If you live in the United States, you’ve probably noticed that this winter has been unseasonably warm, and that the East Coast hasn’t seen much as much snow as it usually gets this time of the year. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), the overall snowfall for Baltimore, Maryland has been decreasing over the years. The normal snowfall for the area is around 20 inches, but in the past few years there hasn’t been much snowfall. The average high temperature for January 2020 was 48.5°F, and on the 11th and 12th the daily high even reached 70°F! The lowest daily high for the month was only 34°F on the 20th. Most of the month saw a high in the 40s, which is much higher than is the norm for the month.
So, why is this happening? The answer is global warming, the long-term rise in the average temperature of the earth, along with climate change, a change in global or local climate patterns. These changes can be attributed to the increase in fossil fuel burning, which leads to carbon monoxide being released into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide creates what is known as the greenhouse effect, when heat is prevented from escaping out into space and simply circulates within the atmosphere. Many laws have been put into place within the past few decades to help reduce the effects of climate change, including the Paris Agreement, a regulation in which many countries agreed to reduce carbon monoxide emissions, and the Clean Air Act, an act put into place in 1963 in the United States to reduce air pollution from factories.
You, too, can help reduce air pollution that contributes to climate change. Many people have been driving electric or hybrid vehicles, which don’t emit as much carbon monoxide as other cars. Another way to reduce air pollution is to carpool with other people, take public transportation, ride a bike, or simply walk to your destination. This helps reduce the number of vehicles on the road emitting carbon monoxide from the exhaust.
©2020 Weather Forecaster Sarah Cobern
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The term “bombogenesis” (also referred to as “bomb cyclone”) is a term that many people outside of the meteorology community have seldom heard. The most common time that it will be used is typically during strong Nor’easter events, which are storms that have a strong northeasterly flow that bring large amounts of snow, rain, and damaging wind up the eastern coast. Bombogenesis does not occur very often, but when it does, it’s nerve wracking to forecast for due to the potential damage it can cause. So what is it?
In order to explain what this phenomenon is, there is a need to explain what a mid-latitude cyclone is first. A mid-latitude cyclone is a low pressure system that has a counterclockwise flow (“cyclonic”) in the middle latitudes. They typically form along a polar front and will have a warm front on the eastern side with a cold front on the western side. These typically occur during the cooler months of the year between October and March. With that being said, bombogenesis is when a mid-latitude cyclone drops 24 or more millibars in surface barometric pressure in 24 hours. Basically, bombogenesis is the rapid intensification of a mid-latitude cyclone in a small period of time. When this happens, it can cause the storms that form along the cold front to become increasingly more intense than before, such as raging snow storms in the Northeast, as well as severe thunderstorms on a strong squall line (line of rapidly moving storms along a cold front that result in damaging winds, tornadoes, and heavy rain) to form along the front in the South. These can cause embedded tornadoes within the line itself, which is particularly more dangerous as these types of tornadoes are more likely to be rain-wrapped (where the rain will form a wall around the tornado causing it to be hidden and undetected without radar).
Bombogenesis does not happen that frequently during the year, but when it does, it can get dangerous quick for the population that lies ahead of intense cyclone. More often than not, these systems typically become Nor’easters, and cause several inches to even feet of snow to fall over portions of the Northeast over a period of days as it pushes through. On the meteorological aspect of it, bombogenesis is a phenomenon that is exciting to see, but nerve wracking to forecast as some models struggle to agree on timing and severity. As instruments and models advance, these will be better forecasted in the future.
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©2020 Meteorologist Ashley Lennard