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Unusual weather
December 14, 2013 10:48 AM   Subscribe

It's snowing in Cairo. (For the first time in 112 years.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle (62 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
If global warming is real, then why is it cold?
posted by Dr. Send at 10:51 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Presumably tomorrow there will be locusts.
posted by elizardbits at 10:52 AM on December 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


I can't imagine driving in Cairo with an inch on snow on the ground. I'm thinking about the car chase at the end of Blues Brothers, but with the Pyramids in the background.
posted by Sphinx at 10:53 AM on December 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


I'm surprised that the kids in the fourth picture down have winter coats and scarves on. I didn't think people would own those in Egypt.
posted by desjardins at 10:59 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised that the kids in the fourth picture down have winter coats and scarves on. I didn't think people would own those in Egypt.

They have scarves. The women wear them all the time, don't they?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:02 AM on December 14, 2013


No, the average middle eastern hijab is not really like a woolly winter scarf at all.
posted by elizardbits at 11:05 AM on December 14, 2013 [16 favorites]


I'm surprised that the kids in the fourth picture down have winter coats and scarves on. I didn't think people would own those in Egypt.

The climate in Egypt is similar to that in the desert southwest of the US and it gets cold. The snow is rare because it doesn't get the precipitation for it, but it gets cold enough. So people have cold weather clothing. Just like in Tucson.
posted by birdherder at 11:06 AM on December 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


HAY! NO NEED TO WORRY ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING NO MOAR GUYZ!1!!!
posted by supermedusa at 11:06 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The "Where's your global warming, now?!" comments are pretty funny, in a sad way. Global Warming means a global average temperature increase over time, yeh? But you all here knew that, so I'll stop the preachin'.
posted by alex_skazat at 11:06 AM on December 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I really, really hope someone takes a picture of the Pyramids covered with snow. That would be an amazing sight.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:09 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Cairo snow really has reminded me that I need to prune my Facebook feed. So many "wherez you're glowbal warmning now?" posts. The wilful disregard for the facts is so disappointing.
posted by arcticseal at 11:13 AM on December 14, 2013


Where are your unpredictable changes in global climate patterns due to a systemic rise in temperature now?

Oh wait.
posted by jaduncan at 11:17 AM on December 14, 2013 [38 favorites]


I really, really hope someone takes a picture of the Pyramids covered with snow. That would be an amazing sight.

They're all over my facebook page. Couldn't figure out the attribution for most of them (my friends are, by and large, not actually in Egypt) so here's a few for you.
posted by mygothlaundry at 11:17 AM on December 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


desjardins: I'm surprised that the kids in the fourth picture down have winter coats and scarves on. I didn't think people would own those in Egypt.

Not really because that photo was taken in a rich area of Cairo called Madinaty. I remember being there one year for Christmas, and even though the temperature never got below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, all the sub-Saharan migrants were wearing winter hats and covered in layers of blankets.
posted by gman at 11:18 AM on December 14, 2013


2050: Glaciers approach Toronto


Global warming crowd: "40 straight years of temperature decline are totally in line with our climate predictions! So was the rain of frogs! And the alien invasion! Damnit, our model predicted everything!"
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:18 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


mygothlaundry: This one has what I look for in high quality reportage.
posted by jaduncan at 11:19 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


We all know global warming is happening, so enough with the sarcastic comments aping nobody actually here in the thread.

We do get "tell me again that global warming isn't real!" comments in heat wave threads, though.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:20 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm almost sure that Tell Me No Lies isn't kidding.
posted by jaduncan at 11:21 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


S - N - O - W - I - N - C - A - I - R - OH!
posted by popcassady at 11:21 AM on December 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


even though the temperature never got below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, all the sub-Saharan migrants were wearing winter hats and covered in layers of blankets.

Some people have unheated homes too. When it's 50 F or whatever inside and out you might want to bundle up more.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:22 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, after trying to source a few of those I was just coming back to say, um. Well! Mea culpa! Be careful how far you go into those rabbit holes, there. That would explain why they were on Facebook, particularly the purply birdseye view one of the pyramids, which may or may not be real but certainly was stolen by any number of my friends.
posted by mygothlaundry at 11:22 AM on December 14, 2013


While we're eviscerating comments that no-one has made, can we at least also acknowledge that the people who point to every incident of a dramatic weather event as proof of human-caused climate change are equally annoying in exactly the same way?
posted by 256 at 11:27 AM on December 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


While we're eviscerating comments that no-one has made, can we at least also acknowledge that the people who point to every incident of a dramatic weather event as proof of human-caused climate change are equally annoying in exactly the same way?

I don't think that's true, though. The fact that these "once in a life time" events are happening several times a year is, in fact, something to be alarmed about.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:30 AM on December 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm surprised that the kids in the fourth picture down have winter coats and scarves on. I didn't think people would own those in Egypt.

It gets cold in the desert.
It just doesn't usually snow. In fact, I'd wager the rarity of precipitation at all is more a factor in it not snowing than the rarity of temperatures cold enough for snow.
posted by 256 at 11:31 AM on December 14, 2013


My response to "Where's your global warming now, Al Gore?" bullshit is-Just because you're sober *at*this*moment* doesn't mean you're not a drunk.
posted by notsnot at 11:33 AM on December 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


And even they'll get better snow removal than we do in Muncie.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:35 AM on December 14, 2013


Well, the very first comment seems to be predicated on the idea that somehow any claims that this kind of event could be related to climate change are ridiculous, and I don't think Tell Me No Lies was kidding either. In spite of that, there's a well-supported argument that this type of weather event is exactly what we should expect with climate change due to warming.
posted by sneebler at 11:35 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


??While we're eviscerating comments that no-one has made, can we at least also acknowledge that the people who point to every incident of a dramatic weather event as proof of human-caused climate change are equally annoying in exactly the same way?

Ok we can acknowledge other points no one has made in exactly the same way. Care to come up with something no one has actually said and I can acknowledge it?





I'm sorry, but that is just a oddly constructed sentence
posted by edgeways at 11:37 AM on December 14, 2013


This is why they built the Pyramids with peaked roofs.
posted by oulipian at 11:42 AM on December 14, 2013 [16 favorites]


My point was that snow in Cairo is cool. So let's talk about that instead of climate change, since anyone considering this event as evidence either for or against without first integrating it into a robust statistical model is talking out of their asses.

That said, I do think this cartoon from Dr. Send's link is quite clever.
posted by 256 at 11:43 AM on December 14, 2013


The sort of person that those stupid "LOL WHERE'S GLOBAL WARMIN' WHEN YA NEED IT?!?" cartoons are aimed at does not realize that they're laughing at a misrepresentation of the facts. It's the equivalent of saying "What recession? I'm holding a $20 bill right now! HAW!" but more tragic. This is part of how the propaganda works: the public isn't properly informed about how global warming causes climatic change because they've been bombarded with arguments that reframe any empirical complexity (such as the distinction between climate change and global warming) as evidence of a conspiracy or a lie.

The confusion that is sown at the behest of energy companies and their ilk might also be bolstered by a common temperamental distaste for thinking about anything structurally (cf. poverty and macro-economic policy), and thus being cognitively disinclined to grasp the weather/climate distinction in the first place.
posted by clockzero at 11:45 AM on December 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


clockzero, that seems accurate and succinct to me.
posted by sneebler at 11:48 AM on December 14, 2013


The confusion that is sown at the behest of energy companies and their ilk might also be bolstered by the average American's temperamental distaste for thinking about anything structurally (cf. poverty and macro-economic policy), and thus being cognitively disinclined to grasp the weather/climate distinction in the first place.

Yes, although I'd add a certain dislike for complexity amongst at least a significant subset. I got a very heavy hint of that when reading a review of the (excellent) film Walking Life, a film that involves characters having dialogues with the main character that involve gnosticism, existentialism and situationism:
"The movie is also too often annoying and tiresome. It is aimlessly chock full of many different, sometimes complex, philosophical, spiritual and social commentaries that often contradict themselves and that drone on and on."

"Regrettably, however, Linklater fails to follow this discussion to a conclusion that makes much sense. One critic, the infamous Roger Ebert, said that’s what he likes about the movie – that it never provides any real answers, only a bunch of questions.

That’s all well and good, perhaps, but only if you ask the right questions!"
I suppose it's at least a very certain way of looking at the world.
posted by jaduncan at 11:58 AM on December 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey, a Blaze article that didn't piss me off. Still, no one else covered this?
posted by cjorgensen at 12:04 PM on December 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


The confusion I think comes from conflating "warming" with increasing outdoor temperatures when really, it's better to think of it as a net increase in the heat energy that powers the engine that drives weather. It's not that the car's airconditioner thermostat keeps slipping up a notch or two, causing the air from the vents to blow warmer (although that can be one of the potential side effects); it's that the climate engine itself is running hotter and hotter and we have no idea how long all the seals and other components can take the heat before we end up with a catastrophic failure.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:05 PM on December 14, 2013 [11 favorites]



Hey, a Blaze article that didn't piss me off. Still, no one else covered this?


Yeah, I find The Blaze a really weird source for an FPP about this. That's also why there are so many LOL WHERES YOUR GLOBAL WARMING NOW comments.
posted by sweetkid at 12:21 PM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought I read once that the increased snowfall as a result of global warming would eventually help "correct" the overall temps and restore the glaciers. Did I dream that?
posted by double bubble at 12:22 PM on December 14, 2013


Just for the record, while it does get cold enough in the Sinai desert for snow, it generally does not in Cairo. The fact that the temperatures are that cold are of note. Lows of 4-5C are common in the winter but it doesn't really get colder than that. They do however receive periodic precipitation in the winter, and every year end up with at least one good rainfall that floods things, as well as periodic smaller rain events.

However, when your usual daily highs are above 30C, 10C feels freezing, and is definitely scarf weather.

Also perhaps of note, it does seem to snow in the Sinai every 5 years or so, and snows in the higher, desert areas of Jordan more years than not.
posted by scrute at 12:29 PM on December 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I ran into some financial types doing the "cold weather invalidates global warming" thing once. My attempted explanation was that warming was more energy, ie. more volatility. So the equivalent statement would be something like "if the markets are getting more volatile, why did my stock go down?", which, yeah, that's one of the dangers of a highly volatile market.

So how much snow did they get in Cairo? We've gotten 10cm so far today in Toronto and despite -22C with windchill everyone just continues to grind through their regular day. Traffic is slower, but that's because they're all following snowplows.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:47 PM on December 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought I read once that the increased snowfall as a result of global warming would eventually help "correct" the overall temps and restore the glaciers. Did I dream that?

By increasing the albedo coefficient, maybe? I'm not a climatologist, but one problem I see with this hypothesis is that the infrared radiation reflected back into the atmosphere from the planet's surface would still be retained by greenhouse gases.

It seems like a bigger issue here, though, is the implication that the relationship between increased-snowfall-driven albedo increase and warming is simple and linear, and I think that's completely wrong; precipitation itself doesn't have a simple or linear relationship with global warming.
posted by clockzero at 12:52 PM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


At any rate, this is pretty damn awesome if you're a kid in Cairo.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:53 PM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm thinking about the car chase at the end of Blues Brothers, but with the Pyramids in the background.
posted by Sphinx



Eponystericality aside, that's quite an image.
posted by spitbull at 1:01 PM on December 14, 2013


I really, really hope someone takes a picture of the Pyramids covered with snow.

let's not be ridiculous, what even are the chances of someone just happening to have a camera near the pyramids
posted by threeants at 1:06 PM on December 14, 2013 [15 favorites]


Whilst I'm by no means a global warming denier, it should be pointed out that not all unusual weather events or patterns have been attributable to it in the past, for instance people skating on the Thames in the little ice age, or English vineyards in the medieval warm period.
posted by walrus at 1:22 PM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


2050: Glaciers approach Toronto

Those large, shiny, white, immovable objects are the Ford brothers, and they're already here.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:30 PM on December 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I work in atmospheric sciences. There's unusual weather all the time... you just have to comb through the maps and look for it. Sometimes it's in northwest Brazil, sometimes it's in Kamchatka, this time it's in an area that's populated and has been in the spotlight, like Cairo. As far as dragging in the global warming thing, that's is like taking one glance out the car window and looking at terrain to decide if you're driving from New York City to Denver, or the other way around. Nope, that hill you're driving up is just another small hill near Indianapolis. Not denying global warming, but day-to-day weather is meaningless over the long term.
posted by crapmatic at 1:31 PM on December 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


The "Where's your global warming, now?!" comments are pretty funny, in a sad way. Global Warming means a global average temperature increase over time, yeh? But you all here knew that, so I'll stop the preachin'.

There would be a lot fewer of these comments if every time it were unseasonably hot or dry or stormy, people didn't blame global warming. Misconstruing weather events as evidence for or against climate change cuts both ways.
posted by Dasein at 1:35 PM on December 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


There would be a lot fewer of these comments if ...

While I concur that a flock of a hot summer days should in no way be used in isolation as a anvil for climate change proof I simultaneously reject the premise that anything will result in fewer "where's your global warming now!" cries in these cases.
posted by edgeways at 2:11 PM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The weather's causing huge problems in Israel as well as nearby countries. It's especially acute for Syrian refugees, even those who are eligible for UNHCR support. Many refugees are ineligible or otherwise unable to take advantage of any relief, and I literally can't imagine what they're doing.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:28 PM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's lots of other sources (lazy Google news link), including the ABC talking about Israel and Palestine.

The Mirror is on the case of faked photos, but I am going to trust Time magazine.
posted by Mezentian at 2:56 PM on December 14, 2013


I really, really hope someone takes a picture of the Pyramids covered with snow.

All I've seen on Facebook is one of the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas.
posted by LionIndex at 3:37 PM on December 14, 2013


At any rate, this is pretty damn awesome if you're a kid in Cairo.

Absolutely. When I lived in Atlanta Georgia snow was such an infrequent event that people would go nuts having fun in it. I recall one time that every lunch tray in the student cafeteria at Georgia Tech was expropriated for sledding. I can imagine that the kids in Cairo were thrilled at seeing snowflakes.

Global warming is a fact, it isn't going to go away, no one (except me it seems) is going to give up their cars and stop driving. No one (including me) is going to stop using electricity or eating meat so everyone should just stop whining about it and imagining that BIG GOVERNMENT can do anything about it. The smart bet is to enjoy to the music while the ship sinks, steal the lunch trays and go sledding.
posted by three blind mice at 4:02 PM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


So basically, tune up those fiddles boys, because nothing's going to stop Rome from burning now? Not the attitude that built the pyramids or got us to the moon, exactly, but to each their own.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:55 PM on December 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


If this snowfall in Cairo is in any way caused by global warming then what caused it 112 years ago?
Can't we just enjoy the freak weather?
posted by rocket88 at 7:28 PM on December 14, 2013


If this snowfall in Cairo is in any way caused by global warming then what caused it 112 years ago?

It was caused 112 years ago by an unusual combination of factors, including temperature and humidity. It was caused this year because of a probably-similar confluence of factors, but the point is that global climate change can make weather events that were once unusual more common by influencing patterns of climatic factors like temperature and humidity so that they less resemble patterns we are used to.
posted by clockzero at 7:41 PM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


My point is that snow in Cairo is still unusual and not any more common. It's still a weather phenomenon and there's no evidence that it's connected in any way to climate change.
There's really no reason for there to be this much climate talk in a post about weather.
posted by rocket88 at 10:58 PM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I kind of wish someone would seize the once-in-a-lifetime chance to smooth out all that snow laying on the pyramids so they look like they once did, with the white stone covering, but without permanently altering them. That would be amazing to see.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:59 PM on December 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


You could also do it with fondant. Some kind of Christo/Gordon Ramsay production.
posted by elizardbits at 12:17 AM on December 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm imaging that in the Paul F. Tompkins-verse, it's a joint venture between Cake Boss and Ice-T's Pyramid Scheme.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:55 AM on December 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cake Pharoah
posted by ian1977 at 6:30 AM on December 15, 2013


Maybe they'll walk like normal people instead of that odd shuffling gait as seen in that Bangles documentary.
posted by dr_dank at 9:58 AM on December 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


At any rate, this is pretty damn awesome if you're a kid in Cairo.

Meanwhile, in Syria:
Photos show brutal reality for Syrian refugees as snow falls
Two children freeze to death in Syria as snow storms sweep across ...

And over in Gaza they just got floods, which they can't properly deal with because, you guessed it, the blockade.
posted by Mezentian at 3:32 PM on December 15, 2013


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