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State Climatologist: Extreme Temperature Swings Ongoing Since Thanksgiving

1-6-14

With the upcoming cold temperatures predicted for tonight and tomorrow, New Jersey State Climatologist David Robinson told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that this is not the first time the state has seen this type of temperature drop.

Robinson said there has been a very volatile pattern going on with the weather since Thanksgiving. He said that there have been quite a variety of weather conditions, including cold, storms and record heat because we are experiencing an amplified polar jet stream. He said that climatologists saw this coming so it gave them time to prepare for the weather changes.

Robinson said that in the polar regions, the sun has not been out for weeks and the cold air just sits and grows and every once in a while it pushes through the middle latitude, called a polar vortex, and makes its way to the United States.

“We’ve seen this drop in temperature a number of times before. It’s certainly not something we see every winter. We saw in December in northwest Jersey it went from -1 to 64 degrees. It’s just been a year where we have had these wild extremes instead of more moderation. We don’t know exactly the reason behind that but we have seen this pattern for some time now,” Robinson said.

He said that it looks like the extreme weather is going to take a week to 10-day break but this same pattern could come back again.

Looking at the recent volatile weather patterns doesn’t necessarily correlate to a changing climate. Robinson said experts need more context than just looking at one specific area.

“We know the climate’s changing, but in any particular location, even in North America, it doesn’t dictate what the whole world is telling us. For instance, we are cool in North America in November and November was the warmest November globally. So you have to look globally. You can’t look locally or even regionally to get a handle on what’s going on around the entire planet. And then of course you have to look over a number of years. Climatologists have to be patient. You can’t just look at one episode and ascribe it to anything in a positive or negative sense when you’re talking about global climate change,” Robinson said.