Monday, December 22, 2014

POSTED: Friday, December 19, 2014, 11:39 AM
White Christmas was more of a nightmare than a dream in 1966, when the city got more than a foot of snow, and suburbs got as much as 20 inches. That's more snow than the total for all the Christmases since in the Philadelphia.

Are we going to have a White Christmas? – (the short answer this year evidently  is no) – is a question that keeps popping up every year by mid-December, if not sooner.

But the better question might be: How did Christmas snow become so embedded in the popular consciousness?

Around here and for an overwhelming majority of the nation’s population  --   not to mention Bethlehem in the Holy Land – snow at Christmas is decidedly the exception.

POSTED: Thursday, December 11, 2014, 5:46 PM
Beach erosion Wednesday in Mantoloking N.J., from nor'easter-stirred waves. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

Benjamin Franklin isn’t credited with discovering the nor’easter, but he probably should get an assist.

In an oft-related account, Franklin was disappointed that a storm, packing wind winds from the northeast, ruined his chance to see the November 1743 lunar eclipse in Philadelphia.

But he was surprised to learn later that his brother, in Boston, saw it just fine, before the arrival of a  nasty storm up that way, also with winds from the northeast.

POSTED: Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 11:29 AM
Two young girls on their way to school take shelter underneath their umbrellas from the wind and rain along Old York Road at Albert Einstein Drive as a nor'easter drenched the region on Tuesday morning December 9, 2014. (Alejandro A. Alvarez/Staff Photographer)

Several days ago, European forecast models, and then the U.S. models, foresaw the development of a powerful nor’easter this week that would have widespread impacts in one of the nation’s most populous regions.

Predictably, and with good reason, a storm of anxiety -- mixed with hype -- developed and intensified.

As it turned out, the models definitely were on to something. Overall, this has been one impressive storm, at least meteorologically.

POSTED: Friday, December 5, 2014, 5:59 PM
Eagle Brent Celek's game-ending slide during last year's first snow, on Dec. 8. (Tom Gralish / File photo)

As John Bolaris mentioned in his philly.com post, a nor’easter could affect the region next week, and, yes, it’s that time of year.

Right now the computer models are all over the place, which is understandable given the complexities and the potential scenarios.

Cold rain is possible on Tuesday, and if the storm bombs out of the coast, some snow could wrap in at the end.

POSTED: Thursday, December 4, 2014, 11:36 AM

Changes in the global temperature have been incremental – and anything but uniform, according to an analysis of temperature data from government satellites.

Overall, the world temperature has increased 0.91 degrees Fahrenheit in the 36-year dataset, said John Christy, the University of Alabama scientist who is a keeper of the data.

But the Northern Hemisphere, with a far greater land mass, has warmed at double the rate of the Southern Hemisphere, which has far greater ocean coverage.

POSTED: Thursday, December 4, 2014, 10:47 AM

Predictions of a mild hurricane season referenced a developing El Nino, in which vast expanses of the tropical Pacific become warmer than normal and agitate the west-to-east upper-air winds.

The season did set yet another record for gentleness – no major hurricane struck the United States, and no hurricane of any strength hit Florida for an unprecedented ninth-consecutive season.

But evidently that had little to do with El Nino, which never took hold.

Finally the sea-surface temperatures have warmed, and the U.S. Climate Prediction Center and the International Research Institute have upped the chances to 64 percent that El Nino will hold serve during the winter.

It is expected to be a weak one – sea-surface temperatures in the key region of the Pacific between 0.5 and 1 degree Celsius above normal, but has an outside chance of becoming moderate, 1 to 1.5 degrees above.

POSTED: Wednesday, December 3, 2014, 12:19 PM

As we and others have reported, the globally averaged January-October temperature is in the books as the warmest such stretch on record.

We mention this because the World Meteorological Organization put out a news release Wednesday morning making that very point, just in case the folks at the world climate conference in Lima, Peru, missed it.

The release took note of “record-high greenhouse emissions” and record ocean temperatures, despite the absence of a full-blown warming event in the tropical Pacific.

POSTED: Tuesday, December 2, 2014, 4:49 PM
Bill Zilen, 47, PennDOT highway equipment manager at the Montgomery County Maintenance Office of PennDOT, helps direct the mounting of a plow onto a new "wing plow" truck in Norristown Nov. 25, 2014. This snowplow, which cost $185,000, and the rest of the fleet of 44 snowplows may not be in high demand in the weeks ahead. ( CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer )

Two brushes with snow and a January-like cold plunge into the heart of the nation were the perfect accompaniment last month to all those scary winter outlooks.

Those predictions could well end up being on the money, but on a day when it appeared that even the sun wanted to stay in bed, the meteorological community offered at least a few brighter rays for the winter-phobes out there.

Right now the computer models and their interpreters are seeing a generally mild start to the meteorological winter, which began officially on Monday.

About this blog

Everyone talks about the weather, and here we write about it.

When we’re around and conditions warrant, we’ll keep you updated about what’s coming, but we will do our best always to discuss weather and climate developments in context and remind you that nothing in the atmosphere happens in a vacuum.

Tony Wood has been writing about the atmosphere for The Inquirer for 26 years.

Reach Tony at twood@phillynews.com.

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