Stuff You Won't See On The Average Climate Skeptic's Blog

Steven Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
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What You See

Visit any climate skeptic's blog and you are certain to see stories like these prominently displayed:

Buenos Aires gets first snow since 1918 Posted 7/9/2007 7:40 PM BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) Thousands of Argentines cheered and threw snowballs in the streets of Buenos Aires on Monday as the capital's first major snowfall since 1918 spread a thin white mantle across the region.

Surprise flurries warm Houston hearts. Fluffy flakes bring delight to some, consternation to others and tie a 64-year-old record, By ERIC BERGER,, JENNIFER LATSON and JENNIFER LEAHY Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle Dec. 10, 2008, 11:09PM

Falling snowflakes glimmered in streetlights, so wide that they billowed to the ground like parachutes, and so tantalizing that even awestruck adults reached out their hands or stuck out their tongues to catch one.

By Wednesday evening, the flakes were big enough to hold their shape for a moment on the street before melting into the pavement, and a dusting had collected on parked cars in some parts of town.

The flurries tied a record for Houston's earliest snowfall ever and warmed the hearts of winter weather lovers who have pined for snow since it last made an appearance on Christmas Eve 2004.

South Africa dusted by rare snow storm Wed Jun 27, 2007 7:37am EDT JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A rare winter snowstorm dusted South Africa's commercial capital Johannesburg early on Wednesday as a winter weather front moved across the country, closing mountain passes and claiming at least one life.

Winter Weather Hits Las Vegas

Updated: Dec 18, 2008 09:33 AM CST

Winter Storm Dumps Snow in Las Vegas (December 17, 2008) Wednesday snowfall hits Las Vegas Valley. US-95 is closed at Mile Marker 16, just north of Searchlight due to poor road conditions and an accident. Residents say its been a while since they've seen snow like this. The National Weather Service says this could end up being the biggest snowstorm to impact Las Vegas since 1979.

And of course the story inspired comments like this one:

darn that global warming....running wild again. oh i forgot it's now climate change so the sleeze politicians and liberals have all the bases covered no matter what happens. what a joke for all you dopes that believe that crap. good old gore puts out more gas in one day than the rest of the country does in one year. don't forget to send your money to him so he can maintain his billion dollar mansion!

Neal Boortz reliably chimed in with:

Most snow in 30 years. This global warming is turning out to be a real boon to makers of cold weather clothing. The warmers have an answer though .. they say that the cold weather is proof of global warming. What's worse, idiots then nod their heads and say "yeah, that's right. Told you so."

What You Never See

Nov 3 2008: Wisconsin Record Highs

A new high-temperature record for April 6 (2007) was set today at the 5 p.m. weather-gauge measurement at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport: 79 degrees,

11-18-2008 Today the thermometer will climb to a high near 78 degrees which puts us well into record setting territory. The record high for today, November 18th, is 74 degrees - set in 1995 - and it looks like we will smash that record. For all of November the record high temperature is 80 degrees set on November 8, 2006

July 29 2008: A record high temperature of 101 degrees was set in Memphis. This breaks the old record of 99 set in 1993. 

August 5 2008: A record high temperature of 98 degrees was set in Memphis today. This ties the old record of 98 set in 1987.

January 6, 2008: A record high temperature of 75 degrees was set today in Oklahoma City. The record high temperature for January 6 was last set at 71 degrees in 1927, said National Weather Service forecaster Daryl Williams. A record was also set in Oklahoma City Saturday at 72 degrees. The record high for January 5 was set at 71 degrees in 1927.

Record High Temperatures Possible For DFW, Reporting: Larry Mowry. FORT WORTH (CBS 11 News) ― North Texas will come close to either tying or breaking the record high on Monday. As of now, the record high stands at 107 degrees set in 1951. It is 101 degrees as of the 1 p.m. observation at DFW Airport. Counting Monday, we have had 11 days in a row of 100 degrees. And 17 of the past 18 days have seen a high temperature of 100 degrees or higher!

Thursday, October 16 2008: Record daily high temperatures were broken Tuesday and Wednesday at the official US Weather Service reporting station located next to the Mile High Swinging Bridge on Grandfather Mountain. According to Grandfather Mountain spokesperson, Landis Wofford, temperatures reached 71 degrees, which broke the previous record of 69 degrees set for October 14th back in 1975. The daily high was also broken the next day with a temperature of 73 degrees. The previous record for October 15th was 72 degrees set in 1970.

Regionally, several areas saw record-setting temperatures in 2007. Southeastern Europe suffered through temperatures as high as 45 degrees Celsius in a heat wave that killed up to 500 people. In Japan, thermometers in August reached 40.9 degrees Celsius, the highest temperature ever recorded in that country. Chart-topping temperatures and severe drought conditions proved a lethal combination, as extensive wildfires spread in both Greece and the American West in July and August.

Monday, January 7, 2008, Pennsylvania: The following is a listing of near-record or record high temperatures recorded on Monday (Jan. 7) and Tuesday (Jan. 8) afternoons.

San Jose Mercury News, USA - Nov 15, 2008: San Jose sizzles to new record high temperature: 81

RECORD EVENT REPORT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHANHASSEN MN 0444 PM CST MON NOV 03 2008

RECORD EVENT REPORT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE EASTERN NORTH DAKOTA/GRAND FORKS 500 PM CST MON NOV 03 2008

RECORD EVENT REPORT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DULUTH MN 0512 PM CST MON NOV 03 2008 ...RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE SET AT INTERNATIONAL FALLS MN... A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 66 DEGREES WAS SET AT INTERNATIONAL FALLS MN TODAY. THIS TIES THE OLD RECORD OF 66 SET IN 1978.

On August 24th (2008), the mercury in Nome reached a high of 70°F / 21.1°C, quite balmy for this latitude, time of year, and coastal location. This broke the previous record for this day by one degree set back in the record warm summer of 2004

January 8, 2008, Boston - Weather records have been broken around the state as the mercury soars into the 60s. The National Weather Service says a record high of 67 degrees was reported in Boston Tuesday, while a record of 61 degrees was reached in Worcester.

Mt. Washington NH November 13, 2006 The record new record of 44 degrees was indeed broken last night at the 7 PM Synoptic Observation.

November 16, 2008 01:27 Despite two cold fronts on the way, the weather in Miami set a record high temperature Saturday. Highs in Miami reached 88 degrees, breaking the old record of 87 degrees, which was set in 1986.

RECORD EVENT REPORT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LOS ANGELES/OXNARD CA 0457 PM PST SAT NOV 15 2008

RECORD EVENT REPORT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN DIEGO CA 520 PM PST SAT NOV 15 2008

Monday, June 9, 2008 News: Cleveland breaks record high temperature - Another day of hot temperatures in the Cleveland area is one for the records books. The official high at Hopkins International Airport so far today is 93 degrees which occurred at 3:57 p.m. this afternoon. This breaks the old record of 92 degrees set back in 1914.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008: Yakima posts record high temperature (Yakima Herald-Republic). If it felt hot today -- hotter than it's ever felt on Nov. 12 -- well, there's a reason for that. The temperature in Yakima hit 71 degrees Wednesday, breaking the record of 67 degrees from 1999, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Roger Cloutier in Pendleton, Ore.

February 19, 2008 Kotzebue (Alaska) set a new daily high temperature record on the 19th when it warmed to 32‚°F / 0‚°C, just surpassing the previous record of 31‚°F / -0.6‚°C set in 1962.

Nov. 18, 2008 Phoenix (Meghan Walsh, The Arizona Republic). Tuesday set a record high temperature for the Valley, and Wednesday could do the same.  Tuesday reached a high of 88 degrees, which broke the record high of 86, set in 1949. Lows will be in the low to mid 50s, according to the National Weather Service. Monday also set a record high, topping out at 87 degrees and breaking the record of 86 that was set in 1990.

January 8, 2008 Pittsburgh  -- Pittsburgh set a new record on Tuesday, as temperatures climbed into the upper-60-degree range. The current record temperature for this day in history was 66 degrees in 1937. However, temperatures on Tuesday hit 69 degrees, launching it into the history books.

Thursday, July 10, 2008 Record high temperature tied in Hilo yesterday. A string of record high or low temperatures being set or tied in Hawaii continued yesterday when the high temperature in Hilo reached 87 degrees.

November 17, 2008: Monday's high temperature sets record (Mike Branom, Tribune) Phoenixs high temperature on Monday set a record, with the thermometer reading 87 degrees.

June 9th 2008  More Temperature Records Fall. The June heat wave continued to set records today throughout the east coast. Here are some of the new records:

22 July 2007, Sunday: Record High Temperatures Burn Bulgaria 3rd Day in Row. All meteorological stations located in Bulgaria's Danube plain measured Sunday new record high temperatures, Darik News reported. Russe turned out to be the hottest town for the day, where the mercury hit 41.7 degrees C around 3 pm. The towns of Vidin, Veliko Tarnovo and Knezha reached 40 degrees C. The towns of Shumen, Montana, Plovdiv, Pleven and Lovech broke the record this year as temperatures in all five of them climbed over 39 degrees.

February 11, 2007: Beijing has record-high temperatures on 3 of past 7 days BEIJING, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- Beijingers are experiencing an unusually warm winter with the capital's temperatures breaking half-century records on three of the past seven days, the Beijing Morning Post reported on Saturday. The mercury reached 14.5 degrees Celsius on Friday, the warmest February 9 since at least 1949, the newspaper said. Saturday's 12.8 degrees was also a post-1949 record. The temperature rose to 16 degrees on Monday, topping all records for that date since 1840, said the report.

12/13/2008 BBC Record warm temperatures hit Russia by Philip Avery. Over the past few weeks, several records have been broken in Russia for unseasonably mild weather, including the warmest ever December temperature on record. In Moscow, a temperature of 9.4 degrees Celsius (49F) was recorded on Saturday, the highest December temperature in the history of meteorological observations. Strangely, this record occurred at 3 oclock in the morning, when usually the temperature would be plummeting towards its minimum. The warm spell has not just been confined to the past few weeks. Autumn 2008 was the warmest autumn for more than 100 years in the Moscow region.

November 1, 2008 REGINA - Baby, it was warm outside in Saskatchewan. It hit 20 C - that's plus 20 C - in Regina for the first day of November, a record. The previous high for that day was 17.8 C in 1947, the coldest, -22 C in 1984. Saskatoon hit their record of 17.8 C, also set in 1947.

January 30, 2008:  It might not feel like it now, but International Falls set a new record high temperature of 36 degrees at 3:30 p.m. Monday. The new record high broke the old record of 34 set in 1992. The normal high for this time of the year is 16 and the normal low minus 7

January 2009 saw a bitter cold spell over much of the U.S., played up prominently on skeptic sites. For some odd reason, you probably won't find this one:

Record-breaking Interior Alaska heat wave comes to an end

Published Sunday, January 18, 2009

FAIRBANKS Despite setting a second straight record for warm temperatures on Saturday, it looks like Fairbanks recent record-breaking heat wave is over.

A temperature of 48 degrees was recorded at Fairbanks International Airport early Saturday, breaking the old record of 43 set in 1981, but the temperature dropped below freezing by 10 a.m. and will continue to head south the next few days.

The chinook is kind of dying off, said meteorologist Daniel Robinson at the National Weather Service in Fairbanks about the warm blast of air that blew into Fairbanks from the south on Wednesday and established new temperature records at the airport on three of four days.

The high on Friday at the airport was a record 52 degrees, and a record of 44 degrees was recorded on Wednesday. The high of 45 on Thursday missed the record by 5 degrees.

This actually mimics the pattern during the severe winters of the late 1970's, a classic example of meridional flow. The jet stream swings far north over Alaska, bringing warm air to Fairbanks. On the other side, Siberian air slides along the jet stream into North America.

Anecdotal Evidence Versus Patterns

Anecdotal evidence is of use only if it's true and representative. So accounts of freak snowfalls are of value only if there are a lot of freak snowfalls. How do the freak snowfalls compare to unusual hot spells or unusually mild winters?

So let's see whether record highs are outnumbered by record lows. Let's do Google searches for "Record High Temperature" and "Record Low Temperature" by year. Put the phrases in quotes to ensure hitting that exact phrase.

Year Google Hits "Record Low" Google Hits "Record High"
2008 140,000 199,000
2007 43,800 71,400
2006 49,500 69,800
2005 48,400 57,100
2004 43,100 53,200
2003 50,300 58,600
2002 46,700 46,400
2001 47,500 49,400
2000 50,100 52,000

Only 2000 and 2002 show more hits for "Record Low." Every other year, "Record High" wins by a wide margin. This isn't by any means a very accurate approach, since a weather site that lists record highs and lows by state, say, will be hit. On the other hand, most of those sites will be hit on both searches, canceling each other out. And it certainly gives all the skeptic sites a fair shake by hitting all their mentions of record lows.

It's hard to know why 2008 shows such high hit counts, unless it's that ephemeral stories are quickly taken down.

A more stringent search is to use the National Weather Service terms that are actually used in announcements of weather records: "Record Daily Maximum Temperature" and "Record Daily Minimum Temperature," again with the terms in quotes to guarantee an exact hit.

Year Google Hits "Record Daily Minimum Temperature" Google Hits "Record Daily Maximum Temperature"
2008 464 739
2007 310 390
2006 10 366
2005 213 393
2004 8 328
2003 10 257
2002 7 8
2001 8 173
2000 249 241

For whatever reason, it looks like 2002 was an awfully bland year. The numbers for record minima were so low I ran the search again, getting very similar results (the totals posted by Google are approximate and change from day to day). In fact, the second time I often got lower numbers. The search results have a very high proportion of NWS bulletins, but there are others, for example, newspaper stories that quoted the terms as well. Ephemeral news stories may account for the higher number of hits in 2008.

The above Google searches were done on December 13, 2008. The totals change every day. By January 19, 2009, the hit tally for 2008 was 329 for "Record Daily Minimum Temperature" and 911 for "Record Daily Maximum Temperature."

As of January 19, 2009, there were 138 hits for "Record Daily Minimum Temperature" plus the year 2009, and 190 for "Record Daily Maximum Temperature." This despite the brutal cold spell that saw -37 in Caribou, Maine and -44 in Bismarck, North Dakota. By February 10 the numbers were 300 and 526, respectively.

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Created 13 December 2008;  Last Update 30 August, 2011

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