Climate skeptics may be chuckling, but scientists say our odd mix of extreme snowstorms and otherwise-mild snowfall is caused by climate change. Apparently it's all atmospheric physics: Lower temperatures give us more rain and less snow, but a warmer atmosphere can retain and drop more moisture, which leads to storms like don't-name-it-Nemo. And man-made global warming is likely behind it all.
Statistics back up the odd feast-or-famine winter weather, the AP reports. Twice as many heavy snowstorms have struck the US in the past half-century than over the previous 60 years; at the same time, the Northern Hemisphere's spring snow cover has dwindled by about 1 million square miles. "Shorter snow season, less snow overall, but the occasional knockout punch," says a Princeton climate scientist. "That's the new world we live in." (Read more climate change stories.)