Words fail me

7 Dec

Minus 20,4 C this morning at my apartment. All the usual intensifiers fail. Fekking cold? Nah. Cold as hell? Yeah right. Butt cold? Gotta have graveyard tastes for that to make sense. Bone cold? Raw cold? Yeah, that’s more like it. By some odd coincidence the Norwegian language has some curiously good expressions for cold weather (Råkald, Beinkald).

Happily ski tracks in walking distance from home have now been prepped. That means the end of shivering waits for buses and trains. The cold temperatures also keep the crowds at bay, which is worth the price alone and compensates somewhat for the thin snow cover.

The cause of the cold weather is a phenomenon called Negative Atlantic Oscillation. Already at the end of October we were on the longest NAO streak on record. And now it just keeps going. NOA translates into brutally cold winters for Norway, heavy snow on the U.S. Atlantic coast and a low storm track over Southern Europe.

NAO dominated last winter’s conditions here with frigid temps and light snow. But, on the positive side, the little snow that did fall didn’t melt. The same thing is happening again this year. That has made for a very early ski season for those willing to go on gravel skis. Me, I’ll take it.

But the great irony is that the current cold may indeed be linked with global warming. WHOI paleoclimatologist Konrad Hughen claims that “Anthropogenic (human-related) warming… does seem to be increasing variability. As temperatures get warmer, there’s potential for more violent swings of the NAO — the phases becoming even more positive and even more negative” (source).

So cheers to all the car fascists who thought they were going to get warmer weather! The truth, as usual, is probably more complicated than it seemed.

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