MadSci Network: Earth Sciences

Re: What is the cause of recent warm temperatures in Northeast USA?

Date: Tue Dec 15 10:59:24 1998
Posted By: Eli Hestermann, Grad Student Biological Oceanography
Area of science: Earth Sciences
ID: 913252535.Es

Here's what I can tell you, Cheryl:

Well, I'm not a meterologist, but fortunately I was able to locate a 
Washington Post article on the web that explained the whole 
thing.  What follows is the explanation given in that article:

"The warm spell can be credited mostly to a warm air mass from the south 
that has settled over the eastern United States. That has pushed the polar
jet stream -- a high-altitude river of wind that brings winter storms and
frosty air into the United States and southeastern Canada -- farther north.

"Part of the reason is La Niņa, a global weather pattern that is succeeding
the notorious El Niņo. La Niņa, Spanish for 'little girl,' is disrupting 
normal jet stream paths and is expected to bring cool, wet weather to the
Northwest this winter and relatively warm conditions to the Southeast."

In short, the jet stream was farther north than usual, which kept the cold 
arctic air in northern Canada instead of allowing it to come south into the 
United States - like it is now!

Eli Hestermann

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