Climate change can make a typical nor’easter much worse

RE “Two storms converged at ‘perfect’ spot” (Page A1, Feb. 9): Meteorologist Lance Franck is both right and wrong when he says that this month’s nor’easter was “just a classic snowstorm.”

He is right in that the convergence of southern and northern branches of the jet stream is a typical winter weather pattern capable of producing the classic New England nor’easter. But he is wrong in not mentioning the role played by climate change to produce much more snow than normal.

Meteorologist David Epstein points out that the storm contained a lot of moisture. The atmosphere is warmer than normal, and warmer air holds more moisture. In addition, the flow of moisture into the air is enhanced when ocean waters are warmer, and the waters off our coast are 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than they used to be.


These are not big differences, but they’re enough to turn a typical nor’easter into something more like a superstorm.

Get Arguable in your inbox:
Jeff Jacoby on everything from politics to pet peeves to the passions of the day.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Both of these temperature increases are the result of climate change, and if we don’t act to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, we can expect more of the same, and then some.

Gary Rucinski


The writer is Northeast regional coordinator with the Citizens Climate Lobby.