Blizzard Fueled By Ocean Heat Cripples Eastern US, Floods Coast With Historic Storm Surge

We knew the weather this weekend would be wicked. A predicted extreme winter storm kicked into a much higher gear by an atmosphere warmed by human greenhouse gas emissions and by a record heat and moisture bleed coming off an anomalously hot Atlantic Ocean kind of wicked. A severe Blizzard featuring 12-40 inch snows, near record to record storm surges, and hurricane force wind gusts that has been showing up in model forecasts since earlier this week. And it appears that’s exactly what we’re getting.

Heavy Snows Cause Major Disruptions

Jonas Saturday Morning

(National Weather Service Radar showing heavy snowfall stretching from West Virginia to Rhode Island at 10:45 AM Saturday Morning.)

By early Saturday morning, the reports were coming in. More than 1,500 vehicles were wrecked or disabled along Virgina State highways Friday evening as the storm roared across the region. Sudden, heavy snowfall generated a similar snarl — setting off a 40 mile long traffic jam in Kentucky which stranded motorists for more than 12 hours. According to reports from The Weather Channel, Jonas had already dumped as much as 28 inches of snow by 8 AM this morning. With 5-20 more inches on the way for many regions, these totals are expected to continue to climb.

These crippling snowfall totals were hitting very close to home in Gaithersburg, MD — where I took this video of still heavy snows over an already amazing 21 inch accumulation (unofficial).

The video was taken during a lull in an area that’s been experiencing accumulations at faster than 1 inch per hour rates since late last night. Sporadic reports of thundersnow were also starting to trickle in — especially in areas closer to the Chesapeake Bay like Baltimore.

Severe Coastal Flooding Threat Grows

Along the coast, Jonas’s impacts began to look more like those of Superstorm Sandy than of a typical winter snowmaker. Winds on the Eastern Shore of Virginia hit a peak hurricane force gust of 85 miles per hour earlier this morning as Jonas gorged on record warm Atlantic Ocean waters and intensified. These strong winds combined with astronomical high tides and a climate change related pile up of Gulf Stream waters off the US East Coast to push tides to the second highest level on record for Delaware beaches.

According to the Weather Channel:

On Saturday morning, the water level at Lewes, Delaware, rose to 9.27 feet, a storm surge of more than 4 feet. This is the highest level on record at that gauge, beating 9.20 feet on March 6, 1962. Record flooding has also been observed in at least three New Jersey locations (Great Channel at Stone Harbor, Cape May Harbor, Delaware Bay at Cape May).

Cindy Nevitt in Cape May, New Jersey sent along this photo of ocean floodwaters and ice floes surging around her coastal home this morning as Jonas mercilessly drove its surge inland:

Cindy Nevitt Cape May New Jersey

(Severe coastal flooding surges into Cape May New Jersey as hurricane force gusts drive a storm surge into the Northeast Coast on Saturday morning. Image source: Cindy Nevitt.)

Reports are beginning to come in of ongoing emergency evacuations of coastal homes flooded by surging waters in this region. Given the 9 foot above normal tides combined with hurricane force wind gusts and 30 foot waves slamming into beaches, sand dunes and sea walls, it’s a situation that is, sadly, likely to worsen as the day progresses.

Many of the Worst Impacts Still to Come

To this point, it’s important to note that, with Jonas still centered off the Delmarva Peninsula, this major tidal flooding that regions are now currently experiencing is just the start. The head of water should continue to build on into late Saturday as it moves up the coastline and into New York City, Long Island, Coastal Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Furthermore, impacts to New Jersey and Delaware should remain dangerous or worsen over the coming hours as winds pile waves and waters on top of already record high tides.

Meanwhile, Jonas will continue to generate heavy snowfall over hundreds of miles on into Saturday evening. The situation, therefore, remains quite dangerous and all residents in the affected areas should keep tuned to local emergency officials for instruction. In other words, this climate change enhanced monster winter storm isn’t done yet. Not by a long shot.

UPDATE: 330 PM, 25-26 Inches, Everything is Getting Buried

The locals are calling this thing Snowzilla. And for the past 36 hours it feels like I’ve had the darn thing by the tail. It’s been a rough ride but now things are honestly starting to get weird. Howling winds and heavy snows at the rate of 1 inch or more per hour continue. And we’re just sitting here as all that moisture feeding in off the Atlantic hits that cold air and condenses out in the form of a merciless fall of snow.

In our most recent set of homebrew storm videos, filmed at 3:30, the world is taking on the features of an alien landscape. Everything familiar is being covered in massive piles that dwarf people, cars, trees and even make the buildings seem to blend into a blank background of mounded white. Snowfall accumulation, in our unofficial estimate, has now reached between 25 and 26 inches. But everywhere 3, 4, 5, 6 foot and larger piles and drifts can be found (if you want to view my complete video essay of this storm, now composing 10 live films of events as they unfolded in Gaithersbur, MD, it’s available here).

Offshore, Jonas is still strengthening, still hurling more snow our way. Now, forecasts are indicating the merciless accumulation won’t stop until around 8 PM this evening. National Weather Service radar analysis puts our region firmly under the pivot point of the storm and very heavy bands just keep spiraling in. Given the slow motion of the storm and the current visible conditions, I’m starting to think that the early forecasts were optimistic. We’re just getting socked here.

Links:

A Blizzard Roars out of Climate Change’s Heart

National Weather Service

Winter Storm Jonas Bringing Peak Impacts to Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Saturday

Winter Storm Jonas Live Updates

Jonas Generates 40 Mile Long Traffic Snarl in Kentucky

Cindy Nevitt

Hat Tip to DT Lange

Hat Tip to Colorado Bob

Hat Tip to Greg

Leave a comment

113 Comments

  1. climatehawk1

     /  January 23, 2016

    Tweeting.

    Reply
  2. Hope you and those in your care are doing OK!

    Sent from my iPad 🙏🏻

    >

    Reply
    • Thanks Robin. We’re in a good spot here and think we’ll be OK. Most recent unofficial snow measure here (1:10 PM) is 23 inches. Jonas looks like it’s really starting to kick up a notch too. No let up in precip at all.

      Reply
  3. Kevin Jones

     /  January 23, 2016

    Thanks, Robert. Not terrifically on point but noticed a photo in my local paper here in New Hampshire this morning of maple trees being tapped. The fifteen seasons I did this for a large nearby farm, we’d usually start the last week of February or so. WU forecast has 4 of next nine days with sap run temperatures…..

    Reply
  4. Kevin Jones

     /  January 23, 2016

    NYC has announced a travel ban beginning 2:30 pm. Flooding concerns for 7-8 pm high tide….

    Reply
  5. Kevin Jones

     /  January 23, 2016

    NWS just posted for this afternoon for NYC 10 to 14 (more ) inches. Tonight, 3-5 inches. Winds gusting to 48 mph.

    Reply
  6. Reply
    • It’s one hell of an atmospheric soup to be sitting under for certain. We are starting to get reports of roof collapses here in the DC area. No one hurt as yet, thank goodness.

      Reply
  7. – Tides – surge – winds – waves data and forecasts here – map expands for a wider area.

    Marine Information
    Weather.gov > NWS Wilmington, NC > Marine Information

    http://www.weather.gov/ilm/marine

    Reply
  8. Brian Ianieri ‏@BIanieri 1h1 hour ago

    Flooding near closed seasonal @McDonalds where North Wildwood [Jersey]parks in storms @acpressgerhard
    #sjjonas #acpress ”

    Reply
    • I really feel for those folks on the coast — especially the ones in flooded homes surrounded by freezing waters.

      Reply
      • I also read that in some areas of NJ the tides were higher than they were in Sandy. I must say those pictures of that cold ocean water, with ice and snow was downright scary. You wouldn’t survive long in water that cold. I hope no one hurt there.

        Reply
        • Yeah. That’s a real witch’s brew there. It’s Titanic-type cold. Fortunately, we don’t have any reports of losses yet. Let’s hope it stays that way.

          Maryland interstates are now a junkyard of wrecked and disabled vehicles b/c some people decided to take their vehicles out into the storm contrary to state orders. If you’re not a pro, you shouldn’t be out in this stuff. Vehicles just can’t handle it without proper equipment.

  9. Cory Mottice ‏@EverythingWX 14h14 hours ago

    Awesome velocity signature (in the DC area). This is tilt 3.

    Reply
    • Amazing that we have this kind of velocity index in a snowstorm. Just absolutely insane!

      Reply
      • – The weather seems to be releasing the immense amount of pent up energy.

        Reply
        • 7 percent more water vapor in the atmosphere now than in 1880. That’s a load of extra available moisture and potential energy.

          Looking at snowfall totals now. As of around 4 PM, we had 24-40 inches in the region just northwest of DC. Looks like snow will continue til around 8.

          It is starting to get peaceful, though. The wind is picking up. So you can’t say it’s quiet. But the view is rather serene, as you say. And when I compare one of our cats to the monstrous snow drifts, it’s quite a spectacle.

  10. Okay…I think I am not suppose to post two links…sorry:
    Saw this posted at Weather Underground….Ocean City, NJ this morning:
    https://mobile.twitter.com/dolostone/status/690890146015793152

    And I just read that it may be worse in Long Island? Oh boy…

    Reply
  11. Greg

     /  January 23, 2016

    Thanks for warning everyone Robert on the coast. Meanwhile the snow piles up inland:

    12:50 p.m. update: Snowfall totals from the “crush zone” northwest of the city, with much more to come!

    3 miles southwest of Frederick, Md. — 36 inches
    Derwood, Md. — 20 inches
    Winchester, Va. — 29 inches
    Sterling, Va. — 26 inches
    Leesburg, Va. — 26 inches
    Haymarket, Va. — 28 inches
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2016/01/23/blizzard-warning-updates-waking-up-to-thundersnow-as-white-stuff-piles-past-one-foot-and-counting/

    Reply
    • Oh my….that is wild. As a life long S. Floridian…I cannot even imagine…wow!

      Reply
    • labmonkey2

       /  January 23, 2016

      Just amazing buildup. Curious the consequence of a fast melt of this accumulation should temps return to the ‘warmer’ side after this storm passes. Moisture content will be the key, but this is “gonna be yuge.”

      Reply
  12. Colorado Bob

     /  January 23, 2016

    Melting Greenland ice sheet may affect global ocean circulation, future climate

    Scientists from the University of South Florida, along with colleagues in Canada and the Netherlands, have determined that the influx of fresh water from the Greenland ice sheet is “freshening” the North Atlantic Ocean and could disrupt the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), an important component of global ocean circulation that could have a global effect. Researchers say it could impact the future climate in places such as portions of Europe and North America.

    Their study on the influence of freshwater influx on Labrador Sea convection and Atlantic circulation is published in a new issue of the journal Nature Communications.

    “We derived a new estimate of recent freshwater flux from Greenland using updated GRACE satellite data,” said USF professor Tim Dixon. “The data suggest that the influx of freshwater from Greenland is accelerating, and has changed the Labrador Sea in ways that could lead to a weakening of the AMOC.”

    Read more at: Link

    Reply
  13. I still remember the video from the snowstorms in Boston last winter! And I heard they’re going to get clobbered… AGAIN!😮

    Reply
  14. Ryan in New England

     /  January 23, 2016

    Robert, thank you for the great coverage and updates through this storm, as well as the videos! Looks like you’ve hit the snow jackpot down there. Stay warm and safe!

    Reply
  15. Zeke Orzech ‏@Zeke_O 3h3 hours ago

    #StoneHarborNJ beach erosion! 102st looking north and south. @weatherchannel @WeatherNation

    Reply
  16. Reply
    • – No, you are not seeing miniature icebergs floating on the water — just sea foam. Though icebergs hitting the Jersey shore may happen with the Atlantic and climate in disarray.

      Reply
    • YouTube Newswire ‏@ytnewswire 3h3 hours ago

      Severe flooding hits parts of #NewJersey following massive #blizzard

      Reply
    • Scott

       /  January 23, 2016

      And if you fall into that mess, you had better get out and get warmed up quickly. 15 or 20 minutes could be fatal (depending on what you are wearing (waterproof and insulated – longer, bluejeans and a sweatshirt, on the short end of the scale, and your degree of leanness or not so leanness). So much more dangerous than the same thing in summer. How to even begin cleaning up when everything is frozen?

      Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  January 23, 2016

      The water in that video looks like a Greenland bay by a glacial calving face. This flooding must be much more dangerous than a summertime storm.

      Reply
  17. Ryan in New England

     /  January 23, 2016

    Article about The Blob off the west coast. It’s starting to fade, but may be a regular recurring pattern in our future.

    http://www.desmog.ca/2016/01/23/blob-disrupts-what-we-think-we-know-about-climate-change-oceans-scientist-says

    Reply
  18. Scott

     /  January 23, 2016

    Another 3 to 5 inches forecast for tonight in your area, with rain forecast for early next week does not sound good at all. Do you have a roof rake? If not, I’d find a way to get one. It’s the only safe way to get that weight off your roof. I’ve had to rake my roof a few times (Minnesota) and we NEVER get snow like you are seeing. We see a lot colder, but never that quantity of snow all at once.

    Reply
    • James Burton

       /  January 23, 2016

      Good point! It’s never good to let too much snow build up on the roof, and roof rakes are the best. My solution here in NE Minnesota is a very steep roof grade, 45 Degrees and a metal roof, which allows most snow to simply come down on it’s own. Of course we have snow 6 months a year here.

      Reply
    • Griffin

       /  January 23, 2016

      Great, great point Scott! As a New Englander, I can say that massive snow followed by rain in the next few days is one of my biggest weather fears. The capacity of snow to absorb that water is incredible, and the weight has to be felt to be believed. It can mean big trouble fast.

      Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  January 24, 2016

      Big snows on roofs is definitely not something to take lightly😉 I’ve actually spent days shoveling roofs on two occasions in the past five years, last year being one of them. The repeated snowfalls led to lots of weight, plus the lower layer of snow melts from contact with the warmer home, then the water refreezes by the gutters creating ice dams that can get underneath your shingles and lead to water damage. I saw lots of water damage, even in homes with properly installed roofs. We are simply seeing conditions outside of what these homes were designed to experience.

      Reply
  19. James Burton

     /  January 23, 2016

    Living in Blizzard Country here in Northern Minnesota, I know one thing about snow storms. It is the wind that turns passable snow fall into impassable drifts. In a typical 2 foot snowfall event with out high winds, we have few problems. But get above 30 MPH added to over 2 foot snowfall, and THEN it all goes to hell fast. Drifts will rise up blocking roads, piling up 4-5-6 feet without problem. Many patches will be blown free of snow and then a few yards away a towering 6 foot drift will bury any snowplow trying to whack through it.
    So if you guys out east are having winds over 30 MPH with this level of snowfall, I would say you are having an epic blizzard! Even by standards of the northern tundra up here!
    Anyone reporting drift size yet in areas affected?

    Reply
  20. Peter Mullinax ‏@wxmvpete 4h4 hours ago

    A view of #Snowzilla from space, courtesy of the Terra satellite MODIS True Color imagery.

    Reply
  21. Ryan in New England

     /  January 23, 2016

    The shore is being hit hard by this storm. Some places seeing higher surges than Hurricane Sandy.

    “Obviously this is a ferocious storm. There are wind gusts 60 to 80 mph. That’s hurricane stuff.”

    New Jersey meteorologist Gary Szatkowski tweeted the Cape May area was experiencing a record high surge of 8.9 feet, greater than when Sandy hit. Lewes, Del., across the mouth of the Delaware River from Cape May, also reported a record high surge of 9.7 feet.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2016/01/23/snowstorm-brings-major-coastal-flooding-along-east-coast/79225902/

    This is what climate change will increasingly do. Devastate places that are still recovering from their previous devastating event. It happened here on the Connecticut and Rhode Island shores in 2011 and 2012. Hurricane Irene destroyed entire beachfront neighborhoods in August of 2011, and then 14 months later homes that were partially rebuilt were leveled again by Hurricane Sandy. At some point you are running just to stand still.

    Reply
  22. Brian Brettschneider ‏@Climatologist49 34m34 minutes ago

    Washington Dulles (IAD) now with more snow this winter than Anchorage, AK (PANC). 27.0″ vs 25.8″

    Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  January 23, 2016

      That’s something you don’t see everyday. And the instant jump in DC’s snowfall is very impressive. Kinda looks like our temp/CO2 hockey sticks.

      Reply
    • Heather Curtis ‏@HeatherMCurtis1 3h3 hours ago

      The National Guard has been called in to rescue meteorologists at the @NWS in Sterling. They’re snowed in & need to change shifts #dcsnow

      Reply
      • Wow. I bet that wasn’t included in the forecast. Another bet — this ends up being one of DC’s top 3 snowstorms on record. Snowzilla is right.

        Reply
  23. NWS OPC ‏@NWSOPC 9m9 minutes ago

    significant wave heights continue to build; max heights analyzed to 30FT, recent buoy obs in blue #WinterStorm

    Reply
    • Ryan, as of 8:30pm, the 3 in NY were related to heart-attacks while shoveling. Ouch.

      Reply
      • Maria..was just thinking about you today. Hadn’t seen any of your posts of late, and were hoping you were alright.

        Reply
  24. – “Frozen typhoon”

    Reply
  25. – Other News:

    A Canadian Threat to Alaskan Fishing

    Carpeted in rain forest and braided with waterways, southeast Alaska is among the largest wild salmon producers in the world, its tourism and salmon fishing industries grossing about $2 billion a year. But today, the rivers and the salmon that create these jobs — and this particular way of life, which attracted me from Philadelphia to Sitka almost 20 years ago — are threatened by Canada’s growing mining industry along the mountainous Alaska-British Columbia border, about a hundred miles east of where I now write.

    At least 10 underground and open-pit copper and gold mining projects in British Columbia are up and running, in advanced exploration or in review to be approved. These operations generate billions of tons of toxic mine tailings stored behind massive dams, creating an ecological hazard at the headwaters of Alaska’s major salmon rivers — the Stikine, Unuk and Taku, which straddle the border with Canada.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/opinion/sunday/a-canadian-threat-to-alaskan-fishing.html

    Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  January 24, 2016

      That is a disaster waiting to happen. I guarantee it.

      Reply
    • Griffin

       /  January 24, 2016

      Yep, it sure is Ryan. We can see how it will happen too. “Excessive rains that brought record flooding to the region.”

      Reply
    • A bit of reticence in that one. But worth putting a pin in, nonetheless.

      Reply
      • Griffin

         /  January 24, 2016

        “Reticence”. The word of words to describe all that is wrong with scientific reporting today.

        Reply
        • The problem today is that too many scientists believe that observational fact can only be proven within the constructive confines of a scientific model. This thinking has blinded many to obvious influences and changes occurring in the environment around them.

          The question that I have is this — is it wise to rely on a bit of jumped up clockwork as the final word in science? Is it worthwhile to allow human reason to play second fiddle to an incomplete and all-too-likely imperfect machine?

        • Lots of ignorance/disregard of what I think are basic communications tenets, as well. For example, recently a couple of experts I respect posted copies of a lengthy denier letter (I assume to shame its author, since no other explanation was given).

          First, “don’t repeat the libel”–why should you spend valuable time and, shall we say, “reader attention time/space” propagating the opponent’s messages?

          Second, if you just can’t stop yourself, don’t post without point-by-point rebuttal.

          Much better to write a rebuttal and include a link to the original.

          Basic, basic stuff. MHO.

        • Yeah. For the most part, dedicating any page space to that stuff is ridiculously counter-productive.

      • Griffin

         /  January 24, 2016

        Precisely why you have so many loyal readers my friend. You provide a view that is not only unique, but also one that encourages us to connect the dots. Your wonderful readers provide an amazing amount of dots that add to the picture every day!

        Reply
      • LJR

         /  January 24, 2016

        “The question that I have is this — is it wise to rely on a bit of jumped up clockwork as the final word? Is it worthwhile to allow human reason to run second string to a machine?”

        NO!!!! A thousand times NO!!! Models are no substitute for boots on the ground taking observations and making speculations. We need more like Jason Box and Natalia Shakova.

        We seem to live in a milieu where the only path to credibility is when some computer model will back up a prognostication. I think that’s both tragic and cowardly. Are we to believe that a computer model is anything other than a coarse grained abstraction coded by, drum roll, humans?

        These pieces of “jumped up clockwork” as you so beautifully describe them, still can’t fold a protein without bringing the Columbia River to a stop. Something nature manages in a few milliseconds. Some of our best modellers have been working on that problem for decades.

        Models are no substitute for the mashup of neuronal activity called “thought.”

        Time is not on our side in this.

        Reply
        • Pattern recognition — it’s what a thing that must survive does. We’ve got 3 billion years worth of evolving threat and pattern recognition locked away within us. It’s a gift we would be very unwise not to use.

          And for some damn reason there’s a bug here that’s taking away the ‘f’ in comments. Working on it now.

      • Griffin

         /  January 24, 2016

        Very well said LJR.

        Reply
      • I do not see it as either ‘what too many scientists today believe’ or ‘a type of thinking that blinds scientists’. In fact, I think what you are describing in both of these examples is simply politics and bullying.

        So, I might take your words and rephrase them as follows: “The problem today is an intolerance against creative scientific thinking, such as was seen with the church at the time Galileo was seeing planets through his telescope. The intolerance is so extreme that, as a simple defense mechanism, too many scientists are learning to say little, so as to avoid personal/professional attacks and/or loss of funding.”

        Many readers here have probably read the autobiography by Charles David Keeling. It documents in thorough detail the evolution of a science career while transtioning science through the entire evolutionary sequence vacating an age of much greater innocence and curiosity. Keeling was an enthusiast, bright mind, and was supported at the start, with federal funding related to the International Geophysical Year. But it took just a few more years for money interests to see a threat in what Keeling’s brilliant work was producing, and the serial attacks commenced. And we have only gone downhill from there.

        Dr. Charles D. Keeling’s Autobiography at: http://aireform.com/resources/how-to-search-for-downloadable-reference-materials/1998-00-00-dr-charles-d-keelings-autobiography-from-annual-review-of-energy-and-the-environment/

        Reply
      • Ryan in New England

         /  January 24, 2016

        Robert, what you describe is one of the reasons your blog has become such an important place. You, and all of the fantastic commenters, are not confined by political, journalistic or institutional pressures that discourage following the observations to their logical conclusions, no matter how unpleasant those realities may be. We are not spokespersons for NASA or NOAA, or not submitting comments for peer review (that’s not a criticism, I find everyone here tries to be accurate and fact based) so we have more leeway for…I don’t want to say speculation…I’d say just calling things like we see them. For researchers or policy makers these events represent another data point. Just one data point that must be contextualized within thousands of others over a long time for scientific confirmation of something we all know with our guts and common sense already.

        Reply
        • Counting beans is a good way to sum up things after they’ve already happened. A free exchange of ideas and observations — uncorrupted by special interest, institutional, or any other form of captive thought — is capable of so much more. We are an anomaly in this day and I’ll keep working hard to create the space for what we do here.

      • Agreed, dithered briefly about whether to tweet, but then went ahead on basis of general knowledge content.

        Reply
  26. Colorado Bob

     /  January 24, 2016

    Britain braces itself for more floods as Storm Jonas heads towards shores

    A Met spokesman said: “An active cold front is expected to become slow-moving across Wales, north-west England and south and west Scotland through Tuesday, and into Wednesday, before clearing to the south on Wednesday afternoon.

    “Warm air of tropical origins is expected to be entrained into the system, leading to abundant moisture and heavy rain.

    “Many parts of the warning area could see 50-100 mm of rain, whilst the most exposed upland parts of north Wales, north-west England and south-west Scotland could see 150-200 mm.

    Link

    Reply
    • Now how did I know England was in for more? For one, I don’t let the clockwork do all the thinking for me. The clockwork is good in the assist. But analytical reasoning requires a bit more than just running around the virtual racetrack.

      Reply
      • LJR

         /  January 24, 2016

        Amen!

        Reply
      • LJR

         /  January 24, 2016

        Computers are fast and obedient but they never scratch their chins and say, “Now let me see!”

        When I was a young lad I had a second grade teacher who was trying to convey the idea of subtraction to my lunkish brain. I was a farm boy and she knew that so she said, “Johnny. Let’s suppose you have a pasture with ten sheep and one of the sheep goes through a hole in the fence. How many sheep would you have left?”

        I thought about that for a fraction of a second and promptly replied, “None.”

        She said, “No. No. No. You’d have nine sheep left. Count them up.”

        I said, “Mrs. Austin, you may know arithmetic but you sure don’t know sheep!”

        And that is the problem with models.

        Reply
        • Amen to that. They sure as hell don’t know sheep.

          I was reminded of something similar earlier this week. My wife and I were discussing taking a trip down to Virginia Beach ahead of the storm to visit my parents. Our idea was to try to beat the storm by heading out Thursday night. We decided not to, but as an afterthought of the discussion we got onto the subject of whether or not it would snow in Virginia Beach. Being a student of what’s going on in the model forecasts, I noted that the predictions said probably not. My wife then promptly replied — ‘I think it will snow there.’ I lifted an eyebrow speculatively to which she retorted — ‘sometimes you just have to throw the models out and listen to your wife.’

          Well, it did snow in VB and Norfolk and Chesapeake. So I guess women’s intuition can beat the models sometimes too.

          To be clear, the weather models are now pretty amazingly accurate. But the point here is that I don’t think we often realize how much is actually going on in the human mind. We perceive things that we don’t realize we sense. And of those senses, it’s the subtle ones that are often the most powerful.

          We can objectively define quite a lot. And we should not allow the gaps in either the models or objective reasoning to let us deride their usefulness. But we should also remember that the world is imperfect in pretty much all its forms. That the useful tool is not the halcyon ideal. And that pretty much all the time there’s stuff going on that we don’t know yet. That’s why focused speculation is an absolutely worthwhile endeavor.

          In other words, without creativity and wonder at its heart — science would be nothing more than a dead monstrosity of zombie clockwork.

      • LJR

         /  January 24, 2016

        “In other words, without creativity and wonder at its heart — science would be nothing more than a dead monstrosity of zombie clockwork.”

        Well put.

        Reply
    • Scheduling tweet on this, thanks.

      Reply
  27. Robert, I just checked out your Youtube videos…Wow!! Just seeing how quickly the landscape in your area changed was something to see. Thanks for posting something this Floridian has never experienced. I have a question. If the forecast is right and things warm up quickly next week..will flooding be inevitable or are systems up there in place that can handle a fast snow melt?

    Reply
    • They’ll pile the snow into giant mini-glaciers for the most part. If we get a big warm rain, the flood potential will be severely heightened.

      Reply
  28. Andy in SD

     /  January 24, 2016

    Looking at those snow fall totals makes me think of a rather potentially pending bad item.

    So when does the temperature rise above freezing, how far above, how quickly does the temperature rise, and for how long….

    Basically, is there a flood coming out of this as well?

    Reply
  29. Jay M

     /  January 24, 2016

    And for something completely different, I saw that SW Australia was having flash flooding over a wide area, I believe on Westenra’s blog.

    Reply
  30. redskylite

     /  January 24, 2016

    I feel a little guilty even blogging today from a sunny spot in the sunny Southern Hemisphere, where I’m feeling uncomfortable around 30 degrees C. I’m shocked by the photo’s and events on the East Coast U.S, looks like hell, and the flood water so dangerously cold. Just wish all affected a safe passage through the event.

    Following the blob and it’s dramatic effects, now it’s finally beginning to dissipate, as you wrote earlier not everything is predicted by modelling, we still need human knowledge, expertise and experience it gives a deeper insight . . . that’s why we value climate scientists.
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    “But, as oceanographers try to predict what will happen next, Dewey believes it is too early to pronounce the death of The Blob.”

    “It’s not dead yet. I think there’s a lot of heat out there, deep down,” he said.

    “I am hedging my bets… I think it is still down there.”

    Dewey, who got together with other scientists in Seattle this month to look at circumstances around the birth of The Blob and what might be expected next, believes similar events are likely to happen in the future.

    “Maybe it is going to happen now every 10 years, or maybe every 20 years and that will be a major change,” he said.

    Among other effects is the reduced absorption of carbon dioxide by a warm ocean, opposed to a cold ocean.

    http://www.desmog.ca/2016/01/23/blob-disrupts-what-we-think-we-know-about-climate-change-oceans-scientist-says

    Reply
    • redskylite

       /  January 24, 2016

      Sorry I just realized that Ryan in New England has already reported this story today. Edit, delete entry.

      Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  January 24, 2016

      No worries redskylite! The more the merrier😉

      Reply
  31. Andy in SD

     /  January 24, 2016

    987 mb low off your coast Robert.

    Reply
  32. Greg

     /  January 24, 2016

    Another unsung hero, Thich Nhat Hanh – an 89 year old Buddhist monk, who inspired the organizer of COP21, Christiana Figueres, She worked everyday, by the way, for six years straight to put COP21 together. Thick’s monastery in Waldbrol, Germany, which was once a mental institution with 700 patients, before the Nazis came along to exterminate them and took over the premises for the Hitler Youth, chose to locate his monastery there “because he wanted to prove that it is completely possible to turn pain into love, to turn being a victim into being a victor, to turn hate into love and forgiveness, and he was intent in showing that in this place that had been associated with such absolute, inhuman cruelty.”
    “It is a journey from blaming each other, to actually collaborating. It’s a journey from feeling completely paralyzed, helpless, exposed to the elements, to actually feeling empowered that we can do this.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/thich-nhat-hanh-paris-climate-agreement_us_56a24b7ae4b076aadcc64321

    Reply
    • Absolutely. Paris was a beginning and we are the ever-loving follow-through. We are the force that must not be stopped. The cure to that damned poison — both physical and spiritual — we’ve been pumping out and inhaling all these Centuries.

      Reply
      • Greg

         /  January 24, 2016

        The force is strong with this one even when recovering from the flu…

        Reply
  33. Greg

     /  January 24, 2016

    Richard Grumm, science and operations officer at the National Weather Service office in State College described this Blizzard’s east to west winds as as a six sigma event, in theory a one-in-500-million likelihood, although the exact recurrence period for such extreme events is impossible to nail down.
    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/historic-snowstorm-takes-aim-on-midatlantic

    Reply
  34. Oale

     /  January 24, 2016

    The snow totals are considerable for this Finnish person, and the wind is pretty strong. The temperatures are high so the snow is pretty heavy. This sounds like a storm to be noted here also.

    Reply
  35. A New World (Dis)Order?

    Reply
  36. Cephalopod and Mollusk Real Estate, Inc.: should do brisk business along coasts worldwide, if only crabs and oysters found a way to earn fiat money.

    Reply
  37. Syd Bridges

     /  January 24, 2016

    Thanks for these updates, Robert. I’m glad that you are OK, though the death toll from this storm is tragic.

    The heat accumulating off the East Coast looks capable of driving more storms this winter. And we in the UK look like getting the leftovers. Again, it appears, the areas that got hit at the end of last year will be hit hardest. Here, in Gloucestershire at 9:30 AM the temperature is 13 deg C, which is warm. When I was a child in the ’60s we learned that the average climate was 5, 15, 25 5C in January, 15C in July, and 25 inches of rain per annum. I doubt if that is true now.

    So far, we haven’t had the string of lows that struck in spring 2014, and have half the rain we had in January 2014. I find it astonishing that the storm tracks are yet again placing the rain over such a small geographical region: northern England and Wales, and southern Scotland. Meanwhile, Jonas is probably much bigger than the British Isles.

    Reply
    • The rain displacement probably has to do with how that fire hose of moisture is hitting the topography. The prevailing pattern is shifting to bring more over a differing localized region.

      Seems to me like your January temps now are what you once saw in July. That’s nuts to think about.

      I’ve been concerned the U.S. East coast would be hammered once the troughs started to dig in. Jonas is kinda what I’d imagined — if with a bit more snow. As for the UK, I’m sorry to say that you guys will be in the thick of it til at least late March. I hope everyone ends up making it through OK where you are, Syd.

      Reply
  38. Jonas seems very similar to the Great Furlough Storm of 1996. I was living in Arnold, Maryland at the time. https://www.instagram.com/p/BA3jQguGTQ5/

    154 people died in that storm.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_blizzard_of_1996
    http://wjla.com/weather/remembering-the-blizzard-of-96-14186

    Reply
  1. Blizzard Fueled By Ocean Heat Cripples Eastern US, Floods Coast With Historic Storm Surge | GarryRogers Nature Conservation
  2. Airport Weather Observations for Winter Storm Jonas | Aviation Impact Reform

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