Sunday, February 14, 2010

Upside down weather this winter

When you have a discussion about global warming, it is amazing how every event can be given tremendous significance - by both sides. In fact, I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard someone say "I sure wish global warming would hurry up" in the middle of Winter. Part of this problem is a sincere confusion between weather, which changes rapidly and is highly variable, and climate which is best understood as a long term average of the seasonal weather events.

Having said this, I can't help but think that something unusual is going on. While the Canadian prairies have been suffering with a long frigid Winter, Southern Georgia has been experiencing a highly unusual snowfall and Washington DC has been paralyzed by blizzards, Winter passed us by on Vancouver Island. Last year our pond was frozen from November to March and we had 5 feet of snow in January. This year, the pond only froze for about a week in November. We have new ducklings on the pond, the grass is green, trees are budding and in Victoria, there are amazing blossoms on the trees through much of the city.

You only have to turn on the TV to see what this means to Vancouver's Olympic games. Much of the snow that they do have is being convoyed by trucks and helicopters from hundreds of kilometers away.

Now this is a weather event - and we were expected to have a la Nina event this year. Just the same, I would like to see the stats for other la Nina years and see how often there was snow in 49 of the 50 states - and at the end of February.

49 states dusted with snow; Hawaii's the holdout - Yahoo! News

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