A brief editorial…
So here we are – Christmas Eve. The well-advertised warmth has arrived and the all-too-familiar allusion to the unprecedented has been slathered all over TV, radio, and internet news by the media. To some degree, they are correct. We’ll set records today. It will be the warmest December 24 on record for many locations around southern England. And it’s no wonder, given the state of the pattern and the current phase of ENSO and MJO. It was only a matter of time before something came together to give a record warm push of air. Well here it is. It just happens to fall on Christmas Eve, which somehow gives it some extra power or meaning, according to media. And the general public starts to fall for such news, predictably. It’s all too common these days for the sensationalism to act as education, instead of meteorological reason and experience, communicated responsibly. I fight a losing battle in trying to accomplish the latter, but nevertheless will continue to practice this as long as I can do so.
Some areas may reach 70 degrees on this Christmas Eve afternoon, some 30 degrees above the average high around 40 for this area. These days, such an event has become a trigger of quiet panic for various reasons. We’ve even heard comparisons to July 4, in which some areas topped out in the lower 70s, some…. 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the average. Such an extreme! (Yes, it’s sarcasm.) I’m not really sure how many times I have to remind people how we arrive at averages, and that this averages are over 30-year periods, a relative blink of an eye in our weather history. This shows you that the variability is there, and it should come as no surprise, given all that drives weather on this planet. We’ll leave out the atmospheric dynamics lesson for now, and just focus on a couple more comparisons, such as the July 4 in 1978 when much of the region was locked in the very chilly 50s during the passage of an “unusual” Northeaster with wind and rain. 50s. July 4. Some 30 degrees off the “what it should be” temperature. That “what it should be phrase” should be WIPED OUT from all media. There is NO SUCH THING. What it should be is whatever the weather pattern dictates. If the temperatures landed on the average every day, THEN I’d worry that something was really wrong. The fact that it does not indicates that the weather machine that is also known as our atmosphere is working just as it should. That’s a good thing, believe me. Let’s reach back into history and pull up another comparison. Since we’re at Christmas, and staring a near 70 in the face today and near 60 tomorrow, keep this fact in mind. Just last year, Christmas Day was near 60 in many areas. Rewind back to 1983, when we saw daytime temperatures below 10 in many areas, or 1980, when the high temperature during the daylight hours failed to rise above ZERO in many locations, oh…some 40 degrees away from “what it should be”. And before you think “well all the cold around here was before and all the warm is now”, that is not true either. After all, have we forgotten last February already? Or March the year before, during the endless Winter of the “Polar Vortex”? You know that “new” and “scary” phenomenon that we never saw before (even though its been around longer than we have). Surely we do not have such short memories. Or then perhaps it’s just not really our fault. After all, there is only so much you can retain when the stream of media clutter is as constant as it is. And it’s not only the mainstream media. You now have virtually everybody with the ability to pull up computer models, that are meant to be interpreted by meteorologists, making home-forecasts out to weeks in advance, hungry to be the first to say something with a wow-factor. And the easily availability of such information means that someone catches a highlight or a story from a source having no business releasing it, and suddenly it’s a big weather story. Yes, a 15 year old weather geek can cause large scale worry by posting from their bedroom on their social media site a wishcast or snowfall output from whatever model has the most snow 10 or 15 days in advance from a potential storm, probably while they should be doing their English homework and learning how to actually write and communicate. Sad but true. We don’t need these spoiling pieces of information floating around the net, but it seems like an elusive little pest that just manages to survive. We don’t need this. We need real information from real sources.
Just the facts, please. Just the facts.