The Climate Lottery: Winter 2018/19 Contest

*The Climate Lottery is a forecast contest free to play by giving your picks in an e-mail or in this posts comment section. No prizes will be given out for the contest, which is for educational purposes only. The main purpose for the contest is to make people interested in National Center for Environmental Information climate products. The special account that I have set up for the contest is guywalton10@gmail.com* This time I will make a personal pick, following along with any players.

The National Center for Environmental Information ranking numbers for average temperatures of the lower 48 states for winter 2018/19 will be posted on or shortly after March 7th, 2019 which will be the official “Climate Lottery” numbers of the contest. Any subsequent changes by NCEI after their initial posted rankings will not be valid for the contest…but those ranking numbers will change with time. The winning Climate Lottery numbers for Fall 2018 (SEP, OCT, NOV)  were 121/44/27 with a Power Ball number of 70 for the season. 

Hello again to all weather and climate geeks out there.  Fall  2018 turned out to be a “rare” near average season, temperature wise, for most of the United States. If you wish to play “The Climate Lottery” pick one number between 1 and 124 (with 1 representing the coldest possible ranking and 124 being the highest possible ranking) for December, and between 1 and 125 for January and February 2018. Also, pick a “Power Ball” or overall ranking number for Winter 2018/19 between 1 and 125. The Power Ball ranking will serve as a tiebreaker for any close picks between contestants. Your picks are NCEI rankings for average temperatures across the lower 48 states. Since 2018 is the 124th year that the National Center for Environmental Information has been ranking years since 1895 all months for 2018 will have a warmest ranking of 124. The year 2019 would be the 125th year. Those rankings for 2018 will have a range from 1 to 124. The coldest ranking would be the number 1. Please give your picks to Guywalton10@gmail.com before January 5th, 2019. If you wait until just before January 5th to make your picks, you can make an educated guess as to what the ranking for December will be (and, also a heads-up guess for January). All data can be found at the National Center for Environmental Information site noted here: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/us-maps/1/201702#us-maps-select

The Power Ball (or overall National Center for Environment Information) number for Fall 2018 for the lower 48 states was 70, which was near the average ranking of 62, for the lower 48 states. In the Climate Lottery game, I’ve defined each individual lottery number as rankings for each month for the lower 48 states, Power Ball numbers as those for each season, and Mega Ball numbers as those for each year. 

Chances for an entire season of below average temperatures are becoming much less likely across the lower 48 states due to carbon pollution. The whole point of these posts is to demonstrate how skewed temperatures have become towards warmth due to climate change. Of course, as far as the globe goes, the larger an area that is compared to averages, the more likely that area is to be above long term averages. What has happened, so far, this decade is yet more proof of the climate lottery game being loaded for warmth in the United States. Balls coming out of the Climate Lottery hopper are likely to have high numbers, but not for all months of the fall. It is still possible, though, to have a cold, anomalous month as happened in November 2018.

Here’s a breakdown of the National Climatic Center’s ranking numbers by state for Fall 2018, which was ranked 70th coolest (or a Powerball ranking of 70):

Well above average temperatures occurred in the western and southeastern states. The central states had well below average temperatures.

The following is a breakdown of each month for Fall 2018. Each chart shows “Climate Lottery” numbers for each state (or rankings) from a scale of 1 to 124.

In September the overall ranking for the lower 48 states was 121 (out of 124): 

Seven states had their warmest average rankings on record. Record heat in the Southeast fueled hurricane Michael as it moved towards the Florida Panhandle in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

In October 2018  the overall ranking was 44 for the lower 48 states (out of 124):

Above average temperature continued in the Southeast and California, but the rest of the nation cooled off considerably. 

In November 2018 the overall ranking for the lower 48 states was 27 (out of 124):

In November the dipole produced more warmth for the West Coast but chilled the rest of the nation except Florida.  This was a rare cold month in which there were more daily record lows set than highs (411 to 1,558 as of 12/5/18 using NCEI statistics)

The following are the rankings, so far, for individual months or “climate lottery number picks” for the 2010s:

The average ranking for 2018 is 62 since the coldest ranking would be 1 and the hottest 124. I have color coded all rankings for this post at or below 42 blue and all those at or above 82 red with rankings + or – 20 from the mean value of 62 black. With time, the rankings for each individual month, season and year will change as more data becomes available from NCEI. Also, for reference, the annual or “Mega Ball” numbers are shown on the chart. The mega ball number for 2017 was 121 meaning that 2017 was the third warmest year on record for the lower 48 states. Now this is important…The last three years have had at least a top four ranking for the U.S. The year 2012 remains the top dog seeing the hottest year on record. 

Seasonal or Power Ball rankings for winter are those for DEC/JAN/FEB, spring are MAR/APR/MAY, summer JUN/JUL/AUG, and fall SEP/OCT/NOV. Also, keep in mind that NCEI rankings for seasons are not merely an average of rankings of individual month of a season or year as was the case for Fall 2018- 121/44/27/P.B. 70:

Notice that since the start of 2010 only four out of thirty-six seasons have been below average or “blue.” Twenty-six out of thirty-six seasons since 2010 have been “red” or above average. Indeed, the Climate Lottery hopper is very much loaded for above average temperatures for the lower 48 states looking at recent history. Fall 2018 breaks a streak of the  last fifteen seasons that were all red and ranked at or above 100. Yes, the “casino of climate averages” is cheating causing the “house of warming” due to carbon pollution to win just about every season.

 I hope that everyone will have a great winter. Obviously, despite the season across the country as a whole probably ending up warmer than average due to carbon pollution, there will be cold, snowy spells.  Stay warm and enjoy winter.

Guy Walton

“The Climate Guy”