What’s causing the snow

    About a foot of snow is on its way to the Delaware Valley. Kerry Grens has more from WHYY’s health and science desk on where it is all coming from, and what’s on the way.

    About a foot of snow is on its way to the Delaware Valley. Kerry Grens has more from WHYY’s health and science desk on where it is all coming from, and what’s on the way.

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    Residents have been given little time to catch their breath between snow storms this month. Joe Bastardi, a meteorologist at AccuWeather, says he predicted such a winter months ago. Bastardi says certain environmental patterns — such as an El Nino year — tipped him off.

    Bastardi: There were a lot of other things going on including things with solar cycles and volcanic activity and things like that that formed the backdrop for putting together this forecast. So you could see it coming. I tell you already we’re going to have a warmer summer this year than we did last year for instance. You could see that coming too.

    The big snow storms this month have been caused by a complex interplay of environmental factors. There’s also a pair of air currents mingling over the mid-Atlantic. Keith Arneson is a meteorologist at Rutgers University. He says the jet stream is split into northern and southern branches.

    Arneson: The southern branch is dipping down in to the Gulf of Mexico and bringing up warm moist air at the same time the northern branch is dipping down cold air and the mix is producing copious amounts of precipitation over the east.

    Arneson says global warming is one thing that’s likely not playing a role. And a single winter can neither support nor discredit predictions of climate change.

    If you like the snow, you’re in luck. Forecasts are predicting wintry weather through March. It’s just the second week in February, and Bastardi says conditions are right for a lot more wintry weather.

    Bastardi: This doesn’t go quietly into the night. And this was something we stressed in our winter forecast, that the latter part of the winter would actually be the worst part of the winter in the eastern part of the United States. And I think we’re right in for it and I think were going to have a memorable sled right to the end of winter.

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