Better described as 'global weirding'


Traditionally May is a temperate month, a more or less gentle easing into warmer weather. We enjoy the return of beloved bird species and the world turns green. Forsythia, lilac, bridal veil and honeysuckle spill their fragrances in the breeze, and we accommodate the gradual transition from extremes of winter to extremes of summer.

This May the familiar patterns do not hold. Not long after mid-month, brutally hot and humid weather of the kind we associate with July moved in.

On Memorial Day Twin Cities temperatures climbed to 100 degrees, the earliest date to reach three digits on record.

A look back at this past spring reveals other disruptions of the usual patterns.

NASA lists March 2018 as one of the six warmest Marches on record.

At the other extreme, this past April, according to Minnesota Public Radio, was one of the five coldest Aprils in state history. At 1.6 inches, April 2018 broke the previous daily average April snow depth of 1.3 inches.

MPR weatherman Mark Seeley noted that April gave farmers the latest start to the planting season since 1979.

Some have suggested that what's happening now is better described as "global weirding" rather than "global warming." With eight of the last ten years among the ten hottest years on record worldwide, the earth is surely warming, but our local experience of the change may be more of unpredictable extremes and intense stalled weather systems than of heat.

We may experience a sense of disorientation as the familiar, deeply ingrained seasonal patterns weaken. We are right to worry about the unpredictability of these violent shifts and their implications for public health and safety. We will pay in more than uncertainty if we fail to meet the challenge of climate change together.

Thomas R. Smith

River Falls