Is Climate Change to Blame for Our Wacky Weather?

Mar 20, 2017

For the start of spring, we thought we’d look back at the wacky weather we’ve been having over the past two months. Like the 71-degree Fahrenheit day in Boston on February 24, which set the record for the warmest day for that city for the month of February. Or the February 27th tornado in Western Massachusetts. Or the radical swing to arctic temperatures in March.

We invited Sean Sublette of Climate Central and Bob Henson of Weather Underground to weigh in on the impact that climate change is having on these weather oddities. They say it’s risky to attribute any one event to climate change, but climate change makes crazy weather more likely. Sublette borrowed an analogy from a colleague about the steroid era in baseball.

“A guy hits a home run,” he said. “And you can’t say, that guy hit the home run because he was on steroids. But you look at major league baseball and the stats that were going on at that time, there were a lot more home runs being hit.”

Late winter warming is absolutely consistent with climate change, Bob Henson said. "That doesn't mean that every week will be warm."

Hence, our frigid March weather. 

“When we get cold, the cold air has got to come from somewhere,” said Sublette. Chances are, it’s coming from the Arctic, which saw record-breaking heat last year.

Despite our frozen crocuses, New England is not seeing a lot of record-breaking cold recently. “Whereas we are regularly seeing all-time highs being broken,” Sublette added.

And check out this nifty nap of early spring from USGS.

It’s so pretty, you kind of forget that it’s showing some pretty bad news.