Winter’s wrath envelops the Berkshires in polar frost to start the week | Weather

A brutal explosion from a deep arctic frost, also known as a “polar vortex”, was on deck earlier this week, after Sunday’s brewing of freezing rain and sleet. The roads in the area were so dangerous that many were impassable from early to mid-morning until they could be handled by road crews.

My police radio crackled with multiple reports of accidents, including cars in ditches. At one point, Lenox police struggled to reach a motorist because the roads near Tanglewood looked like ice rinks.

The Albany National Weather Service summed up the forecast for tonight through Tuesday night: Dangerous cold could cause frostbite and hypothermia, and wind chill alerts will be needed.

How cold? At dawn Tuesday, zero or so. Tuesday’s maximum: 5 degrees! Then the late night low will dip to minus 6 or below. By later this week, we should welcome a return to the average temperature range for week 2 of January: a low around 15, and a high near 30 or slightly above.

What wind? Gusts as strong as 40 mph. What’s needed? Parkas, gloves, hats and a cup of tea.

Here in the Berkshires, “with a tenth to a quarter of an inch of ice potentially on trees from daytime freezing rain, strong winds can break tree branches, causing power outages,” according to an article. online from government forecaster Christina Speciale in Albany. This threat is expected to abate by mid-morning today.

Another concern this morning is a band of flurries caused by extremely cold air passing over the still partially thawed Great Lakes. This could drop an inch or two of snow, especially in the southern Berkshires, affecting the return to work and school.

Some of the frigid air mass of northern Alaska, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories in Canada is finally heading northeast by tonight, thanks to a deep bend in the jet stream . Sunday morning’s extreme cold brought temperatures to a record minus 63 in Chicken, Alaska, as well as Deadmen Valley and Rabbit Kettle, both in the Northwest Territories.

For next weekend, seasonal temperatures are expected, although there is a risk of snow on Sunday.

The outlook for Jan. 16-22 suggests slightly below normal temperatures and slightly above average snowfall for western New England, according to the Climate Prediction Center.

NATIONAL OVERVIEW

The incursion of arctic air also affected the Upper Midwest and northern plains earlier this week, along with dangerous wind chills. Elsewhere, calm weather and a warming trend will be welcome in the Great Plains and much of the West.

By midweek, moderate to heavy precipitation is expected over the Pacific Northwest, Four Corners States, and then across the Southern Plains and Mississippi Valley by Thursday and Friday. The risk of winter conditions could increase by next weekend for the Midwestern and Great Lakes region, as well as an outdoor risk of snow in the northeast.

The Big Chill will subside in the east starting Wednesday, while the central United States will be much milder than normal, particularly in the plains and the Mississippi Valley.

After the early week showers in Florida, the sun is expected to return from Wednesday, with peaks in the 1970s. The Carolinas are expected to be mostly sunny after a few rains today, with highs near 60.

CLIMATE UPDATE

More than four in ten Americans live in a county that was hit by extreme climate-related weather last year, according to a new Washington Post analysis of federal disaster reports. While all of New York State, Vermont, and Connecticut were included, Berkshire County and the rest of Massachusetts were not.

But more than 80% of Americans have suffered at least one heat wave, including the Berkshires. Heat wave data from about 7,500 NOAA temperature monitors across the country came to the conclusion.

Although the extreme heat is not officially considered a disaster, it is one of the deadliest forms of severe weather. Officials say at least 227 people were killed by the record-breaking heat dome that engulfed the Pacific Northwest in late June – a figure that is almost certainly an undercount.

In the country that has generated more greenhouse gases than any other country in history, global warming is extending its reach and taking a heavy toll, the Post said in its weekly climate report.

At least 656 people have died amid the onslaught of disasters, as shown by media and government records. The cost of destruction exceeds $ 104 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, even before authorities calculate the final toll of wildfires, drought and heat waves in the West.

There is no doubt that the future will be worse. Steadily rising temperatures increase the risk of forest fires, turbocharged rainstorms, exacerbate flooding and intensify drought.

Yet the pollution that warms the planet, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, reached near record highs last year. The Build Back Better Bill, which contains the largest clean energy investment in U.S. history, has been blocked in Congress.

The United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland produced pledges that put global average temperatures on track to rise by about 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit by the turn of the century – a warming amount that would turn once-unthinkable disasters into almost annual events.

Even though climate change will make freezing weather less likely, some scientists have suggested that a warming Arctic may cause fluctuations in the polar vortex, allowing tongues of cold air to spread into lower latitudes such as New England. Other studies indicate that warmer winter temperatures fueled late-season thunderstorms that triggered December tornadoes in the South and Midwest.

Some recent events have been made so extreme by rising temperatures that they are shattering statistical patterns. The Pacific Northwest Thermal Dome, which scientists said was “virtually impossible” without climate change, was one such event, said Michael Wehner, climatologist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California. . Last month’s Marshall fire in Colorado will likely be another.

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