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Is unseasonably warm weather a fluke -- or a sign of climate change?

  • Mild-weather-2-jpg

    Lonnie Vance rakes leaves on his property on West River Road North in Elyria on Jan. 7.

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE

  • Mild-weather-1-jpg

    Lonnie Vance rakes leaves on his property on West River Road North in Elyria on Jan. 7.

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE

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ELYRIA — Only a week into 2019 and the weather in Lorain County has been unseasonably warm.

In the first six days of the new year, temperatures have been about 11 degrees above the average of 34 degrees Fahrenheit, with lows in the 20s, according to Cleveland National Weather Service meteorologist Karen Oudeman. Oudeman said the reason for the warm weather is the warmer air coming from the southern plains near Oklahoma and Kansas by way of storm tracks, zones in which storms travel over land and sea.

What to expect today
A severe thunderstorm warning for Lorain County this morning has expired, but additional thunderstorms are possible this afternoon. Colder temperatures are expected this evening, as well as precipitation, with rain turning into as much as one inch of snow.

Normally, she said, the cold air from Canada would be blown to northern Ohio through a storm track directed by the jet stream near the Great Lakes, causing colder weather. This year Oudeman said the jet stream is much weaker and couldn’t carry the cold air from the north.

Is the warmer weather due to climate change? Oudeman said she couldn’t directly connect the higher temperatures this winter to climate change. As a meteorologist, her focus is short-term weather forecasting. Past weather patterns usually available for comparison through a database of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under the U.S. Department of Commerce couldn’t be accessed Monday. The website was unavailable due to the U.S. government shutdown, according to the NOAA website.

John Sabin, president of the Oberlin chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, said the weather alone couldn’t affirm the effects of climate change, but he said the broad data on Ohio’s warm weather fits with the trend of global warming.

No matter what, Sabin said the public needs to take greater action to stop or at least slow the effects of global warming.

Or, the warmer weather could be caused by an El Ni￱ño, according to accuweather.com. El Niñ￱o is a part of the routine climate pattern that starts when sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean rise above normal levels, the site said.

City of Elyria Assistant Safety Service Director Kevin Brubaker said the city only has had to use the snow plows and salt trucks on two occasions in December and has the maximum amount of three to five tons of road salt stored for the city. Although he admits it’s been warm, Brubaker said he doesn’t feel worried about the lack of snowfall, which could happen well into April.

“We aren’t going to miss out on any snow, I can tell you that,” he said.

Contact Bruce Walton at (440) 329-7123 or bwalton@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Facebook @BWalton440 or Twitter @BruceWalton.


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