The following is a story written for the Times Delphic,
the Drake University Newspaper, in February about the abnormally cold weather.
February 2021 has been a cold and brutal month for many across the Midwest, with temperatures frequently below zero.
While low temperatures themselves are not abnormal for February, temperatures are on average slightly higher, and last for a less extended period of time.
The graph above compares the highest temperature and the lowest temperature recorded in the month of February from the last five years. The graph shows while lows below zero are not unusual, this February has been the coldest of the last five years and that the temperatures have not gotten as high as usual throughout the month.
February 2021 has the highest number of days with a low below zero according to the graph above. The data shows the average from years prior is anywhere between zero to three days. 2021 shatters that with 11 days, over a third of the entire month, spent with a low below zero. The 11 days spent under zero took place over a 12 day span.
Temperatures this low are caused by fluxuations in the jet stream, bringing cold air south.
Craig Colig, a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service said, “What we’ve seen is that the jet stream has dipped a lot furthter south, and that has allowed cold air from the arctic regions of Canada to move down into the central part of the United States.
Colig also noted the winter started off slightly above average in temperature.
This winter, each month has gotten colder but neither December or January quite compare to February. The average temperature for December was 29 degrees. The average temperature for January was 26 degrees. The average temperature for February as of February 18, is only 6 degrees.
The extreme winter weather seen in Iowa over February 2021 is a direct result of climate change. David Courard-Hauri, chair of Environmental Science and Sustainability at Drake University, said, “One of the major impacts of warming caused by greenhouse gases is that it warms the poles faster than it warms the tropics (because greenhouse gases keep heat from leaving). That means that the temperature difference between us and the air to our north is less than usual, which weakens the jet stream and allows it to meander a lot more than it used to. However, even with climate change, it’s really cold in the arctic winter, so as that jet stream meanders, it will often bring that really cold air down with it, while at the same time bringing warm air up into the arctic somewhere else.”
To read the rest of the story, visit the Times Delphic website.