A Freak Snowstorm, Part 2: Is Climate Change Involved?
I'm in western Connecticut, about halfway up the state close to the border with New York. This has been a very odd autumn. It is November 17, and all the leaves have finally fallen. Normally everything is down by the first week of November. Even the national morning news shows were commenting last week on the late leaf colors, as their cameras show aerial shots of New York's Central Park.
In case you think I am using anecdotal evidence, I have dated digital photos from other years. Our house has a Japanese maple out front, and its leaves turn a spectacular bright red just before they fall off. I took photos a few years ago, and those photos are from mid-October. The photo at left was taken on November 9th, almost 3 weeks later than my photos from a few years ago. And yes, that is the same tree that was bent over with snow in the first photo of Part 1!
The unusual weather pattern began last spring. Well, some people in this region might quibble with me on that, because we had a very snowy winter in 2010-2011. But we have had snowy winters before. This spring started out very wet—my son's baseball team missed countless practices. But by late spring the weather was hot and dry—I recall three weeks without rain. I needn't have worried because by July the rains started. It turned out to be a very wet summer, capped off by Hurricane Irene, which caused immense flooding in the region. The heavy rains from Irene occurred a week after another heavy rainstorm, which left the ground very wet. This caused the soil to loosen around the roots of many trees. Trees fell, taking down power lines, in many parts of my region. So the storm in late October was an unhappy repeat event for many people.
I've called the snowstorm a "freak" snowstorm, but that may not be true. Someone I spoke to last week recalled a similar early snowstorm between 20 and 25 years ago. Weather patterns fluctuate, and our odd spring, summer, and fall could be part of a fluctuation.
However, the odd weather pattern could also be a sign of climate change. Although we talk about global warming, some areas will get warmer and some will get colder, some will get wetter and some will get drier. Climate is very complex and although scientists have some idea of what will happen to a warmer Earth, not all of the changes can be easily predicted.
Has your region had an unusual weather pattern?