First it was Riley
Though spring is less than one week away, it seems that winter still has a grip on our area and beyond. First it was Riley, a powerful nor’easter that blew through Long Island on March 2. Winter Storm Quinn followed close behind on March 7. And then, with barely a week to clean up the mess those storms left, another meteorological bomb named Skylar exploded. One has to wonder if Toby is now taking shape close by.
It’s not that these weather occurrences are that unusual; after all, it’s technically still winter. And no one really questioned the appearance of Grayson back in January. That was merely another winter blizzard. However, it’s the frequency with which these storms are forming that needs to be taken into consideration, and that is far more frightening than the actual weather event.
According to the website www.climatecommunication.org, the rapidly warming Arctic air that has been recorded in the past few years could be playing a part in the number and intensity of storms that have been occurring. That’s because the cold Arctic air that’s usually locked into that part of the globe by the polar vortex is being leaked out due to the erosion of the vortex by the unusual warming trend. That cold is being driven southward, reaching the United States, and has even reached the continent of Europe, which has also seen unusually cold, wintery weather this year.
Many scientists believe this is all due to a lessening difference in temperatures between the poles and the equator, which in turn weakens the jet stream. As a result, the colder air can more easily push south while the warmer air (containing moisture) pushes north. That confluence of change sets the stage for our more frequently seen nor’easters, or as some prefer to call them, bombogenesis, or weather bombs. Some scientists believe global warming will perpetuate this pattern. Others, though, are not so sure. As with all weather projections, time will tell.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration might have an answer to those questions, though. The agency recently launched GOES-S, the second in a series of four very advanced weather satellites that will help better forecast these destructive weather patterns from up there. That’s fine, but in the meantime, we all need to stay prepared for all forms of extreme weather down here.
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