April 14, 2024

With record-breaking cold temperatures striking Southern California, many are wondering what it is that caused these conditions. 

At California Baptist University, students and faculty alike have noticed this cold front, combined with the far-reaching impacts of the polar vortex in the Midwest, bringing an unusually harsh winter to the Riverside area.

Although it might seem at first glance that colder temperatures indicate the opposite of global warming, this is not necessarily the case. According to environmental experts, changing climates can result in water evaporating faster, causing more precipitation in the form of snowfall and rain.

Bonjun Koo, professor of environmental science, explained the controversy that can come with the topic of climate change and the implications it can have on the future.

“The climate change controversy is an ongoing dispute about the effects of humans on global climate and about what policies should be implemented to avoid possible undesirable effects of climate change,” Koo said.

Climate change is affecting all of the nation, not just Southern California, through record cold temperatures on the East coast, snow in all 50 states and ice jams. 

Koo also elaborated on the role climate change can play in the abnormal weather seen in Southern California and the trends involved in these seasonal patterns.

“I agree that recent warming indicates a fairly stable long-term trend, that the trend is largely human-caused, and that serious damage may result at some future date if steps are not taken to halt the trend,” Koo said. “Colder-than-usual temperatures and occasional snow flurries in the Inland Empire weather could be from the impact of climate change.”

Students who have lived in Southern California their entire lives noticed how this winter has been particularly harsh compared to those in previous years.

Jacob Dimsey, sophomore graphic design major and Southern California native, noted how specifically he has seen this winter differ, both in the conditions that the Los Angeles area has been experiencing recently, as well as the severity of its impact.

“It hasn’t been this cold ever since I can remember and it’s scary,” Dimsey said. “It snowed in Chino Hills, which is a shock because it’s never snowed since I’ve lived there.”

Dimsey also pointed out the way the abnormal weather patterns can be observed, not just in the winter but year-round.

“It’s been impacting all our seasons and caused them to shift because it’s been colder in March instead of just in December and January, and it gets really hot in the summer,” Dimsey said. “Even in October it was still super-hot.”

Elizabeth Pryor, junior psychology major, has seen these particular weather patterns impact her hometown in Blythe, Calif.

“I live in the desert so I’m used to change of weather in the summer and winter, but I noticed this winter started earlier than normal and it’s been colder and lasted longer than recent winters,” Pryor said.

Not only is the cold weather impacting the region of Southern California, but the impact of the polar vortex, which is a concentrated area of low pressure and cold air, can also be seen nationwide.

“A lot of people from the colder areas travel to my town to escape the cold weather,” Pryor said. “I was talking to someone from Maine the other day who said last summer was the warmest on record there and this winter has been the coldest in years.”

Although weather experts are unsure about how long this harsher season will last, they say it has been one of the most frigid and bound to be one of the longest-enduring winters in recent years.

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