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Record-Breaking Winter Storm Havoc Brings Grief and Disarray

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Clear Facts

  • A series of winter storms is causing havoc across the U.S., with heavy rain, snow, and high winds affecting parts of New England and severe thunderstorms with tornadoes across the Southeast.
  • The extreme weather has disrupted travel and claimed at least four lives, with a record 196 million people under wind advisories, warnings, and watches.
  • The storm is so intense that it set a record for the lowest atmospheric pressure recorded in Indianapolis in January, with wind speeds reaching record intensities for the month.

The U.S. is currently grappling with a series of severe winter storms that are wreaking havoc across the country. The storms are producing heavy rain, snow, and high winds in parts of New England, while the Southeast U.S. has been hit by severe thunderstorms with embedded tornadoes.

At the peak of the storm, an unprecedented 196 million people were under wind advisories, warnings, and watches. This included entire states from Florida to Maine, as a powerhouse cold front associated with the storm pushed east. The extreme weather has severely disrupted travel and tragically claimed at least four lives.

The victims include a woman who died when a tornado struck her Alabama mobile home and another person in North Carolina who was killed when severe weather hit a mobile home park amid unconfirmed reports of a tornado. Two more people died in Alabama and Georgia after trees fell on their cars, according to local officials.

The storm’s intensity is such that it set a record for the lowest atmospheric pressure recorded in Indianapolis in January. However, this record is expected to be broken in just three days, as the next storm rapidly intensifies. In general, the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm and its winds.

Wind speeds just above the surface have hit record intensities for the month of January. These winds, known as a low-level jet stream, were recorded screaming from southeast to northwest at 100 mph at only 1,000 to 4,000 feet above the surface in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. This resulted in surface wind gusts above 50 mph across large areas, leading to widespread power outages. As of Wednesday morning, more than 500,000 customers were without power in the East.

The National Weather Service’s Buffalo, New York, office reported late Tuesday wind gusts reaching 70 mph at a Mesonet weather station in Belleville, and the Watertown Airport — which gusted to 79 mph. About 1,000 flights were delayed and over 1,200 were canceled early Wednesday following thousands of delays and cancelations the previous day, per FlightAware.

The storm significantly impacted all three D.C.-area airports and those in Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago’s O’Hare and in New York, where the Federal Aviation Administration issued ground stops at JFK and LaGuardia airports late Tuesday. Vice President Kamala Harris’ press secretary said on Tuesday night that the severe weather had forced her plane to divert.

Schools in Charlotte closed, while Raleigh and D.C.-area schools shut down early Tuesday due to flash flood and high wind threats. Closures and delays extended into the Carolinas, and south to Florida, per Axios Local reporters. Several schools in New York and New Jersey said they would open late Wednesday morning due to flooding and power outage threats.

The NWS Weather Prediction Center noted the storm that’s “producing a multitude of significant impacts from the Midwest to the East Coast” would carry over into Wednesday. Significant coastal flooding has been occurring in New England on Wednesday. Portland, Maine has recorded a water level on its top 5 list of all time, and many other communities in several states are reporting coastal flooding as winds drive a storm surge onto the coast.

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Studies show that climate change is making heavy precipitation events, including record-strong atmospheric rivers like the ongoing storm, more extreme and frequent. This is largely because warming air and ocean temperatures put more moisture into the atmosphere, allowing storms to tap into more energy and produce heavier precipitation rates.

This same storm brought blizzard conditions to Kansas on Monday. Blizzard conditions were set to continue through Wednesday morning in the Northwest, bringing snow totals to several feet in the higher elevations of the Cascades and Olympics, with wind gusts exceeding 60 mph.

Another powerful winter storm is forecast for late this week into the weekend, with a major Arctic outbreak to follow.

Clear Thoughts (op-ed)

As the U.S. battles a series of fierce winter storms, it’s time to take a hard look at our approach to disaster preparedness. These storms, with their heavy rain, snow, and high winds, have caused widespread disruption and tragically claimed four lives.

An astonishing 196 million people were under wind advisories, warnings, and watches. This is not just a weather issue, it’s a national security concern.

The storm’s intensity has broken records, with Indianapolis experiencing the lowest atmospheric pressure ever recorded in January. This sort of extreme weather event is becoming all too common and underscores the need for robust infrastructure and emergency planning.

While some point to climate change as the primary culprit for these storms, it’s crucial to remember that weather patterns are complex and multifaceted. We must continue to invest in research to better understand these events, and in the meantime, prioritize the safety and well-being of those affected.

Let us know what you think, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. SAMSON

    January 14, 2024 at 8:10 am

    The climate wackos used to call climate change global warming, I guess they changed it so they could use the cold also as an excuse for the natural changes of the Earth.

    • Weasler

      January 14, 2024 at 3:17 pm

      Exactly. They use the catch-all term “climate change” to cover themselves. The problem is, when has the climate ever NOT changed?

  2. Vetmike

    January 14, 2024 at 8:23 am

    Here, in mid-Nebraska, we’re at -14F with 20+MPH winds. Drifts at six to seven feet. Bad

  3. Bon

    January 14, 2024 at 5:52 pm

    Perhaps we should defund HAARP as that is probably what is happening right now. Our country does not need evil people playing with changing our weather according to what they wish.

  4. Colleen

    January 14, 2024 at 8:06 pm

    Thanks, y’all said what I was going to say, “it’s weather, get over it” it’s always changing. Unless of course you’re stuffing your pockets full of money because your gullible braindead zombies believe your BS! Go ask Greta, she’s a perfect example.

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