I grew up in incredibly warm climates, where snow was a fluke that occurred once every two to three years. And then, somehow, I ended up in Ohio, where there seems to be some amount of snow on the ground from late November to April and you open up the windows when the temperature finally reaches 30 degrees. Because apparently, that’s warm. Except for this year.
Like much of America, this winter has been incredibly dry, and I’m writing this as its currently 75 degrees outside.
It’s weird. And eerie.
So why is this?
According to the Scientific American, the 2011 to 2012 winter has been unbelievably warm and incredibly snow-free. With over 95% of the US reporting below average snow cover and above average temperatures, meteorologists are on the hunt to determine why this winter is so, for lack of a better word, odd.
So far, the most feasible theory is that the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), which controls the path and strength of the jet stream that runs through the US, is remaining higher than normal. This means that the jet stream is maintaining a relatively straight line and staying further north than average, keeping the cold artic air that usually causes snow fall and chilly temperatures in the US at bay. The result? A dry and warm winter.
While I have a difficult time complaining about mild winters, because my near tropical climate upbringing makes anything below 60 degrees seem frigid to me, a mild, dry winter can spell trouble for spring and summer, including water shortages and an longer wildfire season, which can harm crops and properties. So here’s hoping for a fair amount of rain this spring.
For further reading: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=whats-causing-dry-winter