05 December 2007

North America Prepares for Winter--Early

Several parts of North America are dealing with record snowfall and cold temperatures, early in the season--before winter has even begun.
A record 31.6 centimetres (12 inches) of snow fell on Montreal Monday, more than double the previous Dec. 3 record of 14 centimetres, and it will take a week to clean up....Portland, Maine tied a record for the date set in 1890 Monday when 8.5 inches fell. Elsewhere, Marshfield in Washington County had 18 inches of snow...Grand Forks airport had 8.1 inches of snow yesterday, setting a record for the date. And Fargo set a record with 5.9 inches. The previous mark in both cities was set back in 1926. Grand Forks and Fargo also had record snowfall last Saturday.

This early winter harshness comes courtesy of a strong La Nina phase of the ENSO Pacific oscillation that determines much of the climate for North America and Asia. A similar Atlantic oscillation determines much of the climate for Europe. The failure to take these natural oscillations into account (along with other important forcings) necessarily diminishes the credibility of GCMs (general circulation models to scientists, global climate models to journalists).

This may turn into a very cold winter indeed.


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