Terrible hurricanes in the summer and temperatures now plunging to the lowest they’ve been in decades in much of the U.S. — is all this bad weather just bad luck? Not according to climate scientists, who say this deadly weather is one more sign of climate change.
Oklahoma City saw a temperature this week of -14°F, the coldest it’s been since 1899, before Oklahoma was even a state. In Texas, Dallas dropped to -2°F, while southerly Houston and San Antonio got down to 13°F and 12°F, respectively. In New Orleans, if COVID-19 hadn’t already ruined Mardi Gras, ice would have. Many cities across the U.S. have or are expected to hit record low temperatures this week.
Then, there were power outages galore — more than 4.2 million people without power in Texas alone on Tuesday morning — to make deadly storms even more lethal.
In this topsy-turvy world, Texans would be more comfortable right now in Iceland. “There are waves in the jet stream and because of climate change and the warmer air in the Arctic and the largely ice-free Arctic sea, those waves are able to go far south,” said Chris Gloninger, a meteorologist with NBC10 Boston. “So places like Alaska or Iceland, which today is in the low 40s, is warmer than places like Texas, Louisiana or Oklahoma. That’s why we’re seeing these extremes.”
Texas is especially vulnerable to the current storms because its main electric grid is separate from the rest of the country. Texas is better known for A/C than for heaters, and this week’s need for cranking up the heat broke the grid, plunging vulnerable Texans into cold and darkness. At least 20 people in the state have died from these conditions.
Are we convinced yet? Extreme weather sure is making it harder for climate change deniers to win their arguments, according to Michael E. Mann, author of The New Climate War, as reported by NBCLX. “We really are so close to seeing the action that we need to confront the climate crisis,” Mann said. “But there are still obstacles that have been thrown in our path by the same institutions that were denying climate change years ago. There’s no way to deny it now because people can see it playing out in real time in the form of unprecedented, devastating weather events.”