Hoosiers and most of the Midwest are suffering through the coldest January since the 1980’s, according to Ball State University’s David Call, a severe weather expert.
“It is likely that January 2014 will be among the 10 percent of coldest first months of the new year for Indianapolis, meaning that 90 percent of the time the temperature is warmer,” says Call, an associate professor of geography. “None of those coldest Januaries have occurred in the last 25 years, so this month is considerably colder than what we have experienced in recent memory. That said, many of the coldest Januaries on record occurred in the 1970s and 1980s, including 1977, 1978 and 1979. Anyone over 35 has experienced weather like this before – just not recently.”
Call points out the recent weather pattern has consistently featured a ridge of warm air in the western U.S. and a trough of cold air in the eastern U.S. The jet stream, that great river of air in the sky that separates warm from cold, has been pushed far north into western Canada before plunging far south into the southeastern U.S.
“While we have been cold and snowy, the western U.S., especially California, has been hot and dry,” he says. “California gets most of its snow and rain in winter, so there could be serious water restrictions and a horrific fire season later this year if the weather pattern does not change soon.”
Even though the recent months have been abnormally frigid, Call says claims that dismiss global warming are “bogus.”
“While we are experiencing colder than average conditions, places such as California and Australia are much warmer than average,” he says. “Global warming refers to a change in climate, which is the long-term average of weather. Weather is what’s going on right now, and it can vary wildly from day to day or even month to month.
“Lastly, global warming does not mean an end to cold weather. It simply means that the cold weather would be a little less cold. Even the most pessimistic global warming models suggest a temperature change of just a few degrees for the next few decades,” said Call.