In recent days, the United States has been experiencing extreme cold, with minus 40 degrees Celsius temperatures being no exception. Flights are canceled, highways are closed, and there’s a risk of frostbite. It hasn’t been this cold since 1977, and it can be safely called an ‘exceptional blizzard’, says meteorologist Reinout van den Born of Weer.nl.
According to van den Born, this is due to a combination of factors. “It was very cold, but there was snow in many places. Also, there were strong winds. So it was really a storm. The pictures said it all: few meters of visibility, roads completely covered in snow and rescue operations with nowhere to go.’
He thinks the number of victims is rising even steeper due to bogged down rescue services. ‘Too often rescue services get stuck on their way to someone in need. So in the end they didn’t come.’
Although North America is at the same latitude as France or Spain, Europe does not have to worry about the same kind of cold front or an American cold tail. Van den Born continues, ‘The situation there is very different from Europe. ‘There are mountains, but if you look north they are longitudinal. So they don’t stop the cold, and once the cold air from Canada – which is always cold in the winter – starts to flow south, there’s no ocean or anything to warm it up a bit, and that’s what we have. The wind has retained its character and has now reached New Mexico.
‘It’s almost impossible’
Van den Born thinks that warm water in Europe is our salvation. “It’s almost impossible because of the incredibly warm seas we have in Europe,” he says. ‘There are few examples of cold weather in the Netherlands like 1979, but that was 44 years ago.’
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Meteorologist says climate change is the reason why it is so cold in America. And he thinks it’s pretty crazy. “They were able to show in North America that due to rising temperatures and a weakened jet stream, conditions where the Canadian cold can sink south are becoming more frequent.”
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