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What could explain the unusually early cold and snowy winter on the US East Coast last year and the apparent beginning of a similar one this year? Winters in recent years were mostly balmy and typically one could always expect the first measurable snow fall on or after the first week of January. Last year we had two feet in mid-December.  

We had to buy comforters this past January upon arrival in tropical Mexico where houses typically don't have heating systems. Temperatures there remained cool for several weeks and were the lowest I can recall over the past forty years. This coming winter appears to be heading in the same direction. Temps on the Yucatan peninsula will be down in the 12-13C tomorrow night. That's pretty cold when everyone there was accustomed to 42+ Celsius this past summer and there were still 32+C readings a week or two ago.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Thu Dec 9th, 2010 at 01:03:05 AM EST
My own general sense of this is that colder winters in the US, especially east of the Rockies, might be associated with the documented melting of the permafrost in the Arctic, the line for which has moved south significantly over the last couple of decades. Crudely put, permafrost melts in the warmer arctic summers and much colder air moves to mid-latitudes on the surface earlier in the winter, facilitating, perhaps, warmer arctic winters. This would provide a positive feedback loop for arctic warming.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Dec 9th, 2010 at 12:29:41 PM EST
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