Digital Diatribes

A presentation of data on climate and other stuff

Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

Waitaminnit… Cold Weather can Kill Stuff?

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on January 20, 2010

Warming is bad. Warming comes with a catastrophic cost. Warming does this, warming does that. If something bad has happened, it’s because of warming.

Oh, sure… the drivers of the debate have cleverly tried to re-coin the mantra to “climate change,” because that pretty much covers everything. And some have really taken license with this to move from the “Carbon causes warming” thought process to a more universal “Carbon causes everything, as long as it’s something bad” approach.

Most reasonable people have seen through that, though, and at the end of the day the debate still centers around warming. Is it warming? If so, how much is it warming? If it is warming, is it because of man? More specifically, is it because of Carbon Dioxide? Are cycles involved? All reasonable questions, and subject to much debate. But underlying the entire debate is an assumption that often gets lost in the overall debate: If it is warming, is that a bad thing?

It has been presented to us that cataclysmic events will occur if there is continued global warming in our future. These suppositions range from things that are fairly reasonable assumptions to things that are wild leaps of logic. It seems to be a reasonable argument that runaway warming could cause ice to melt and sea levels to rise. The question is to what extent, and whether or not it could be dealt with reasonably well. Other claims of worldwide disasters are borderline goofy. Idiots like Danny Glover start claiming that Carbon emissions lead to earthquakes, for example. I remember similar claims after the 2005 Christmas tsunami. Claims that certain things like hurricane frequency and intensity make a little more sense, though there are very divergent thoughts on whether or not warming will actually increase or whether it would mitigate the effects of hurricanes.

Often lost in the debate is what has actually happened from a broad perspective. It’s easy to look at a devastating hurricane and just assume it was really bad because of warming, and then conclude that we’re all gonna die. But throughout the 1900s, world grain production per capita has generally increased. Disease has generally decreased. Certainly, technology and advances play a huge part in this, but the warmth has not hurt matters. And even if you dismiss the benefits of warmth, we certainly have shown that we can adapt well to the gradual temperature increase we have supposedly “suffered” through.

What is often NOT discussed is the ramifications of a move in the other direction. Clearly, if we induce global cooling through whatever means we do that, then we can reasonably anticipate more periods of cold weather in traditionally warm places. So, what are the ramifications of cold weather hitting a warm climate?

Exhibit One: Fish die.

From Ponce de Leon Bay on the Southwest Coast down across Florida Bay to Lower Matecumbe in the Florida Keys — day after day, dead fish. Floating in the marina at Flamingo in Everglades National Park alone he counted more than 400 snook and 400 tarpon.

“I was so shook up, I couldn’t sleep,” said Frezza, an ecologist for Audubon of Florida and an expert flats fisherman. “Millions and millions of pilchards, threadfin herring, mullet. Ladyfish took it really bad. Whitewater Bay is just a graveyard.”

Fish in every part of the state were hammered by this month’s record-setting cold snap. The toll in South Florida, a haven for warm-water species, was particularly extensive, too large to even venture a guess at numbers. And despite the subsequent warm-up, scientists warn that the big bad chill of 2010 will continue to claim victims for weeks.

Exhibit Two: Orange crop in Florida expected to be down 20%.

Smaller oranges and fewer per tree mean this season’s crop could reap nearly 20 percent less than last season’s, mainly because of spotty rainfall and cold weather early this year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s December estimate puts the state’s orange yield at 135 million boxes, a drop of 17 percent from 162.4 million harvested in the 2008-09 citrus season.

The USDA estimate for Valencia oranges fell by 1 million boxes to 66 million compared with the November forecast.

There is one lesson to be learned in all this, though. Football saves lives.

Alabama issued a warning to drivers Thursday night, urging them to stay off icy roads as driving conditions were “becoming dangerous” with numerous accidents reported. Trooper Curtis Summerville with the Alabama State Patrol said the biggest problem on the roads was black ice on overpasses and bridges.

But, he said football was helping keep people at home as University of Alabama fans cheered on their team in the National Championship Game against the University of Texas.

In the big scheme of things, are we just too thick-headed to realize that we may actually be blessed by a warmer climate? If, in fact, that’s even the case?


Posted in Weather | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Flannel-lined Jeans are Really Nice

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on December 10, 2009

It was not the coldest we’ll see here today, but it was 1 degree above zero (Fahrenheit for you foreigners) this morning, and despite our valued Wisconsin toughness, that’s still cold enough to give one a jolt in the morning.

In the past, I have worn long underwear in times of particular wimpiness, but I’ve tried to avoid it. First of all, my jeans are comfortable for normal wear, but you throw in another layer and it feels a little bulky. Second, most of these long underwear things fit snug enough where it creates this annoying feeling of discomfort on two levels: (1) the need for an occasional, um, “male adjustment” if you know what I mean, and (2) that weird sensitive feeling you get when something fits a bit too tightly and presses down the hairs on your legs all day.

Too much info? OK, sorry.

Well, enter my birthday this year, where I knew I was getting old when I was actually excited to get a pair of flannel-lined jeans. Visions of swinging an axe while wearing the jeans danced in my head, making me feel like a real man.

But now I realize that I can’t not wear them. They are comfy and warm at all times. I love them. Especially today.

At least they’re jeans. You won’t see me promoting the snuggie. Though, I do favor hot chocolate with peppermint. So sue me for being comfortable with my masculinity…

Posted in Weather, Winter, Wisconsin | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Giving Thanks for my 15 MPG (on a good day) F150 4-Wheel Drive

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on December 9, 2009

Well, they weren’t kidding with the winter weather projection here.

We’re being blasted…

The first major winter snowstorm of the season made life miserable throughout much of the Upper Midwest and the governor of Wisconsin has already declared a state of emergency.

As someone who lives in Central Wisconsin, the Governor’s declaration isn’t an exaggerated response. While we have had high-volume snowfalls aplenty in the last couple years, this is one of the worst overall blizzards I can remember. We’re at a foot or so and counting right now, with windy conditions that are playing havoc. Despite our generally swift ability to clear roads, the wind makes it impossible to keep up, and makes driving dangerous.

And so it is that I was thanking God for my Ford Climate-Changer this morning. I don’t need the 4-Wheel drive all that often, and more often than not the truck is not my vehicle of choice. But given my rural location relative to my place of employment, I only had one choice. As it turned out, even that was touch and go, as I traversed through a half-mile stretch of a side road that had not been plowed at all, with open fields on either side. This created a 2-foot-plus deep area that I honestly thought I would not pass through. Some other poor sap had actually tried to make it with a sedan. As I was calling him or her a fool, I realized that I may suffer the same fate despite my 4WD. But, fortunately, I made it through and on to work.

Why do I relay this? Well, it’s an interesting little anecdote relating to this weather, for one thing. But it highlights another thing that bugs me about this whole climate debate and the cars we drive. Some of us need to have certain vehicles on hand that are not what the talking heads call “green.” Granted, I don’t need this truck most of the time, and if I drove it every day I’d burn through more gasoline than I need to. I pay for that choice (which is why I don’t use it on a daily basis). But more often than not, the users of certain products are labeled as selfish consumers. Oh, sure, that can be true. But all this finds an equilibrium. Supply and demand and all that stuff. Eventually, those spending a lot more than they need to on vehicles and gasoline alike will feel the pinch and this self-corrects as long as we let the market work.

Posted in Weather, Winter, Wisconsin | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Today We Installed Our Wood Stove – Just in Time

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on December 7, 2009

As I type this, a pipe is being fit through the newly-created hole in our ceiling and roof. For some time, we’ve wanted to put a wood stove into our house to keep it a little warmer. We have an all-season porch off our living room area that is nearly all windows. Between the cost to put plastic up on those windows every year, the undesirable residual odor from so much plastic, and the fact that it is still cooler than we’d like out there – and then in our living area – we decided to take the plunge this year.

It’s just a small thing, meant to heat a few hundred feet. It’s not enough for the entire house, though in an emergency it could get us through.

And what do I see? This coming week’s forecast!

The coldest air of the season is expected to surge southward behind the storm. By midweek, the storm could bring temperatures 20 to 30 degrees below normal and and dangerous, life-threatening wind chills across the northern United States.

“High temperatures will struggle to make it out of the single digits,” Morris said.


Oh, well. It’s not like I’ve never dealt with it before. But I never look forward to this.

Posted in Weather, Winter, Wisconsin | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

It’s Been Snowing All Day

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on October 12, 2009

I’m a bit tied up with some things here, and probably won’t be putting up a post with an meaningful analysis for at least a couple days more. Last week I went up north to close up our camper, to find that the awning was torn off and flopped on to the roof. My fault for not rolling it up, but it’s never happened to us before, so that must have been one heckuva wind. Had some damage that needed repairing immediately to prevent water damage. Ugh.

I felt compelled to share that it’s freakin’ 25 degrees below normal temperatures today and has been snowing all day long. The temp is just over freezing, so despite what would normally have been 1-2 inches of snow accumulation, it’s just wet, mostly. But still…

Doc, I still stand by my prediction of a milder winter – at least a milder start to winter. But if we get many more days like this, then I shall accept my ridicule.

Posted in Weather, Wisconsin | Tagged: , | 16 Comments »

2009 Hurricane Season Update

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on September 10, 2009

We’ve currently got a couple hurricanes brewing: Fred (Atlantic) and Linda (Pacific).

This may be a good time for a look into what has occurred so far and compare them to the expectations that were set coming into the year. Keep in mind that the season isn’t over yet. Here’s a nice link that summarizes normal activity. I will borrow from that in this post.

The Season is officially 6-months long, beginning June 1 and ending November 30. These dates encompass 97% of all major Tropical Storm activity. The Atlantic basin shows a very peaked season from August through October, with 78% of the tropical storm days, 87% of the minor (Saffir-Simpson Scale categories 1 and 2) hurricane days, and 96% of the major (Saffir-Simpson categories 3, 4 and 5) hurricane days. Maximum activity is in early to mid September.


Hurricane Distribution

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Hurricanes, Weather | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

Quick Follow-up to the June 6 Weather

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on June 8, 2009

It’s official. It was a record-breaking day on Saturday.

The high temperature in Green Bay was 52, setting a record for the lowest high temperature for June 6. The previous record had been set in 1943. Records fell in other parts of the state, as well. Where I live, the record that fell had been set in 1935.

Again, yesterday it only reached 51 degrees for the second day in a row. Today’s predicted high is 53. More records could fall. The average low for this time of year is 52 degrees.

This sucks. It’s bad enough that it’s been cold, but it’s been raining like crazy. Concern is starting to set in regarding the garden. Our soil is a little more dense than average, which means it doesn’t drain real fast. That usually works to our advantage, as we can weather some long dry periods pretty well. The downside is stretches like this, where it’s cool and rainy for extended periods of time. Once the plants are established it’s not as big a deal, but it’s a critical moment with the seeds just now sprouting.

So, in light of all this, our esteemed governor has a message for us: “The governor has proclaimed Thursday as “heat awareness day” in a campaign to remind people of the dangers of extreme heat and educate citizens how to take protective measures.”

Posted in Weather, Wisconsin | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

June 6, 2009 – Central Wisconsin Weather

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on June 6, 2009

From this link we see the following daily almanac for June 6:

Yesterday’s High: 74
Yesterday’s Low: 47
Precipitation Yesterday: 0.00″
Average High Today: 75
Average Low Today: 52
Record High Today/Year: 91/1950
Record Low Today/Year: 34/1897
Record Precipitation Today/Year: 1.80″/1905
Record Snowfall Today/Year: 0″
Sunrise Today: 5:13 a.m.
Sunset Today: 8:42 p.m.
Average High Tomorrow:75
Average Low Tomorrow:52
Record High Tomorrow/Year: 91/1988
Record Low Tomorrow/Year: 30/1924
Record Precipitation Tomorrow/Year: 1.84″/1984
Record Snowfall Tomorrow/Year: 0″
Sunrise Tomorrow: 5:12 a.m.
Sunset Tomorrow: 8:43 p.m.
June total liquid precipitation: 0.01″
June total snowfall: 0.0″
Snow Depth(through yesterday): 0″
2009 liquid precipitation total: 11.04″ (+0.07″)
2008-2009 Season Snowfall Total: 63.4″
Last Year: High 80 Low 60 .21″

A couple of things jump out to me. The first is that the record high occurred almost 60 years ago. The record low was in 1897, and while we aren’t expected to break that, we will test the boundaries.

The record high is 16 degrees above average. There is no value for the record “lowest high,” which is unfortunate. I’d be interested in knowing that, because today’s high was 55 degrees. For the math-impaired among you, that is twenty degrees below normal. That is 4 degrees more in the negative direction than the record high is in the positive direction. EDIT on 6/7: I was wrong… I just checked the official almanac page, and the high yesterday was only 51. 24 degrees below normal!

I’m not suggesting any huge implications here, other than it’s interesting. Oh… and it’s freakin’ COLD!

Fortunately, where I am it isn’t going to dip below 32 degrees, and even if that occurred in lower-lying areas, it’s been raining all day so there shouldn’t be a risk of plants dying.

I can’t help but wonder what my friends who seem to lament every nice day that comes along as some foreshadowing of a coming global catastrophe would be saying today had the high temperature hit 95, or even 90 degrees (20 degrees from the average). They’d be wringing their hands about how unseasonably warm it is, and whether or not our children will be growing up in a furnace. Amazingly, these people don’t seem to grasp how miserable the rest of us are when it’s 50 degrees, raining, and windy. I tried for two minutes today to do some garden work.

I want a high anomaly planted over my state for a while. It’s been a while.

Posted in Weather, Wisconsin | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

Applauding a Positive Anomaly

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on February 12, 2009

I have lamented the bitter cold in Wisconsin this winter (and cooler temps overall for well over a year now) while I’ve looked upon data that has told me that the rest of the globe (and even other parts of the U.S.) has experienced warmer temperatures.

I am pleased to present the following chart, from NOAA, for the first week of February:




If one looks closely at my particular area, a strange and beautiful thing presents itself…   pink!   Yes, it was actually slightly above average late last week and into the weekend.   It carried over into this week, as well, and we have enjoyed some warmer temperatures – above average even – in the Dairy State. 

It has been nice.  But, as I type this, temps are heading back to about average, so we’ll be back in the 20s for daytime highs over the next few days.

In any event, for one short, glorious, time period my wish was granted.

I’m happy now.

Posted in Weather, Wisconsin | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Another Cold Week on the Way…

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on January 10, 2009

From AccuWeather:

Coming this week...  Weather that sucks.

Coming this week... Weather that sucks.

This is about as bad as it gets folks. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it since 1994. Sure its been very cold at times over the past 14 years, but the total area impacted by this cold wave will be huge. By next Thursday and Friday, extremely cold air will chill the entire area from the Great Plains to the Eastern Seaboard, and the cold is also going to reach the Deep South. Only the far West will be unscathed.

From the central Plains to the Northeast temperatures are going below zero; there is no question about it. Meanwhile, the Upper Midwest and northern New England could experience readings lower than 30 below zero!

Emphasis mine. Yeah. Dandy. This is where I live.

Well, we’re not the only ones, if it makes you feel any better. Europe is cold this week, too. From this link, we read:

A rare, heavy snowfall in central Spain closed Madrid’s airport and paralysed city traffic while several rivers in Germany were frozen as much of Europe endured Siberian conditions Friday.
Russian gas cuts to several European countries this week have aggravated the the effects of the bitter cold which has embraced much of the continent since the end of December.

But not everyone was unhappy about the cold snap, with the Dutch taking the opportunity to rediscover the pleasures of skating along iced-over canals and lakes.

“What I love most is the crunching of the ice under the skates and the sensation of gliding,” said Marie-Therese Sluijters-Rompa, a 62-year-old retiree who came to the iced-over canals of the western Dutch village of Kinderdijk to skate with her husband.

“It is a little piece of heaven,” she added.

Oh, those whacky Dutch… It reminds me of watching “The Silver Skates” and seeing Hans Brinker and his group of friends sprint a marathon on skates, with everyone about three feet apart from each other at mile 13. Skating must get you in good shape.

For more on that whole Russian thing, see this article. That Putin guy doesn’t mess around.

In the “irony can be pretty ironic sometimes” department, comes this little tidbit, which many of you have probably seen: Dog Sled race canceled due to too much snow.

Too much fluffy snow that keeps drifting and therefore made it impossible to maintain a groomed trail.

That poses a safety risk to the dogs, supercharged canines whose mushers need a groomed trail to drop a hook to stop when necessary.

“We can’t pack it,” race organizer Eddy Streeper said Monday. “We just can’t get it packed. We had to speak up on behalf of the dogs.”

That’s because – as you may or may not know – dog’s can’t talk.

Just for fun, I thought I’d end the post with the current 7-day forecast here. That Thursday and Friday just looks like a real hoot, doesn’t it?

I thought I’d show the updated forecast. They have graciously not lowered the low temps, but I’m not liking the trend on the projected high temps…


Posted in Current Events, Earth, News, Severe Weather, Snow, Weather, Winter, Wisconsin | 5 Comments »