Thursday, February 11, 2010

SkyWatch: SnowWatch

Some readers might have noticed that the Mid-Atlantic states got a bit of snow this week. For many states in the region, this has been the snowiest season on record; for many of the region's cities, the season's three major storms have been among the heaviest snowfalls ever recorded.

Yesterday it snowed all day. New Brunswick's official snowfall total was 16 inches. That figure seems to match what I saw in my neighborhood. Unlike the previous storms this winter, this storm brought wet, heavy snow, made more heavy because of midday sleet. By late yesterday afternoon, many tree branches were pulled low by the weight of the wet snow. After I took my pictures, I knocked snow off as many of them as I could.

By this morning, the snow had stopped and the sun had come out. However, there was much snow to be cleared, and it will probably stay here for a while.

Despite what some people are claiming, the heavy snowstorms this winter are not evidence against climate change. Snowstorms like these occur when very cold air meets warm, moist air. Thanks to an active El Nino and an unusual jet stream pattern, we have had plenty of both this winter. The best explanations of the phenomenon are on Jeff Masters' WunderBlog and the Cape May County Herald.