Tornadoes are cropping up farther eastward in the U.S. than ever before, according to a study published in October in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science.
While the Midwestern region known colloquially as “tornado alley” — parts of northern Texas into Oklahoma and Kansas into Nebraska — is still No. 1 in terms of twister frequency, tornadoes are now becoming common in Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky and even Missouri, Illinois, Iowa and parts of Ohio and Michigan.
There may be no natural disaster more humbling than hurricanes, with their gale force winds and flood-surges that destroy people’s homes, livelihoods and lives. Now two of them, back-to-back, have battered the United States and parts of the Caribbean and Cuba in the space of three weeks, including Harvey, a Category 4 hurricane, which left much of Houston underwater, and Irma, which started out as a Category 5, the biggest hurricane to hit the United States since Andrew in 1992.
“The U.S. has never been hit, since we started collecting records in 1851, by two Category 4 or stronger hurricanes in the same season,” said Jeff Masters, a meteorologist and co-founder of Weather Underground.
Has it been a weird winter? No matter where you live, the climate is changing, and winter as you knew it has become less predictable. This year, if you live in Minneapolis, you had thunderstorms on Christmas Day and your annual ski race is being run on fake snow. If you live in Portland, Oregon, you spent 10 days trapped in your house because a freak ice storm shut down your city. If you live in Birmingham, New York, you got buried under a record-breaking 54 inches of snow during Winter Storm Argos, just one year after a record-setting low snowfall year — and just one day after the area set a record with 70-degree high temperatures. If you live in Los Angeles, you’ve gone from years of record drought to rains that amount to 216 percent of the “normal” amount for the past four months. If you live in Oklahoma, the thermometer just reached 100 degrees in the dead of winter. If you live in the North Pole, the temperature soared 50 degrees above normal.
On December 30, temperatures in the North Pole reached 50 degrees above average. In regions of the Arctic Circle that are usually around 20 degrees below zero at this time of year, sea buoys indicated temperatures slightly below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit). Northern Atlantic countries such as Iceland and Norway are experiencing a winter warming phenomenon as a result, which has meteorologists puzzling over possible causes.