Buffalo News: Brace for Floods, Weather Whiplash an Effect of Global Warming

November 23, 2014

Word getting around in the heartland. This is not going to stop any time soon.

Buffalo (NY) News:

While last week’s winter blast appears to be the freak offspring of a typhoon-blasted jet stream and a warm Lake Erie, it’s also part of a long-term pattern that shows no sign of changing.

Meteorologists and geographers say that lake-effect snows have increased as temperatures have warmed in recent decades. That means more bizarre early-season storms, though not necessarily as bad as last week’s, are likely in the future as the warming trend continues.

“The general notion is that, as the climate warms and the lakes hold their warmth longer into the fall, you’re going to see a lot more lake-effect snow until it’s too warm to have much snow,” said Mark Monmonier, distinguished professor of geography at Syracuse University and the author of the 2012 book “Lake Effect: Tales of Large Lakes, Arctic Winds, and Recurrent Snows.”

Keep your shovels handy, though, because that breaking point – when lake-effect snow is replaced by lake-effect rain – likely won’t come until mid-century, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority said in its updated report on climate change in the state earlier this year.

For the next few decades, then, conditions will be increasingly ripe for the creation of winter white-outs, although meteorologists said most won’t be as bad as the one that buried South Buffalo and the Southtowns with snow piles that in some places were taller (or deeper) than many teen-age boys.

buffalonewspicCNN:

The Buffalo area waits for the floodwaters to rise.

They’re coming, that’s for certain.

But how high and how widespread, that’s another matter.

Warming temperatures forecast for Sunday will start to melt 7 feet of snow that was dumped on the area in upstate New York last week. Rain will add to the menace.

State officials aren’t taking any chances. They’ve beefed up stockpiles of emergency supplies including generators and pumps and prepared nearly 180,000 sandbags.

The area is under a flood warning. The National Weather Service says flood-prone areas will be inundated but warns there will be more widespread flooding, too.

“(We) expect 5 to 6 feet of water in some areas in a short period of time,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said. The risk of flooding extends into Tuesday.

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