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Why have Carolina winters have been so warm? Panovich explains

Global warming is making our winters warmer.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A warm winter and not a lot of snow is trend Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich has seen the past couple of years, and actually the past couple of decades.

Warm winters in the Carolinas have been accelerating since the 1970s, which was the golden age of cold and snow.  Climate change is to blame.

“Global warming is making our winters warmer,” Panovich said.  “What’s going on is melting Arctic sea ice.”

Melting ice way up in the Arctic is affecting the jet stream. 

“Typically the jet stream buckles and goes up and down,” Panovich explained.  “But when we have melting sea ice we get an amplified jet stream.”

There are huge troughs and huge ridges of high pressure. 

“That’s basically what we call the weirding of the jet stream,” Panovich said.

The huge ridges of high pressure forces warm air and sometimes even humid air way up into the higher latitudes, including the Carolinas.

There will still be the occasional dip the jet stream, which will bring the Carolinas cold and snow. 

“The problem is those ridges are warm and more frequent and we’re seeing less of those winter weather events here in the Carolinas, “ Panovich said.