Ice Age Watch: New York Had Its Coldest Late Winter In Over 100 Years
New Yorkers may have wished they were Californians this winter as the Empire State suffered through its coldest January through March period in more than one hundreds years — all while Californians had record warmth.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported northeastern states suffered through a much colder-than-average January through March period. That was especially true for New York and Vermont, both of which had their coldest late winter periods on record.
According to NOAA, New York’s “year-to-date temperature was 16.9°F, 6.8°F below average, dropping below the previous record of 17.4°F set in 1912” — meaning the Empire State’s late winter period broke a 103-year-old record.
In Vermont, the January through March temperature was “13.3°F, 6.4°F below average, tying the same period in 1923” — breaking a 92-year-old record.
Of course, the “Siberian Express” — or whatever they called the cold weather this year — was balanced out by a particularly warm and dry winter in the western part of the country. So far in 2015, California has had its warmest period on record and continues to be in drought.
They were the lucky ones. Easterners found winter to be much harsher. For example, the city of Boston had record snowfall this year — topping 110 inches by March.
On Feb. 15, Buffalo, New York had its coldest day in 21 years with a high of 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Needless to say, it was the coldest February Buffalo’s had since the harsh winter of 1979.
On that same day, Central Park in New York City saw the temperature drop to 4 degrees, tying with Jan. 7, 2014 for the lowest temperature on record. The next day Central Park saw the temperature drop to 3 degrees — the coldest reading in the city since 2004.
Erie, Penn., and Watertown, N.Y., also saw temperatures hit new lows. Other cities along the East Coast also saw low temperature records for February broken or tied. According to the Weather Channel, these cities included “Baltimore (5 degrees), Syracuse, New York (minus 17 degrees), Toledo, Ohio (minus 9 degrees), Cleveland (minus 12 degrees), Trenton, New Jersey (1 degree), Wilmington, Delaware (2 degrees), Detroit (minus 9 degrees) and Flint, Michigan (minus 21 degrees).”
While easterners were freezing and getting buried with snow, some climate scientists argued that global warming is actually causing winters to become more extreme.
Last year, the White House science czar John Holdren argued that rising temperatures in the Arctic were causing the jet stream to become more wavy, thus bringing cold Arctic weather to the East Coast during winters.
Holdren’s argument, however, has been challenged by a recent study which found that global warming was not making winters harsher. The paper argued that [a]rctic amplification of global warming leads to even less frequent cold outbreaks in Northern Hemisphere winter than a shift toward a warmer mean climate implies by itself.”
Other scientists have argued that a warmer planet means more moisture in the atmosphere, which allows for bigger snowstorms — thus, allowing cities like Boston to get record snowfall.
But this claim was also shot down by research. Research by University of Alabama, Huntsville climate scientist Dr. Roy Spencer found “no relationship between available water vapor and snowstorm events over the last 27 years.”
“In fact, while warm season water vapor has increased, cold season water vapor (if anything) has decreased on average over the region, making less vapor available for storms,” Spencer wrote in his blog. “There is always abundant water vapor available for U.S. snowstorms to feed off of, just as there is always abundant tropical water vapor available for hurricanes and typhoons.”
“But that’s not the limiting factor in storm formation. What is necessary is the variety of conditions which can support the formation of low pressure centers … sufficient water vapor is usually ready and waiting to play its part,” Spencer said.
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