Here on the Canadian prairies where I live, temperatures above freezing are forecast for today and tomorrow, with a chance of freezing rain. While this is normal winter weather in many parts of the globe, it definitely is NOT normal for this part of the world. The normal maximum temperature for today is – 13 degrees Celcius (+ 9 degrees fahrenheit) and the normal minimum is – 24 degrees Celcius (-11 Fahrenheit). As you can see, living on the prairies isn’t for wimps! There are people who jokingly suggest that it wouldn’t hurt if our winters warmed up a bit, so global warming is a good thing. If only it were that simple.
One can’t point to just one weather event and say it proves or disproves climate change. Weather changes every day, but climate is the average weather in a region over a long period of time. Scientists who study climate accumulate data, including information on weather patterns, and evaluate trends over time. And what they are telling us is that we can start to expect more extreme weather as our atmosphere warms due to higher-than-ever-before atmospheric accumulations of CO2, nitrous oxide, and methane. These “waves of global extremity” will cause weather to become hotter, colder, and more chaotic in weird patterns. And freezing rain on the prairies in January (or in February, as in 2009) is definitely weird!
The folks at NASA Earth Observatory report that while Europe, Asia, and parts of North America have been in a deep freeze recently, the Arctic was exceptionally warm. Click here to read more, and view satellite images. Check out this article from The Daily Page newspaper that examines the changes in weather that Wisconsin is experiencing and the state’s response, the “Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts”.
On the lighter side of weird weather, here is a video that was taken last February after a freezing rain storm hit the prairies.