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Cold Weather in the US: Are Snowstorms Related to Climate Change?
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Blog...Cold Weather in the US: Are Snowstorms Related to Climate Change?

Cold Weather in the US: Are Snowstorms Related to Climate Change?

Green News
Global Warming
car driving in snow
The U.S. has been hitting record low temperatures and experiencing out-of-character winter weather – are these sudden drops in temperature due to climate change?
Green News
2024-05-06T00:00:00.000Z
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car driving in snow

Across the United States from Montana to Virginia – temperatures hit record low points during Christmas week, with even the city of Tampa, Florida dropping to 31 degrees Fahrenheit this holiday season. 

forest trees in fog

January and February are known to be the coldest months of the year in the United States, but these are new extreme temperatures. Some scientists believe that climate change is the reason for this new cold front, but there is an opposing standpoint that refutes that claim. 

How safe is it to say that these new temperatures and snowstorms are related to global warming? 

What were the new record breaking temperatures? 

The U.S. hit new, record-low temperatures Christmas week of 2022. It was colder in suburban Maryland this Christmas than it was in Iceland – even as that country faced its own drastic blizzard that trapped thousands of people at the international airport. 

Places in the U.S. such as Fargo North Dakota dropped to 2 degrees Fahrenheit, with places like Colorado and Wyoming dropping to minus 41 degrees Fahrenheit and a 47 degree drop in under two hours, respectively. 

The Arctic blast didn’t spare the southern states of the U.S. either – with states bordering the Gulf of Mexico also having dropped to the low 20s. In addition to the freezing temperatures, states in the northern part of the U.S. faced heavy snow – such as Buffalo, New York getting hit with over 40 inches of snow and states near Michigan Lake facing severe wind conditions up to 65 miles per hour.

All of these weather conditions seemed bizarre, at hand – as winters have been continuously getting warmer and summers getting hotter. Global warming on the rise has shown to raise temperatures throughout the year, and although the occurrences of out-of-character weather patterns are also to be expected – many weren’t predicting such frigid temperatures after the heat waves this past summer. 

sun in orange sky

What were the consequences of the most recent snowstorm?

Maybe it seems like freezing temperatures are easier than heat waves in a way: it’s easy to stay inside, turn on the heat and the T.V., and just watch the snow some down cozied up on the coach – but what about for the people who don’t have a choice to stay inside due to their holiday plans? Or even worse – those who intended to make it to shelter indoors, but ended up getting stuck somewhere? There were several negative effects of the most recent blizzard and chilly weather in the U.S. – where some people even lost their lives due to the record-breaking cold temperatures.

For instance – it’s estimated that nearly a million people in the U.S. were without power in the midst of the cold front, meaning they were unable to heat their homes at all. The lack of power continued into Christmas Eve – with still over 300,000 homes and companies across the country without power after the strong winds knocked down power lines. As a result, 22 people lost their lives – unable to keep warm in the midst of the cold front and in combination with no available power. 

In addition to the lack of power, strong wind, and frigid temperatures – the states that suffered from heavy snowfall also suffered additional consequences. The snowstorm took place in the days leading up to Christmas, and with the storm warning remaining intact until Christmas morning – this left many holiday travelers vulnerable to the consequences of the snowstorm. For instance, nearly 500 drivers were trapped inside of their cars on the evening before Christmas Eve in Buffalo County in Upstate New York – even with a driving ban put in place, people remained determined to get to where they wanted to go for the holidays. However, this left some people stranded in uncleaned roads, unable to turn the heat on in their cars at the risk of depleting their reservoirs of gas. In short, the combination of a snowstorm and an approaching Christmas created dangerous scenarios for many in the midst of the cold weather.

powerlines in sunset

It isn’t just snow that remains as a hazard for those on the road during the holiday season – but black ice is just as, if not more dangerous than snow. In fact, a casualty in Missouri was found after a caravan slid off an icy road. The problem with black ice is that the road looks exactly the same as if the ice weren’t there, meaning the states that had rain the days preceding the frigid temperatures were suddenly plagued by ice invisible to the naked eye.

Scientists and meteorologists were aware of this weather, but what do they think about these atypical cold temperatures?

What do scientists say about this cold weather?

Even if there is some debate about the most recent cold front to hit across the United States, scientists do agree on one thing – the main reason behind these record dropping temperatures is due to frigid air being pushed out of the Arctic Circle, and back towards the continent of North America. However, while this remains as the scientific explanation for the most recent snowstorms and freezing temperatures – the reasoning that the cold air being pushed out of the Arctic Circle in the first place is what is still being researched and debated on. 

The scientists that believe global warming is indeed the root cause of these new drastic winter temperatures argue that rising global surface temperatures are what have encouraged cold air to be pushed out of the arctic circle in the first place. While this may seem like news to most, the loss of ice and snow have been closely studied by scientists for the past three years – as have the potential consequences of a melting Arctic Circle.

polar bear

One of these scientific theories is that the continuous melting of snow in the Arctic Circle allows for new atmospheric weather conditions that will push cold air to other parts of the world – such as the United States suffering from new record-low temperatures and dangerous snowstorms. 

However, not all scientists agree – with the complete opposite theory also having been thoroughly researched and argued over the years.

Why do some argue against climate change being the reason for colder weather?

Scientists are in agreement that the cold air is indeed coming from the Arctic Circle, which continues to warm up alongside climate change – but not all scientists agree on how future winters may play out as a result of a melting Arctic Circle. Scientists opposed to the theory of a warming Arctic Circle having cold consequences on the Northern Hemisphere argue that even if cold air is continuously pushed out of the Arctic – that the air will be mixed with other air, which is already warmer than usual from global warming, and that these frigid temperatures will cease to exists. 

This topic has already been explored. For instance, a scientist from Massachusetts named Jennifer Francis, has presented the idea that the Arctic circle is warming due to the two extreme temperatures in the polar a tropical regions – and that wind patterns are more likely the reason behind cold air being pushed out from the Arctic Circle.

wheat in field

Despite the ongoing debate regarding these cold temperatures in the scientific community, most researchers agree that despite these new record-low temperatures: citizens of the U.S. shouldn’t expect this become a new annual trend – meaning as global warming persists, winters should continue to get warmer and slowly acclimate to the cold air being pushed out of the Arctic Circle. 

The scientific community has stated that eventually – a direct pattern between climate change and abnormal freezing temperatures will be found. However, whether the newfound frigid temperatures being sent over from the Arctic Circle are a direct result of climate change or not – it still leaves citizens of the U.S. vulnerable to the effects of freezing temperatures and the dangers of snowstorms: such as driving in black ice or suffering from a power outage.

How can you stay warm this winter in the midst of the cold weather?

A challenge for many across the pond is the fact that there is an energy shortage – with many infamous European Christmas lights, and even the Eiffel Tower, having to be shut off earlier every night than usual in order to preserve energy. 

While the U.S. is not facing this exact same predicament, the global issue of climate change and attempting to reduce the consumption of electricity remains the same. Therefore, it can be a challenge to stay warm this winter without simultaneously contributing to further climate change. 

How can you stay warm this winter, and also safe, in the midst of new cold temperatures and drastic snowstorms? Here are just a few tips on how to get through this winter season without irritating the planet or spurring dramatic temperatures even more. 

Cook with the Oven

There’s a reason why people on the Food Network strive to give you recipes that don’t require the use of an oven during the summer months – and that’s because turning on your oven will make the house hotter than it already is outside. However, during the winter – using the oven can be a dual benefit used to make both warm meals and heat your home up at the same time. Therefore, it isn’t a bad idea to cook up a storm with your oven this winter – you just might find yourself not needing the heat on as much.

two people at the oven pulling something out

Upgrade to Energy Efficient Appliances

If you’re looking to stay warm this winter without burning through electricity reservoirs, it may be a good idea to finally switch to energy efficient appliances. This way, you can still crank the heat up – but know that your central heating system isn’t using as much energy to warm your home.

Burn an Eco-friendly Candle

Not only does an eco-friendly candle make for a great holiday gift and make the room smell good, but did you know that burning a candle can also warm up the surrounding environment similar to a fire without the need for electricity? 

Cozy up by the Fireplace 

We know that digital fireplace simulations on YouTube are a lot easier and less volatile than a real fireplace – but throwing a couple of logs on the fire under the chimney can help to warm up your home without the use of electricity. It also might make for a nice backdrop while you open presents or clean up after the holiday season. 

The bottom line is that while it is still being debated whether or not these new, record-dropping temperatures and snowstorms are due to climate change – the probability that global warming remains as the root cause for these weather hazards is still there, meaning there is no harm in making an effort to fight against climate change. 

Maybe this most recent cold front isn’t due to climate change, but science has also shown that excessive emissions might be to blame. There’s only one way to find out: continue to take part in the collective fight against climate change, and watch how next year’s winter temperatures greet us.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about the record low-temperatures and snow storms in the U.S. has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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