Forty nine states have snow on the ground right now thanks to a rash of snowstorms caused, in part, by human-induced climate change (.pdf, 1.8 MB). First, the situation on the ground:
The extraordinary rash of snowstorms which have swept the U.S. in recent weeks, many generating record snowfall, have produced one of the country's most expansive snow packs in recent memory. National Weather Service researchers charged with monitoring the country's snow cover and its water content estimated Friday that more than 67% of the Lower 48 sat beneath a veil of snow. Hawaii, despite the presence of mountains which can and often do become snow-covered in winter, is the only state not to report at least some snow on the ground. The snow has been so widespread in recent weeks, even perennially snow-free Florida has failed to escape. De Funiak Springs, in the state's panhandle near the Georgia border, reported a 1" snow accumulation late Friday afternoon at the same time a thundery squall line in warmer air to the south was diving southward the length of the Florida peninsula unleashing driving rains and 70 mph gusts.
And the prediction the National Climatic Data Center summarized on their Climate Change FAQ page:
In some areas where overall precipitation has increased (ie. the mid-high northern latitudes), there is evidence of increases in the heavy and extreme precipitation events. Even in areas such as eastern Asia, it has been found that extreme precipitation events have increased despite total precipitation remaining constant or even decreasing somewhat. This is related to a decrease in the frequency of precipitation in this region.
Now, I'm not a physicist, but I do understand that putting the same amount of energy into a system while cutting off the avenues for the energy to dissipate means more energy remains in the system, like having a slow drain in a bathtub. All the evidence might support a different conclusion, of course, which is why scientists are looking for more evidence. Maybe climatologists are wrong. Maybe we're not experiencing an unprecedented shift in worldwide climate, and maybe we didn't cause it. At the moment, though, that's wishful thinking.
Via Andrew Sullivan, a brilliant depiction of the idiocy of marriage inequality:
From reader MB, a business venture he wishes he'd thought of:
Many people in the U.S.—perhaps 20 million to 40 million—believe there will be a Second Coming in their lifetimes, followed by the Rapture . In this event, they say, the righteous will be spirited away to a better place while the godless remain on Earth. But what will become of all the pets?
Bart Centre, 61, a retired retail executive in New Hampshire, says many people are troubled by this question, and he wants to help. He started a service called Eternal Earth-Bound Pets that promises to rescue and care for animals left behind by the saved.
... Todd Strandberg, who founded a biblical prophecy Web site called raptureready.com that draws 250,000 unique visitors a month, agrees that Fido and Mittens are doomed. "Pets don't have souls, so they'll remain on Earth. I don't see how they can be taken with you," he says. "A lot of persons are concerned about their pets, but I don't know if they should necessarily trust atheists to take care of them."
Forutunately for Parker, I'll still be around. But if anyone out there wants to give me $50 per year per pet, I'll happily take care of their animals should the people ascend bodily into heaven.
It's just dawn in London, about five hours before my flight takes off, and this is the headline on the WGN Weather Blog:
Entire Chicago metropolitan area upgraded to winter storm warning
The entire Chicago metropolitan area is being placed under a winter storm warning effective from this evening through noon on Wednesday. Previous the winter storm warning had been in effect only for counties close to Lake Michigan where lake-enhanced snowfall was expected to boost snowfall total and surrounding areas were under a winter weather advisory. The warning area was expanded because strong winds are expected to develop gusting to 35-40 mph. The high winds will cause much blowing and drifting of the newly fallen snow creating very hazardous conditions that could result in near blizzard conditions in open areas.
Any bookmakers out there want to give me the odds of getting to Chicago tonight? I'm guessing I'll wind up in Raleigh, actually.
Diane has joined me in London for a couple of days, and since this is her first time here, I thought it important to take her to the #1 Touristy London Thing of All: the Tower Bridge. The reader may recall that the City re-painted the bridge over the summer, so large parts of it had tarps draped over it while we had our first residence. Well, the painters have finished the bridge approaches:
Here's the "before" picture, in August:
Note also that the temperature fell a bit between the first and second photos. Strange how that happens in six months. In fact, it started snowing shortly after I took the top one, which explains why we've returned to the hotel a bit. We'll come back when it's warmer.
I've stopped briefly in London to take two days with no responsibility whatsoever. Along the way I got a brief glimpse of Kyiv, but tantalizingly the cloud cover started right over the city. (For the half-hour we flew over Eastern Ukraine the weather was perfectly clear.)
No, really, that's Kyiv:
I'm not entirely sure I'll get back to Chicago tomorrow, though. They're expecting a snowstorm:
The snow may cover the area over a 24-hour period beginning late Monday, according to the National Weather Service Web site.
Much of the area is expected to get a total of 8 to 10 inches of snow, with higher amounts possible near Lake Michigan in Illinois and across Northwest Indiana where lake enhanced and significant lake effect snow might occur.
Now out to breakfast in London.
From Colorado Springs, a cautionary example of the logical outcome of Republican taxation policies:
More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled.
The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users to pack out their own litter.
Neighbors are encouraged to bring their own lawn mowers to local green spaces, because parks workers will mow them only once every two weeks. If that.
Water cutbacks mean most parks will be dead, brown turf by July; the flower and fertilizer budget is zero.
City recreation centers, indoor and outdoor pools, and a handful of museums will close for good March 31 unless they find private funding to stay open. Buses no longer run on evenings and weekends. The city won't pay for any street paving, relying instead on a regional authority that can meet only about 10 percent of the need.
On the other hand, Colorado Springs has very low taxes.
I am pooped.
The third residency is over, and I've got a 7am flight out of Delhi tomorrow. This being Delhi, that means I have to get up around 3:45am to meet one of my classmates at 4:30—and that might be cutting it close. That means I'll leave the hotel around 10pm London time and arrive there around 9am, and somehow I'll have to stay awake for the rest of the day. I don't usually sleep on airplanes, but tomorrow morning I think I'll make an exception, whether I want to or not.
I almost forgot: Nandan Nilekani spoke to us Wednesday evening. Once I get all of India sorted out in my head I may write a bit more about him:
For the moment, I'll just wander aimlessly for a few hours until I fall asleep. I think that's the limit of what my brain can handle right now.