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November 20, 2019 | 6:39pm
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A weather forecast to be mostly happy about

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Forecasters are not using terms such as “high winds,” “snow” or even “rain” in this weekend’s forecasts and “higher temperatures” is being used for the first time in a long while.

Instead of the forecast vocabulary that has grown old for many, this weekend is expected to provide “abundant sunshine” with high temperatures reaching up toward 50° with light and variable winds. That’s the forecast, plan and simple.

Looking beyond the weekend, a system is expected to arrive Monday afternoon that will bring blustery winds and an 80% chance of precipitation. Fortunately, for those tired of the snow, temperatures are expected to range between the mid- to upper-30s and 40° meaning, outside of a slight chance of rain and snow before 10am, the precipitation is expected to fall as rain. The rainy weather is expected to continue into Tuesday morning.

After Tuesday, the forecast through Friday returns to mostly sunny days and partly cloudy evenings with little chance of precipitation while temperatures range from the mid-30s to the upper-40s.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Why is it when temps are unusually high, the misguided GLOBAL WARMING alarmists run amok shouting THE SKY IS FALLING and THE WORLD WILL END IN 12 YEARS?

    Yet they remain silent when we suffer a month long cold snap and more snow than anyone has seen in years?

    Why is that? Can someone please explain?

    • Understanding climate change requires some thought. One cold and snowy February in isolation doesn’t say much about climate change. We have them in Whatcom County every so often. We also have warm and sunny Februaries– more often in my memory than the cold ones, but that’s an impression, not a fact.

      Climate change is a long term change. Farmers know that you have good and bad years, and you make your plans assuming that the good and the bad even out and then you plan to make it tilt in your favor. If the balance goes the wrong way, the bad years pile up and the good years are too few, you go bust.

      My great grandparents were like a lot of the early settlers in Whatcom County. They emmigrated from the northern Europe to the upper mid-west, then to Whatcom County in around 1900. They were driven by climate. Northern Europe was not faring well in the late 19th century, either climatically or politically. Living got too hard and they left. The climate in the upper mid-west was worse than Germany and Holland– the late 19th century was a cycle of colder winters and dryer summers which made farming difficult. Whatcom County promised better, so they moved again. From what my grandfather said, Whatcom County was like spring all year compared to Minnesota.

      If you knew any of the tough old settlers of that era, you know they didn’t pull up stakes because of one bad year, but they were driven to Whatcom County by the succession of bad years with too few good. They measured the climate by their prosperity over a number of years, not just one year.

      Dial ahead from the 19th century to the 21st. We know so much more about how things work in general and the environment works. We can predict the weather a week or so in advance, instead of relying on “Sunset’s bright over Lummi Island, better plan to plow tomorrow instead of sacking spuds in the basement,” as I remember hearing my grandfather say when I was a kid. Likely as not, another storm would blow in from the Straits and Dad’d be rained out by noon. (Grandpa didn’t plow by the time I was a kid.)

      It’s not just weather forecasting that has improved. Satellites, remote sensors, weather radar all tell us much more about what goes on in the atmosphere compared to the 19th century when you were lucky to know what the weather was like the next state over, let alone out in the Pacific Ocean. And we now store and analyze all this information with computers that can process more in a second than my grandpa could calculate in an hour with paper and pencil. (And he had a reputation for being a fast calculator when he was dickering to buy a cow.)

      What has all this new information given us besides a fair chance of knowing the weather a few days in advance? Average temperatures have been increasing and the number of exceptional weather events (hurricaines, tornadoes, exceptional cold snaps, floods etc.) have been increasing frequency. That’s recordeii fact, not some geezer’s hazy memory. If the current trend continues, the climate will change– hotter and dryer some places, wetter and colder others, dryer and colder in others. The change has been gradual although the rate of change has increased over the years and continues to increase. That kind of analysis is what computers do with ease.

      The kinds of changes that drove my great grandparents to Whatcom County are occurring. Not one bad year, but a gradual change in which the bad years pile up over the good ones. We have tremendous technology to keep our fields productive: better crop varieties, more powerful and effective machines, more intelligent use of fertilizers and other new chemicals, and so on. These compensate for the bad years, but they are still piling up.

      Why? The best minds who have studied it longest and hardest (and the ones who don’t have a stake in the outcome one way or the other) have concluded that the trend corresponds to the rise of carbon released into the atmosphere and they have figured out how increasing carbon could cause the problem.

      Two questions arise for me: will reducing carbon in the atmosphere reverse the trend? And can we as a species pull it off?

      For the first question, I don’t think any one has a certain answer because there have been no experiments to test the effects of reducing atmospheric carbon. I think a try would be worth it. Not for me– I’m old enough that climate change won’t hurt me– but for my children and grandchildren? Absolutely. For them, their only chance is to try.

      The second question, I’m pessimistic on. First, understanding the problem requires hard thinking and study, and I’m experienced enough to know that most people will flick the remote or have another beer and not bother. Second, attempting to reverse climate change will require some sacrifice, and I haven’t seen much inclination for that, especially when the benefits of the sacrifice will be for the future, not the present. We managed to get the eagles back in the late 60s and 70s by changing pesticide practices, so that’s to the good. But recently we have also reversed many practices that look to the future. And that’s to the bad.

      Frankly, if it weren’t for the arthritis, I would be glad I am past the age that this will affect me much. People who think climate change is a hoax ought to get out and look past the end of their arms more.

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