The winter that just won’t end

It doesn’t matter where you live, but there seems to be some variation of this weather wisdom: “If you don’t like the weather in [insert your town, region, state of being], wait five minutes and it will change.”  I am fairly certain that this is not a new saying, and is not directly related to the increasing intensity of climate change (though it probably isn’t helping.)

My relocation to Ohio has come (lucky me) during a particularly rough winter.  I am told Ohio winters traditionally aren’t light, with the last decade being an exception.  But this year has seen a suite of heavy snows in concert with the Polar Vortex, which turned neighborhoods into icicles…and that is only a slight exaggeration.

It is winter.  Fine.  Switzerland has snow. The Northwest U.S. has snow.  So I am not foreign to fresh powder and bitter cold.  But the oscillating between that bitterness and Spring-like sunshine and warmth is frustrating.

Terminal Tower

I am fully aware of the fact that this region of the United States deals with such oscillation every season.  The shifts in weather, humidity, hot, and cold are blamed for the asphalt-pocked holes we call roads here. (I inverted asphalt and holes on purpose)  But the problem this Winter, and the argument for the effects of climate change, is that the extremes are extending beyond norms.  We might expect an extreme weather event every 10 years, not three in a season.

I reported a story from Kandersteg in 2012, I think, after severe flooding tore up roads, and endangered the town.  Fortunately the damage was minimal, but the worry was real: this tourist destination and home to an international scout center was inundated with concerned messages, wondering if it would be open for the coming season.  A local official told me there was never any danger it wouldn’t open…but he was a little concerned that they had two “once in a century” floods in quick succession.

These types of stories are becoming more and more frequent.  While I might just be griping about an annoyingly inconsistent winter, the extreme weather events are disconcerting if just for their frequency.  I would hope that things will stabilize, eventually, but in the meantime I’ll dress warm, and be prepared for a heat wave, every day.

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