Ice Storms Tied To Warmer Winters

Monday, December 17th 2007, 9:56 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ It seems to defy logic, but climate experts say freezing rain could result from warmer winters. Assistant State Climatologist Derek Arndt said he and his colleagues have noticed a 20-year upswing in incidents of freezing rain.

``Now, we can confidently say they're happening more often, and it relates to the warmer winters we're having,'' Arndt said.

Arndt said a consistently warmer lower atmosphere is the likely cause behind the increase in severe ice storms.

Heavy snowfall requires that winter temperatures throughout several levels of atmosphere remain at or slightly below 32 degrees.

An ice storm indicates that snow has melted at one level of the atmosphere and refrozen upon reaching ground level.

``It's very contradictory. It's against your intuition to see all this ice and think, 'Well, that's because it's warmer,''' Arndt said.

``But to get a snow profile, which is what we had a lot of in the '60s, '70s and early '80s, you need the entire depth of the atmosphere to be below freezing.''

Oklahoma still receives occasional heavy snowfalls. However, ice storms are more common, evidence that ``we're not quite getting the complete cold air punch that we got 15 or 20 years ago,'' Arndt said.