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Old 11-24-2014, 11:14 AM
Location: A subtropical paradise
2,068 posts, read 2,922,853 times
Reputation: 1359


As a sequel to the previous discussion about the climate of the US South, this thread will, once again, investigate the validity of the claims people on this forum commonly make about the subtropical climate of the region.

People on this forum continue to make the mistake of discrediting the subtropical status of the region, claiming that it supposedly is more prone to freezes than any other subtropical region, and that the record lows in the region are supposedly less than even oceanic climates near the poles. People on this forum also talk about the supposed high standard deviation during winters in the South compared to that of other subtropical regions.

Well, no real climatologist would ever make such absurd claims about the US South's subtropical climate, so the fact that you amateurs are doing so its quite laughable. A real climatologist will look at data, and consider all the lurking variables that could influence such data, not just swallow the data hook, line, and sinker, like you amateur climatologists are doing.

So I will present the commonly heard claims about the US South climate, and refute them one by one:

Claim 1: The US South is more prone to extremes in cold than any other subtropical region.

Refutation: EVERY SINGLE subtropical climate on the planet receives cold snaps from time to time, so claiming that the US South is too prone to them is laughable. I can name SEVERAL locations in EVERY subtropical region on Earth that receive yearly frost and freeze, just like some locations in the US Southeast. Examples include Buenos Aires, and Tokyo from subtropical South America, and Asia, respectively. And even if freezes do occur, the USDA hardiness zone can still be as high as zone 10, meaning the climate would support all kinds of tropical plantings.

People on this forum continue to toss around the claim that the South, out of all the subtropical regions, is the one most prone to extremes in cold. Furthermore, such people continue to label the South as having the lowest record lows of any place at similar latitudes, and at sea-level. But by making those claims, those people continue to behave like amateur climatologists; they ignore the lurking variables, putting too much emphasis on just the raw data. In this case of the US South, such extremes in cold can be blamed on the Cold Epoch phenomenon over Eastern North America, which causes the bouts of cold that skew record lows, as well as average yearly minima. The origin of this Cold Epoch lies with a jet-stream phenomenon known as the Pacific North American Teleconnection, which, in a positive phase, as we are in now, causes temperatures over Eastern North America to be below normal, thus resulting in the Cold Epoch. Once the pattern changes, the Southern US, and the rest of Eastern North America will return to the more stable, and natural climactic state without any extremes in cold. And at its natural climactic state, the South is quite warm, so warm, that locations as far north and inland as Southern Illinois had near 365 day growing seasons, as proven by records from the Mound-Building Native American cultures, who lived in the area during the natural climactic state. Such Cold Epoches appear at different continents, at different times; in the 1600s, for example, it was Europe that was affected, during the Little Ice Age Cold Epoch, with even Med Europe seeing yearly blizzards.

Lots of people also like to describe oceanic locales such as London as being less prone to cold than locations in the US South subtropics. But in order for that to be true, the native vegetation, and animals of the US South would have to be hardier than the native vegetation of the British Isles, which it is not. In fact, the native vegetation, and animals of the South are comparable to that of Med Europe, North India, and East Asia in terms of hardiness, meaning that all regions have similar propensity to cold. Furthermore, lots of cities in the US South, especially in coastal areas of the region, can grow all kinds of tropical/subtropcial crops, such as mangoes, citrus, guavas, starfruit, jack-fruit, watermelons, cantaloupe, jalapenos, papayas, bananas, sugar cane, rice, and cotton. In fact, the US South was preferable to North Africa for growing cotton. It is quite common to see subtropical/tropical plants such as jacarandas, camphor laurels, dragon fruit trees, and many varieties of palm tree, being grown in the South. Tropical animals such as constrictor snakes, spider monkeys, ocelots, jaguars, crocodiles, flamingos and coatis can be supported by the climate of the South. Evergreen subtropical jungles, mangrove swamps, and even coral reefs are all part of the natural landscape of the South. And to underscore just how supportive of tropicals the US South is, the region is one of the few areas of the world where a TROPICAL climate can be seen outside the tropics (South Florida), and is one of the few locations in the world where tall, and healthy coconut palms can be grown outdoors (Texas barrier islands, and Florida peninsula). Many other subtropical regions wish they could achieve such feats.

Thus, the claim that the US South is more prone to cold than any other subtropical region is debunked.

Claim 2: The US South has great standard deviation in temperature (swings in temp) during winter.

Refutation: During winter, yes, the South can receive sudden temp changes from cold fronts, but such changes in temp aren't unique to the South, and can be seen in every subtropical region on Earth. In fact, that is the defining feature of such climates; summers with constant conditions, giving way to winters with a little more variation, due to the shift of the Jet-stream closer to the equator.

The variation in the South is not this day-by-day alternation from hot to cold that people like to describe it as. Such people aren't really paying attention, since, in reality, the cold fronts manifest as brief, minuscule interruptions when compared to the many mild winter days at, or within a few degrees of the average. The weather is not unpredictable in the South during winter; you can expect that winter will be mild, with a few cold fronts here and there. And such arctic cold fronts, by the time they make it to the South, are reduced to mere refreshing breezes, and gusts, having been decimated by the low-latitude subtropical sun, the geographic barriers (which do exist, by the way) in the Appalachians, Ozarks, and Ouachita mountains, and the warm, subtropical Gulf of Mexico. In such a reduced state, all the arctic front can do is bring temps to the 30s for a night or two, and dry out the air. The result is a nice, sunny day in the South with crispy blue skies, mild temps, and low humidity. The Great Plains, and the Rockies have high standard deviation in temp, not the South.

Thus, the claim that the US South has great standard deviation in temp during winter is compete nonsense.

So, to all you amateur climatologists: Keep such facts in things in mind before you jump to wild conclusions about the climate of the US South.

Last edited by Yn0hTnA; 11-24-2014 at 12:20 PM..

Old 11-24-2014, 11:19 AM
Location: Surrey/London
11,769 posts, read 10,593,888 times
Reputation: 3099
I also like to look at data; care to explain why Dallas had a colder high a few weeks ago than London has ever had in November?
Old 11-24-2014, 11:29 AM
Location: Top of the South, NZ
22,216 posts, read 21,667,670 times
Reputation: 7608
Originally Posted by Yn0hTnA View Post
Lots of people also like to describe oceanic locales such as London as being less prone to cold than locations in the US South subtropics. But in order for that to be true, the native vegetation, and animals of the US South would have to be hardier than the native vegetation of the British Isles, which it is not.
Not entirely true regarding Oceanic vs Subtropical vegetation. My climate has native vegetation which is very frost tender, unable to survive temperatures below about 0C. That's because they evolved in very thick bush, where temperatures don't ever reach freezing. Even small coastal trees and shrubs that grow in exposed areas, will struggle with temperatures lower than about -2C..

Another feature of the local vegetation, is they have no capacity to deal with snow. The big snow that fell here 3 years ago (first time in nearly 40 years), was less than an inch, but caused massive destruction on coastal species, as the large leaf surface, long sections of first year wood, and low branch angles couldn't take even a little weight.
Old 11-24-2014, 11:32 AM
Location: Castlederp
9,264 posts, read 7,407,199 times
Reputation: 2974
This thread has potential to be very funny.. I need a few beers to enjoy this properly
Old 11-24-2014, 11:35 AM
Location: Near the Coast SWCT
83,514 posts, read 75,277,900 times
Reputation: 16619
I think I realized why I rather talk about weather than climate. Climate is a joke because it only goes by a couple of generations of data. Meaning what you see and think we know could be all wrong for another time period so climate data is meaningless in a way. We see stuff happen that hasn't happened in our lifetime so a locations climate is like a mirage for us. Plus it's an average of the past, kinda boring. Weather is the now and the future. More interesting to me. :-)
Old 11-24-2014, 11:50 AM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Western Massachusetts
45,983 posts, read 53,467,780 times
Reputation: 15184
The previous thread was closed for a reason. You need to provide data to back up your claims, including comparing it with other subtropical places. Otherwise, we're arguing over nothing.
Old 11-24-2014, 12:08 PM
Location: New York
11,326 posts, read 20,328,314 times
Reputation: 6231
You raise some good points.
Old 11-24-2014, 12:16 PM
Location: Austin, TX
12,059 posts, read 13,886,180 times
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Originally Posted by B87 View Post
I also like to look at data; care to explain why Dallas had a colder high a few weeks ago than London has ever had in November?
But it then had a warmer high than London ever had in November a few days later...
Old 11-24-2014, 12:20 PM
Location: Austin, TX
12,059 posts, read 13,886,180 times
Reputation: 7257
The South in general has mild winters, but there are some extreme arctic snaps that make it miserably cold, colder than London ever gets. A few days later, however, it will be warm and sunny.

It actually is more interesting, IMHO than the winters up north, which are consistently cold. There, you have to wear a coat for months on end. Here, one day you're in a parka, the next day you're in shorts and a t-shirt. However cold it gets down here, I know that a few days later it will be nice and warm again.

But the day to day variances of this climate are indeed quite extreme in the winter.
Old 11-24-2014, 12:51 PM
Location: João Pessoa,Brazil(The easternmost point of Americas)
2,540 posts, read 2,004,296 times
Reputation: 644
in south brazil,2013 has snowed in a lot of cities at southern region..
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