About That Snow Cover

From Florida, of all places… Though I suppose if you do field work in snow cover, it’s nice to have your base somewhere warm and well away from the cold.


Has a very nice, and complete, set of graphs. The date at present is showing a date of 15 December, so recent. Still, there’s a storm dumping more so these numbers will grow.

Northern Hemisphere Snow Cover 15 Dec 2012

Northern Hemisphere Snow Cover 15 Dec 2012

Looks like we are generally about normal. A little over in some areas, a little under in others (though some of those shown not covered in North America were just covered in this last storm set…)

Central Europe and down toward Turkey and the “icky-stans” look to be ‘coloring outside the lines” right now. Also looks like Pacific Coastal China is getting a load of excess snow. (Seems to me I remember snow and famine in China as one of the ‘cold times’ indications from our historical looks…)

Here’s the changes over the prior 7 days (prior to 15 Dec) with blue being added and red being melted and gone.

Snow Changes 7 days to 15 Dec 2012

Snow Changes 7 days to 15 Dec 2012

That makes it a bit easier to see who’s gotten dumped on lately and perhaps unexpectedly.

So over all, how is this snow year shaping up?

Show 15 Dec 2012 vs Historical

Show 15 Dec 2012 vs Historical

Well. A bit below normal at the end of summer, and now above normal in the winter. More or less what I’d expect in a ‘been warm getting cold’ world. There’s some deep ground heat going to help melt early snows, until we’ve had enough years of persistent snow to cool a few feet of dirt. Then summer season snow can hang on longer. During the winters, we’re now adding snow mass. I’d wager we will first hear about glaciers not ‘retreating as much as expected’ before an eventual admission that they are growing again.

Oh, wait, looks like folks have already been noticing them growing. A sample of search results:

Some Himalayan glaciers actually growing, scientists find | Fox News
Published April 17, 2012. FoxNews.com. Glaciers grow and shrink based on how much snow falls and the temperatures in the area, LiveScience said.

Karakoram glaciers have grown over last decade, new research shows…
The new study shows that glaciers in one important part of the mountain range are growing. It was last modified at 14.04 BST on Tuesday 17 April 2012.

Himalayan glaciers growing despite global warming – Telegraph
Thursday 22 November 2012. Glaciers in parts of the greater Himalayas are growing despite the worldwide trend of ice melting due to warmer temperatures, a study has found.

Growing Glaciers
Glaciers growing in Italy. India – Record snowfall revives 2,000 glaciers 17 Feb 11 – Already more snowfall this month than 1998 record for the entire month.

Ice capades – Some Himalayan Glaciers Growing, study suggests a negative…
Posted on April 18, 2012 by Anthony Watts. I wonder if Rajenda Pachauri will call this “voodoo science”? False Alarm: Some Himalayan Glaciers Are Growing Nina Chestney, Reuters.

Global cooling? Glaciers are growing in the Karakoram range, home to K2
The growing glaciers were found in the Karakoram range, which is home to Trust me, I’m a climate scientist, 17/4/2012 15:26 – Tallbloke is a web content administrator for a northern university.

Short Sharp Science: Glaciers in Karakoram have grown since 1999
Adam Hill on April 17, 2012 1:33 AM. Facts please, not propaganda. What about all the other growing glaciers?

Alaska’s Glaciers Are Growing
Alaska’s Glaciers Are Growing, Solar winds, sunspot activity, high energy cosmic rays, Dansgaard-Oeschger climate cycles, global cooling.

Glaciers are growing back on Kilimanjaro, guide insists | The Wenatchee World
October 14, 2012. Advanced search. Mount Shasta glaciers growing, despite warming. Kilimanjaro glacier bad example of global warming.

Alaska glaciers grew this year, thanks to colder weather | McClatchy
Fiscal cliff makes 2012 a challenge for tax planning. “It’s been a long time on most glaciers where they’ve actually had positive mass balance,” Molnia said.

Global warming mystery: Why are some glaciers growing? – The Week
But a few icy masses in the Himalayas are, weirdly enough, getting bigger. posted on April 17, 2012, at 2:20 But new research suggests that a few glaciers aren’t shrinking at all, and may even be growing.

Tibetan Glaciers Growing Against the Flow | PlanetSave
You are here: Home / Science / Tibetan Glaciers Growing Against the Flow. April 17, 2012 By Joshua S Hill Leave a Comment.

Glaciers Growing on Mt. Shasta — Earth Changes — Sott.net
Sat, 24 Nov 2012. Scientists first became aware of these growing California glaciers in 2002, and I began writing about them in 2003.

Glaciers Growing in France, Switzerland, and Washington: Will Media Care?…
November 06, 2012. And while most glaciers are receding, Crater Glacier is advancing three feet per day and forming a collar around the growing dome.

Glaciers Are Growing All Over The World
It is a part (a glacial tongue) of the Svartisen glacier, which has steadily increased in mass since the 1960s when heavier winter precipitation set in.) Norway’s glaciers growing at record pace.

Uh Oh Global Warming Devotees – Some Glaciers Are Growing | Independent…
I’m sure that this fact won’t stand in the way of extreme environmentalists, but the glaciers in the Karakoram range grew between 0.11 and 0.22 metres of ice each year from 1999 -2008.

I could list more, but that would be over kill…

The actual search with live links

Looks to me like snowfall for the Northern Hemisphere is doing just fine, thank you very much, and while a bit above average, isn’t in any kind of crazy weather pattern nor distribution. Just a good old normal cold and snowy winter…

Still, we’ll want to keep a bit of an ‘eye on it’ as this winter develops. With most of the Northern Hemisphere already covered in snow, and the Winter Solstice still a few days off, this could turn into another heavy snow year like 2008 and 2010. Here’s what it looked like last year, 2011

Snow Northern Hemisphere 2011

Snow Northern Hemisphere 2011

Which I picked up from here:


Looks to me like we are already most of the way there. Wonder what it will be like once Winter really gets rolling…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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21 Responses to About That Snow Cover

  1. Bloke down the pub says:

    Well. A bit below normal at the end of summer, and now above normal in the winter. More or less what I’d expect in a ‘been warm getting cold’ world. There’s some deep ground heat going to help melt early snows

    As snow cover in the graphic includes snow on the Arctic sea ice, I think the ‘bit below normal at the end of summer’ is more likely linked to sea ice extent than ground heat.

  2. philjourdan says:

    Yea, but it is not in the important place. Another brown Christmas.

  3. Power Grab says:

    We are supposed to get a blizzard for Christmas this year similar to the one we got in 2009. That was a major event for Oklahoma.

  4. p.g.sharrow says:

    It appears that we are going to be blessed with more precipitation here in northern California.
    5 to 8 inches starting Thursday, snow level 500ft, to rise to 5,000 by mid next week.
    Mountains saturated, soil frozen, heavy wet snow with rising snow level! Round 2 of the California floods of the winter of 2012 ? pg

  5. philjourdan says:

    p.g. – 500, that is a bit low is it not? (I am asking as I am not familiar with the snow levels in northern CA, just southern).

  6. Ian W says:

    philjourdan says: – yes the snow has to happen in NYC or DC where the MSM bubbles are or its just normal winter snow. If there is a blizzard in NYC and New Jersey then it will be blamed on global warming/climate change/climate weirding and Bloomberg will call for more carbon taxes and Christy will looking for a President to hug.

  7. acckkii says:

    Reblogged this on acckkii.

  8. E.M.Smith says:


    Just based on my experience (having been born here):

    We had snow at 30 ish foot elevation 4 times that I know of (in about 1/2 century). The mid-60s and 70s. When I asked “old timers” in town ( I was about 10 then…) they said “It is rare, but we had snow here before. Back about 1800mumble and, hey Jim, didn’t it snow in the 20’s?” or something close to that. To me it looks like “snow on the valley floor” is a bottom of the PDO indicator of sort.

    Most years, the snow level is about 2000 feet. (That’s at the latitude of Sacramento to Oroville. Get further north it gets lower). The usual “chains on” lower bound up highway 80 is about there. During warm cycle PDO peaks that can rise to about 4000 feet. Squaw Valley has level about 5800 ft for the low bits IIRC and 6200 nearer the lodge while “high camp” base is 8200. ft per this map:

    Note that it shows Squaw Peak as 8900 ft.

    So sometimes you can make it almost to Squaw valley and ski on the top part, while the bottom is a bit ‘thin’. Often you can drive to near Lake Tahoe and not have much snow, but once headed toward Squaw, get into it. Those are warm or unusual times (or spring / early fall ;-)

    So as a general guideline, in December, I’d expect most storms to get down to the 2000 foot level, but not 500 foot. (though it’s more important how much ‘sticks’. It’s not unusual to get a snow flurry low that just hits the ground and dissolved… so it’s more about “stays long enough to get a picture” ;-)

    Between the “every few years” at 500 feet and the “every few decades” at the 50 or less foot level is a major change. Between 500 and 2000 is the ideal band for living. Above the “winter fog” of the valley (that can mean you don’t see the sun for most of the winter months…) and below the “Damn Snow. Was cute for a little while…” level.

    All these generalizations are subject to dramatic variation based on local details. Which wind blows up or down what valley with which lake along the way. Also how far back into the mountains you are changes the moisture load. So often “Donner Summit” has snow (being first ski place up I-80) when Squaw does not. (Though now, since they added snow makers during the ’70s drought, the presence of snow AT the resort is less useful as a guide…) During really bad storm years, you can often GET to Donner when Squaw is still snowed in. (Kirkwood is even more snow bound and often harder to reach, but open earlier and later many years…)

    On this map:


    It’s usually “clear” all the way to Applegate. which is about 2000 ft. (And a really ideal location to live, IMHO.) Rarely is the snow down to Rocklin. Elevation 250 ft or so. Auburn at 1200 ft gets more regular snow, but it often doesn’t last long. Notice this chart:

    Shows the average snow depth as zero in all months. This shows the daily extreme and average:

    5 inches looks like a peak.

    IIRC Penryn is about 600 ft and Loomis is about 400 ft, so in between them is your 500 ft benchmark. but it looks like that wrcc site doesn’t come up on a search for Penryn snow. As I’m a bit rushed right now, finding their history will be left as an ‘exercise for the reader’ ;-)

    But yeah, snow at 500 ft is a bit rare.

  9. philjourdan says:

    @E.M. Thanks for the explanation. I was beginning to wonder if you were going to get to the answer. ;-)

    Down south, it got down to 1000 feet last winter and that was a very big deal (I lived at about 1500 feet when I lived out there and never saw it). So I suspect the 500 is close to the 1000 down on I8.

  10. John F. Hultquist says:

    Whole lot of white coming to the USA this week.
    Check the usual suspects.

  11. Completely “Off Topic” but all this talk about snow makes me think of Christmas and that makes me cast around for something upbeat to share with y’all:

    Remember this? https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/women-strings-electricity/

    Here is something similar from “The Reference Frame” (Lubos Motl):

  12. E.M.Smith says:


    That “daily extreme and average” link for Auburn is one of those places where you click things on the page and the content displayed changes, but not the actual link… so the one above is the generic “top page” and one needs to click on the left side to get what I intended… this graph:
    ought to be it. Has nice vertical spikes for peak snows, but shows a nearly zero flat line average.

    FWIW, every year thousands of people make the pilgrimage up I-80 to the ski resorts. So that particular chunk of road is “known to many” in terms of it’s “snow habits”. And where the “chains on” becomes mandatory… (Usually well past Auburn unless in the middle of a big, really big, storm. Often not required at all once a day or two past the storm day, all the way to Squaw / Alpine Meadows. Typically about 3000 to 5000 ft for most run of the mill storm. As noted in P.G.Sharrow’s note where it ends at 5000 ft next week. Some some ‘way cold’, then ‘the usual’ replaces it.)

    Snow on the Valley Floor makes headline news. Snow at 500 feet makes the “weather news”…

  13. BobN says:

    Here is an interesting link on the Russian Winter.

    The AGW people will not like this.

  14. E.M.Smith says:

    YOW! Lots of interesting pictures, but this:…

    Russia is enduring its harshest winter in over 70 years, with temperatures plunging as low as -50 degrees Celsius. Dozens of people have already died, and almost 150 have been hospitalized.

    The country has not witnessed such a long cold spell since 1938, meteorologists said, with temperatures 10 to 15 degrees lower than the seasonal norm all over Russia.

    Across the country, 45 people have died due to the cold, and 266 have been taken to hospitals. In total, 542 people were injured due to the freezing temperatures, RIA Novosti reported.

    The Moscow region saw temperatures of -17 to -18 degrees Celsius on Wednesday, and the record cold temperatures are expected to linger for at least three more days. Thermometers in Siberia touched -50 degrees Celsius, which is also abnormal for December.

    I think Habibulo is about to get whatever replaced the Medal Of Lenin (Medal of Putin?) for having called this correctly and gotten Russia on the “preparation” path instead of the “Global Warming” side…

  15. p.g.sharrow says:

    Does it get cold in Russia………Daaaaaha!! Global werding strikes again. Winter has just started and it’s record cold already. AGW is a terrible thing. ;-( pg

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, the USA just got dumped on, all the way down to Snow in Dallas Texas. The map is still stuck on the 18 December at fsu.edu so I presume it’s not an automated map… and the people are on vacation.

    Still, it’s clear that nature is “coloring outside the lines” (as long as white is a color ;-) of the “climatology” on the map.

    It will be interesting to see folks trying to sell this as ‘record hot’ and warming… The GIStemp code has a built in escalator (IMHO) and the GHCH is warmed via adjustment of the past before it even gets to use by others, so it will be hard to air brush this out of things.

    And every year from here on out ought to be getting even harder.

    We’ve had the PDO / AMO flips. We’ve got Antarctica ice growing AND Antarctica sea ice growing (noticed they had to focus on one tiny part of the peninsula to make any kind of Antarctic warmth noise… ignoring all the really cold parts). Now with the oceans flipped to colder, the Arctic will freeze back up. (Not just the “Polar see-saw” swapping, but also the generally colder polar vortex thanks to the sleepy sun).

    I expect we’ll see various desperation plays to try and ‘wrap things up’ fast before the general public catches on. So looks like “Make noise about the LACK of Global Warming ( and maybe the desirability of some warmth…)” would be a good thing to do. Along with some ‘run out the clock’ on attempts to tax, cap, trade, ‘whatever’ carbon and fuels.

    FWIW, we’re back to rain in California, so folks back east can expect more snow on the way. One dry day was about it… (or maybe it was 1 1/2… I was indoors a lot of yesterday).

  17. BobN says:

    This is pretty much the type of articles I see.

    They hang on any little tidbit of information and don’t report the big picture.

  18. p.g.sharrow says:

    @BobN; that big picture that goes with the article looks to be a point source contamination wrapped around Byrd Station. Man made Warming? The article says that much of the data was recreated to make up for missing data from that stations record. Thank god for computers to create….er recreate facts. pg

  19. BobN says:

    @ p.g. sharrow – Amazing how easy it is to prove things when you fill in the blank with the data you want. Oh, that undersea volcanic activity would have no impact, not related to any data trends. Its sad to see this type of reporting being repeated over and over. The trouble being the average guy reads it and believes it.

  20. Gail Combs says:

    You missed a couple graphs I think are important.
    As Gerald Roe and Nigel Calder pointed out it is the first derivative, the change in speed (acceleration) that you want to watch.

    The LENGTH of the Arctic Melt season http://i45.tinypic.com/27yr1wy.png

    The change in the beginning of the Northern Hemisphere snow season:

    It shows Henry P.’s change in 1995 which I find quite interesting.

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