When professional meteorologists get it wrong, they talk about a âfailed forecastâ.
So it was last weekend when most of the county north of MassPike saw nothing but freezing rain. The forecast 2-4 inches of snow has fallen, but in southwest Vermont, where Bennington watchers measured moderate buildup, sufficient to ensure a picture postcard landscape north of the Massachusetts state border. .
Winter weather advisories (and, for southern Vermont, winter storm warnings) were canceled long before their expiration date.
Will computer models be more reliable this week?
Those of us who dreamed of a white Christmas, âJust like those I knew / Where the treetops shineâ¦â are probably out of luck. According to Sunday’s extended forecast, there was only a 40 percent chance of flurries on Christmas Eve, according to the National Weather Service in Albany, NY.
After last week’s record âhotâ spell – 63 Thursday; the previous December 16 record was 55, in 1982 – the coming week will look a lot like winter.
This is appropriate, since the solstice arrives at 10:59 a.m. on Tuesday. It’s the shortest sunshine of the year in one day here (9 hours, 3 minutes, 58 seconds), but we already gained three minutes of daylight in the afternoon last week, until at 4:23 p.m., in case you haven’t noticed! Mornings will remain gloomy, with sunrise reaching 7:22 a.m. on or before December 29, continuing through January 8.
Monday is expected to be partly sunny with daytime highs remaining below normal. Clouds will gather and winds will become gusty on Tuesday, as temperatures recover to average, but it is expected to be dry until Christmas Eve, when a storm system could approach the Midwest.
With great frankness, government forecasters admit that “the directions of computer models diverge considerably, confidence is very low so far.”
With just 2 inches of snow at the National Weather Service’s automated observation station at Pittsfield Municipal Airport so far this month, it could be the snowiest December on record.
The Climate Prediction Center outlook for the rest of the month shows a trend in temperatures below normal, especially during the week after Christmas with snow and precipitation remaining near normal. On New Years Eve, the historic average temperature at Pittsfield Airport ranges from a daytime high of 32 to a nighttime low of 17.
A storm system is forming over the western Gulf of Mexico, heading east toward Florida on Tuesday morning, with showers and thunderstorms developing.
Much of the western United States will experience persistent rains and mountain snow, likely moderate to heavy later in the week. Northern and central California are the most likely targets for the heaviest precipitation. Some humidity should reach Southern California and Arizona just before Christmas Day.
A low off the coast of North Carolina could bring rain to the area on Wednesday.
Well above normal temperatures will continue in the southern plains, with a few records possible in Texas. The unusual heat will spread eastward into the Mississippi Valley, while the far northern plains (Montana and North Dakota) will face an arctic air intrusion by next weekend.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Arctic report for 2021 cites growing evidence that climate change continues to fundamentally alter the once frozen region reliably, as increased heat and loss of ice cause its transformation. into a warmer, less frozen and more uncertain future. .
âThis year’s report continues to show how the impacts of man-made climate change are propelling the Arctic region into a radically different state from what it was a few decades ago,â the NOAA administrator said, Rick Spinrad. âThe trends are alarming and undeniable. We have a narrow window of time to avoid very costly, fatal and irreversible climate impacts. “
Some of the important findings:
â The period October-December 2020 was the warmest Arctic autumn on record, dating back to 1900. The average surface air temperature (October 2020-September 2021) was the seventh warmest on record. The region continues to heat more than twice as fast as the rest of the world.
â The snow-free period in the Eurasian Arctic during the summer of 2020 was the longest since at least 1990. The June 2021 snow cover in the North American Arctic was below the long-term average for the 15th consecutive year. June snow cover in the European Arctic was below the 14 average of the past 15 years.
â After decades of relative stability, the Greenland ice sheet has now lost mass almost every year since 1998, with record ice loss in 2012 and 2019. In August, precipitation was observed at the top of 10,500 feet of the Greenland ice cap for the first time in history.
â The volume of post-winter sea ice in the Arctic Ocean in April 2021 was the lowest since records began in 2010. The amount of older and biologically significant multi-year sea ice at the end of summer 2021 was the second lowest since records began in 1985.
â The total extent of sea ice in September 2021 was the 12th lowest on record. The 15 lowest minimum ranges have all occurred in the past 15 years. The substantial decline in Arctic ice since 1979 is one of the most emblematic indicators of climate change. Large mammals, like polar bears, go hungry without this crucial platform for hunting. Marine life, ranging from tiny plankton to giant whales, is in danger.
â The loss of sea ice has allowed shipping and other commercial and industrial activities to move further north in all seasons, resulting in increased accumulation of garbage and debris along the coast. shore. In many native Alaskan communities, climate impacts have compounded the hardships of the coronavirus pandemic, leading to food shortages among people who have lived off this land for thousands of years.
âWe all have a role to play in creating the best possible outcomes for the region, its people and all citizens of the world who depend on the Arctic as a vital component of our Earth system,â said Twila Moon, co- editor of the report. âThe very character of these places is changing. We are witnessing conditions different from those never seen before. “
âThe Arctic is a way of looking to the future,â said Matthew Druckenmiller, co-editor. âSmall changes in temperature can have huge effects in an area dominated by ice. “
The rapid transformation is creating ripple effects all over the planet. Sea level will rise, weather conditions will change and ecosystems will be altered. Unless humanity acts quickly to reduce emissions, scientists say, the same forces that destabilized the poles will wreak havoc around the rest of the world.
Although no place on Earth is changing as fast as the Arctic, rising temperatures have already caused similar chaos in more temperate climates, the Washington Post reported. Unpredictable weather conditions, unstable landscapes and collapsing ecosystems are becoming realities of life in communities around the world.
None of this represents a “new normal,” Moon warned. It’s simply a pit stop on a path to an even stranger and more dangerous future.
âIt’s not just about polar bears, it’s about real humans,â said Rick Thoman, climate scientist at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. âThese changes are impacting people, their lives and their livelihoods, from ‘What’s for dinner tonight?’ up to the international level.
To read the entire Arctic Report Card and watch a short video: arctic.noaa.gov/Report-card.
Information from the Washington Post was included in the Climate Snapshot.