Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The Beat Goes On; Some Change in Tune


Cloudy, light showers. A sunny morning has given way to a mainly overcast afternoon and scattered light showers as a very weak "clipper" and its associated upper-level energy move through the Washington metro area. The showers are in the form of snow flurries over the mountains, but to the east, they are mainly of the liquid variety.

Temperatures have peaked in the mid 40s at most locations. Today's range of 47°/32° continues the above-average streak with a +5° departure. The main effect of the clipper's passage will be to provide a reinforcing shot of cold air for the next day or so.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Clearing, cold. After some possible lingering light showers or flurries this evening, skies will clear overnight with lows a couple of degrees cooler than last night: near 30° downtown and low to mid 20s 'burbside. Tomorrow will be sunny and breezy with some scattered clouds and highs near 40°.

For the outlook through the rest of the week, scroll on down to Jason's post below.

Mediarology: Hype, Hype, Hooray!

Unless you've been living in a cave lately, you've been treated to a full dose of media hype-ocracy in the form of "explanations" for the recent warm spell. Many of these rival the profundity of the statement that "Poverty is caused by lack of income." Mainly, they have taken the form of the Point/Counterpoint:

"It's Global Warming, head for the hills!"
"No, Jane, it's just El Niño, and besides, it's snowing like crazy in Denver; nothing to see, just move along!!"

Before PM Update could untangle the ideology and agenda-mongering from the science, however, the climate scientists at RealClimate.org have sorted things out rather nicely in their latest post, entitled, "El Niño, Global Warming, and Anomalous U.S. Winter Warmth". As usual, they have managed to convey some subtle scientific concepts in a form that should be understandable to anyone who is willing to approach the subject with an objective viewpoint.

The El Niño phenomenon was known to oceanographers in the early part of the 20th century, but it was only in the latter portion of the century that serious work was done to associate it with atmospheric effects. Jerome Namias, the legendary father of modern extended-range forecasting, in a paper published about 30 years ago, clearly stated the problem that is still being resolved today:
In large-scale air-sea interactions such as El Niño it is presently almost impossible to prove cause and effect. . . Probably the sea is both slave and master of the atmosphere--a complexly coupled system.
(For the record, the media are apparently not all knuckleheads when it comes to complex scientific problems. NBC News was reported to have managed to keep things relatively straight. Warning: If you click on the preceding link, do not avoid the "About Me" section. You have been warned.)

Graphic courtesy of NOAA and threatdowngenerator.com

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Seasonal Outlook

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