January 20, 2011 in Washington Voices

Worldwide, this crazy winter is one for the record books

By The Spokesman-Review
 

As mentioned in previous articles, the winter of 2010-’11 has been one of the most severe across many parts of the globe. This includes the Inland Northwest as record snows fell in November.

This winter, we’ve seen record rains and flooding in California, heavy snows during December and January in the eastern U.S. that recently dipped south into Atlanta. Thousands of commercial airline flights were canceled due to the severe conditions.

La Niña, the cooler than normal sea-surface temperature event in the south-central Pacific Ocean, has been responsible, at least in part, for the extreme weather across the globe.

For example, heavy snows were also reported near London. Deadly floods have plagued Pakistan, southern Brazil and, most recently in northeastern Australia near the nation’s third-largest city, Brisbane. The Australian floods have now been described as “worst in history” in some areas.

The current winter in the U.S. deep South may go into the record books as one of the coldest and snowiest seasons in nearly 400 years. It’s extremely unusual to have weeks on end of freezing weather in Dixie.

Many cities in the South do not have snowplows. Thousands of accidents occurred, and grocery shelves were emptied. Widespread power outages have made life miserable for many residents in the South.

It’s also possible that the extreme winter may be related to many reports of dead birds. These fatalities began with more than 4,000 red-winged blackbirds that plunged from the sky in Beebe, Ark. on New Year’s Eve. Then, a few days later, hundreds of dead birds covered the ground in northern Louisiana. Similar occurrences have been reported this month in parts of Europe and Asia.

Some have blamed these bird deaths on fireworks, bad water or harmful chemicals left in the fields after harvest. However, it’s possible that weeks on end of cold, snowy weather since last November on virtually every northern continent has resulted in confusion and chaos in the animal kingdom. In northern Italy this past week, hundreds of turtle doves dived headfirst into the ground. Pigeons in the area, however, remained alive and well as they were able to better tolerate the record low temperatures, in the teens in some areas.

As far as our local weather is concerned, the milder and rainy conditions have melted much of the snow in the lower elevations. However, it looks like more, colder weather and moderate amounts of snow will move into our region before the month’s end.

If you have any questions or comments, you can contact Randy at randy@longrangeweather.com.


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