Severe winter storms pummeled Eastern United States

Jessilyn Dagum, Staff Writer

 

By now you’ve probably heard that the East Coast has been experiencing some freakishly cold weather since the holidays. You might have seen it on the news or somewhere on social media over the winter break. Maybe you were even traveling through it back to campus. Whatever the case is, one thing is for sure. The East Coast has undergone some serious cold weather this year. And it’s only January.

During the last week of 2017 and first few weeks of the New Year, parts of central and Eastern U.S. had experienced below freezing weather. Scientists are calling the winter storm a “bomb cyclone” based on how rapid the weather was traveling. According to several different reports, the cyclone caused one of the coldest two-week periods on record for late December through early January. The Weather Channel reports that according to the Southeast Regional Climate Center, cities that experienced their record-coldest between Dec. 23-Jan. 5 include  Bangor, Maine, Worcester, Mass., Buffalo, N.Y., Flint, Mich., Green Bay, Wisc., Duluth, Minn., Rockford, Ill., Waterloo, Iowa and Lincoln, Neb.

Aside from these cities, dozens of other cities have also experienced some of the coldest weather in history during the two-week stretch ending Jan. 5.

Over the course of the record-breaking phenomenon the coldest wind chills recorded came from Mount Washington in New England. The hurricane-force winds took the recorded temperature from the -30 degrees to staggering -80s and -90s on Jan. 6. The Dakotas and northern Minnesota also experienced severe wind chills 50 to 60 degrees below zero from Dec. 30 to Jan. 1.

The coldest temperature recorded during the arctic weather outbreak was a reading of 45 degrees below zero in Embarrass, Minn. and Hettinger, N.D., on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.

As of Jan. 21, temperatures are expected to be much milder for much of the week ahead in the central and eastern U.S. The winter storm is expected to start the week with snow and ice in the upper Midwest and parts of Northeast, moving into a thaw-out of the Midwest, East, and South for the rest of the week. Washington, as well as much of the west coast, is expected to experience cooler and active weather pattern in the upcoming weeks.

So, what is the cause for such drastic degrees you might ask? Some say the cyclone is a random phenomenon. Others say it is a result of climate change. Stefanie Gorzelsky, O’Grady Library Circulation Manager and Pennsylvania native, had this to say on the matter: “The winters were always insanely cold over there. I mean, lots and lots of snow. Growing up we got to ice skate on the streets a couple times because there were ice storms… I would say, yes, this weather is a result of climate change, because it is going more to the extreme. We had a couple bad storms in the early 90s but they weren’t ever this bad. I definitely think it’s changing. It’s getting more severe.”

Scientists would agree with Gorzelsky. According NASA’s Global Climate Change Website, “sixteen of the seventeen warmest years on record have occurred since 2001. The warmest being 2016.”

Earlier this month, climate experts from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provided the annual release of data on global temperatures and discussed the most important climate trends of 2017 during a media teleconference at 11 a.m. EST Thursday, Jan. 18. One of the most notable facts being, “2017 was the second hottest years since 1880, when global measurements first became possible.” The fact is, the world is getting warmer and the East Coast’s winter storm is only one of the many weather phenomena happening around the world because of it.

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