Lovely weather we’re having

On the plus side, it looks to reach 34 degrees today with a twenty percent chance of rain. In Anchorage. Needless to say most people expect freezing weather in Alaska in January. So, for the slower folks out there, ‘polar vortex‘ does not describe the cold cycle on your washing machine. Climate is a global system and not just the snow falling on your pickup truck this morning.

Lesson number infinity in why climate change sucks. We depend more than most people realize on predictable weather. We can probably survive warmer summers but our agriculture system depends on knowing little things like whether they will have the water to plant crops next year. A lot of states, especially in the border south, just do not have the infrastructure or the building codes to deal with exceptional cold snaps and building contractors in Alaska* would appreciate if the permafrost would stay frozen. Yes, people can deal with crazy temperature extremes, but living in a climate where a loss of power can kill you forces people to invest in expensive backups like a generator or heater, or take your family’s life in your hands. That in turn forces everyone to learn about things like carbon monoxide and the difference between regular gas that will not go bad within a few months and ruin your small motor, and the ethanol-added kind that will. Of course you can live in an unpredictable and highly variable environment. It just costs a lot more to keep something like a first-world quality of life.

(*) Alsotoo, the trans-Alaskan pipeline.

39 replies
  1. 1
    scav says:

    and speaking of the mythical polar vortex and liberal conspiracy of global air masses, look at the surfing in Europe. 18m waves.

  2. 2
    chopper says:

    i was explaining the ‘polar vortex’ to the wife last night, noting that it was something like 30 in Nome. when frigid arctic air dips down due to a wonky jet stream, things up north warm up a bit.

    and the jet stream has been wonky as a motherfucker these last few years.

  3. 3
  4. 4
    Another Holocene Human says:

    OT: I knew something was fishy with the Schiavo family foundation getting involved with Jahi’s family but it’s worse than that. Hardcore rightwing nutjob Catholic reality deniers turning one family’s pain into a three-ring circus (and forcing pediatric medical professionals to care for a corpse for weeks):

    Paul Byrne.

    Dude uses some freaky rhetoric, which I have been seeing repeated by others in web comments. These are people who object to organ donation for religious reasons but have to find some other excuse to push this agenda. Probably the same people pushing the “story” (it’s a “witness” if you’ve ever been around evangelicals, complete with lying for Jesus) of Zack Dunlap, who “woke up” from brain death. It’s very, very clear that the story is missing some parts, like the fact that he was probably taken off respirator as part of a routine test for brain function, which he passed, and that if their “witness” were really true, the family would be suing the hospital for malpractice, not celebrating a “miraculous” recovery.

  5. 5
    raven says:

    @jeffreyw: You’re killin me over here!

  6. 6
    Jim, Foolish LIteralist says:

    re-certified MSM conservative intellectual and (possible) leader of civilizing forces Newton Leroy Gingrich says climate change is no big deal cause it was hot and wet for the dinosaurs, so our agriculture and coastal and sun-belt cities will be fine.

    also, too, do MSMers talking about the cold vortex mention it’s having no apparent effect on the three year and counting drought in California, the place most of our food comes from?

    We’re coming off two years of below-normal precipitation,” says Allan Haynes, a hydrologist with the California and Nevada River Forecast Center. “We’ve had an exceptionally dry past 12 months. In fact, one of the driest calendar years on record in lots of locations.”
    Haynes says the lack of snow in Northern California affects the entire state.
    Los Angeles saw a dramatic boom in growth after the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913. The system delivers water from the Owens River in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains to the city.
    “It’s a very complicated picture as far as how people get water,” he says. “But typically, in most cases, it’s irrigation — water that comes from somewhere other than locally.”
    Much of California gets its water from the Sierra Nevada snowpacks. Those snowpacks, though, are only at 20 percent of average levels.
    California’s water woes might soon begin to affect the entire country; because California is America’s No. 1 food and agricultural producer. A drought could push up food prices.

    and Australia’s on fire again

  7. 7
    Another Holocene Human says:

    Also, the Sprocket Trials blog has some pretty good info on brain death up right now. The info was posted by a nurse but there are MDs in the comments as well. I know NPR covered this topic last week but I wanted to know more.

  8. 8
    muricafukyea says:

    Yea but it snowed at wr0ng way Coles place and his dogs feet got cold so Climate Change is a lie.

  9. 9
    chopper says:

    @Jim, Foolish LIteralist:

    the temperature here in CA is wonderful lately, but we’ve gotten like 4 inches of rain in all of 2013. 2012 wasn’t much better, and 2011 wasn’t that great.

    i’m surprised we aren’t on rationing at this point.

  10. 10
    Tim F. says:

    @chopper: Won’t be long now. I wish I was kidding.

  11. 11
    Mike in NC says:

    Checked the Weather Channel app first thing this morning: 23 degrees but it would feel like 11 due to wind chill. Saturday and Sunday will be in the mid-70s. Re-learning how to layer.

  12. 12
    Botsplainer says:

    Clearly, every suburban/exurban paper shoving, melanin-deprived resident of Phoenix, San Diego, Orange County, Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Houston, Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte, Jacksonville, Orlando, Ocala, Ft Myers, Tampa and West Palm Beach needs an 8000 square foot house and an H3 to carry him back and forth on his perilous commute.

    Anything less would be un-American.

  13. 13
    Scout211 says:


    I never thought I would be hoping for a winter storm here in NorCal. We really need a long winter storm. The snow pack is horribly low right now in the mountains, too.

    Our local grape growers are getting very worried. They are predicting a really bad year for grapes unless the weather changes soon.

    Hubby and I went on a hike New Year’s Day nearby in shorts and t-shirts.

    This is not normal.

  14. 14
    Gorgon Zola says:

    We depend more than most people realize on predictable weather. We can probably survive warmer summers but our agriculture system depends on knowing little things like whether they will have the water to plant crops next year

    This is a niggling point, but ‘predictable weather’ will not help us much in knowing about next year’s water for crops.

  15. 15

    @chopper: I read a comment somewhere once — maybe here? — that described what happened with the polar vortex a couple of years ago (the same southward dip, IIRC) as akin to opening a refrigerator door. The released cold air cools the surrounding area, but things are warming up significantly inside the refrigerator.

    In any case, it was 6 degrees this morning and the heating unit at the building where I work froze to death. I’m one of those freaks who likes a cold room, but I can see why others were complaining.

  16. 16
    Anoniminous says:

    Few people understand phase transitions in all their Complexity. Conservatives have an additional problem in that if they don’t understand it, it doesn’t exist.

  17. 17
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Another Holocene Human:
    As I recall, Schiavo was the deceased woman’s married name; her maiden name was Schindler. For a moment there, I was confused and thought you meant to say her widower, Michael Schiavo, was interfering in the Jahi McMath case.

  18. 18
    scav says:

    Newt’s a dinosaur, so of course he thinks he’d be fine under those conditions. Add to that those that think the baby jebus rode a dinosaur, they’ll be pushing the meme that climate change science and meteorology in general is a liberal plot to prevent the second coming and subvert the will of the Lord. If He makes it rain, how dare you poke an open umbrella in his Face!

  19. 19

    Lots of record high temps in Australia. Does that matter? Do I know what rhetorical means?

  20. 20
    Jack the Second says:

    Don’t forget the ceiling on photosynthesis!

    Photosynthesis only happens when temperatures are below about 105F, and pretty piss poor in the temperatures leading up to it. So those hotter summers mean plants don’t grow so good, regardless of hydration.

  21. 21
    Comrade Mary says:

    @Karen in GA: Oh, the fridge door is a great analogy!

    Meanwhile, I’ve been posting this one all over the place: Go home, Arctic, you’re drunk

  22. 22
    slippytoad says:

    @Gorgon Zola:

    This is a niggling point, but ‘predictable weather’ will not help us much in knowing about next year’s water for crops.

    Yea, actually rainfall/snowfall and weather are pretty closely related, so if we can’t depend on a pattern of rainfall, I would say that’s probably the #1 observable, fungible factor in farming.

    See, when I grew up in Denver, we knew that not much snowfall in one year meant water rationing the next.

    Edited to add a kick in at Newt Gingrich’s STUPID face, because when did he ever know jack shit about science? Answer: NEVER, asshole, just shut your dumb pampered 1%-er’s mouth now and let the smart people do all the talking, thanks.

  23. 23
    someofparts says:

    In Georgia all the major state crops failed this year because we are having far too much rain.

  24. 24
    Gorgon Zola says:

    @slippytoad: Yes but a “pattern of rainfall” or snowfall is more of an expression of climate, not weather. (And I’m not sure you mean “fungible” either …)

  25. 25
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Jack the Second:

    There you go, bringing that satanic science into it again.

  26. 26
    C.V. Danes says:

    Also, the fact that global temperatures have been exceptionally consistent for the last 10,000 years or so might have helped us, you know, to settle down and create civilization in the first place…

  27. 27
    scav says:

    @Gorgon Zola: Variance and Standard Deviation a closed book in your schooling? All those curvy things with tails a blur before your eyes? Or have you just cranked up the definition of predictable to mean knowing rainfall in millimeters in hourly increments months in advance?

  28. 28
    C.V. Danes says:


    Anything less would be un-American

    Indeed. The last time I was in Florida, in three days I saw more H3’s driving around than in 20 years in Upstate NY.


  29. 29
    C.V. Danes says:


    Conservatives have an additional problem in that if they don’t understand it, it doesn’t exist.

    Actually, if it doesn’t jive with their dogma, it doesn’t exist :-)

  30. 30
    Paul in KY says:

    @C.V. Danes: Good point. Saw something about ice cores that showed that weather was quite a bit more variable 15,0000 or 20,000 years ago.

  31. 31
    trex says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    Did you read the comments to the article you linked! Holy crap! I mean…holy crap! Author presents a scientific explanation of a phenomenon on a science blog and commenters respond with “This is a LIE!” and “Agenda 21!’ and “We are actually heading into an Ice Age and we need to adapt or die!” and “It’s a result of weather control by the government!”

    I expect these responses on a Yahoo article but on a science blog? We’re doomed.

  32. 32
    Jamey says:

    Hey, I work in communications for the P&C insurance industry (that’s Property and Casualty; we don’t mess with medical), and the gist of a webinar I participated in earlier today was some C-Level guy from a leading reinsurer (the businesses that underwrite the insurance businesses, or words to that effect) talking about the effects of climate change on insurance as an industry.

    Only he didn’t use the words “climate change”; he called it “Global Warming.” James Inhofe be damned, but if reinsurance underwriters are treating global warming as an actual fact, then you can be sure that the consensus is holding serve in this match.

  33. 33
    Ferd of the Nort says:

    Take your cold weather and add a hurricane!

    Been through that. You tell the strength of the storm by the size of the waves in the toilet bowl.

  34. 34
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Amir Khalid: Yes, it’s the woman’s blood relatives but they do business as the Terri Schiavo Family Foundation. And it is indeed confusing.

    So convenient for them to slander someone else’s surname.

  35. 35
    Trollhattan says:


    Now you know why PopSci ended commenting. As we’ve learned from last fall’s reveal that Fox News paid trolls to post on poli blogs, the same type of cadres troll climate and science blogs. Read enough of them and you can recognize the writing behind multiple handles, plus they cut-n-paste the same denialist “experts.” If there’s an ultimate Koch brothers crime, it is their insidious attack on anything to do with protecting the envoronment–our environment. They will create the very hell in which they, and the rest of us, will burn.

  36. 36
    wenchacha says:

    @C.V. Danes: Also from WNY, and on a trip to Seattle, we saw at least 3 Teslas, plus we drove past a showroom. Same ridiculous conspicuous consumption, but better mileage, for sure. And I bet the H3s are not as comfortable.

  37. 37
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:


    Its just painfully disheartening and distressing that, the more certain the science becomes that it’s happening, the more certain the public seems to be that it’s a singular super-massive green fascist hoax. Apparently, scientists, especially climate scientists, are simultaneously the most stupid people alive and the most corrupt people alive, their knowledge sorely overshadowed by the brilliance of the layman and his ‘common sense’.

    They’re fiddling while the world burns and proclaiming the new ice age, either in mockery or in red-faced screaming seriousness, and it’s stonewalling anything we can do, because too many fucking asshats in our gov’t believe the people screaming ‘green fascist hoax’.

  38. 38
    Aji says:


    whether they will have the water to plant crops next year.

    Also, in addition to “whether,” when.

    This winter, we are paying through the nose for hay and fresh produce. Why? Because climate change has completely screwed up our weather patterns, and therefore our planting cycle, in such a way that it is virtually impossible to plan for what will occur.

    Last year, the monsoon season started 2+ months early, and was unusually severe. It drowned our grass hay, meaning we only got the equivalent of one full cut out of it instead of the usual-sized three. This is bad, because one of our rescue horses is foundered and can have only very limited amounts of alfalfa without risking her life.

    It drowned our cornfield completely. Not one single solitary ear of corn did we get – and we normally have a full garden’s worth (we usually plant three to four gardens, at a minimum, containing various things – one all corn, one all beans, one squash and other vegetables, one herbs, and sometimes an additional one for whatever miscellaneous stuff we need right then). It drowned our squash – we got a couple of acorn squash and two plants’ worth of zucchini; nothing else. A very, very few stunted baby carrots. Some spinach. And half the beans rotted on the vine before we could harvest them, a combination of a much-too-early freeze followed by flooding rains.

    Every time a denialist opens his (or her) yap about “But it’s freezing somewhere!” I feel the urge to do something unspeakable.

  39. 39
    diana says:

    @Anoniminous: amen. Couldn’t agree more.

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