Hundreds of millions of people in North America and Europe battle snow and ice storm year after year, wondering why they are being punished with bitter cold, especially when spring arrives and the weather forecasts are in the minuses.

You probably remember the 2013 Ice Storm that hit central and eastern parts of Canada as well as North Eastern United States in December, 2013. The storm resulted in the deaths of 27 people, loss of power to over a million residents, and $200 million+ in damages.

The winter before that was as brutal. In February 2013, the Winter Storm Nemo hit parts of Northeastern United States and Canada, causing heavy snowfalls and hurricane-force winds. It then crossed the Atlantic, affecting parts of Ireland and the United Kingdom. Boston recorded 63 cm of snow, while New York recorded only 29 cm. It was Hamden, Connecticut that recorded the highest snowfall – 100 cm.

winter storm february 2013

Of course there are plenty of other winter storms that came our way over the years. The two we spoke about above were just the most notable and most recent ones.

Researchers from Ruters and University of Wisconsin-Madison [Jennifer Francis and Stephen Varnus] published a paper in 2012 titled “Evidence Linking Artic amplifications to extreme weather in mid-latitudes”. In the paper, Francis and Varnus argue that the Arctic Circle is warming so fast that it is leading to an unexpected, yet profound effect on the weather where we live.

Francis and Varnus are not the only experts to believe in this. A weather blogger named Jeff Masters recently pondered whether the extreme snowfall in western New York last week might be due to “jet stream weirdness. He believes, “We’ve seen an unusual number of extreme jet stream patterns like this in the past fifteen years, which happens to coincide with the period of time we’ve been observing record loss of summertime Arctic sea ice and record retreat of springtime snow cover in the Arctic.”

You can’t call Francis’, Varnus’ and/or Masters’ arguments fully established, just yet. You also can’t say there’s a “scientific consensus” on it. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is finding no reason to embrace it. But it’s certainly a very serious accusation and one of the most discussed theories in climate science.


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