Reader Elizabeth Owens took this photo of snow falling Wednesday night in East Columbus. Photo by: Elizabeth Owens
February 11, 2011 10:32:00 AM
We have a hard time remembering when a sunny day felt so cold in Columbus. We were emboldened Thursday afternoon, encouraged by the clouds parting and the snow dripping slowly off the rooftops. But looks were deceiving. The temperature remained well below freezing. Anyone without multiple layers of clothing was toast. Or rather, what''s the opposite of toast? Frozen waffles?
Bright sunlight and sub-freezing weather just don''t mix in Mississippi, even in February. It''s supposed to be warm when the sun comes out, at least 99 percent of the time.
And we already used up our 1 percent of cold, or so we thought. Weren''t our friends and neighbors sliding off every available bridge in Lowndes County just a week ago? That episode was supposed to last us at least a year. A few weeks before that, we were building snowmen in our front yards. We figured that rare event would last us at least five.
But here we are again. Schools are closed, roads are icy, rooftops and trees and fields are four inches beneath the snow.
As we shuffled along, shivering, to wherever it was we needed to get, two thoughts came to mind. The first is, this is the best evidence yet that rodents can''t predict the future. We were still nursing our hangover from January''s snowstorm when Punxsutawney Phil popped out of his hatch to predict an early spring. We were convinced the hog had it right this time. We wanted to believe. We were burned. Or rather, iced.
The second thought was, Al Gore clearly doesn''t know what he''s talking about, any more than Phil does. Fox News commentator Bill O''Reilly wondered the same thing a week or so ago, remarking how "southern New York turned into the tundra," smirkily adding that he had "a call in to Al Gore." (Some climate-change nay-sayers, pointing at the all the icicles and the cars in the ditches as evidence, argue that the earth is cooling, not warming.)
O''Reilly didn''t really have a call into Gore, but the ex-VP and current crusader for a better understanding of climate change piped up anyway.
"In fact, scientists have been warning for at least two decades that global warming could make snowstorms more severe," he said in a statement, very sciencey and boring in its Al Gore-ness. "A rise in global temperature can create all sorts of havoc, ranging from hotter dry spells to colder winters, along with increasingly violent storms, flooding, forest fires and loss of endangered species."
So taking the long view, few scientists dispute that the earth is warmer now than it''s ever been. But winter is still winter. Global warming "can''t turn January into July," Joe Romm of the Center for American Progress said in a recent Washington Post article.
Maybe not, but it would be nice. (For that matter, we wish the "cold earth" theorists would hold off until summer and turn July into January. Even better than warm weather now, would be snow in July. Give us some of this ice when we need it the most.)
We realize it''s a snow day, so we''ll wrap up the science lesson. Instead, we''ll take a little time to enjoy it while we can. Bitter cold and inconvenient truths aside, we all can surely agree that our local scenery looks its best cloaked in winter white.
frank commented at 2/11/2011 12:44:00 PM:
What a crock ...
hope commented at 2/11/2011 7:52:00 PM:
The all-time low in Columbus was in 1936, at 17 degrees below zero. In my lifetime, I haven't seen it anywhere close to being that cold
So maybe by that, it is getting warmer. I have also seen it 14 degrees in Orlando, but not lately. So maybe it is getting warmer.
frank commented at 2/12/2011 1:51:00 PM:
Yeah and the warmest year on record in Columbus was 1921. If Al Gore's grandpappy had not warned us back then about the dangers of mule farts, we would surely all be toast by now.
Source: Southeast Regional Climate Center.
hope commented at 2/13/2011 12:23:00 PM:
Melting glaciers expected to raise global sealevel over 20 ft.
[email protected] commented at 2/13/2011 3:16:00 PM:
There is a difference in weather and climate! The warmest year on record in Columbus was 1921. That is a weather stat. Climate is global. The warmest year on record globally was 2010. That is climate change.
hope commented at 2/13/2011 5:05:00 PM:
Global warming is having an effect on Iceland as well as many other countries.
hope commented at 2/13/2011 7:00:00 PM:
As temperatures rise, some migratory birds are spending the winter an average of 35 miles further north than they did 40 years ago.
hope commented at 2/13/2011 7:27:00 PM:
According to climatolists,an increased natural tendency for winter storms is exactly what you'd expect in a warming world.
frank commented at 2/13/2011 10:42:00 PM:
One sure fact about the climate of today would be that P.T. Barnum's estimate is now way too low...
hope commented at 2/14/2011 8:37:00 AM:
Sea level worldwide is projected to rise up to two feet by the end of this century. This rise would eliminate approximately 10,000 square miles of land in the US.
hope commented at 2/14/2011 3:39:00 PM:
Glaciers around the world are shrinking, and the amount of sea ice in the Artic Ocean has decreased since the 1970s.
frank commented at 2/14/2011 5:26:00 PM:
The Arctic ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consul Ifft, at Bergen, Norway.
Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers, he declared, all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met with as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm.
Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts, which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds.
OMG! Hopeless, what do you think?
hope commented at 2/14/2011 7:28:00 PM:
Hurricanes in the Atlantic are likely to become more intense as ocean temperatures rise.
zenreaper commented at 2/16/2011 9:34:00 PM:
Actually hope, the reasons the glaciers are retreating or advancing (yes, some glaciers are ADVANCING) has NOTHING to do with global warming. It has to do with what is ON TOP of the ice, mainly rocks and earth, or ash and soot. If the glacier is covered with rocks and earth, it is protected from the sun, and those glaciers are ADVANCING. The ice covered with SOOT or ash ABSORBS the heat of the sun and THOSE glaciers are RETREATING.
Now, what CAUSES the difference? It is PURELY local conditions. Increasing populations in glacial areas with increasing use of CO and CO2 producing engines creates local soot (which stays in the air for short distamces and falls back to earth, coating the ice). This is a THIRD WORLD problem, and nothing we here in the US can do will help it.
[email protected] commented at 2/17/2011 3:03:00 PM:
Reefs around the world are dying and oysters are vanishing world wide and it is not just from over harvesting.
hope commented at 2/17/2011 6:56:00 PM:
Rain and snow is getting heavier and making deadly floods worse. Global warming leads to more precipitation, because warm air holds more moisture. The air is warmer because of greenhouse gases.
frank commented at 2/18/2011 12:28:00 AM:
P.T., I think we are up to about 20 per minute...
Source for previous posting:
The Washington Post - November 1922
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