Friday, May 22, 2009

Winter of 51 - 52?

One thing that I always try to do is not to over-hype anything for fear of being disappointed, both myself & anyone listening. The problem is that as I study the research going into the upcoming winter I keep hearing 1951-52 being thrown around, & then I look at the snowfall history graph on my wall for that year & it was the second biggest snow year since 1880.

In 1952 Over 800” fell over Donner Summit. This is the year that the media loves to grab photos from to try & say that it doesn’t snow as much now, which is dead wrong that was just an insane year. That year almost doubled the seasonal average. You may think you want it to snow that much, but I have a picture here on my wall of July 1952 taken on top of Mount Rose Hwy. where the snow banks are still over 20 ft. high. If we were to have a year like that again where would we put all the snow with the increase population? Biggest year since 1952 was 1983 with around 670”, then 1996 in most recent memory with around 600”. I wasn’t here then but I hear stories that even in King’s Beach the roads were impassible for weeks.

The problem the last 3 winters is that it has been too cold to snow. Not only has the earth been cooling but the Pacific down near the equator where the storms feed has been cold. That is not good for breeding storms to feed the jet, plus it tends to form a big ridge over the East Pacific blocking storms from hitting CA. What we need is some warming of the water in the nino region by the equator to get us from the La Nina of the past 3 winters towards El Nino. That isn’t easy to do when the earth is cooling & sunspots are at 100 year lows in activity. But we may catch a break this winter as the ocean currents & wind patterns are starting to warm the water near the equator while the rest of the Pacific remains cold. What forecasters do is take the current weather patterns & try to match them against previous years to find the most similar year, & then see what followed. Here is a recent quote from a long-range forecaster I love to follow & study, Joe Bastardi.

"Let's for instance take this upcoming winter. In the broad backdrop, '51-'52 stands out as the go-to winter. We had the overall reverse of the PDO (there still can be warm episodes) and a cold AMO that was going back to its warm state, as I suspect the AMO will for another five years (the downturn now is temporary and mainly tropical water based, more or less a reaction to what has happened, much like the El Nino developing is), but we were coming off a solar max, not min. The cumulative buildup of bigger areas of cold that take place when there is less sunspot activity is most pronounced as the upturn is occurring, and that puts us close to the '76-'77 winter in the cycle. However, the overall temp of the Earth was as cold as the double cold PDO, cold AMO could have it in the mid-70s, and we are just off the warmest period now. The listing of this is not to draw a conclusion, but to inform the reader, just like I try to do in any aspect, of the fact that what is happening now may mean a lot to what happens later."

So 76-77 was a really dry winter here, but we were reversing from a cold period to warm. Right now we are reversing from warm period to cold. I.E. 1952. So lets not get too excited here in May, but this is something to watch over the summer. As long as we continue to warm the water towards an El Nino state you can only argue that it has to be wetter next winter than the past 3. Let's keep our fingers crossed. BA


Ghost said...

Congrats on the wedding and baby! If you are like me, you will now ski approximately 1/5 the amount of days.

I like your weather discussions during the winter, but you are clearly offbase and doing a disservice to talk about the earth "cooling." You need to emphasize that that is a short term trend and that all science is pointing to the earth warming due to human-induced climate change. Over 95% of the world's climatologists believe that, yet a few outspoken ones who get a following from people like Rush Limbaugh continue to persuade average Joe's that everything is hunky-dory. It is not. I welcome a wetter and snowier winter, but the writing is on the wall -- less snow for the Sierra as we warm.

BA said...

I'm glad you enjoy the discussions.

This is not a political blog. I'm not sure how Rush Limbaugh got pulled into a weather discussion. I think people like that I stick to facts about weather & I'm not skewed by resort hype for profit or political popularity.

This blog is just to state factual data that is occuring now & how it could affect our weather & ski conditions. All I can do it read the data for global temps that show no warming or cooling from 1998 - 2006, & then cooling the past 2 years. If it warms in the future I will report & talk about that. I don't deny that the past 10 years have been warmer than normal, but warming has stopped for now & started going down, so that is what I will look at as far as what will affect our weather for now.

There are other forums for discussing super long range climate predictions. In my weather world I don't trust any models more than a week out. The debate is interesting though & I read both sides of the argument to try & make sure I'm seeing all the data. I would be interested in the link for your 95% claim, I wasn't aware of that number. Here is an interesting link I came across, I would be interested to know how many of these doctors from around the world listen to Rush Limbaugh.

Click HereThanks for reading & discussing. BA

BA said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Wasn't 52-53' the BIG year? I though 51-52 was a rather average season? where are you getting your data? can you please post your link, it is quite possible i'm reading my graph wrong.

BA said...

I'm pretty sure it was 51-52. I use the data from the Sierra Snow Lab. Here is a link to a site that has their chart, but I just get an email with the new data every October at the end of the water year.

Biggest snowpack ever recorded was March 19, 1952 — 20.57 feet. which would match with the biggest snow year & with all the pics from the snowpack in the summer of 52.

Anonymous said...

ok looking at my chart again 51-52' would make sense, did you forget to post the link?


Andrew said...

Congrats on the baby, and thanks for providing such a great blog. The anticipation of a great snow report on your next post kept me going all season and to great powder days in the trees!

I'm interested in your ski rental for the season, if you wouldn't mind sending me more info. That's definitely a steel considering Northstar's been charging $200+ a night!

BA said...

Oops sorry anonymous, here's the link.

BA said...

Andrew, here is the link for the Craigslist posting. I am not the owner just the current tenant, but the place is so nice I thought it a crime not to tell people it's available.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the snowfall link,

love reading you blog btw!

brian said...

What is with all of this rain? do you see a stop to it soon? and if its so rainy and stormy, why is their no wind at the lake?