Why all the snow?

After record-setting snowfall in the contiguous U.S., including in the nation’s capital, global warming naysayer Sen. James Inhofe and his family built an igloo outside the Capitol. They added a cardboard sign–”Al Gore’s New Home.” Contrary to intuition, however, our winter misery may not be related to any sort of long-term weather patterns. “It’s very hard to tell,” said William Gallus, Professor-in-Charge of the Meteorology Program at Iowa State University. “So far we can just say that storm systems have been stuck in place for a couple of weeks.” He can say for sure, nevertheless, that this winter has been an anomaly is several aspects. Oddly, even though this is an El Niño year–what is supposed to be a warm. wet winter–meteorologists have been finding fluffy snow. “It’s also interesting that this is the third year in a row that we’ve had a brutal winter,” Gallus said. “It’s been fairly rare it’s been consistently cool for an extended time.” So far, three months have been colder than normal. “Computer modes predict that for the next two weeks, there will be no sign of a thaw,” he said. In other words, the groundhog is right; it will be cold until at least the beginning of March. Winter 2009-2010 in focus Is this winter the snowiest ever? While it may indeed seem that way, it has actually yet to crack the top 5 highest snowfalls for central Iowa on record, according to the National Weather Service. Around 58 inches have fallen as of today, compared to the 72” in the devastating winter of 1910-11 (the same year Niagara Falls froze over). However, as of Feb. 14, this winter was the snowiest up to that date, meaning it depends on snow storms through the rest of the month and, unfortunately, possibly in early March to determine whether this year was the snowiest in history. -S.M.