The weather it is a-changin’ and it may be part of global warming

As my spine begged for mercy after another day recently spent shoveling snow, I asked myself a simple question you may have asked, too. If the climate is changing, why do I need a snow shovel to dig out my driveway? The answer may surprise you.

As my spine begged for mercy after another day recently spent shoveling snow, I asked myself a simple question you may have asked, too. If the climate is changing, why do I need a snow shovel to dig out my driveway? The answer may surprise you.

History shows we’ve earned our tire chains when it comes to snow. A 1916 winter blast crushed a cathedral dome in Seattle. A 1950 blizzard brought the only “zero degree” reading ever at SeaTac Airport. More than 5 feet of snow fell in the winter of 1969. Cold weather records from the 1990 Arctic Express still stand and December 1996 brought heavy snow – twice. Seems our latest “unforgettable” snow is destined to quickly melt in our memories.

I asked Cliff Mass, University of Washington professor and author of “The Weather of the Pacific Northwest,” and Ted Buehner, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service, for some expert opinions on snow and climate change. “Global warming is just that – global,” Mass said. “You can’t make assumptions about a worldwide trend based on one event happening in one region.” He notes we see big swings in the weather year-round. A good example is the Pineapple Express that washed away all that snow so quickly.

Climate scientists say the Arctic is the first region of our planet to be affected by global warming, with the continents coming second and oceans third. With the Pacific Ocean being our major source of weather, the professor says climate change will be felt here more slowly than in the Arctic, which is seeing the impact now. Buehner notes that while we shivered in December, people in Barrow, Alaska (ZIP Code: Arctic Circle), saw temperatures zoom as much as 35 degrees above average. Not hard to find global warming believers there, I’d guess.

While western Washington may not be the first place the climate is changing, it is one of the first places where the energy industry is changing. Good thing, too, because on our coldest days, Puget Sound Energy set new records by delivering nearly twice as much natural gas and electricity to local homes and businesses as normal. As demand for energy is growing, so are the ways PSE can produce it cleanly. Wind power is working so well that while the snow was falling, PSE announced a new partnership to build more wind energy facilities in southeast Washington, near the towns of Dayton and Pomeroy. These new wind projects and the expansion of wind facilities already in operation, have the potential to generate enough electricity to one day power several hundred thousand homes and to create new, green jobs.

To learn more about what’s happening in wind power, and how to save energy all winter long, go to PSE.com or drop me a line at AskAndy@PSE.com. We have plenty of winter left in 2009, so hang on to that snow shovel. Waiting for global warming to clear your driveway may sound tempting, but probably won’t get you to work on time.

Andy Wappler is a senior public relations manager at Puget Sound Energy. He joined PSE in February 2008 after being chief meteorologist at KIRO-TV. He looks forward to hearing from you at AskAndy@PSE.com.




Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in News

Stock image
Campgrounds to reopen in 22 Washington counties

Campgrounds in counties actively in Phase 2 of the reopening plan will begin to welcome visitors June 1, state says.

King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht. FILE PHOTO
King County sheriff releases message about Minneapolis Police officer

Mitzi Johanknecht calls video of officer kneeling on neck of George Floyd ‘heartbreaking and disturbing’

Native EHS students graduate with help from alternative credit program

The program allows for cultural events — like the annual Canoe Journey — to count toward core school credit.

File photo of construction near North Bend on Aug. 16. Sound Publishing file photo
                                File photo of construction near North Bend on Aug. 16. Sound Publishing file photo
Rural King County mayors want state to let them enter Phase 2

Mayors cite heavy economic damage from prolonged shutdown.

New dashboard shows how far along King County is to meeting Phase II metrics

The county has met more than half its goals, but the ones it hasn’t met are critical in determining how many people are still being infected, and how quickly people are being tested.

As sales tax plummets in King County, mental health and drug program funding dries up

County will need to make severe cuts to MIDD program this year.

Local state rep. files lawsuit over Inslee’s emergency

Rep. Morgan Irwin of the 31st District was one of a few republicans signing onto this suit, alleging the state has violated Constitutional rights of citizens.

Auburn Mountain View Cemetery Manager Craig Hudson, center, confers with maintenance workers David Partridge, left, and Zach Hopper in March 2020. Sound Publishing file photo
State allows weddings, funerals, religious services to restart with restrictions

Gov. Inslee issues new rules during May 27 news conference.

Most Read