Over the last 48 hours or so a weather system slowly moved across the southern Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota. It was in part shaped and positioned by the jet stream, and it was so slow moving because of the unusually curved nature of the jet stream. This is very much like what happened a few weeks ago in Colorado, but with less of an effect. Nonetheless, there was a damage and injury causing tornado in Nebraska and Iowa, and nine inches of rain in Winona, where there was some very inconvenient flooding. The huge multi-foot snow storm in the Dakotas was part of this system. People died in that storm.
And yes, folks, this is global warming. A warming earth meant a warming Arctic. The Arctic warmed to a certain point and then runaway feedbacks caused the Arctic to suddenly grow much much warmer than it was, and more importantly, the Arctic became relatively warmer compared to the rest of the plant, a phenomenon called “Arctic Amplification.” This changed the way extra heat in equatorial regions moves towards the north pole, and this in turn caused the jet streams to change their configuration so they get all bunched up (in these things called “Rossby Waves”) which causes large weather systems, usually either very dry or very wet, to stall in place or move very slowly. We were getting a mini-flash drought while Boulder and environs were getting flooded. And now we are getting flooded while our neighbors are being buried under three feet of snow. The rapid back and forth between extremes, and the more extreme nature of the extremes, has been termed “Weather Whiplash” by meteorologists.
Welcome to the new normal! Most of the time it will just mean a change in when you water your lawn. Other times it will mean footing the bill to rebuild all the roads, and a death here and there. Sometimes it will mean much more. Stay tuned.
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