January Weather Was Exceptionally Cold, Snowy

Published April 1, 2008

January 2008 has been an exceptional month for winter weather, not only in North America but across the globe, according to numerous indicators.

We’ve had anecdotal evidence of odd weather in the form of wire reports from China, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, and record-setting cold and snow have been felt with intensity not seen for 30 to 100 years, depending on the region.

We also have reports of significant negative anomalies in the global satellite data for the lower troposphere. There has been a global drop in temperature of 0.63º Centigrade in the past 12 months. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA} has announced that January 2008 was below twentieth century temperature averages.

Arctic sea ice has quickly recovered from the record low extent of summer 2007. Although a massive La Niña weather pattern might be the driver behind all of this, the changing weather may also be a harbinger of a more long-term phase shift, according to veteran forecaster Joe Bastardi.

Shift to Cooler Weather?

Said Bastardi, “The maturation of the La Niña to its classic major cold look, both in the equatorial Pacific waters and the amazing amount of the Northern Hemisphere troposphere that is covered by colder-than-normal temperatures, is not only a major driving force in the everyday weather picture of Earth, but is a sign that in the end, it is nature, not man, that will have its way with the weather.


“It is straight out of the book of climate,” Bastardi adds. “The pattern is so much like the 1949-1950 La Niña, which was signaling the start of the reversal of the warming of the Earth’s climate in the 1930s, ’40s, and early ’50s. Only someone choosing to ignore it, or not wanting to see it, would not be cognizant of it.”

Large Snow Anomalies

Now to add to this, we have images and reports from NOAA and Rutgers University of large anomalies of snow cover extent for the northern hemisphere in January 2008. Figure 1 is NOAA’s Snow and Ice chart for January 31, 2008.


Figure 2 is the Rutgers Global Snow Lab map of the Northern Hemisphere for January 2008. The key at the bottom of the image indicates coverage by percent of land area. The Northern Hemisphere reports 50.13 million sq. km of snow cover; Eurasia, 32.30 million sq. km; and North America, 17.83 million sq. km.


Figure 3 is the Rutgers Global Snow Lab anomaly graph. As the figure indicates, January 2008 had the largest real Northern Hemisphere snow cover during the period 1966-2008, just slightly larger than the previous largest anomaly, January 1984.

No Recent Global Warming

The exceptionally cold and snowy weather is being largely ignored in the media, but climate scientists are taking notice of the lack of global warming during the past several years.

“Satellite records show absolutely no warming since the beginning of 2001, while global carbon dioxide emissions increased 15 to 20 percent. The drop in temperature in the past year has been a whopping 0.63ºC (1.13ºF),” said climatologist Patrick Michaels, an environmental sciences professor at the University of Virginia and senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

“The lack of warming in recent years is yet another piece of solid evidence that warming for this century is going to be near the low end of projections made by the United Nations, around 1.75ºC (3.15ºF), far below the end-of-the-world forecasts we hear so much of,” Michaels added.

“The bottom line,” Michaels said, “is there is hardly a planetary ’emergency,’ and the cooler heads urging no expensive and ineffective policies at this time are in tune with the planet’s climate.”

Anthony Watts ([email protected]) is a veteran meteorologist from Chico, California. Watts is currently assembling data and conducting a comprehensive analysis of the nation’s official temperature reading stations, which can be found at http://www.surfacestations.org.