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Weather and Climate

Climate Change Could Be Related To Oklahoma’s Record Cold Temperatures

Plows drive down a road during a winter storm Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, in Oklahoma City.
Sue Ogrocki
AP Photo
Plows drive down a road during a winter storm Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City recently recorded 14-below zero, the coldest temperature for the city since 1899. Meteorologists say there may be a man made reason that contributed to the rare cold.   

It seems counterintuitive that increasing global temperatures would lead to the bitter cold the state endured, but University of Oklahoma meteorology professor Michael Richman said warming in the upper atmosphere has a destabilizing effect in the arctic, disrupting the delicate climate balance and allowing frigid air usually contained far north, to spill much further south than normal.

“Once we get through this, I think we'll be back into a normal type of weather regime and everybody will be happy again. It'll fall out of a lot of people's minds,” Richman said. “But in terms of energy and things like that, the people that are responsible for having a robust grid, they will need to plan for these things.” 

He said these types of events could become more frequent if climate change continues to cause warming near the planet’s poles.

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