Yesterday, I posted about the lake effect snow storms afflicting several areas in the US, including western New York State just south of Buffalo. Sadly, there have been twelve deaths attributed to the storm so far. Because so many feet of snow are very heavy, there have been some roof collapses with more feared to come.
Some areas are still receiving additional snowfall. The forecast predicts a warm front with some rain arriving over the weekend. This has only heightened worries of more roof collapses as the rain adds weight to the feet of accumulated snow. People are trying to clean snow off roofs as quickly as possible, but the area is quite densely populated and many roads are still inaccessible for help and equipment to arrive.
The other very real threat is flooding. With temperatures predicted to climb to 60 degrees F. (15 degrees C.), the snow will melt rapidly and street and small stream flooding is most likely unavoidable.
All brought to you by global warming. Remember, even though this is a cold weather event, it was started by a tropical typhoon.
Connecting the dots on climate change:
A Pacific tropical typhoon is so strong that it reaches the Aleutian Islands of Alaska and disrupts the jet stream, allowing polar air to sink over much of the continental United States. When the frigid air passes over the relatively warm water of the Great Lakes, it picks up a lot of moisture and dumps it over land as snow. Some towns in western New York south of Buffalo have already received 5+ feet of snow, with an additional 2-3 feet on the way. (That’s 1.5 meters or more on the ground with another meter to come.)
A similar occurrence could have happened in the past, some time before recorded history in the region. It isn’t possible to say that any particular weather event is directly caused by global warming, However, the incidence of these extreme kinds of weather is rising quickly along with average global temperature.
It’s time for everyone to get serious about phasing out fossil fuels as quickly as possible and ramping up renewable energy in conjunction with energy efficiency. If we see this much change with less than one degree Celsius global temperature rise, we will have to brace ourselves for more as we attempt to keep the total rise under two degrees Celsius.