Shaun Tanner has been a meteorologist at Weather Underground since 2004.
By: Shaun Tanner , 4:59 PM GMT on February 12, 2012
There has been much written about the "Year Without A Winter", especially in the United States. And, while I am no fan of groundhog forecasting, everybody balked when the groundhog poked his head out of his hole (or was pulled out of a climate-controlled box, whichever you prefer) and pronounced to the World that there was to be six more weeks or Winter. Yet, here we are.
This is a map of the current temperatures in the United States. I grabbed this image at 11:30 a.m. ET when freezing temperatures were noted as far south as northern Florida. Chances are, even when you look at this blog later in the day, you will still see the pretty blue color that marks freezing temperatures spread throughout much of the country. In fact, places like Ocala, FL reported morning temperatures in the upper 20s, which is a record for this date. Normally the minimum temperatures in the area are in the mid-40s. This makes it a very cold morning, but not the coldest morning of the year so far in northern Florida. On January 4, Ocala actually dipped to 21 degrees!
Of course, Florida isn't the only hub of cold weather today. Fargo, ND got down to -2 degrees this morning, the Northeast saw temperatures in the single digits and many places in the area will only rise into the 20s Sunday. This is in stark contrast to earlier this month when places in the Northeast saw temperatures in the upper 50s and 60s!
Now, cold temperatures aren't the only thing of note. Snow and ice have been reported in New Mexico and Texas.
All of this seems to point to a pattern shift in the country. For much of the Winter, snow has been absent and instead replaced by temperatures more befitting of Spring. For weeks, however, the atmospheric models meteorologists use to predict the future have pointed to a slow change in the weather pattern. This change may be what we are experiencing now. Thus, the question I pose is: Has the weather change come too late for many areas to receive extended periods of Winter weather? While people in the East may detest the idea of cold, snowy weather, places in the West depend on it. The Sierra Nevadas of California have been starkly void of the white, fluffy stuff this Winter. This is bad news since much of the state depends on a healthly snowpack not only for drinking water, but also for agricultural irrigation that grows the food that we all eat. So, yes, a potential drought from a dry Winter will not only affect California. It will affect everywhere that receives food grown from California...which is pretty much everywhere. So if you are on the East Coast, it would be smart to do a short rain dance for rain and snow to make a welcomed return to the Golden State.
Of course, the United States isn't the only place being affected by Winter weather.
Europe has been hit extremely hard by Winter's grip recently. Snow drifts several feet high are making travel extremely difficult in the narrow streets of Europe.
Snow was reported in Tunisia this past week...yes, that's in Africa.
Freezing fog can produce beautiful things...
Numerious news agencies are reporting the death toll from the prolonged cold snap has topped 500, with the homeless being the hardest hit. Minimum temperatures in Paris have been in the 10s for 10 out of 12 mornings this month after not being in the teens at all in January.
The forecast may not be very pretty for Europe as the cold snap may hang around for several more days. Unfortunately, the coldest areas will continue to be in the eastern part of the continent which has already been devastatingly cold.
So, what's next?
The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.
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