N. Hemisphere Snowcover

February 12th, 2012 at 12:28 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

       Thought you might like to see these images (click on each image to enlarge).  The first is Northern Hemisphere snow cover over the past 30 years.  The second is current snow cover in N. America (a large swath of the Northern Plains is snow free.  The third is Europe/Asia (look how much of Italy and the northeast Mediterranean has a snow cover).  The fourth is the 4-month difference from normal of N. Hemisphere snow cover from Dr. Bob Hart’s website at Florida State.  Compare the snow cover in the U.S. last year at this time (which was a lot – up to 63% at one point with only Florida reporting no snow anywhere in the state) to this year (about 32% of the Lower 48 with a snow cover).   The bitter cold and snow continue to batter much of Europe.  Look at all the record low temperatures in EuropeAnchorage, Alaska is running out of places to dump snow.  Anchorage reports 28″ of snow on the ground and 103″ for the season, just about double the average snowfall.  Yakutat, AK has had 226.3″ of snow this winter.  That’s 139.6″ more than normal!  Alyeska, AK reports 564.6″ of snow since Oct. 1.  On the other side of the world, check out the weather in Vostok, Antarctica.  Wow, it’s summer there!  Here’s the South Pole.  The Antarctic icecap has grown significantly since last year at this time and is now well above average in areal extent.  Parts of Australia are also having a cool summer.   And, if you haven’t seen them yet, here’s the striking images of the fog coming over the high rises in Panama City, Florida.     Weatherwise, it still looks like an inch or two of snow Monday night/Tuesday and then about 3″ of snow (or it could be a mix) about Thursday.

39 Responses to “N. Hemisphere Snowcover”

  1. TomKap (Michigan St. & Fuller) Grand Rapids says:

    Interesting. I sure don’t remember that ‘snow-free’ year of 1981!

  2. Mike M. says:

    The drop in snow cover from 1978 to 1981 still astounds me. What the heck caused that, Bill?

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      We had a 3-year La Nina from 1973-75. That was followed by the brutal winters of 1976-79 over the most populated areas of the Northern Hemisphere (the Eastern U.S., Europe and China). 1979 was the first year that satellites monitored the Arctic icecap, which would have been at a maximum level after the string of relatively cold winters. We’re waiting to see what the La Nina does now (currently in its second year). La Ninas usually back off in Northern Hemisphere spring and summer. Will this one flip to El Nino? Will we get a third year of La Nina? The meteorologists at METSUL in Brazil have speculated that the S. Hemisphere often precedes the Northern Hemisphere. It’s cold across Antarctica during their summer. METSUL thinks next winter (or possibly the one after) will be a cold one for the eastern U.S. and China.

      We had the blizzard of 1978 followed by the coldest February and the 5th coldest March. The winter of 1978-79 was cold and snowy here and over much of the Great Lakes.

  3. Swatz_Zoo(Cedar Springs) says:

    3wks ago when my husband flew out of Afghanistan to come homne from his R&R they day after he left they shut down ALL flights coming in/out of the airfields and other airports because they got 18″ of snow dumped on them in less then a day, if my husband would have left a day later he would have been delayed. I just hope his flight home is uneventful and no delays once he gets to Dubia and then to his base.

  4. Dan says:

    Given how this Winter has gone, I think we get nailed next year. I also can certainly see us get one or two big snow dumps in March! I think, Winter still has something to give us as we begin to move closer to Spring.
    Snow totals for the season at 38 inches or something. I wouldn’t be surprised to see us get at least 1/2 that amount as we go through March!
    With the current Arctic air, I was wondering if the ground was able to freeze this time? I don’t think that has happened all season.

  5. INDY says:

    Yeaaa I said Feb. would be below normal temps and above snowfall ,,,,Everybody threw darts at me then , now Step outside and open your eyes feel the cold…..INDYYY

    1. Swatz_Zoo(Cedar Springs) says:

      I didn’t throw darts at you, even the best of Mets have been wrong, we all have been either right or wrong, it’s Michigan mother nature in the end has the last word.

  6. Daniel (Denver, CO) says:

    With how much snow we’ve gotten out here so far this month and more on the way in the next 5 days, I have a feeling that spring is going to be cold and snowy. The pattern this winter has been very unique from what I’ve seen in past winters out here.

  7. RJ (Rockford) says:

    Another GREAT WINTER day. Temps in the 20′s and a fresh snow pack on the ground. Gotta love it!! Let’s hope the Thursday system brings us another round of accumulating snow. Keep the COLD and SNOW coming. Ya winter is here baby!! Get out and enjoy it people.

  8. INDY says:

    rJ THURSDAY snow looks to be a good one for West Michigan well worth the wait being so late in winter ..ALL U SNOW HATERS TAKE A BOW NOW!!! INDYYY

    1. RJ (Rockford) says:

      ROCK ON INDY! Keep the COLD and SNOW coming. Guess what people it is WINTER outside!!!

  9. INDY says:


  10. RJ (Rockford) says:

    Heading out to the trails. You gotta love winter weather!!

  11. SlimJim NW GR (1) says:

    One thing that is good about when we head into mid to late February is that the sun angle and time the sun is up is now equal to late October and by the end of the month the sun angle will be equal to mid October! So that on a nice sunny day like today even with the air temps only in the upper 20′s to near 30 there is a good bit of snow melt on the roads and sidewalks as well as the roofs and the south side of buildings. I think of it as a slow glacier melt down.
    Its now 30° here with full sun.

    1. MM(Belmont) says:

      A lot of snow melt(hello grass) going on here on the south side of my property! Snow doesn’t have a chance this week with the temps forecasted and the higher angle of the sun! Bring on spring! It’s only a few weeks away! Yaaaaaay!

  12. INDY says:

    I guess the hog was right 6 more weeks of winter is just right!!!! It’s cold out at thee YARDofBRICKS 23* but the sunshine is nice…. INDYYY

    1. Swatz_Zoo(Cedar Springs) says:

      30 out at the YardOfDucks

  13. Mr. Negative says:

    Yep…forecast looks like our generic, run of the mill winter arrived. Nothing special about this year…routine, useless winter.

  14. RJ (Rockford) says:

    Bring on more SNOW and COLD. It is looking great for more snow this week and the rest of February and well into March. Watch out for the Thursday storm – it could be another 3 to 6 inch storm! Get ready to ROCK n Roll GR – winter is here. Gotta love the COLD and SNOW!!!!!!!!!

    1. Skot says:

      over 6 inches it will be a storm. Not the other way.

    2. fixxxer says:

      Too bad theres NO storm coming. Better luck next winter rj! ;)

  15. Travis (Oxford, MI) says:

    And yet the unusual warm stretch in Alaska and northern Canada continues: 10-20 degrees above average. In fact, it was warmer in many parts of Alaska over the weekend than it was here.

  16. fixxxer says:

    Blah…blah…blah! Every month since november we hear of a “pattern change” and it NEVER happens. Face it people winter is about done.

    1. michael g (SE GR) says:

      To those who say there hasn’t been a pattern change this winter, I bring you these facts.

      Through Dec 31, 5.2″ of snow, 18.1% of normal

      Since Jan 1, 33.2″, 124.0% of normal.

      Yeah, practically the same.

      1. Travis (Oxford, MI) says:

        That’s not a pattern change to me. Overall precip has stayed around the same. It’s just the averages get colder and we got snow instead of rain.

        1. Travis (Oxford, MI) says:

          But the above average temps have continued since Nov even though everyone keeps talking about pattern change.

        2. michael g (SE GR) says:

          So, a nine week period with 18% of normal snowfall for that period, followed by a six week period with 124% of normal snowfall for that period is not a pattern change. Interesting.

      2. RJ (Rockford) says:

        It has definitely been a pattern change and we will be seeing a lot mote snow over the next few weeks!

    2. RJ (Rockford) says:

      SNOW, COLD and more SNOW coming. Get ready GR. Winter is here with a lot more snow on the way!

      1. ~Sherry~ (Comstock Park) says:

        :) )

  17. Rad (Jenison/Hudsonville) says:

    GO WINGS!!! Lets Make it 20 in A ROW @ HOME !!

    1. Rad (Jenison/Hudsonville) says:


  18. big Daddy BC says:

    Interesting Graph, Bill. It seems clear that the predicted increase in precip follows the observed increase in temperature. …Makes perfect sense. As temperature goes up, the ability for the atmosphere to absorb/retain moisture increases. That’s why I called for above average temps AND precip in my October winter forecast. I sure nailed that, didn’t I? The climate is definitely changing.


    1. big Daddy BC says:

      This is from the Environmental Protection Agency. It further explains the correlation.


      1. michael g (SE GR) says:

        That historic COLD wave that just killed hundreds in Europe proves it Kevin! Oh, and the fact that worldwide temps continue to run below normal. Global warming is overwhelming us all!!

    2. Bill Steffen says:

      LOL! This is what the climate alarmists were saying 12 years ago: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/snowfalls-are-now-just-a-thing-of-the-past-724017.html “snowfalls are now just a thing of the past…” NOT! REALITY CHECK! So…the template changes…now global warming makes more snow.

      Just read the article. Now…here’s reality: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501714_162-57375858/montenegro-almost-cut-off-by-heavy-snow/ The Death Toll in Europe is now close to 600: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2012/02/06/bloomberg_articlesLYYVUH6K50YG01-LYYX3.DTL Heckuva way to run a global warming disaster!

      The Earth hasn’t warmed in 15 years: http://www.newsnet5.com/dpp/weather/weather_news/United-Kingdom-Meteorology-Office-declares-Earth-hasnt-warmed-in-15-years

    3. Brad says:

      Bill, we all read your winter forecast, and we know the reality…perhaps you should join Dr. David Viner for a toast?

      1. Bill Steffen says:

        Ah, but I acknowledge the limitations of the models, and I’m not trying to make utility bills “skyrocket” on the poor and middle class. Policy decisions that would confiscate hundreds of billions of dollars from the poor and middle class don’t depend on my forecasts. Even when I’m “wrong” (snow accumulations Friday were higher than anticipated over most, but not all of my viewing area), I provided useful information by highlighting the anticipated travel problems several days out, and specifically telling people on Tuesday to plan travel Weds. and Thurs. and not Friday PM – that part of the forecast (I’d argue the most important part) was timely and useful. My offerings are free and you can criticize all you want. I’m not using any tricks to “hide the decline”.

  19. INDY says:

    ohhhh check out the next storm coming what a heck of a change in our weather never to late for winter ….It’s cold outside 23* out at the YARDofBRICKS… short term Bob hope it’s snow to MAY!!! INDYYY

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