Is it spring or winter? I’m as confused as the weather

Published 10:50 pm Monday, March 5, 2007

The oak trees and other trees are budding or blooming and the high temperature just the other day was in the 80s.

Sunday morning the forecaster tells us that the temperatures are going to plunge into the 20s.

Just Thursday some horrific weather skirted us but set down in Alabama and Georgia killing eight students in a high school and two patients in a hospital. Such tornadoes aren’t supposed to occur until very late March at the earliest, but most likely in April.

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I think the weather is as confused as I am. I know that this is the Deep South where we never put our Bermuda shorts away for winter, but this is ridiculous.

One of the many questions asked of a weatherman on television the other day was if this was the result of global warming. His reply was that these “super-cell” storms occur four or five times a year.

That had me scratching my head. There have been plenty of horrific tornadoes over the years in Mississippi. One struck a movie theater in Vicksburg a few decades ago. Another struck a shopping center in Jackson back in the 1960s.

Okay, so maybe the type of storm isn’t unusual, but something the forecaster said prior to answering the global warming question has me thinking that perhaps he hasn’t thought through his comments, not that he should have said it was a result of global warming.

Before that question came up, he made the comment that these storms usually don’t begin happening until four to six weeks after this hit. I can’t help but think that perhaps the earliness of it may be, emphasis for now on may be, a result of global warming.

It also got me to wondering if the earliness of the storm should be taken to mean that the season for the “super-cell” storms may be longer than usual and is this the beginning of a trend?

One quick answer on one side of the storm and global warming question after Hurricane Katrina struck was that the unusual size and power of the storm was a result of global warming. The other quick answer was that it wasn’t.

The truth probably is that it’s too early to tell for certain, though that is logical. The same is probably true of the early “super-cell” storm.

Something is going on, though. Fish species in the ocean are traveling further to keep up with their preferred temperatures. Fish not normally seen in the Arctic have now been found there.

The melt down of the glaciers, ice shelves and other such ice formations isn’t a myth; it’s a scientifically recorded fact.

Now from New England we get stories about snowfall coming later and later. To me, a warm-blooded Southerner, that would be a blessing in one respect. To the New Englanders who pride themselves in their winters and have turned them into tourist attractions, it’s a real bother.

In some parts of that cold region the people who tap sugar maples for their sap say the weather has begun confusing the trees — and the sugarmen as well. In other words, the warmer weather is threatening an industry off which they make at least part of their money.

Skiing resorts in New England also are concerned.

Hopefully, these economic losses will make the lazy, head-buried-in-the-sand leaders of this nation sit up and do more than simply take notice. Hopefully, they will begin requiring industry to do its part to reduce carbon monoxide emissions, which actually probably will lead to the growth of another industry, one that invents, develops and manufactures the devices to reduce those emissions.

All this business about how much it will cost our economy to reduce carbon dioxide is really about how much it may cost existing industries as other industries develop to meet the needs of the great cleanup.

At the same time, our diplomats need to be working overtime to persuade countries such as China and other nations that are developing carbon dioxide-producing industry to adopt the cleaner manufacturing standards and methods. That’s the only we are going to be able to get ahead of all this confusion, if we are able to. We may just be keeping it from getting worse.

Now if you think all that is confusing, let me provide you with a little early warning on another change: The “spring-forward” date has moved back from the firs Sunday in April to the second Sunday in March. In other words, if you don’t set your clocks back an hour before going to bed next Saturday, you are going to be an hour early everywhere you go today.

For some folks that I see at church every Sunday, that means they’ll actually be on time for church.