Large cuts to NOAA research, satellite operations will degrade weather forecasting and military preparedness

Donald’s proposed deep cuts to NOAA satellite operations will make weather forecasting less reliable and run counter to Donald’s goal of “rebuilding” the military.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

According to the Washington Post, Donald is considering deep cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as part of his proposed budget. The anonymous sources upon which the Post based their article cautioned that the exact details of which programs would get cut and by how much would likely change, but the relative magnitudes of the reported cuts provide some insight into Donald’s thinking:

Based on these numbers, we can surmise that Donald doesn’t want to impact weather forecasting (which is important to literally everyone), wants to maintain the fishing industry, but wants to cut most climate science and government-funded research out of NOAA. The problem is that it’s not going to work. Continue reading

Dear America: Iowa laughs at your “polar vortex”

Polar vortex strikes 9th circle of hell. Film at 11.

I don’t want to make light of the cold snap sweeping the eastern half of the country. I know it’s dangerous and I hope everyone reading is warm and safe.

That said, the issue here isn’t the cold. It’s the level of preparedness. I spent two winters in Iowa while getting my MA at Iowa State in Ames. And I’m here to tell you, what the rest of you are calling a “polar vortex” Iowans call “January.” Those who have been around me when the subject of cold weather came up at any point since 1989 have heard this rant. Probably word for word.

You simply don’t know what cold is. Continue reading

IPCC physical science Summary for Policymakers: 95% certain that human activity is dominating climate disruption

[Update: several clarifications have been added in the best case scenario section.]

The complete, 2500 pages long Working Group One (WG1) report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) has been published. While the devil is often in the details buried deep in those 2500 pages, the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) is a distillation of the key scientific findings that the WG1 authors and every national government agree upon. As such, the SPM is an inherently conservative1 summary of the science. Continue reading

WTF? Happy May Day from Colorado (STFU weather, anyone?)

Monday it was in the 80s here in Denver. This weekend the forecast calls for pretty, seasonal weather in the upper 50s. But today is May Day, the midpoint of springtime. What better opportunity for Mother Nature to show off a bit.

Here’s Ronan MacScottie, out for his morning constitutional a few minutes ago.


Happy Beltane, everyone. Here’s hoping your day is as beautiful as ours.


Do we need winter storm names?

IceStormFor those of you who have not noticed, the Weather Channel has decided to start a new trend:  named Winter Storms.  I had not realized this effort was being made until a colleague referred to the current storm heading towards the Great Lakes as “Draco.”

“Draco” as in “Draco Malfoy” from Harry Potter.  Actually the Weather Channel claims that their Draco is “The first legislator of Athens in Ancient Greece.”  Yeah, like anyone remembers him.  I’m actually OK with the Draco Malfoy’s name being given to a malevolent weather system.  But the rest of the list  is a little sketchy.  “Iago,” the villain from Othello?  I’m good with that.  Same with “Khan” and “Brutus.”  But “Gandolf”?  What did he do to get put on the Naughty Storms List?  Same with “Luna” and  “Plato.”

The whole concept is silly and seems like part of some media-driven marketing ploy.  The Weather Channel tries to make a good argument for its decision:

  • Naming a storm raises awareness.
  • A storm with a name takes on a personality all its own, which adds to awareness.
  • In today’s social media world, a name makes it much easier to reference in communication. [emphasis added]

Got it:  hashtag #Draco, anyone?  This seems like it belongs in the same category as “Invented Holidays Designed to Sell Stuff” (does anyone even still remember “Sweetest Day?”).

I couldn’t find this discussed, but I wonder if their list is copyrighted (unlike the National Hurricane Center list)?  Also, does this just apply to national storms?  How big does a storm have to be or how far does it have to travel before it merits a name?  For those of us in the Snow Belt, we can get hit seriously without the rest of the country noticing.  Do we get our own names that are geographically relevant?  I’d like “Bradshaw,” “Elway,” and “Modell” to be at the top of the Cleveland list.

But since we’re going down the Silly New Trend path, I’d like to add a few tweaks to make this more fun:

The winter storms need categories, like “F1” or “Hurricane” that indicate the seriousness of the storm.  My colleague suggested, “Eh,” “Negligible,” “Whoa,” and “Hit the Deck!”  Each would, of course, need to be announced in an appropriate and well-rehearsed tone of voice, preferably with a sound track and over-the-top graphics.

The storm names should have also categories.  In the end, Draco Malfoy was a mostly ineffective sniveling coward, so that could reflect on the nature of the intended storm.  I think names like “Voldemort” and “Norman Bates” should be reserved for the truly frightening storms, and we should be able to change their names if they don’t deliver.

Personally, this all seems unnecessary–just ask anyone in Ohio who is old enough to remember about the “Blizzard of ’78” or the “Fourth of July Storm” or the “Xenia Tornado.”  Storms take on their own names without official sanction or a christening by the Weather Channel.

Photo by Cat White

Nantucket: eclectic mix of wealth, wistfulness, history, and erosive weather

by Chip Ainsworth

We were somewhere near the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis when Susan looked at me and said, “This will be the most East you’ve ever been in your life. How cool is that?”

The high-speed ferry was a few seats shy of its 400-passenger capacity and was doing 40 miles per hour over smooth ocean waters. “There are no McDonald’s in Nantucket. No Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks, and only one Cumberland Farms.”

We were seated next to a young couple from New York. Brandon was taking a break from composing television jingles, and Veronica was an actress in search of a part. They were living together in a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn that cost $2,000 a month.

Veronica, who was reading, pointed to her book and told Susan it was “girl erotica” called “Shades of Gray.”

“No wonder Amazon wants me to buy it,” Susan replied.
Continue reading

Why are environmentalists missing a mild-weather opportunity?

There’s still time for one more doozy of a snowstorm before winter gives up its ghost, I tell myself—although the next storm we get will be the first. We’ve had hardly any snow at all here this winter, which is saying something considering that I live in western New York, famous for the thick bands of lake-effect snow that pummel us every year. This year, not so much.

Everyone’s talking about it—what a mild winter we’ve had. How little snow has fallen. How warm it’s been. Everyone. And it’s not just here; it seems to be all across the country.

I can’t help but wonder about the missed opportunity:  Why hasn’t someone been using the mild weather to bang the drum about climate change? Continue reading

Welcome Christmas

November rained into December. Hardly Christmas weather, if you ask me.

After all, the Christmas season had officially been in full swing since Thursday’s leftover turkey went into the refrigerator. Yet somehow, I had pretty much managed to avoid the holiday all together.

The weather around here had been doing little to persuade me otherwise.

Yes, the ubiquitous holiday music had been piping into stores for days, but even then, I’d somehow avoided all the displays and fake Santas and forced commercial cheer.

Continue reading

Nota Bene #110: WEHT SWK?

“In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #106: [no title due to budget cuts]

“Working for a major studio can be like trying to have sex with a porcupine. It’s one prick against thousands.” Who said it? Continue reading

The Weekly Carboholic: Gas industry's own fracking studies don't support industry claims



“Fracking” is the slang term used for hydraulic fracturing, a process by which the gas industry injects a slurry of unknown composition into a gas well in order to break up the rock and release the natural gas contained within. At present, the EPA exempts fracking from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), but Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado has introduced legislation into the House (H.R.2766) to force the EPA to regulate fracking. In response, the gas industry has pushed back with studies that purport to show that regulation is both unnecessary and costly.

A new article by ProPublica, an “independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest,” shows that the exact same studies being used by industry to oppose fracking actually counter the industry’s own arguments. Continue reading

The Weekly Carboholic: Pew poll says climate lowest priority, but results are curious



A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in early January says that, of the priorities listed in the poll, “dealing with global warming” was dead last, with only 30% of respondents declaring it a “top priority.” This was below other issues such as the economy, jobs, fixing Medicare, crime, and the environment. But as is so often the case with polls, the devil is in the details and the methodology. For example, climate disruption is certainly an environmental issue, yet the issues are polled separately. And when you broaden the poll results beyond just the “top priority” category to include “important but lower priority,” global warming attracts support of 67% of the poll’s respondents. Continue reading

Weather vs. Climate

It’s winter, and just as ever summer brings out kooks claiming that a hot spell in Colorado is the result of global warming, so too does winter bring out the kooks claiming that record cold temperatures and snowfall in New England means global warming is bunk. In both cases people are confusing weather and climate. So, as an Official S&R Public Service Announcement™, here’s the definitions of weather and climate, as well as a number of easy to understand examples of each. Continue reading

The Scrogue's Guide to Denver and the DNC: packing and survival guide (tips on transportation, altitude and the Mile High vibe)

No two towns are quite alike, but as a guy who’s been all over the US I can testify that Denver ranks pretty high on the uniqueness scale. Its geographic location is a big part of the equation, to be sure, and the culture that has emerged from its particular history makes it not quite like any other city in America.

Here are few things that I’ve learned since I first moved West in 1993.


You’ll probably feel the lack of oxygen the first time you have to truck up a couple flights of stairs. You’ll adjust, but depending on where you’re from, maybe not fast enough. Continue reading

The Weekly Carboholic: Jet stream drift may confirm global heating models


The jet stream has been described by many as a river of air in the atmosphere. It’s similar in that respect to the Gulf Stream in the ocean, and both serve similar climate functions – the distribution of hot air (or water) from the tropics toward the poles. In the case of the jet stream, however, it also moves around high and low pressure systems and is thus one of the more significant controls over global weather. So when something happens to the jet stream, it matters. And according to MSNBC, a paper from the Carnegie Institution shows that the jet streams in both the northern and southern hemispheres have been migrating toward their respective poles. Continue reading