Climate Change Causes Snowstorms

Cristian Garcia, Editorial Writer

In early January this year, a hazard snow storm advanced to the east region, in which it has suddenly converted into the one of biggest snowstorms seen in the 21st century, expanding more from New England all the way to Texas again. Scientists have come to the conclusion that climate change is a major factor in the cause.

The snowstorm advanced rapidly from the northeast to midwest, and rain fell in the south and worried states about potential twisters surfacing. Apart from New England, Texas, and Canada, the snowstorm has affected the northern part of New York, infiltrated to the Carolinas, with reports of 12 inches of snow in parts of Iowa and North Dakota, and has reached the Mississippi and Tennessee valleys. “Nashville may have more snow this winter than both Milwaukee and Chicago,” described Jonathan Porter, the chief meteorologist for AccuWeather, in an interview with New York Times. “While much is going to be said about the snow, we’re also raising the alarm of the ice storm that’s going to occur across the Carolinas,” Mr. Porter said. “It looks like that’s a recipe for extended power outages and tree damage in those areas.” In total, approximately 16 to 18 states have been affected by the snowstorm.

Power outages have become a problem due to the storm, with at least 300,000 homes and businesses losing electricity, primarily in Ohio and Tennessee. However, the most state that is concerned about electricity is Texas, after last February’s incident, in which the power grids stopped working due to the snowstorms. AS a result, at least 246 people died due to hypothermia. Despite this, Governor Greg Abott has stated that the power grids are better equipped for the situation. “Plenty of power available at this time. The power grid is performing very well at this time,” he said in a CNN interview. “At the expected peak demand, there should be about 10,000 megawatts of extra power capacity.” Regardless, leaders of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) wanted there could be local outages due to ice on wires of tree limbs. As of January 2022, it was reported that 3 deaths were due to the snowstorms weather incidents.

Meanwhile, Ralph Northam, former governor of Virginia, declared a state of emergency on January 15, ordering the activation of the state’s Emergency Operations Center. “This upcoming weather system is likely to include additional downed trees, more electrical outages, and significant impacts on travel conditions,” explained Northam during a press conference. Current governor, Glenn Youngin, has continued on with the state of emergency plan of his predecessor. “The key message for all Virginians is to stay aware of the weather conditions and to stay off the roads if possible,” said Youngkin in another press conference. “We have already started planning and mobilizing resources needed to protect the Commonwealth. We are very concerned with the forecasted impacts to our Eastern Shore region and have started pre-positioning resources to ensure a timely response to that area. The most important thing everyone can do to minimize the risks is to prepare yourself and your family.”

The Federal Aviation Administration advised travelers to check their airlines for storm-related delays and cancellations. Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta have already announced that due to the weather conditions, many flights of their airline flights may be delayed, diverted, or simply canceled in the south. Reports in the New York Times have stated that at least 5,000 flights have been canceled on February 3, an increase of the April 2020 air flight cancellations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far, the American Electric Power (AEP), has been preparing to meet the demands of customers during the winter storms. According to the company, crewmembers and contractors will remain in their regular reporting locations, packed and prepared to either work in their assigned or travel to storm-damaged areas. In an interview with WSAZ News, Jay Garett, a customer experience manager in Ohio, stated that “There is definitely the ability to call crews in, get crews staged in different areas as we start to see it impacted. Right now the main focus is to prepare our trucks and equipment and get everything ready to respond as quickly as possible.”

Scientists and Professors have come up with the conclusion that the snow storms are hazardous due to global warming and climate change that’s been increasing throughout the past year. “Extreme snowstorms, even in the face of longer term declines in winter snow, are entirely consistent with the effects of global warming,” Justin Mankin, a professor at Dartmouth College who studies climate change and variability, said in a statement to The Washington Post. “This blizzard was driven by a combination of favorable meteorological conditions and a warmer Atlantic, the latter of which is a signature of global warming and likely intensified the storm above and beyond what it would have been.” In March 2021, Vox covered the story in how the winter storm in Texas was a foreshadowment in how the American energy system will be unworkable if snow storms like the present one continue to happen.

“It may seem counterintuitive to see heavier snowfalls in a warming climate,” Jennifer Francis, acting deputy director of the Woodwell Climate Research Center, wrote in an email to The Washington Post. But “with warming also comes increased water vapor in the atmosphere to fuel storms with moisture and energy… Nowhere is this more evident than along the U.S. Atlantic seaboard, where abnormally warm ocean temperatures clash with frigid Arctic air masses, setting the stage for strong nor’easters.”.

However, ABC News stated that Conservative politicians seem to ignore the theories about global warming despite evidence being visible in the capital, Washington D.C., arguing that it’s the occasional weather. “You cannot use a system or systems over a short period of time to describe if there is global warming. It’s measured over a long, long period of time. This is a little speck in that duration,” said Brian Korty, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Why should we care about the snowstorms right here in California when it’s happening in the midwest, northeast, and south? Because of climate change that’s happening in the United States. Four years ago, in an NBC News article, “Climate change could affect human evolution. Here’s how.” written in 2018, expressed that in 2017, 258 million people migrated to another country due to global warming happening, an increase of 49% back then in 2000 reported by the United Nations. It’s estimated that in 2050, 140 million people will migrate away from sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America. While many people in southern California love the snow as a vacation trip or destition, the situation in the east is different from the common winter season. It’s stronger and becoming more hazardous, and with scientists showing evidence of climate change playing a bigger role in this, the Gen Zs will be handed a problem that should be solved right now. That’s what happened last year in Texas, displaying the dangers of snowstorms when power is shut down, but also that proves that the more we put on hold the theory of global warming and climate change that has proven its existence, the winter storms may be worse in the next year.