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If there’s global warming, why is it so cold? – Quad City Times

It’s a question that pops up whenever it’s really cold: if there’s global warming, why is it so cold?

According to meteorologist Ray Wolfe, with National Weather Service Quad-Cities, it’s not that simple.

“I think a good way to think about it is climate is your personality, and weather is your mood,” Wolfe said. “Your personality is who you are over the long-term, and your mood can vary day-to-day for any number of factors that influence it.”

In other words, climate change is a long-term trend.

“Clearly in our part of the world, as well as globally, the temperature has been warming for quite some time now,” Wolfe said.

But weather, he said, is a variable that changes day to day.

“It’s wintertime, and in wintertime we get snowstorms and we get cold. It just so happens that the cold we’re getting now is near record cold, it looks like.”

Judah Cohen, a winter storm expert for Atmospheric Environmental Research, based in Lexington, Mass., says the polar vortex we are experiencing started with misplaced Moroccan heat. Meteorologists watched last month when the normally super chilly air temperatures 20 miles above the North Pole rapidly rose thanks to that southern warm air.

Cohen says that split the polar vortex into pieces. Those pieces of cold air started to wander, bringing the chill.

The unusual cold could stick around for weeks, Cohen predicted.

But because of climate change, Wolfe said, the odds of these sort of cold temperatures happening in the Quad-Cities are less than they would have been 30 or 40 years ago.

It’s also important to take in a global perspective, he said. Australia is in its summer months and suffering from severe heat waves. Even hot days in the summer don’t prove global warming. It might be more likely to happen, but one shouldn’t overreact to the variability of weather, he said.