Saturday, March 01, 2008

And snow it goes on …

A meddlesome snowstorm mucked up Metro Detroit roadways on Friday morning, depositing 2.7 inches of snow before working its way out of Michigan and on to the East Coast.

Chicago was expecting its 35th measurable snow of the season, well beyond the 30 measurable snows that had occurred in the average complete season since 1928, while New Hampshire was two good snowstorms away from having the snowiest winter on record.

The midwest was also looking forward to breaking a 50-year-old snowfall record for the month of February. With two days to go, one town had recorded 49.9 inches, against the record for February snow at 51.3 inches set in 1958.

Snowfall already had broken several records, including the snowiest December, January and February. The total for the three months, as of today, was 100.1 inches, smashing the previous record of 78 inches set in 1886-87.

In Massachusetts, leap day got off to a frigid start in and if that wasn't enough - heavy snow was in the forecast for much of the state. At 8 am, Logan International Airport in Boston was reporting a temperature of 14 degrees and at Worcester Regional Airport, the mercury stood at 9 degrees (Fahrenheit).

Even colder temperatures were reported in northwestern Massachusetts, with a reading of 1 below zero at Orange Municipal Airport, up from 7-below earlier in the morning. Forecasters were then expect the snow to begin late Friday and continue into Saturday, with some areas receiving as much as 6-12 inches.

A fast moving storm system known as an Alberta Clipper was expected to arrive in New Jersey, with up to six inches of snow predicted for the northwest corner of the state.

So bad was in Medford, a northern suburb of Boston, that a snow emergency was declared.

And, if northern USA and Canada are experiencing record conditions, this is also a world-wide phenomenon. For instance, in Tehran (topmost picture), during 18 days from 10 to 27 January 2008, the minimum temperature in was continuously less than -5ºC; the lowest temperature recorded was -11ºC, while the maximum temperature was below 0ºC for 12 days. The lowest temperature recorded in Iran during this period was -32ºC.

And, while Afghanistan continues to suffer, hundreds of cashmere goats have perished in Kashmir's harshest winter in decades. Thousands more face starvation, with the authorities putting the number of animals at risk of starvation at more than 100,000 as winter stocks of fodder have been covered in snow.

Nomads and Tibetan refugees herd the goats in the remote and barren area. Despite being high in the Himalayas, the Ladakh region usually receives only about 10 centimetres of precipitation a year. However, this year, the Himalayan region witnessed the heaviest snowfall in the last three decades, with about 24 inches of snow accumulating in some places.

A similar crisis is afflicting wild animals snowbound in the Pamir Plateau in northwest China, with some 100,000 animals at risk. The worst winter weather in 50 years has blocked animals' feeding paths and the latest figures suggested that snow covers 400,000 square miles in southern Xinjiang, of which 200,000 had snow cover of more than four inches deep.

And, while the Daily Mail prattled on about plastic bags, to the evident approval of The Guardian, even the far away Snowy Mountains in Australia's New South Wales had taken on a wintry chill after snow fell last night at the ski resorts of Perisher Blue and Thredbo.

A light dusting of snow blanketed the ski resorts overnight as temperatures dropped to a low of minus 3.8 degrees Celcius at Perisher and minus 3 degrees at Thredbo. Weather forecasters are already predicting a bumper snow season for 2008. Temperatures are expected to remain low with persistent precipitation throughout winter.

"We have barely had a summer this year," said Gary Grant, Perisher Blue's general manager of marketing. "It's felt as though it's remained cold since the end of the 2007 season, apart from a few warm days, there air has always had a nip in it."

All this has the Wall Street Journal noting that cooler weather has the blogosphere alight with speculation about the climate's real changes, nicely timed for the climate change sceptics conference which starts Monday in New York – where heavy snow is expected over the weekend.

I guess the delegates will not be talking about 2nd Lt. Harry Wales, to whom the media have so far devoted 3,018 3,444 3,874 4,079 4,235 4,460 5,115 stories, as recorded by Google News.


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