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Speaking of weather

04 Dec 2019 | News Roundup

The New York Times warns of bad American Thanksgiving travel weather and shows a picture of Colorado under more than two feet of snow. But what has it to do with climate change? Nothing, apparently. The Times story simply reports that “foul weather disrupted plans during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year” without comment or analysis. Had it been a heat wave, though…

If you keep digging, the Times reports several records. Minneapolis-St. Paul airport had its most snow ever, more than 9 inches, breaking the 1983 record of five. Meanwhile “Heavy snows and whipping winds hit the Northwest overnight, in what the National Weather Service called a ‘historic, unprecedented’ storm, unlike any that had hit the region since the 1960s.” Perhaps we have unreasonably long memories since we do not think “since the 1960s” is the same as “unprecedented”. It just hasn’t happened since we were kids. But then, the Times also knows it happened within living memory as must the National Weather Service given what they do for a living. They just don’t seem to think very hard about the meaning of the words they’re using.

Nor about the fact that Denver had its “snowiest November day since 1994”. But if you check the patterns, breaking records dating back to 1983, the 1960s or 1994, you see … nothing. There is no pattern. We’re not seeing weather we never saw before, or that’s out of line with the fact that weather is variable, or proof that the earth is heating or anything.

Nor of course are we if we set a heat record breaking the 1983 number. But don’t expect the Times to remain silent if we do.

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