If extreme weather had a face, it would look like Jim Cantore. The Weather Channel's most high-profile meteorologist has spent the bulk of his career covering the worst Mother Nature can throw at us, and that includes Colorado. Over the past year, we've seen everything from drought, to epic flooding to avalanches.
While many leaders in the environmental movement have pointed to the rise of natural disasters as a way to win support for the climate-change movement, Cantore is quick to point out that the connection between climate and weather is trickier and more complex, but he says one key is what's known as high-latitude blocking.
"The globe is warming, and we're seeing these high-latitude blocks—it's just like a traffic jam," Cantore said. "That's starting to have implications on what's going on with our midlatitude systems: more droughts, more floods, more strange systems like this that we certainly aren't used to seeing. That's potentially what's going on here."
High-latitude blocks, or what are more commonly called high-pressure blocks, are high-pressure systems that set up over the Arctic. They're historically unusual in late autumn and winter but have become more frequent in recent decades as average Arctic temperatures have risen dramatically faster than those in temperate zones.
"We can't say that global warming caused Katrina or Sandy or any of these storms. But is the frequency and intensity of these systems on the rise because of the warming atmosphere? Yes," he explained.
"At the end of the day, I'm an operational meteorologist," he says. "I go in and look at the models. I don't have to make you believe in climate change. I have to tell you there's going to be more extreme weather, and I have to tell you what the impacts are going to be on you. If I can do that, I'm doing my job."