It’s New O’leans, Dahlin’

Record-breaking snow falling in New Orleans, Louisiana, on December 11, 2008. New Orleans Times-Picayune photograph by John McCusker

Record-breaking snow falling in New Orleans, Louisiana, on December 11, 2008. New Orleans Times-Picayune photograph by John McCusker

More news of catastrophic warming. This from The New Orleans Times-Picayune: 

White-knuckled drivers drove down Jefferson Davis Parkway Thursday morning, past the shivering schoolgirls in skirts, past coffeeshops brimming with weather chit-chat, alongside a neutral ground frozen in time.

For one morning, New Orleans looked like someplace else.

A young couple at a loss for words rolled watermelon-sized balls of snow on the neutral ground grass near the corner of Banks Street. Reyan Clark, 21, said she and her boyfriend, Kenan Springs, 31, didn’t need to discuss their plans this morning. Making a snowman seemed like the right thing to do.

“I’m making a memory,” Clark said.

She’s a native of the city, a stranger to snow. He is transplant who has shoveled and scraped his way through three decades of Chicago winters.

“This is a blessing for the city,” he said.

In a matter of 20 minutes, their three-tiered snowman reached the Saints logo on Clark’s sweatshirt. The couple found some sticks on the ground. Presto: arms. She shored up the foundation while he searched for more accessories. A handful of relatives showed up to snap photos and take part in the fun.

For the complete Picayune story, click here.

According to the National Weather Service, the snow in Louisiana and southeast Texas, where an inch and a half of the white stuff fell, too, was the most ever during the month of December. Parts of Louisiana saw 5.5 inches of snow. 

To one obsessed with the layered readings available the snow makes perfect sense, i.e. upper-atmosphere cooling appears to be ahead of lower-atmosphere cooling (and has been just about all year). Take the funnel of an upper-level low to draw down the cold and you get weather events like the one detailed above.

If anyone hasn’t already done so, I recommend clicking through all layers of the AMSU site, then ticking all the boxes to show all the previous years for which records can be shown, and then click “redraw graph.” In many cases, throughout the year, the 2008 value is the lowest. 

Winter 2008-2009 has, let’s bear in mind, not yet begun.


About Harold Ambler

I am a lifelong environmentalist. I started my journalism career at The New Yorker, where I worked as a copy editor. Since then, my own work has appeared in The New York Daily News, The National Review Online, The Atlantic Wire, The Huffington Post, The Berkeley Daily Planet, The Providence Journal, Brown Alumni Monthly, The Narragansett Times, Rhode Island Monthly, and Providence Business News.
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3 Responses to It’s New O’leans, Dahlin’

  1. mj says:

    Just as a matter of historical information, you might want to look at Kocin, Paul, Alan Weiss and Joseph Wagner, “The Great Arctic and East Coast Blizzard of February 1899,” in the December 1988 issue of “Weather Forecasting.” This cold wave was a real nasty with possible more human disaster than the (Ithink) 1888 storms in the Midwest and East (e.g. the Children’s Blizzard). Anyway, in 1899 the Mississippi River froze down through New Orleans wth a recorded daily average in the city of 15 F. Just how extreme that was is a matter of statistical dispute, but suffice to say it got pretty cold for the Big Easy.

    • Harold Ambler says:

      Not surprisingly, the cold event you describe took place during another period of low solar activity, which you can see here:
      The graph on the link, of the aa index, plots a measurement of the Earth’s magnetic response to solar magnetism, one of many indices of solar variation used by solar physicists interested in the Sun-Earth climate connection.

  2. mj says:

    I would take issue with your “Not surprisingly.” There were colder winters on a global average (even accounting for data uncertainty). This isn’t to say that the solar activity does play an important role. Rather the Arctic Outbreak of 1899 was more of a condition local to North American. From Kocin et al preface:

    “The surface weather analyses depict the passage of several anticyclones of Canadian or polar origin that propagated southward, spreading progressively colder temperatures throughout the central, eastern and southern United Sates… The final cold wave was associated with the development of a cyclone that left measurable snow over most of the Gulf Coast and Florida and then blizzard conditions along much of the East Coast.”

    Of course, if somewhere in the literature there some good theory and empirical support that the magnetic response causes changes in the frequency or magnitude of local (regional) extremes, then I’ll take my issue back. But please no partial differential equations: I am too old for that. 🙂

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