‘Freak Seasons’ of a Changing Climate

March 14, 2017

Overcast coupled with ground fog makes for a gray Tuesday morning on California’s north coast — supposedly dry, though, the next wet-front set to swirl drizzle across the area starting tonight, with decent-rain slated for tomorrow.
According to the NWS, on-and-off rain for the next few days, a kind of standard for a changing of the seasons (Spring Equinox next week).

Despite the Gothic-gloom appearance, we’re in pretty-good shape weather-wise — temperatures expected to hover in the low-60s — and there’s freedom of movement. Eastward across the US right now, however, the shit is hitting a freezing-cold fan.
Climate change at work (Grist): ‘Basically, we’ve become accustomed to something that used to be very rare.’

Yes, there’s frosty-side to heat…

(Illustration: Salvador Dali’s ‘Galatea of the Spheres,’ found here).

Warm air holds more moisture, and as the planet warms, there’s more water in the air, including snow. Reportedly, climate is the average of weather over at least a 30-year period, and and with the increasing heat worldwide, the weather off that climate is getting extreme.
An influence on the severity of eastern U.S. snowstorms include warmer-than-average ocean surface temperatures in the Atlantic, which are higher than anticipated.

The storm crushing in on the eastern US is part of this heat cycle — a good primary on the subject from the Grist article yesterday:

There are a few reasons why this is happening.
Just like on land, ocean temperatures are getting warmer.
This matters because the ocean is where nor’easters — the particular brand of coastal storm that brings the biggest snow potential — derive most of their moisture.
Warmer ocean waters provide more energy to growing coastal storms, and the Gulf Stream current, which carries subtropical waters northward just off the East Coast, is experiencing record warmth right now.
Last year, two studies were published that provided evidence that basic weather patterns over the East Coast are getting more extreme, too, as Arctic sea ice melts and modifies the behavior of the jet stream.
At times, the weather pattern can get stuck in a manner that provides extra cold air from the north and extra moisture from off the ocean — which is what is happening more often now.

The National Weather Service is ringing all available alarm bells — an experimental winter storm severity index is maxed out over New York City — and warning of widespread power outages and the impossibility of travel during the height of the storm.
But even they don’t have much experience with a storm of this scale happening so late in the season — it just doesn’t happen very often.
So it’s hard to tell what to expect.
Perhaps the most consequential circumstance for this particular storm is that, according to the plants and trees, spring is already here.
The combination of flowering tree branches with tropical storm force winds and heavy, wet snow isn’t a good one — power outages could be widespread.
And this year’s crop of some economically important flowering trees, like the apple and cherry orchards on Long Island, could see significant damage.
I mean, seriously, the Washington Cherry Blossom Festival starts Wednesday!
It’s crazy. We now live in a world where one of D.C.’s biggest March snowstorms and one of its earliest Cherry Blossom Festivals are happening in the same week.
We’re not just getting freak weather anymore.
We’re getting freak seasons.

Snow/fog/rain on the parade…

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