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Is Nature Doing a Snow Job On Us?

Is Nature Doing a Snow Job On Us?

I’m writing this with an ache in my back and shoulders, the result of shoveling some 28 or so inches of snow from my front yard here in north-central New Jersey.  The Holiday Blizzard of 2010 has made mincemeat of thousands of peoples’ holiday travel plans, in the form of airport closings, Amtrak cancellations, power outages. Yesterday, we found ourselves in blizzard white-out no-visibility driving conditions on the way to pick up my relatives visiting from California, who had gone to see the Christmas Show at Rockefeller Center.

In Europe, severe storms caused similar havoc, with thousands of holiday travelers stranded in airports and train stations. Yesterday I read about thousands without power around Moscow and elsewhere in Russia.

What gives, Mother Nature?

Believe it or not, some are hypothesizing that the unusually wintry weathers here in the Northern Hemisphere are connected to global warming, in a seeming paradox.  Says Judah Cohen in a December 25th New York Times op-ed, Bundle Up, It’s Global Warming:

All of this cold was met with perfect comic timing by the release of a World Meteorological Organization report showing that 2010 will probably be among the three warmest years on record, and 2001 through 2010 the warmest decade on record.

How can we reconcile this? The not-so-obvious short answer is that the overall warming of the atmosphere is actually creating cold-weather extremes. Last winter, too, was exceptionally snowy and cold across the Eastern United States and Eurasia, as were seven of the previous nine winters.

In other words, as Cohen quips, ‘we’re freezing not in spite of climate change but because of it.’ (More analysis about Cohen’s hypothesis can be found on Andrew C. Revkin on the New York Times’s DotEarth blog.)

I’ll admit there are attractions to this hypothesis, the caveats of scientists notwithstanding. The previous winter was one of the snowiest in recent memory here in New Jersey; my son Charlie had so many snow days that the regular school year had to be extended far into the summer. Those snow days were extremely tough on Charlie, who’s autistic and prefers the usual routine of things. And then, before you knew it, we found ourselves having one of the hottest summers ever. Charlie thrives on being very active (it helps him to deal with his sometimes very severe behavior issues and stay ‘peaceful-easy-feeling’). My husband Jim, Charlie and I experienced every 98-degree day in all of their sultry, humidity, hot hot hot-ness, outside, with Jim and Charlie riding an average of 16 to 20 miles a day. 

Anyways, I’m now going to sign off. Our California guests are due to return any moment from a grocery store expedition and I have a feeling that going out for sandwich fixings after the Holiday Blizzard of 2010 counts as a bit of an adventure, slush-sloppy parking lots and 15 foot snow piles not being so common in the Bay Area. And it’s also the time of year when my son is off from school, something he enjoys significantly less than ye typical teenage boy. I’m writing this post as he is conked out on the couch after a wintry walk, and after spending a few hours driving around on the NJ Turnpike, Garden State Parkway, and a few state roads to find a McDonalds that was open. 

Yes, we found one, mission accomplished! 

And saw several abandoned cars (and at least one tractor trailer) in the middle of the NJ Turnpike.

Happy Holiday Blizzard of 2010, oh yes.

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Photo taken by the author in the early afternoon of 27 December 2010, north central New Jersey.

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144 comments

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7:33PM PST on Jan 5, 2011

"not by fire, by ice" good read.

1:04PM PST on Jan 2, 2011

Noted. Thanks.

2:05AM PST on Jan 1, 2011

Interesting, thanx :-)

3:24PM PST on Dec 31, 2010

Scientists believe global warmings were the forerunners of ice ages.

1:25PM PST on Dec 31, 2010

A lot of scientists, like the ones at the Space and Science Research Center are claiming that after 2012 the earth will start cooling again and we could see a mini or even a major Ice Age. It's all part of a dependable, predictable cycle, a natural cycle that returns like clockwork every 11,500 years, the last Ice Age happened to end almost exactly 11,500 years ago. It’s also typical of these cycles to go out with a bang, meaning extra hot or extra cold at the end of the cycle.

9:59AM PST on Dec 31, 2010

One of the characteristics of climate change/global warming is inconsistent weather. Weather, by itself, has little to do with the larger picture of climate change. That being said, warmer air holds more water, and that is what we have been seeing last winter, and this winter, so far. So the irony may be that as we warm, we may get more snow. Areas that are wet get wetter, and areas that are dry, get drier, as a generality, so the East gets these snowstorms.

Climate change is real. And gettting more real. Look at the heat wave in Russia last summer, and also at the floods in Pakistan. Climate change events. These are happening more often, and in more places. They do not carry signposts saying climate change, but it is there.

4:45AM PST on Dec 31, 2010

If we take note of the fact that a young man swam at North Pole recently, that surely is proof that global warming is occurring. It may give us harsher winters too.

12:19AM PST on Dec 31, 2010

signed

11:46PM PST on Dec 30, 2010

Where I live it doesn't snow any time of year. I think the last time it snowed here was eleven years ago.

5:30PM PST on Dec 30, 2010

And the fools keep confusing weather with climate. If you think the last two winters were somehow unique for the northeast, I suggest you look up the winter of 1976/77. The people living in Buffalo, NY and environs had to tunnel out of their houses because they had so much snow. 28 inches? That would have been a lark that year.

I grew up in northern Minnesota. I remember a winter in the early 50s when the snowbanks along the highway were taller than the biggest dump trucks we had. I haven't heard of a snowfall like that since.

Obviously, a lot of people here have conveniently forgotten the winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler, BC last year. They had to truck in the snow for the events at Cypress Bowl because it was so warm.

Fools believe what they want to believe, ignoring everything that contradicts what they want to believe and misinterpret what is happening to justify what they want to believe.

Climate change is real. It is here today, and it will bite you in the butt whether you want to believe in it or not. Mother Nature does not look kindly on the morons trying to kill her.

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