You can thank climate change for today’s ‘bomb cyclone’
An outbreak of arctic air met up with a nor’easter and has worked its way up the eastern seaboard, landing a double whammy on Rhode Island that may bring record cold and record snowfall. The storm is also expected to bring damaging winds and power outages.
As climate change warms the planet as a whole, it also disrupts regional weather patterns, sometimes allowing arctic air to sweep far south, and warmer air moves to the north. The swapping of warm and cold conditions can be seen in the recent record-setting heat events observed in the north while cold prevails in the south.
Nor’easters are powered by the temperature contrast between warm offshore waters and cold conditions over land, and current Atlantic Ocean temperatures are unusually warm, providing extra fuel to the storm, leading to a potential “weather bomb.” Such strengthening of nor’easters is consistent with long-term global warming trends. Relatively warm ocean waters also permit the storm to tap moisture fed by high sea surface temperatures and convert it into exceptional snowfall. The combined impact of the arctic outbreak and the intensified nor’easter may land a climate change fueled double whammy in which new record snowfall and record low temperatures are set.