Explaining this "winter"
This is a complete coincidence that I'm writing this on Groundhog Day ... While most everyone is loving these warmer temperatures this winter, I hate it. Just as flowers aren’t supposed to bloom in January, the number of runs in short-sleeve shirts in January aren’t supposed to outnumber the number of runs in a long-sleeve shirt.
Little did some of you know, but years ago – like when I was 10 years old – I wanted to be a meteorologist. I was so obsessed about the weather that one of my mom’s friends had a hook-up with WDBJ7, one of our local news stations, who got me a private tour of the weather studio. An afternoon with just me and their meteorologists.
Over the years my career goals went from weather to wanting to be an accountant to eventually leading to the low-paying profession of journalism for the first 7 years of my career.
Through it all, though, my love for the weather never died. Watching Weather on the 8’s on the Weather Channel was something I did ALL THE TIME.
These days I get obsessed with comparing forecasts between the Weather Channel, Accuweather, WxRisk, and my local weather stations, among other sources. That obsession is much worse in the winter because I love snow.
Problem is, this winter has been one of the lamest winters of all time. At least it feels that way after two decent snowy winters in a row. So … why is it so warm?
Many news stories on TV and online do a poor job of explaining this. They tie it to climate change and global warming, which only spreads unnecessary fear and unnecessary office talk.
Simply put, we have been in a bizarre weather pattern for a few years – just as the jet stream had an unusual dip south a couple of winters ago, thus bringing crazy snow storms and cold weather extremely south, this winter the jet stream is extremely north, thus allowing warm air and even Gulf moisture into the southeast.
The lack of snow everywhere contributes to some of the warmer air – when snow covers the ground, the sunlight is reflected back into space keeping temperatures lower; no snow means the ground is absorbing the suns rays, making things warmer.
There are definitely other factors to this -- La Niña is one, but even the best meteorologists suggest that this year’s La Niña isn’t a “normal” one. I won’t even begin to try and explain that.
While some people may ask what happened to winter, keep in mind that way back in October the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted a drier and warmer winter than usual.
If you’re really wondering where winter went this year, look at Alaska with its record-breaking cold and record snows. Maybe, just maybe, some of us snow lovers will get some of that this month.