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WeatherTalk: Be skeptical before blaming weather on climate change

There is a natural knee-jerk reaction to lay blame on something.

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FARGO — Stormy weather throughout our region during April has had many people asking the question, "Why? Why so many powerful storms in rapid succession in the same general area?" To be sure, it has been a perfect storm of storms; a southwest to northeast jet stream with a chain of strong, slow-moving storms able to wrap heavy precipitation up and into cold air.

There is a natural knee-jerk reaction to lay blame on something. Climate change is often offered as a reason for extreme weather, but this is grasping at straws. Extreme weather is not new to our region, and spring is the time of year to expect more extreme weather, anyway. Climatologists look for climate change in the overall change in the frequency of weather over time, not in a particular storm or season of storms that seems out of the ordinary.

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John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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