Living in a place as sunny as Santa Barbara, we usually begin to shiver as soon as the temperature reaches 65. However, Southern California and other regions in the Southwest United States were recently hit with a genuine, record-setting cold snap. The low of 34 degrees in Los Angeles on January 14 is colder than it has been in 22 years and made the national news.
“I have been flying out of the Santa Barbara airport for at least 20 years, and this is the first time I have ever seen the planes need to be defrosted,” said local pilot Joe Motorolla.
So, if we’re currently facing global warming, why did it seem more like the next ice age for a few days? According to Jeff Weber of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, it was because of a cold and dry mass of air in the Canadian Arctic. This mass of air was being pushed south by a warm air mass, which is causing very warm weather elsewhere. Another factor was abnormalities in the jet stream, which normally carries air from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. Unusually warm winter temperatures caused the jet stream to abandon its usual pattern, which has been causing fluctuations in temperature all over the western hemisphere. After the cold snap in the Southwestern United States, the cold air began to move east, hitting the Midwest and then the Northeast.
As strange as it may seem, the recent cold weather can in fact be attributed to global warming. Extreme cold and extreme heat are actually closely intertwined, and the low temperatures we have been experiencing are very likely related to climate change.