by Sarah Kelley ’18
This past week’s unusually warm weather brought a dramatic change from the frigid forecast of snow and ice that New Englanders are normally accustomed to this time of year. With temperatures holding near 70 degrees and barely a cloud in the sky, Providence College students and faculty alike have been enjoying this surprising meteorological pattern.
From Slavin to the Smith quad, fellow Friars have been taking full advantage of the unseasonable sunshine. Whether utilizing outdoor classroom spaces or playing pick-up Frisbee games, this warm weather has definitely lifted the spirits of everyone ready to be done with winter. But should we be so ready to celebrate this surprising weather?
While the benefits of warm weather in February make us want to rejoice in the early arrival of spring, we should first stop to question: what are the real climatological impacts of this weather, and should we really be happy about them?
Meteorological reports reveal over 4,400 record highs this month as February continues to challenge all historic weather patterns. And during what should be the final month of winter, mother nature has responded in confusion—with trees blossoming and producing leaves much earlier than usual in such areas as far north as Washington, D.C.
While perhaps not everyone may be interested in an early blossom, they should be more keen to take note of the potential severe rain storms across the U.S. that the early arrival of spring could carry. The Storm Center reported an “enhanced risk of severe thunderstorms” across the Great Lakes.
Even throughout the Midwest and Ohio valley—regions where severe storms are not typical until late spring—this month’s unusually high temperatures are causing meteorologists to recognize the potential of extreme weather and possible storms.
Also snow and ice coverage have been hit by the high temperature of what some are calling Februmarch. The Midwest has seen 0 percent snow cover and only seven percent of the Great Lakes featuring ice, when the typical statistics usually stands at 40 percent. Some meteorologists predict record high temperature records to be set this Friday—stretching from Florida to Michigan.
These weather patterns are not normal and have a potentially direct and severe impact on our environment as well as our safety. Climate changes should not be taken lightly, despite our instincts to welcome the warm weather. And this unseasonable weather takes on even greater significance within the context of President Trump’s recent actions, with his planning to derail Obama’s policies on climate protection and water pollution
Although it cannot be denied that this beautiful weather has lifted the spirits of many people across the U.S., recognizing the not-so-bright-and-sunny effects of climate change on our environment is crucial in raising awareness of the impact of these weather changes and in building on our own sustainability efforts throughout campus and across the nation.