America’s winter just passed might be melting in the current heat, but the snow that fell was not affected by climate change or a warming planet.
New research published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters found that the heavier than normal snows that fell along the east coast of America, making it the snowiest winter on record for Washington D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia, was a result of a collision of two periodic weather patterns in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
“Snowy winters will happen regardless of climate change,” said Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Lamont-Doherty and lead author of the study. “A negative North Atlantic Oscillation this particular winter made the air colder over the eastern U.S., causing more precipitation to fall as snow. El Niño brought even more precipitation—which also fell as snow.”
A team of scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory found that the anomalous winter was caused by El Niño, the cyclic warming of the tropical Pacific, and a strong negative phase in a pressure cycle called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).
El Niño brought wet weather to the southeast US at the same time that the NAO pushed frigid air down from the arctic along the East Coast, as well as across northwest Europe.
What was the end result? More snow.
Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also came to a similar conclusion using a different dataset in March.
What many news agencies and sceptics failed to bring to our attention was the El Niño-like conditions all over the United States, a common climactic occurrence that was suspiciously overlooked.
Anyone who watched the 2010 Winter Olympic Games will have heard of the need to haul in snow from elsewhere, or make it. That’s because the Great Lakes and Western Canada actually saw less snow than usual, a typical occurrence for an El Niño year.
One can’t help but wonder what the story would have been if the whole story had been told. Or, as Seager says; “If Fox News had been based in Greenland they might have had a different story.”
Image Source: Thierry Draus