Autumn Surprises

I just had a very personal lesson in the future of climate change for North America. We spend a lot of time looking at thousands of years of temperature and atmospheric composition as these are long term and very much big data changes. But small, human level experiences are now what this will be about.

And, yes, this is anecdotal and subject to the normal range of changes in local weather patterns, but taken with the overall effects that we are starting to see on the human level it means more to be warm or cold in the wrong place and this time of year.

Attending a conference in Philadelphia at the beginning of November I expected to be chilly whether or not there was rain with a snow flurry as an outside possibility. And having grown up in Indiana I’m very aware of rapidly changing weather in the middle of a continent. While there were to days of chilly and rainy weather the temperature was in the 50s. Then the temperature went up to nearly 80 in the daytime and the last evening I was walking around downtown Philadelphia looking at crowded outdoor cafes with 70 degrees in early November. That was a strange experience.

Juxtapose this with my weekend in Seattle visiting daughters and grandkids. Being very familiar with Seattle I expected rain and temperature ranging from 50 at night to 60s in the daytime. That was not the case. Daytime temperature was 40 with night time and mornings at one degree above freezing. And then it started to snow. I ended up videoing the snow fall from SeaTac as I was leaving.

Both of my daughters are in the process of moving south from Seattle because last winter was so bad and this one has started very early. While distinguishing climate change from the normal variations in weather is very difficult, any awareness of the over all trends in different regions around the US and around the planet suggests that these are not quirks but the world as it is becoming.

If you are not in an area that is notably different in weather patterns over the last few years, consider yourself lucky. Between storms and significant climatic changes by region we are seeing what changes we have wrought on this planet. And willful ignorance will accomplish nothing.