Satellite view of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes swept across the Midwest and Appalachians on 2 March 2012. According to CNN, at least 36 people were killed, with the majority of the victims in Indiana and Kentucky. On the Weather Underground blog, meterologist Jeff Masters described the outbreak as a result of warm, wet air from the Gulf of Mexico mixing with cold, dry air aloft. Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, NOAA-NASA GOES Project

17 March 2012

WASHINGTON — America’s weather is stuck on extreme.

Nearly 11 feet of snow has fallen on Anchorage, Alaska, this winter. That’s almost a record, and it’s forcing the city to haul away at least 250,000 tons of snow. Yet not much snow has dropped on the Lower 48 this year.

The first three months of 2012 have seen twice the normal number of tornadoes. And 36 states set daily high temperature records Thursday. So far this month, the U.S. has set 1,757 daily high temperature records. That’s similar to the number during last summer’s heat wave, said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Six rare, but not unprecedented, March tornadoes struck Thursday in Michigan, which also set 26 heat records. Temperatures were in the 80s in some parts of the state.

Nationwide, there have been 132 tornadoes confirmed in January and February, with preliminary reports of more than 150 already in March.

Two different weather phenomena — La Niña and its northern cousin, the Arctic Oscillation — shift storm and temperature patterns through the world, meteorologists say. Scientists say you cannot link a single weather event to global warming.

However, climate scientist Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria says: “When you start to see the extreme events become more common, that’s when you can say that it is a consequence of global warming.”

U.S. suffers extreme weather



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