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'Bomb Cyclone' hammers east coast as Alaska enjoys mild temperatures - what's happening to our weather?

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Unusual weather wreaks havoc across United States.

California is warm and dry, Alaska is 20 degrees above normal while arctic air is blanketing the Eastern US and combining with a winter hurricane in the Atlantic to bring snow to Florida and blizzard conditions to the East Coast. None of this is normal. 

Forecasts show the bomb cyclone will impact the eastern USA from Florida to Canada.

Forecasts show the bomb cyclone will impact the eastern USA from Florida to Canada.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
1/3/2018 (3 years ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: bomb cyclone, Grayson, storm, winter, hurricane, Sandy, Alaska, polar vortex

LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Unusual weather is impacting all of the continental United States today as warm temperatures remain in the west and cold conditions east of the Rocky mountains. 

People living on the East Coast from Florida to Canada face imminent danger from winter storm Grayson, which is about to dump up to a foot of snow in places along with hurricane force winds. The storm is known as a 'bomb cyclone' and is a form of winter hurricane, spinning in the Atlantic. This storm is combining with polar vortex conditions, exacerbating the danger to millions of people. Air pressure will be as low as Sandy. 

People along the East Coast are being warned to avoid travel and stay indoors. 

As the east shivers, the western U.S. is baking under unseasonably warm temperatures. Parts of Alaska are 20 degrees above average. Most of Alaska is still freezing, but Anchorage saw 48 degrees on Tuesday, and Fairbanks reports they had the second-warmest December on record. 

California remains dry, especially Southern California, which normally gets rain from late November through the spring. January and February are the wettest months in Southern California, but no significant rain is in the forecast.

None of this is typical weather. 

While blizzards and winter cyclones occur, and California suffers droughts, the combination of these events all at once is uncommon. However, they are closely related. 

California is once again sheltered by a dome of high pressure that has settled over the state, and off the Pacific Coast. The high pressure brings warm, stable air to the region, and it blocks storms shunting them north across Oregon and Washington. While it makes the beaches nice to visit, it wreaks havoc on the state's water supply and air quality. California is rapidly returning to drought conditions, and there is no expectation of much rain through the spring. 

Arctic air, bounded by the Rocky mountains, has been funneled east in a polar vortex event. The meandering jet stream is the culprit, its wandering blamed on global warming.  According to the hypothesis, warmer Arctic air means the jet stream will meander more, allowing frigid arctic air to dip south as far as the Gulf of Mexico. 

Finally, a winter cyclone, the product of a warm Altantic Ocean, is slamming into the East Coast, causing a bomb cyclone to develop. High winds and blizzard conditions mean danger and discomfort for millions of people. 

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The degree to which we can blame climate change for these weather events is debatable. It is widely believed that they would happen once in a while, even without changes in the planet's overall atmospheric temperature. However, global warming is expected to make such events more severe, long-lasting, and eventually, more frequent. One such spell of strange weather does not make a crisis. However, if weather events like these continue to unfold and threaten to become normal, then more attention will have to be paid to the cause of these events. 

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