Despite predictions that snow could become a thing of the past, the first five years of the 2010s have seen more “major impact storms” than the previous decade. This decade has also beat out the 1960s in terms of major storms, according to a seasoned meteorologist.
“We will have had 14 major impact storms this decade… beating out the 10 in the 1960s and 2000s,” Joseph D’Aleo, a certified consulting meteorologist at Weatherbell Analytics, told the climate news site Climate Depot.
“Assuming this storm gets ranked by NOAA as one of the high impact (population affected by snowstorm) snowstorms (likely since the November storm was), we will have had 14 major impact storms this decade (only half over) beating out the 10 in the 1960s and 2000s,” D’Aleo said.
The U.S. East Coast is being hit by a major snowstorm that has brought up to three feet of snow and already resulted in thousands of flights being cancelled. Some 13 counties in New York and New York City have stopped all public transportation. Connecticut and Massachusetts have also put travel plans in place as residents are pummeled by snow.
“Watch for widespread sub-zero cold next week if the European models are right (all the way to North Carolina and including DC area),” D’Aleo added.
Some environmentalists have already tried to blame the current storm on global warming, saying higher temperatures are creating more extreme storms. Environmentalist Bill McKibben tweeted that five of the 10 worst storms in New York City happened in the last five years.
Nate Silver: 5 0f 10 worst blizzards in NYC in last ten years, 0.2% chance that's chance. Climate change at work http://t.co/94u2eXRYol
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) January 26, 2015
New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo also chimed into the debate, saying the blizzard was “part of the changing climate.”
Cuomo said Monday “there is a pattern of extreme weather that we’ve never seen before,” adding that “anyone who says there’s not a dramatic change in weather patterns is probably denying reality.”
But is East Coast weather becoming more extreme because of global warming? University of Colorado climate scientist Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. says it’s not so. On Tuesday, Pielke took to twitter to vent his frustrations at claims that global warming was making the weather worse.
Actual climatology "Sig trends in [E Coast] storm frequency over the 46-yr period beginning in 1951 are not evident" https://t.co/TchZ3CB6ve
— Roger Pielke Jr. (@RogerPielkeJr) January 27, 2015
“So those who argue for a simple relationship between increasing water content of the atmosphere and storm strength, data do not support such a claim over this multi-decadal period, in this region,”Pielke wrote on his blog.
Interestingly enough, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted in 2001 that global warming would cause milder winters with less snow. The IPCC argued that there would be “[m]ilder winter temperatures will decrease heavy snowstorms.”
Several scientists in the last 15 years have predicted the end of snow as we know it. In 2000, U.K. scientists said snowfall would become “just a thing of the past.”
“Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” Dr. David Viner, a scientist with the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia, told the UK Independent in 2000.