VIDEO: Boston Meteorologist Links New England Blizzard To Climate Change

The unusually powerful blizzard that slammed into New England earlier this month prompted a Boston meteorologist to speak out unusually bluntly on the ties between climate change and extreme weather events.

After being asked about the increase in extreme weather around the world by the interviewer — citing Hurricane Sandy, flooding, the record-breaking drought in midwest — WCVB Chief Meteorologist Harvey Leonard laid out the scientific case for how climate change is driving these recent events:

Climate scientists, most of them who have been working on this issue, that’s exactly what they have been predicting: that over time, we would see more extremes — more drought, more heavy precipitation events, stronger storms….

If you think about that and you go forward, and sea level starts to rise, and we have more population living on the coast, we have more structures on the coast — more in harms way — and then the storms become a little bit worse, and the sea levels higher to begin with, then you could have even worse effects.

Here’s the video, courtesy of Forecast the Facts:

As with a baseball player on steroids, where no one hit can be said to be “caused” by the steroid use, this isn’t about whether global warming “caused” an extreme weather. Instead, the steroid use ups the overall prevalence (and distance) of unusual hits, and global warming does the same for extreme weather events. In the case of the New England blizzard, global warming means temperatures aren’t dropping quite as far below freezing as they did before, and sea surface temperatures specifically are up. That can increase moisture flow into storms, resulting in heavier snowfall.

By pushing up the overall temperature in the planet’s climate system, climate change — spurred by the global warming caused by human carbon emissions — increases the strength of storms, and makes flooding, drought, heat waves, and wildfires all more intense and prevalent. Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer — and thus a firm with an obvious financial stake in properly understanding catastrophic weather events — released a study in 2012 noting an uptick in these events worldwide since 1980, and their entanglement with climate change.

The price tag for extreme weather disasters in 2012 in the United States has been pegged at $188 billion, a taste of the economic damage that’s likely to come.

7 Responses to VIDEO: Boston Meteorologist Links New England Blizzard To Climate Change

  1. Ozonator says:

    Blizzard smizzard. The party of stupid speaks for all meteorologists yet fail to even agree that engineers are scientists. “Don’t look now … 1,077 respondents … show geoscientists (also known as earth scientists) and engineers hold similar views as meteorologists. … scientist respondents … connected to the ‘vast right-wing climate denial machine.’… meteorologists, geoscientists and engineers … these skeptical scientists” (“Peer-Reviewed Survey Finds Majority Of Scientists Skeptical Of Global Warming Crisis“; Written By: James M. “money” Taylor aka The Heartland Institute aka EssoKoch ANALYSIS;, 2/13/13). “With Ignorant Climate Change Question, CNN Anchor Demonstrates She’s a Typical Journalist Who Knows Nothing … February 11, 2013 … RUSH: … a degree in mechanical engineering … doesn’t have a science degree” (the old, ugly and evil Rush “looting” Limbaugh whistlesucker performing and perfuming the stink at

  2. Mossy says:

    Yeah! It must be because of all those emails we exchanged last year!

  3. Brad Johnson says:

    Meteorologists who speak the truth about climate change need to be rewarded by the public.

    Harvey Leonard is an incredibly influential meteorologist — he’s a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and the informal dean of Boston weathercasters.

    We’ve set up a thank-you card for Harvey to make sure he knows that communicating climate science is the right thing to do.

  4. Barry says:


  5. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    ‘Stream of consciousness’. Perhaps reading Finnegan’s Wake, possibly in the new Chinese translation, will be good training for the task.

  6. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The denialist scam of refusing to attribute any weather disaster to climate destabilisation is reminiscent of another tactic used by the Right, (in the case of smoking or exposure to radiation, for example) -the denying of causation in the case of individual cancers, where direct attribution of causation is not possible, and a host of contributing factors have different roles in different individuals. It comes down to probabilities, which can be distorted with junk science, which the Right produces in copious quantities.

  7. Jan says:

    Yes, it’s like what companies like Monsanto did when sued for PCB poisoning. They got dosiers on the litigants to try to find anything else in their lives that they could use to deny causality. Chevron did that as well I believe regarding what they did in Ecuador in poisoning the rainforest and seeing cancer found in the indigenous people there. I am waiting for the day when the fossil fuel companies and their accomplices can be held criminally responsible for the pain and suffering they have inflicted on this planet and its inhabitants.