Monday, April 10, 2017

There Was Nothing Normal About America’s Freakish Winter Weather

A tornado in Massachusetts, wildfires in the Great Plains, and record snow in the Sierra Nevada. It’s been a weird winter.
[Bloomberg] It’s not your imagination. The weather has been weird.
So weird, in fact, it’s had an almost biblical feel: a February tornado in Massachusetts; record wildfires across the Great Plains and beyond; more snow than ever in the Sierra Nevada; and temperatures whiplashing from balmy to frigid, killing crops and coaxing flowers out of their winter slumber.
While some of the swings may result from chance, scientists agree climate change is adding to weather mayhem and that the world will have to brace for worse. President Donald Trump is also seeking to roll back measures to fight global warming, saying the regulations kill jobs.
“The bottom line: It’s not just in our minds that the weather is changing,” said David Titley, a meteorology professor at Pennsylvania State University. “It is changing, and changing rapidly in ways we understand and ways we are just beginning to examine.”
Start with the temperature. The winter of 2016-17 marked the second mildest on record, according to Jake Crouch, a climate scientist with the National Centers for Environmental Information. February, which has been warming faster than any other month through the decades, also was the second warmest in the 138-year global record. There were some bizarre temperature readings along the way. Like a high of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 Celsius) in Chicago on Feb. 18. Or 72 degrees in Boston less than a week later.
The month was so mild that natural gas inventories rose earlier than in any year going back to 1994, when records began, and plants threw off winter’s yoke and began to grow. Read More