records.

Recap you need two things to get snow: enough water vapor and cold enough temperatures. So taken those two conditions the alarmists claims that rising temperatures this past winter caused the increased snowfall in the Washington DC area is patently false. First the temperatures fell but lets say they didn’t and they went up, instead of more snow you would have seen less because the temperatures would have increased even further from freezing. Less days at freezing less snow and you get more rain which is what this area of the country typically gets. Now lets look it the other way, if the amount of water vapor stays at average but the temperatures fall, you will get more days at freezing and more snowfall.     

Now you probably noticed one oddity among all these: Why was Salisbury’s 2010 winter in it’s top 10?     

The answer is quite simple and also explains why all the stations were colder then average. You see the Jet Stream was forced further south due to a negative Arctic Oscillation. Normally the Jet Stream runs basically either over the DC area or just a little to the NW or SE of it, which means that the Jet Stream is far to the NW of Salisbury. So what makes the difference in Salisbury is that normally when a storm tracks up the coast it sweeps onshore the relatively warm waters from the Gulf Stream, which runs about 90 miles off the coast or about 115 miles from Salisbury. So along with the moisture it typically brings in air that is well above freezing, the further inland you go the colder it would get, but this past year the Jet Stream was further SE and Salisbury didn’t get that warmer ocean air. That is also why Washington DC and Baltimore got so much more snow, if the Jet Stream had been where it normally is, the snow would have fell in Pennsylvania where I grew up as a kid 44 miles north of Baltimore.     

PS: that is also what is causing the Russian heat wave, not CAGW, you can read about it and see the diagram here:  

Now you ask about where the water vapor comes from? El Nino.  

You see during El Nino years the east coast of the United States typically gets more storms that came across the Gulf of Mexico, then up the coastline to the Mid Atlantic states. Typically if temperatures are at or above average the Washington/Baltimore area sees more rain during an El Nino year, but since the temperatures were below average got more snow instead.  

See folks all natural events such as the AO and El Nino play a big factor in temperatures wolrd wide and are not accounted for in Global or Hemispheric Temperature data sets. Mater of fact you can trace fairly well the rise globally in temperatures to El Nino through history see:


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