Monday, October 31, 2011

The Climate, it is a-Changing

Yes, yes, yes, I know you're not supposed to attribute individual weather events to climate change. So noted. And if this weekend's unprecedented October snowstorm that struck the Northeast was the only unusual bout of weather we've had this year, I would shrug it off as an anomaly.

But 2011 has been a doozy of a year overall for unprecedented weather events. Just here in the U.S., off the top of my head, we've had the haboob dust storms in Arizona, the record breaking heat wave and wild fires in Texas, the monster tornadoes in Joplin and Tuscaloosa, the snow melt floods in the Midwest, Hurricane Irene drowning Vermont, and the 1000-year rainstorm we got here in Virginia. And now this.

Just how unprecedented was this latest bout of wacky weather? Here is the Weather Channel with the details:
New October Snow Records

These are just some of the noteworthy records (there are many more) set across the Northeast from this historic snowstorm. Outside of Worcester, which typically sees its first measurable snow (0.1" or more) on November 17, most of these cities do not typically see their first measurable snow until another month to month and a half from now!

Hartford, CT - 12.3" on Saturday crushed the previous single day record snow total in October of 1.7" set on October 10, 1979.

Worcester, MA - 11.4" (Storm total: 14.6") on Saturday beats the previous single day record snow total in October of 7.5" set on October 10, 1979.

Newark, NJ - 5.2" on Saturday was the most snow ever recorded on any October day in history. This is also only the second time with measurable snow in October. The last time measurable snow occurred was when just .3" fell on October 22, 1952.

New York, NY (Central Park) - 2.9" on Saturday is the only time in October history that an inch or more of snow has been recorded during the month. This is also just the 4th time in history with measurable snow during the month.

Allentown, PA - 6.8" on Saturday is the largest October snowstorm in history and just the 6th time in history with measurable snow in October.

Harrisburg, PA - 9.7" on Saturday is the largest October snowstorm in history and just the 5th time since 1889 that measurable snow has been recorded in October.

Peru, MA - Received 32", which is the biggest snow total from this storm as of early Sunday morning.
Holy crap...32 inches of snow in October? This could be shaping up to be one hell of a winter. Happy Halloween!


  1. Hi Bill, Just wanted to let you know that I check your blog almost every day, and think your work is useful for me. Thank you.

    I wonder if this storm will turn into another one of those (as Everett Dirkson used to say) real money events? That would be 11 or 12 of them so far this year.

  2. @Slorisb - thanks for the compliment!

    It'll be interesting to see if the snow melt causes still more flooding. The whole country could use a weather break right about now.

  3. They had an article on climate progress about how unlike in the past, snow storms would be followed by severe cold snaps, but the most recent dumper storms have been followed by rapid warming instead.

  4. Hi, Bill,

    First off, sorry about your brother. hopefully, they find out they're wrong and it really IS just serious Lyme disease (chronic Lyme can look a LOT like some of those things).
    I've long thought many of those illnesses (MS, ALS, etc) are due to the fact we're slowly poisoning ourselves.

    Secondly, I agree with this post (re: the storm), but you didn't note the much more interesting thing about it: the fact we're now in day 3 of no power at home (I'm writing this at work). I live in the middle of it, right near a stretch that got whacked by Hurricane Irene in August AND a tornado in June. One of these days, the entire power grid is going to get hit by something we no longer have the resources to fix, b/c it's way too big for its own good and has been managed for profit rather than public need. (I read somewhere recently that although the companies and gov't have invested $6 billion into upgrades, it still needs at least that much just to catch up to today's level of use.)

    I kinda like the lack of power, if it weren't cold. Things are quieter. We've been talking about getting a wood stove, building a cold cellar and adding a hand-pump for the well; if we get those, future outages won't matter much.

    Driving around the area gives a good idea of what things will look like after the grid crashes for good — lots of vacant commercial buildings with empty parking lots (including supermarkets), dark roads at night. Our area also has the start of what could have easily become a fuel crisis if the electrical problems were more widespread: even the local police chief told his men not to refuel anything but patrol cars until tomorrow b/c a fuel delivery is being delayed, and several gas stations are running out of regular gas.

    Welcome to the future!

  5. @gus - thank you for that on-the-ground report. Very interesting, indeed. The fuel shortage issue is not being widely reported that I've seen.

  6. @Anon - very good point. That was the case here in the DC area after out three big record-breaking blizzards that struck the winter before last.