Doesn’t global warming mean no more winter? If so, then why is the Northern Hemisphere having such a cold one? The answer lies in part in the nature of global warming, and may in part in the effect of a decline in solar output that is not part of global warming models, but this is unclear. Some models show steady solar output, but there has been evidence since 2017 of a possible solar minimum developing. Planetary warming is greatest at the poles, with the result that the northern jet stream has a tendency to be pushed south more than normal and, especially in the winter, further than normal.
However, instead of bringing air that is at relatively mild arctic winter temperatures with it, it is becoming much colder, possibly because a dip in solar output is causing less heat to reach the hemisphere as the seasonal tilt of the planet causes it to face the sun less directly. The steadily weakening of the Gulf Stream also means that there is nothing to moderate extreme southward movement of the jet stream and the cold air that is developing with it. The exact mechanism involved is not presently understood.
This phenomenon has been taking place for about ten years, and growing steadily stronger, as is illustrated by the catastrophe that has befallen Texas and the US Southeast. As these are the regions of the country most committed to global warming denial, they have lagged behind in hardening their vital infrastructure against possible weather extremes.
For example, after a milder but similar expression of this phenomenon in 2011 a report recommending the winterizing of this infrastructure was ignored. Again in 2018, the problem was ignored. Now, in 2021, Texas is being devastated by what is going to become the worst weather catastrophe in the state’s history, and among the worst in modern American history.
The loss of wildlife and cattle will prove to be unprecedented, and the extent of damage to water delivery will take months to completely repair. The loss of life, with 58 dead known as of this writing, can never be repaired.
The disruption and near failure of the Texas power grid was due to the freezing of unwinterized wind turbines and gas-fired power plants. Despite the crystal-clear warnings both from nature and from science that the danger was clear and present, nothing was done.
The loss of wildlife and cattle was probably not preventable, but the damage to the infrastructure was. It should be remembered that nature doesn’t care about our politics. Climate change is here, and it is growing more dangerous every day, as this catastrophe tragically illustrates.
Unknowncountry’s Climate Watch continues to monitor the situation and now reports North American dangerous weather probability as extremely high. It is possible that very violent and extensive spring storms could take place from Texas into the Mid-Atlantic states and across the Midwest this spring.