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Old 01-02-2018, 03:01 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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So why is it so cold right now (in North America)

A few weeks ago I was walking outside without a coat, but it has been -20F with the wind chill lately.

I looked at the 10 day weather forecast, starting next week temps will be back into the 20s and 30s again.

So why has the weather gone from maybe 20s/30s up until late december, then dropped about 30 degrees for 2 weeks, and then will go back up to the 20s/30s?

Is there an arctic vortex? Or did something else happen or is it just dumb luck? Any particular reason the temps would drop 30 some degrees for 2 weeks in late december and early January, then go back up again?
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Old 01-02-2018, 03:15 PM
DSYoungEsq DSYoungEsq is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
A few weeks ago I was walking outside without a coat, but it has been -20F with the wind chill lately.

I looked at the 10 day weather forecast, starting next week temps will be back into the 20s and 30s again.

So why has the weather gone from maybe 20s/30s up until late december, then dropped about 30 degrees for 2 weeks, and then will go back up to the 20s/30s?

Is there an arctic vortex? Or did something else happen or is it just dumb luck? Any particular reason the temps would drop 30 some degrees for 2 weeks in late december and early January, then go back up again?
Cold air moved south. It happens from time to time.

Interestingly, much of the rest of the globe is warmer than normal for this time of the year.
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Old 01-02-2018, 03:18 PM
Telemark Telemark is offline
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Or did something else happen or is it just dumb luck?
It's weather, that's what happened. The Jet Stream shifted south (as it sometimes does do to a variety of factors) allowing for cold arctic air to come south and cover the midwest and east.
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Old 01-02-2018, 03:19 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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So why is it so cold right now (in North America)

It's Winter.
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Old 01-02-2018, 03:24 PM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is offline
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Here's a diagram of the polar front at the surface on the left ... this is greatly exaggerated but we can see that it has a wave-like form ... right now the eastern USA is in a trough ... in a week or so it will move on and be in a ridge ... every few years this arctic air mass pushes all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico coast, in other years it just barely crosses the US/Canadian border ...

The Wikipedia article "Arctic Oscillation" appears to be incomplete, but it does have more information about this ...
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Old 01-02-2018, 04:32 PM
gkster gkster is offline
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Johnny L.A., from your username and location I'm wondering whether you're on the West Coast? The cold that Wesley Clark asks about is not just winter--it's really cold right now in the Northeast, 15-20 degrees colder than average winter weather, and a few days ago it was more like 25-30 degrees colder. In fact, in Canada last week, this item about Ottawa being colder than the 3 average coldest world capitals was making the rounds:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa...tawa-1.4466107


There are record lows all over the Northeast and Midwest:
https://weather.com/storms/winter/ne...-early-january
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Old 01-02-2018, 04:39 PM
Si Amigo Si Amigo is offline
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I'm in the Detroit area, it's winter.

You take the good with the bad, we had a pretty mild fall here. The weather man likes to show that we are colder at noon than all of Alaska is at at 8:00 am this week. This is the kind of stuff weather pundits live for. Where's global warming they cry!
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Old 01-02-2018, 04:48 PM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is offline
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Originally Posted by gkster View Post
Johnny L.A., from your username and location I'm wondering whether you're on the West Coast? ... [snip]
It's like a wave ... when the eastern USA is super cold, us here on the West Coast are (typically) warm ... the Rocky Mountains reach almost up to the halfway point in the atmosphere ... all that cold polar air is just pour down the east side across all that flatland ... here in the West we still have the oceanic air moving on-shore which moderates the temperatures by quite a bit ... I've only seen two mornings at 32F this winter ...

Hurricanes slamming the Gulf Coast brings us our best weather of the year ...

Last edited by watchwolf49; 01-02-2018 at 04:49 PM.
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Old 01-02-2018, 04:55 PM
Beckdawrek Beckdawrek is offline
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My understanding is global warming will cause the polar cap to thaw and make Canada and USA colder for a decade or more. Is this correct?
I don't believe this what's happening now, btw. I think it is an Arctic blast, we get them occasionally.
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Old 01-02-2018, 04:55 PM
dtilque dtilque is offline
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There was a similar weather pattern just 3 years ago. Here's a page on the weather then. Scroll down to the global map of Feb 2015 temperatures. Note that eastern North America was way colder than usual, while the rest of the world was warmer than usual, in many places, much warmer.
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Old 01-02-2018, 04:57 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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Here is Saskatchewan, the cold snap has broken. It's warmed up enough for it to snow.
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Old 01-02-2018, 05:17 PM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is offline
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Originally Posted by Beckdawrek View Post
My understanding is global warming will cause the polar cap to thaw and make Canada and USA colder for a decade or more. Is this correct?
I don't believe this what's happening now, btw. I think it is an Arctic blast, we get them occasionally.
No ... the "melting of ice" and "getting colder" are mutually incompatible ... at best temperatures will remain the same during periods of ice loss ... [see below] ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by dtilque View Post
There was a similar weather pattern just 3 years ago. Here's a page on the weather then. Scroll down to the global map of Feb 2015 temperatures. Note that eastern North America was way colder than usual, while the rest of the world was warmer than usual, in many places, much warmer.
It looks like the period 1990 to 2010 saw very few of these Arctic blasts, the Arctic oscillation was positively indexed ... now during the period 2010 to 2030 we may see the Arctic oscillation negatively indexed and see more Arctic blasts ... much is still unknown about this phenomena ...

The climatic sense of global warming does not change any of this, we take the average over the fifty year period to eliminate all the dynamic variations and oscillations ... it was 10F overnight in Detroit, in 100 years, this exact same dynamic situation, the temperature will be 15F ...

A fairly big chunk of the Canadian Arctic hasn't seen direct sunlight in months ... not even above the horizon ...
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Old 01-02-2018, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by watchwolf49 View Post
No ... the "melting of ice" and "getting colder" are mutually incompatible ... at best temperatures will remain the same during periods of ice loss ...
The arctic ice melting, and North America becoming cold, are not mutually incompatible.

Last edited by scr4; 01-02-2018 at 05:27 PM.
  #14  
Old 01-02-2018, 05:28 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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It is the polar vortex. It is snowing now and there will be a warming for the next couple days, then back to the deep freeze. It is claimed (or conjectured anyway) that climate change is disrupting the usual weather patterns and this is one result.

Here in Montreal, we had an unusually cool and very wet summer (more like what we used to have 40-50 years ago) and an unusually long and mild fall. All unusual and perhaps indicative of a changed climate
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Old 01-02-2018, 05:44 PM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is offline
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The arctic ice melting, and North America becoming cold, are not mutually incompatible.
The arctic ice is currently freezing, and yes it is cold in North America ... wait six months, the ice will be melting and it will be warm in North America ...

Average this out over the year and we see melting ice and warmer temperatures ...

We don't see heat energy drawn out of the air over North America and then applied to the polar ice to melt it ... the polar front redirects that energy aloft and back towards the equator, which gets it above most of the CO2 so it can radiate out into space ...
  #16  
Old 01-02-2018, 05:53 PM
ExTank ExTank is offline
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Originally Posted by watchwolf49 View Post
No ... the "melting of ice" and "getting colder" are mutually incompatible ... at best temperatures will remain the same during periods of ice loss ... [see below] ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by scr4 View Post
The arctic ice melting, and North America becoming cold, are not mutually incompatible.
I read somewhere, quite possibly right here on the Dope, something to the effect (paraphrasing from memory) that the melting artic ice changes the...salinity?...or otherwise messes with the Gulf Stream currents, preventing them from bringing the warmer waters as far north as they have in years past.

This causes, temporarily at least, colder weather in the northern latitudes.
  #17  
Old 01-02-2018, 05:56 PM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is offline
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Weakening of the Polar Vortex

Usually the polar vortex circulates at the more northern latitudes (in the Northern Hemisphere). Sometimes it varies and dips southward, bringing large amounts of cold air southward, causing a cold snap. That's normal variation.

There is some scientific opinion that global warming is weakening the vortex, making these periodic variations more intense. That may be why these episodes seem to be getting more intense and longer lasting. Naturally, global warming skeptics believe that this is not true.
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Old 01-02-2018, 06:09 PM
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This app (windy.com) helps to visualize the cold air masses streaming down from the Canadian Great Plains toward the US Midwest. I picked "5000 feet" winds, and colors showing temperature. Note the anti-cyclone (clockwise, high-pressure) over the Canadian Rockies, and the cyclone (counter-clockwise, low pressure) over the east shore of Hudson Bay. The winds stuck in between are pushing southward, including at the high-elevation "jet stream."
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Old 01-02-2018, 07:20 PM
Xema Xema is offline
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... the Rocky Mountains reach almost up to the halfway point in the atmosphere
To be a bit more precise, they reach a little over 14,000'. That's above about 40% of the atmosphere measured by pressure, and (very roughly) 5% by height.
  #20  
Old 01-02-2018, 07:25 PM
Jophiel Jophiel is online now
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The weather man likes to show that we are colder at noon than all of Alaska is at at 8:00 am this week. This is the kind of stuff weather pundits live for. Where's global warming they cry!
In Alaska, obviously.
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Old 01-02-2018, 07:36 PM
split p&j split p&j is offline
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I'm 46 and to me this more normal than anything else. I'm in upstate NY, and except for the last few years, remember it always getting really cold around this time of year. I remember being out on 12/31/99 into 01/01/2000 and it was about as cold as this.
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Old 01-02-2018, 07:45 PM
split p&j split p&j is offline
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Weather unground confirms. About 19 at 11 and 25 at midnight. Kind of like now it's 19 at the house.

Last edited by split p&j; 01-02-2018 at 07:47 PM.
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Old 01-02-2018, 07:46 PM
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Obligatory XKCD: Cold
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Old 01-02-2018, 07:59 PM
split p&j split p&j is offline
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I also remember a few years after that it was so cold the rivers froze early in December. Then there was a January thaw and everything flooded due to ice jams. That was in the 2000's. I'm not trying to get into a debate about man-made climate change, I'm just saying it's not so unbelievably cold right now like the OP is making out to be.
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Old 01-02-2018, 08:01 PM
split p&j split p&j is offline
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Obligatory XKCD: Cold
That comic is part of the problem.
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Old 01-02-2018, 08:01 PM
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that's what happens when everyone bitches about "its too warm for winter" mother nature responds in kind.........
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Old 01-02-2018, 08:08 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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I also remember a few years after that it was so cold the rivers froze early in December. Then there was a January thaw and everything flooded due to ice jams. That was in the 2000's. I'm not trying to get into a debate about man-made climate change, I'm just saying it's not so unbelievably cold right now like the OP is making out to be.
My question however was why did the temperatures drop 20-30 degrees, and stay that way for 2 weeks, then go back up next week? If in summer the temps went up 20-30 degrees, stayed that way for 2 weeks, then went down again I'd assume something was up. My question wasn't even about it being unbelievably cold, it is why did the temps suddenly drop 20-30 degrees, and stay that way for 2 weeks, then go back up.

In my OP I assumed it was an arctic vortex, all the cold air from up north came down here. That is what other people are saying is happening. I don't know if arctic vortex, arctic blast, polar vortex, etc all refer to the same thing though.
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Old 01-02-2018, 08:16 PM
split p&j split p&j is offline
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Oh, I didn't realize that was what you were asking. Ignore my responses please.
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Old 01-02-2018, 08:48 PM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is offline
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My question however was why did the temperatures drop 20-30 degrees, and stay that way for 2 weeks, then go back up next week? If in summer the temps went up 20-30 degrees, stayed that way for 2 weeks, then went down again I'd assume something was up. My question wasn't even about it being unbelievably cold, it is why did the temps suddenly drop 20-30 degrees, and stay that way for 2 weeks, then go back up.
It is variations in the polar vortex. There's no equivalent weather pattern that would blast hot air in large regions of the country.

Quote:
In my OP I assumed it was an arctic vortex, all the cold air from up north came down here. That is what other people are saying is happening. I don't know if arctic vortex, arctic blast, polar vortex, etc all refer to the same thing though.
It's pretty much the same thing. The polar vortex is always there, and it's normal for it to swerve south and cause cold snaps. The only unusual thing is the increasing frequency and intensity. Some scientists are saying it's because climate change is weakening the polar vortex, making the behavior more erratic.
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Old 01-02-2018, 09:48 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Johnny L.A., from your username and location I'm wondering whether you're on the West Coast? The cold that Wesley Clark asks about is not just winter...
Nobody gets my jokes.
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Old 01-02-2018, 09:52 PM
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Some of us do, but we're not allowed to throw peanut shells in GQ.
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Old 01-02-2018, 10:26 PM
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Here is a recent blog post by Daniel Swain( California Weather Blog )that discusses some recent research on extreme weather in North America and in particular drought conditions in CA and the "North American Winter Dipole" that seemingly is part and parcel of that.

Last edited by Tamerlane; 01-02-2018 at 10:29 PM.
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Old 01-03-2018, 09:48 AM
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Here is a recent blog post by Daniel Swain( California Weather Blog )that discusses some recent research on extreme weather in North America and in particular drought conditions in CA and the "North American Winter Dipole" that seemingly is part and parcel of that.
Most helpful thanks.
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  #34  
Old 01-03-2018, 10:04 AM
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I blame people who have some strange need for "4 seasons" and a psychotic yearning for "snow"
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Old 01-03-2018, 10:10 AM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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I blame people who have some strange need for "4 seasons" and a psychotic yearning for "snow"
Like Daniel Tosh said "I like seasons too. That is why I skip the shitty ones." People who like snow and winter can go straight to hell or maybe I should because it would be warmer. There is nothing good about it. Every single winter, I wonder how I ended up in New England. My ancestors were a tropical species and yet I somehow got lost and ended up in an uninhabitable region.
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Old 01-03-2018, 12:35 PM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is offline
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My question however was why did the temperatures drop 20-30 degrees, and stay that way for 2 weeks, then go back up next week? If in summer the temps went up 20-30 degrees, stayed that way for 2 weeks, then went down again I'd assume something was up. My question wasn't even about it being unbelievably cold, it is why did the temps suddenly drop 20-30 degrees, and stay that way for 2 weeks, then go back up ... [snip]
Polar air is not only colder, but also drier ... the subtropical air that sweeps up is warmer and much wetter ... moist air behaves a little differently than dry air ...

Just looking at cloud cover we see hardly any right now over the eastern USA, so at night the heat radiates out in to space bringing big drops in temperature ... however, as the moist air from the Gulf of Mexico moves up during summer we'll see extensive decks of clouds and thunderstorms, preventing the sun from warming the Earth during the day and temperatures won't rise as much ...

As a counterpoint, we sometimes see in California warm dry air moving in from the southeast, and we get these big temperature gains ... no clouds, hot enough to fry eggs on the sidewalk ... the hottest recorded temperature in Atlanta is 106F; for Redding, CA it's 118F ...
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Old 01-03-2018, 01:33 PM
SamuelA SamuelA is offline
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Because Global Warming is a liberal lie invented by Gina. What else could it be? Obviously it can't be cold right now if the world is getting warmer. We need to burn more coal, get those miners back to work. /s

Last edited by SamuelA; 01-03-2018 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 01-03-2018, 02:01 PM
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Let's keep the politics out of GQ, please.

If anyone wishes to discuss the politics surrounding the issue of climate change, please do so in a more appropriate forum.
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Old 01-03-2018, 02:02 PM
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(Skips lecture on the axial tilt of the Earth and how it is "winter" now)

Eh, like in the south during summer, we hearty Minnesotans merely remain inside during extraordinary cold.
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Old 01-03-2018, 02:22 PM
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(Skips lecture on the axial tilt of the Earth and how it is "winter" now)

Eh, like in the south during summer, we hearty Minnesotans merely remain inside during extraordinary cold.
If you ever visit the West Coast in summer, bring a jacket ...
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Old 01-03-2018, 07:58 PM
DSYoungEsq DSYoungEsq is offline
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If you ever visit the West Coast in summer, bring a jacket ...
For very SMALL values of "coast".

I had many a day where, at my house about two miles inland from the ocean near Watsonville, the temp was in the 60s and cloudy as heck. But if I went to my in-laws' house five miles away to pick up my kids, the temp would be in the 80s, and if I went another five or so miles further inland (San Juan Bautista, for example), the temp would be in the mid-to-upper 90s.
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Old 01-03-2018, 09:58 PM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is offline
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For very SMALL values of "coast".

I had many a day where, at my house about two miles inland from the ocean near Watsonville, the temp was in the 60s and cloudy as heck. But if I went to my in-laws' house five miles away to pick up my kids, the temp would be in the 80s, and if I went another five or so miles further inland (San Juan Bautista, for example), the temp would be in the mid-to-upper 90s.
What are the low temperatures first thing in the morning? ... folks Back East would say 80F and 95% humidity ...
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Old 01-08-2018, 06:51 PM
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If you ever visit the West Coast in summer, bring a jacket ...
"The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco." - This quote has been attributed to Mark Twain, but until the attribution can be verified, the quote should not be regarded as authentic.
  #44  
Old 01-08-2018, 07:58 PM
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I'm 46 and to me this more normal than anything else. I'm in upstate NY, and except for the last few years, remember it always getting really cold around this time of year. I remember being out on 12/31/99 into 01/01/2000 and it was about as cold as this.
Yeah, this happens every few years. The polar vortex was all over the news just a handful of winters ago. It was cold like this ten or so years ago. The wind chill in both the winters of 1999 and 2000 was -40f or lower multiple days each January. When I was in high school (1991-1995) school districts in New England discovered that a new gas additive created on the west coast caused gas to gel at -20f and since the buses wouldn't start we missed several days of school...

Last edited by elfkin477; 01-08-2018 at 08:00 PM.
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