This week's bizarre East Coast snowstorm is a symptom of Earth's new freak seasons
This week, high-resolution weather models are insistent that an intense band of very heavy snow will form, bringing snowfall rates of up to five inches per hour to New York City and New England. That's nearing the upper limit of what is physically possible in our current climate.
With just hours to go before the flakes start flying, meteorologists are running out of words to describe the impending blizzard, which is on track to dump one to two feet of snow across a wide swath of the Northeast and bring winds of tropical storm force to prematurely flowering trees in parts of the mid-Atlantic.
The National Weather Service is ringing all available alarm bells — an experimental winter storm severity index is maxed out over New York City — and warning of widespread power outages and the impossibility of travel during the height of the storm. But even they don't have much experience with a storm of this scale happening so late in the season — it just doesn't happen very often. So it's hard to tell what to expect.
Perhaps the most consequential circumstance for this particular storm is that, according to the plants and trees, spring is already here. The combination of flowering tree branches with tropical storm force winds and heavy, wet snow isn't a good one — power outages could be widespread. And this year's crop of some economically important flowering trees, like the apple and cherry orchards on Long Island, could see significant damage.
I mean, seriously, the Washington Cherry Blossom Festival starts Wednesday! It's crazy. We now live in a world where one of D.C.'s biggest March snowstorms and one of its earliest Cherry Blossom Festivals are happening in the same week.
We're not just getting freak weather anymore. We're getting freak seasons.
And, of course, BU blames it all on the irrefutable science of global warming.
And then there's reality: those poor cherry blossoms are safe after all.