According to recent studies by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature team of scientists at the University of California at Berkeley, our current global temperatures "are all over the map."
The scientist's graphs following an exhaustive two-year study show that temperatures since the last cycle of global warming ended in the late 1990s have been "relatively stable."
While wide fluctuations in both land and sea-surface water temperatures have occurred on a global scale in the past 13-plus years since 1998, both northern Europe and much of the U.S. north of I-80 have seen "substantial cooling and a huge increase in winter snowfall that has led to widespread spring flooding." The spring seasons have been "unusually chilly and wet" with a record number of tornadoes sighted last spring along the violent 'clashline' points between I-80 and I-70 in the south-central U.S.
Stephen McIntyre, a Canadian mathematician who frequently writes articles on climate, stated recently that "satellite data shows only half the amounts of predicted global warming in the past three decades."
Such disputes demonstrate the uncertain nature of tracking global temperatures, whether by land, water or space.
Even with tens of thousands of weather stations worldwide, most of the Earth's surface is not being monitored. And, some stations are more reliable than others, especially during these lean times of economic recession.
Calculating a specific global temperature for our planet is a difficult task indeed. One must adjust for data losses and suspect stations, plus existing temperature trends.
Climate researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle were recently asked about future climate patterns of the Pacific Northwest.
They said that their climate models are predicting "increasing precipitation in the next decade in the northern latitudes." This should mean more snowy winter seasons across the Inland Empire and other regions of the U.S. near the Canadian border.
As far as temperatures are concerned, the University of Washington scientists say, "there's a tremendous amount of uncertainty" in their models, both locally and globally.
European, Russian and Japanese climate scientists are each predicting "an increase in global cooling and expanding glaciers worldwide by 2014."
My climatological opinion is that we're entering a much cooler cycle with snowy winters already becoming commonplace. The spring seasons will continue to be chilly and wet. The shorter summers will be warm, but not hot, and very dry with little precipitation and high fire danger levels.
Next week in 'Gems': Are the world's glaciers beginning to grow and advance again like during the chilly 1970s? Read and find out ...
NORTH IDAHO WEATHER REVIEW AND LONG-RANGE OUTLOOKS
As of this Thursday morning, Nov. 17 writing, the Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area was scheduled to begin operations by Friday at 9 a.m. sharp.
The majority of the front side of the mountain will be open this pre-Thanksgiving weekend after nearly 30 inches of new snow fell between Saturday, Nov. 12 and early Thursday, Nov. 17.
Both Schweitzer Mountain near Sandpoint and Silver Mountain at Kellogg also have received moderate to heavy snowfalls during the past week. Schweitzer opened its mountain on Saturday, Nov. 19. Other resorts, including Mt. Spokane, are hoping to open soon, especially if they pick up more snow in the next 3 to 5 days as expected. Snowmaking operations were continuing this week as temperatures dipped into the teens and 20s.
Down in the lowlands, we've had between three and five inches of wet snow since Veterans' Day. More snow was expected on Friday as a moist weather system was due to collide over the Inland Northwest with a modified Arctic air mass pushing southward out of Canada.
The first subzero temperatures of the 2011-12 winter season were expected this weekend east of the Rockies northward into Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada.
We dipped to 17 degrees on Wednesday, Nov. 16, on Player Drive in Coeur d'Alene, our coldest reading locally in nearly 9 months, since we observed 15 degrees in town on Feb. 27 of this year.
Longer-term, Randy Mann says that "La Nina is strengthening a bit," so we should have more snow than usual this winter in the Inland Empire, including North Idaho.
It's still likely that we will measure at least 80 inches of the white stuff in Coeur d'Alene this season. But, this will be far less than the whopping 121 inches that we gauged last winter on Player Drive during a stronger La Nina event.
Our normal seasonal snowfall in town since 1895 has been 69.8 inches. Our November snowfall since 1895 has averaged 8.7 inches. Last November, in 2010, we saw an all-time record 38.3 inches of snow. This November, our total should be about DOUBLE NORMAL at between 15 and 17 inches. I've raised the total from 12 inches a week ago due to an increased moisture flow aloft.
Who knows? If La Nina continues to gain strength in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, we could see 100 inches of snow or more this winter of 2011-12. Once again, only time will tell.
Cliff Harris is a climatologist who writes a weekly column for The Press. His opinions are his own. Email firstname.lastname@example.org