The winter of 2014-15 has been so exceptionally and persistently warm across the western third of the United States that more than 20 cities have tied or broken all-time records for the warmest meteorological winter (Dec. 1 through Feb. 28/29) on record.The cities include Las Vegas, Sacramento, and San Francisco.
A number of cities clinched the record several days ago as they outpaced the previous record-warm winter by such a large margin that they would have had to see subzero temperatures not to end the winter with the new winter warmth record.
Sure, ou'll say, those guys are having record warmth. But what about the record cold in the East? Well, as it turns out, it's not record cold:
In case you're wondering, few if any cities in the East will have their coldest winters on record despite a series of high-profile blizzards and record cold waves -- mainly because December was relatively mild.(Here in New York, we're going to have a nice snowfall in the next 24 hours, but we'll be in the 40s all next week.)
Grant also notes the following:
* In ... Oregon, Portland broke its winter warmth record and Salem topped 50 degrees every day in February, the first time that's ever happened.Here's a map for you:
And The Salt Lake Tribune reports Salt Lake City had both its warmest and least snowy winter on record....
That's courtesy of Andrea Thompson at Climate Central, who, late last month, expalined why this might be happening:
The reason for the warmth out West is an area of high pressure off the coast that [Daniel] Swain [an atmospheric science PhD candidate at Stanford University] dubbed the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge back in 2013 for its incredible persistence as a feature in the atmosphere -- week after week, month after month.So warming at the poles and/or in the oceans may be causing these patterns.
What’s keeping the ridge around for so long is something scientists, including Swain, are actively looking into. So far, there are three main theories, Swain said: One is that it’s just random chance in a chaotic atmosphere, though Swain says the longer the ridge holds on, the less likely that is. Another is the idea that the amplified warming across the Arctic is lessening the temperature difference between pole and equator that fuels the jet stream, causing that river of air to meander more wildly and become stuck in certain patterns.
The most favored explanation for now, though, seems to be the extremely warm waters across the Pacific Ocean, particularly just off the West Coast, which can give rise to high pressure systems -- and hold them in place. “At least part of the answer lies in the Pacific,” Swain said.
The problem -- and this seems like some sort of cosmic joke the gods are playing on us -- is that the evidence still supports the argument that there's warming taking place over the planet as a whole, but for the last two winters there's been seemingly excessive cold and snow in the part of the most powerful country on earth where a disproportionate percentage of its citizens live, namely the Northeast, the Midwest, and the rapidly growing South. We have all the people. We have all the U.S. media. We have the nation's capital and, if you include the South and the Midwest, we have the nation's most influential politicians. We think our experience is universal. But we aren't the entire planet. We aren't even the entire country. Yet our experience colors how the powerful and influential United States approaches the climate question.
We had a bad winter in 2013-2014 -- that's when a lot of us in the Northeast learned the phrase "polar vortex." But (as I noted at the time) it was warm elsewhere -- for instance, it was summer at the time in Australia, and it was an extremely hot summer.
By the end of 2014, this was what temperatures looked like for the year:
The globe is overwhelmingly red, i.e., warm -- but there's a huge area of blue right where we live.
Warming is real. But it's as if there are trickster gods who don't want us to believe that.