JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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The biggest unnoticed storms in the world cause sudden Polar Vortex havoc

 Sudden Stratospheric Warmings

Who knew? The polar vortices are the two strongest and largest “storms” on the planet. These continent scale storms are 600 miles across with winds raging at 300km per hour. Simon Clark is doing (or has done) a PhD in polar vortexes. He describes how  each winter they form high over the poles. These are stratospheric, circling far above jet streams and planes. The tight circular pattern keeps the coldest air corralled. But every now again, the neat circle falls apart. In the polar stratosphere sometimes temperatures warm in days by stupid amounts, like 50 degrees C. It’s called a Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW) and one started around Christmas time.

As Clark describes it, these are easily the most violent weather events on the planet.  (They sound fascinating). As with unbalanced centrifuges, when things unravel,  as the high speed system unravels, the arctic cold could spin off anywhere — this week it’s the US, but Europe and Russia are often targets too. There is a lag involved — after an SSW it may take two weeks for things to hit the fan on the surface, so to speak. Generally, when an SSW hits it presages a brutal [...]

Climate change causes three meters of snow in two days, avalanches in Europe

It’s not well known, but in the same way that climate change causes every hot weekend it also causes snow dumps, avalanches, and freak weather. The scientific link is just as strong and calculated the same way. Take a tendentious cross-correlation on free-range seasonal assumptions, and then pour Vodka in the Cray.

If only the Germans had built more windmills they could have stopped this. Chaos in ski resorts, people trapped, road closed, flights canceled

Three metres of snow fell in the space of 48 hours in some parts of the country and more than a metre is forecast to fall today and tomorrow. — The Times (paywalled)

Heavy snow paralysed much of Europe for yet another day, cutting off mountain villages, sparking avalanches like one that crashed into a Swiss hotel, and killing at least four people.

At least 21 weather-related deaths have been reported in Europe in the last 10 days.

—ABC

With three million dollars to spend today (like every day) the ABC found cute photos of white stuff on cuddly sheep and scooters to fit the deadly theme. Nice.

There is avalanche danger, blocked roads and floods in [...]