Snow, rain and wind: unboxing a week of weird weather | News, Sports, Jobs


HOUGHTON – Last weekend it looked like typical Copper County winter weather had finally come. Temperatures were below zero, snow removal trucks were out in force, and fresh snow blanketed the hills and valleys of the peninsula.

But on Monday, temperatures exceeded freezing and by Wednesday afternoon much of the fluffy white snow that seemed so permanent a few days earlier had melted. The particular time was just beginning. On Thursday morning, Yoopers woke up to powerful gusts of wind that rocked homes and cut off electricity for part of the day.

To make sense of this bizarre weather week, National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Matt Zika spoke to the Gazette on Wednesday afternoon.

“There is no doubt that we are witnessing a very unusual weather event, not only here in Upper Michigan, but across the country,” he said.

“But when we look at the overall impacts here in Upper Michigan, it’s not unusual for us to have mild periods in December, where it can be cold and snow for a while, and then we get a few days of. mild weather, and then it turns cold again. This is what we will see this time around.

Zika explained that while the mild December temperatures are not unusual, the low pressure system responsible for Thursday’s strong wind is another story.

“We will see winds [Thursday] with gusts of over 60 miles per hour, especially across the Keweenaw for much of the day. There will probably be blackouts ”, he said.

“When we look historically at the magnitude of the low pressure system, it’s kind of a storm every five to seven years,” He continued. “It’s not something that we see every year, it’s quite unusual but it’s not unprecedented.”

Hot air and low pressure system are not isolated to the UP These conditions were felt in the Midwest region and central part of the country. Temperatures in Minneapolis reached 70 ° F this week and a deadly wave of tornadoes swept through six states.

In Kentucky, thousands of homes have been damaged or destroyed by tornadoes, and more than 74 people have been killed. Rescuers continue to search for more than 100 missing people.

“Anytime you see really hot air temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s in Illinois and the Ohio Valley during the month of December, that’s a recipe for bad things to happen. “, Zika explained. “The ingredients came together to coil up a great area of ​​low pressure and cause the high winds and storms we saw just a few days ago with the terrible tornadoes. “

Asked about the possible role of global climate change in these bizarre weather conditions, Zika warned that meteorologists should be careful not to confuse weather – short-term atmospheric conditions – with climate – atmospheric conditions over a long period of time. time.

“A specific weather incident does not necessarily mean that it is the new normal”, he explained. “Whether or not there’s a small role because things are hotter now than they used to be, you could probably tell that’s true. But to specifically say that these weather events that have been happening across the country over the past week are solely due to climate change, we’re not there yet. We cannot make this direct link.

Although it is impossible to establish a direct causal link between climate change and a specific weather event, scientists believe that global warming contributes to more frequent and severe weather conditions, according to the United States Protection Agency. environment (EPA).

In 2021, extreme weather events including storms, heat waves and droughts broke world records. About half of the United States experienced an abnormal drought in the summer of 2021, and in California, wildfires raged over more than two million acres of land.

Globally, 2020 was the second warmest year on record, with all ten warmest years since 2005. The EPA predicts that temperatures will rise by at least 2.7 ° F, and possibly up to 8.6 ° F over the next century. As temperatures continue to rise, severe weather is expected to become more frequent.

But in the near future, Yoopers can expect normal winter weather for the remainder of the season. Zika said temperatures would return to the 1920s during the day and teenagers at night, with some light lake-like snow over the weekend.

“The indications are that for the remainder of our winter, as we head into late December through January and February, it’s a much more typical winter weather pattern for us here in the upper Great Lakes.” , he said. “We will go through periods where it will be colder or milder, but there will certainly be more snow than we saw last year. We will have more lake effect snow and a much more typical winter.

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