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The recent chain of heavy snowstorms has definitely made life more difficult.

Yining (Tracy) Zhou


Clearing and salting driveways and sidewalks is exhausting. Cars have a higher risk of getting stuck in the snow or slipping on turns, and cars stopped along the road after an accident have become a more common sight.

The snow banks that have piled up dramatically reduced visibility at intersections, narrowed the roads and took up parking spaces to make finding parking in busy areas even trickier.

These past few weeks have really demonstrated the inconvenience of heavy snowstorms. Unfortunately, climate change models project that we will experience these heavy snowstorms more frequently in the future.

Linking more snow and climate change may seem counterintuitive, but the higher frequency and intensity of snowstorms and temperature fluctuations we’re seeing actually fit into the bigger picture of climate change’s effects.

Climate change leads to warmer air, less winter ice over bodies of water, and a warming Arctic. That warmer air holds more moisture, which increases precipitation. Bodies of water with less ice cover also put more moisture into the atmosphere.

Scientists link the warming Arctic with the polar vortex we experienced this winter.

The polar vortex is a very cold air stream that usually circulates in a tight circle around the Arctic but occasionally wobbles and moves south into the northern United States.

Warm air disrupts the flow of the polar vortex, making it wobble with greater frequency. Chicago was colder than Antarctica at the height of the polar vortex because we were getting a blast of frigid Arctic air.

Of course, one specific incident like our recent polar vortex can’t be attributed solely to climate change. Many factors contribute to any given weather event.

It is possible, however, to say that climate change is creating conditions that make it easier for more extreme weather to occur and thus increases the frequency of these events.

Scientists note that the polar vortex has become more unstable in the past decade, increasing the chances of experiencing a polar vortex in any given year. More moisture in the air means heavier snowfalls. The Fourth National Climate Assessment, compiled by 13 federal agencies and released in 2018, reports that heavy precipitation events in most parts of the United States have increased in both intensity and frequency since 1901.

I had an opportunity to ask Jason Gilman, director of Planning, Development and Assessment for the city of La Crosse, some questions about how these more intense and frequent storms would impact our city.

He confirmed the connection between heavy storms and climate change, saying that “It is my recollection that we are seeing record amounts of rain and snow in recent years. A meeting with Tia Nelson a few years back along with some UW scientists indicated a 1 to 2-degree temperature change globally would likely result in more precipitation in the Upper Midwest. The impacts of this could be significant from stormwater management, emergency management due to flooding, infrastructure needs and wetland impacts as more surface area is inundated with water.”

Storms can decrease equipment life span and damage turf. Households could suffer basement failures and muddy backyard landslides due to flooding from melted snow build-up in the spring.

Economically, heavy snow storms cost taxpayers more to plow and force businesses to spend more money on snow removal and stormwater management that they could have invested elsewhere.

When I asked Jason whether La Crosse is taking climate change into account when planning for infrastructure, he responded, “Absolutely, but more needs to be done. We look at decisions that have a better cost-benefit ratio and provide the city with resiliency over time.”

Climate change and the increased heavy storms it brings are a significant concern for our region because it threatens our infrastructure and makes maintenance more expensive.

Climate change should be a concern for us all because it damages our homes, drains taxpayer money and hinders the economy. Not to mention, it makes traveling more inconvenient and dangerous.

We would be wise to invest in the resiliency of our structures, but we should also support climate policies seeking to curb carbon emissions at local and national levels.

Climate change is already here and hurting us, and the storms will only increase in frequency and intensity as we release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Curbing our emissions now will prevent more devastating losses in the future.

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(47) comments

Rick Czeczok

Thank goodness that the Walker programs of making teachers accountable and not just ride the unions coat tails took teachers like Physics psyco, out of the classroom. He was and is a total loser.


Awh, did I hurt little Ricky's feelings? I know I already I told you this before, but I also know that you're pretty dense. I retired in 2006. Walker had nothing to do with my career as a teacher as he took office in January of 2011. Now please return to your regular job as Village Idiot. Thanks for your support.


Made me laugh again, Physics.


What did you teach Czeczok? Be honest now!


I suspect Tracy will look back at this article she wrote some years from now and wonder how she could be so naive. I suppose she thinks the recent snows, large storms and flooding are unprecedented; they aren't. A number of people much older than Ms. Zhou have witnessed the same sort of weather events in our lives.

Climate change seems to be the latest trend in scaring children. Back when I was a youth, it was global cooling and talk of a coming ice age. The bigger panic was caused by the prediction the world would run out of energy. We know now, those energy shortages in the 1970's were due to government's messing with the supply.

One need only check out Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin (The Solar Village). It was relocated in 1979 from the original site because it flooded nearly every year. The flooding isn't new Tracy. The new buildings were rebuilt into earth berms with heavy insulation and solar panels because there wasn't going to be enough heating oil to heat homes. "Set your thermostats to 68 degrees."

These large storms are nothing new. The disposal process isn't new. The City of La Crosse trucks the white stuff down to Isle La Plume, piles it up and there it melts. The big snows don't come every year and they are not new. Jason Gilman is correct, the city must plan and pay for safely removing snow and storm water systems to remove rains. His training/expertise is as a landscape architect. I'm not certain what climate expertise he brings.

Others, including me can tell you about various snowstorms over decades which were little different that the recent snows which fell in this area. Hurricanes? Yes, nearly every year. Floods? La Crosse has had some doozies! Heck, they moved a whole town. They also moved a large neighborhood in Prairie du Chein because of floods in the 60s and 70s...Feriole Island. Last time I was there, the streets, trees and sidewalks were all there but all of the houses were removed. It's a strange sight.

Ponder this for a second and consider the big weather event are nothing new. You may simply add the 2019 snows to the list.

March 2-4, 1881: Although this blizzard happened before official record-keeping began, it is thought to be the worst snowstorm ever to hit Madison. Over a three day period, 28 1/2 inches of snow fell in the city.
Feb. 4-5, 1924: Heavy snow and gusty winds in southern Wisconsin. Milwaukee receives 20.3 inches in 24 hours.
Nov. 11-12, 1940: Armistice Day blizzard. Heavy snow with winds of 50 to 80 mph causing 10 to 20 foot drifts. Thirteen deaths in Wisconsin.
Jan. 28-30, 1947: Longest lasting blizzard on record in southern Wisconsin, 18-27 inches of snow, 10 to 15 foot drifts.
April 8-9, 1973: South half of the state, 10 to 20 inches of heavy, wet snow with Madison receiving 12.9 inches. Many roads are closed for two days.
Nov. 9-10, 1975: Northern Wisconsin, 10 to 14 inches of snow, wind gust in excess of 50 mph, hurricane force winds over Lake Superior, Edmund Fitzgerald sinks.
Jan. 25-27, 1978: Southeastern Wisconsin, one to two feet of snow with drifts up to 15 feet.
Nov. 30 -Dec. 2, 1985: Widespread storm over most of state, 10 to 18 inches of snow.
Dec. 2-3, 1990: Southern half of the state receives 10 to 20 inches of snow, Madison has 17.3 inches (most recorded in a 24 hour period).
Dec. 14-15, 1987: Southern half of the state receives up to 17 inches of snow with Madison being hit with 13.2 inches.
Jan. 25-27, 1996: South central and southeastern Wisconsin, Madison records 8 inches in less than 2 hours with a total of 13.4 inches overall.
March 13-14, 1997: Northern two-thirds of the state receive 12 to 28 inches of snow.
Jan. 2, 1999: Southern and eastern Wisconsin receive up to 20 inches of snow along with wind gusts of 45 mph to 63 mph.

I delivered newspapers in 1978 during that big snow storm...challenging! I lived and worked in Madison seeing first-hand those big storms in 1985, 87 and 1990. It's funny that a geezer who claims to have lived in this area his entire life cannot recall these things or those little styrofoam balls they stuck on car antennas. They were no less intense than the storms we had recently.

Blaming severe weather events and saying their increased frequency is caused by climate change not new. Climate scientists do their best to spot and predict trends but they do so with computer models which of show themselves to be quite flawed. In 2013 experts warned their models showed a much higher than average hurricane season with 18 storms and 9 hurricanes but the season ended with just 2 small hurricanes. Tracy, the climate is constantly changing and often those dire predictions don't pan out.

On December 13, 2008, junk scientist Al Gore predicted the North Polar Ice Cap would be completely ice free in five years. Still there... Some other non-environmental religions had predicted the coming of their messiah, the space ship will be landing, end of the world, etc. These tactics exist to scare and brainwash children.


crank, the wizened old philosopher, looks at the irrefutable data of changing, heating climate, shifting ecological zones, rising sea levels and erratic, violent "storm of century" weather events happening every two or three years. He wisely says, "Oh, yeah? What about that big snow in '97? Huh? Huh? How about the heavy snow in 1924, or the Armistice Day blizzard in 1940? Huh? Huh?"

He seems to think these isolated historic incidents negate the actual, demonstrable trend of worldwide changing weather patterns that bode ill for the planet and humanity.

And for your information, crank, that northwest Arctic Ocean passage that so many early intrepid explorers died trying to find as a route from the Atlantic to the Pacific at the top of the world was impossible because of permanent ice. It is not permanent anymore, thanks to global warming. Research ships travel back and forth between the two oceans via the North Pole every summer, and it looks like it will be free of ice completely by 2030 to allow commercial shipping.


Asked and answered, oldtroller. Changing climate is nothing new. Storm of the century every two or three years? No, fussy, they aren't. The only thing that seems erratic and violent is you, oldwindy. "Huh? Huh?" #troll

The climate certainly is changing as it has for 1000's of years. I simply listed these weather events to show Ms. Zhou's observation that the recent heavy snow is not unprecedented as others have done. Funny...You couldn't seem to recall any of them and demanded proof from another person who recalled similar snowfalls as a young 'un. I provided the proof and now you scream "Blasphemy!" and attempt to ridicule me for actually providing the facts you demanded. This sort of trolling is typical for you. Settle down, little fella. You're warming up the planet.


crank, the hottest five years in history are the last five years. The hottest ten years in history have occurred in the last 20 years. Climates have changed the entire history of planet Earth. Duh! But we know of five horrible extinction events in Earth's 4.5 billion years of existence. They were caused by severe disruptions that changed weather patterns and made survival of living species impossible for many. We have not had a spike in global temperatures like this in all of recorded history, a phenomenon seen only in calamitous times that we have uncovered in geologic history.

I, like any kid growing up in La Crosse, saw plenty of big snow storms, which delighted me when it looked like there would be enough to close the schools down. I was that kind of student in those days. I remember celebrating a particularly big snowfall in the late 50s that closed the schools, saving me because the next day I was facing a history exam I had not studied for. I believe it was a Friday, giving me three days to get up to speed. Of course I did not, and I got a "D".

I did not ridicule for providing us with a litany of bad storms that hit La Crosse historically. I ridiculed you for thinking that this sort of list somehow negates systemic record keeping of actual weather and climate trends, and those records show that we are not just suffering the occasional bad winter, we are in the middle of an actual climate change, with the world warming up significantly.

"This sort of trolling is typical for you", you say. "Settle down, little fella. You're warming up the planet. " Who is trolling whom, might I ask?


Gosh, I was so taken by crank's recitation of historic storms, I forgot I wanted to weigh in on a couple of other points the old sage was trying to make to Ms. Zhou, whom he wants to characterize as naive while he naively displays his own lack of reality. Let me append these points:

"Climate change seems to be the latest trend in scaring children", the wise man crank tells us. "Back when I was a youth, it was global cooling and talk of a coming ice age."

I don't remember there being any talk of global cooling and talk of a coming ice age, crank. Do you have any evidence to substantiate that? No? I thought so. You must be ten or fifteen years younger than me, old codger, but there was no such widespread talk of this.

" The bigger panic was caused by the prediction the world would run out of energy. We know now, those energy shortages in the 1970's were due to government's messing with the supply," you say. This is new to me, too. I do recall that oil was so cheap on the world market that the U.S. decided it should not drain out its own limited reserves when it could buy it more cheaply from OPEC. A sound strategic decision (and this was before shale oil recovery was possible, vastly increasing our reserves). Then OPEC decided to raise the prices sharply, and we had shortages. It was resolved, as even you, crank, with your magnificent memory must remember. But still, oil is a finite energy source, and humanity at this stage should be looking to not exploit it until there is no more when there are new, renewable energy sources available.

And, finally, to our old sage, crank, I offer this misinformed quote of his, because it is directed at me: "It's funny that a geezer who claims to have lived in this area his entire life cannot recall these things or those little styrofoam balls they stuck on car antennas."

Show me anywhere that I have claimed to be a lifelong resident of the Coulee Region, crank. I will forever be grateful for having been born and raised here, but much of my adult life was lived not only elsewhere in our great nation, a lot of it was lived all over the world. And I got that chance, the way I look at it, because I came from where I came from.


I’ve stated before, you have a ‘convenient’ memory. Ironically, when someone says they recall something and you say you don’t, in your view it always seems to be the others who are lying. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep my homework and notes from back then but I did lead you to ‘the solar village’. You’ll have to take it from there. You seem interested only in bickering, blustering and pontificating. However, my statements about the energy shortages, oil embargoes, government policy decisions seem to be supported more than refuted by your latest. Go outside! It’s a beautiful day...and according to those intent on frightening children like Tracy Zhou with dire predictions of ‘The End’, we may only have a few precious days left, Chicken Little. Hush up now, oldpompous. Your hot air is warming the planet.


Well, since you bring it up again, crank, I am not relying on my memory. I have been through this with your lamented friend Buggs Raplin several times before he was yanked from posting on these boards. Buggs always assured us that the media in the 1970s was awash with stories about global cooling, and he talked about the news magazines constantly running cover stories on the subject. I did not remember any of this, so I did a thorough search. Global cooling was hardly ever written about in the nation's newspapers, and Time and Newsweek each ran one story on the subject. Not cover stories, mind you, but short pieces in their science sections reporting on scientists who were studying that possibility. Nothing else ever written about it in those two magazines. But saying that this was a big deal is big for global warming deniers such as yourself, because it sounds good and you think nobody will check it out. I did. You did not. If you can come up with facts disputing me, do it.

I see you seem to think I supported your arguments energy shortages, but I certainly did not. Explain how I did. If you can't, you refute yourself. The rest of your huffery puffery is defensive silliness that says nothing. How patronizing of you to dismiss Ms. Zhou as nothing but an impressionable child. She'd eat you alive in an actual debate.

A Veteran

old phony---Sources say you spent some time in Canada with the draft dodger scum instead of serving your country is this true.They say confession is good for the soul,do you need to fess up?????????


Gosh, another hilarious dig from the inimitable A Veteran (of no known military organization). Even though I am the one being held up to his ridicule, he is so stylish and witty about it, how can even I not be amused? The icing on the cake are the multiple question marks. Gosh. What style!!!!!!


For all of our sakes I hope that Tracy looks back at these article she has written and says, "boy we're we wrong." The problem is that current science and all of the experts in climatology and physics think she is right. I know the non experts on here argue that they know better than the brilliant scientists who have spent a lifetime researching this subject. I know they feel that 15 minutes on the internet on some half baked pseudo scientific website qualifies them to pontificate on this complex subject. These are "experts" who do not know the difference between weather and climate. Who have no understanding of how the atmosphere works to contain energy from the sun and how the percentage of CO2 affects that containment. These are people who think Al Gore is a scientist. It must be a warm feeling to think you know so much when you know so little, and I am not referring to Tracy (I commend her.) I am referring to the gang of idiots on here who are a vivid example of the Dunning–Kruger effect. Here's the definition for you clowns ("In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is.") So I know you all love to read each other's comments and think that you have it all figured out. The rest of us just shake our heads and wonder why you are so ignorant.


Hilarious. Hot, cold, wet, dry, clear, cloudy, smoky, stinky, icy, slippery, night, day, windy, calm, summer, fall, spring, winter, central daylight time, flood, drought, hurricanes, tornados, monsoons, republican administrations, forest fires...

Yup, blame "climate change" (formerly known as global warming until the libs realized there wasnt enough warm weather to make their case).

Even a child knows better.


Gee, Red, I guess you haven't been reading how the ten hottest years globally in history have occurred since 1998, and the five hottest years in history have been the last five years. Didn't you get that memo? I guess the people who understand that we are living in a very dangerous global warming event have just stopped talking to you about it, since you have ignored them for the last 30 years. Or perhaps you should switch off from the right-wing, fossil fuel industry-funded propaganda sites you rely on for your information. Your ignorance in this instance is hilarious, but in the longer run is stunningly stupid and worrisome.


Maybe I can help you understand that a bit better. Read about what happened to the planet Venus to get a better understanding on what many and i mean the majority of climatologists think is happening with our Earth. And before you even try to give me a history lesson keep in mind your side keeps bringing up the ice ages. So you ought to be able to read into it. Things change and it doesn't hurt to get to the bottom of why it does.


Big snow falls? This year is a joke. When I was growing up telephone ines were on the same poles as high lines, but a little lower, still high enough to be kept out of the way, .They were high enough for f arm machinery and vehicles to go under. As a kid we would walk on the snow piled up by snow plows and graders along the road and hold onto the telephone wires as a balance. SO, this years snow fall isn’t unusual, how kool aid drinkers see it is the problem, using it for scare tactics, shameful.


Gosh, Paul Bunyan -- er, Climate -- you lived through some heroic winters in your youth. I would rather, however, see some actual statistics comparing winter storm events in the state's history. It would be shameful to make up one's mind on global warming based on your immaculate memory of your childhood.

Rick Czeczok

Take all the scare tactics away and the hypothetical's and give me solid scientific proof that this is not just an earth cycle (as is being said by just as many scientists). Or that the oceans are not being warmed by under sea thermal changes caused by an increased volcanic activity. We see an increase in this volcanic activity on the earths surface (Iceland, Hawaii, Japan, and on and on) this is what we can see, the earth is 2/3 covered in water that we don't see. This is just one theory and there are a lot more of them. The easy way out is man causing it. If so go tell the countries of China and India to clean up there act first. We in the USA have cleaned up considerably since the 1960's and have lead in this effort. The socialist party (once the democratic party) just need this to help there cause and will do anything to change the US, it's the flavor of the day. Stop blaming the US for the worlds problems, we are not the only one on this planet.


"Take all the scare tactics away and the hypothetical's and give me solid scientific proof that this is not just an earth cycle (as is being said by just as many scientists)." Now there is a completely false statement. What "scientific journal" supplied you with that gem? What is your source for this supposed increased volcanic activity that is warming the oceans? I know you feel that you can just say anything and it must be true, because the voices in your head say so. Science however requires evidence. There is overwhelming evidence that increased CO2 in the atmosphere leads to increased retention of solar energy and global climate change. Your ranting about nonsense and the Socialist Party may work in your subset of knuckle draggers, but it is hardly science.


There is not overwhelming just that you are overwhelmed.


Nice try Redwall! Did you use your deep knowledge of statistical analysis, research, and the scientific method to come up with that devastating retort. You're a joke.

668 The Neighbor of the Beast

Global warming is a global scam on humanity (only a world wide carbon credit/tax system can save us!).

2 Thessalonians 2:11: And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.


Thank you, 668, for giving us some Biblical citations that should warn us off the global warming denier lie that you cited. No Christian or atheist should doubt that we are facing a severe climate crisis, and calling global warming scam is a terrible sin, as you have noted.

668 The Neighbor of the Beast

They will use carbon credits to replace the currencies of the world. Your life will be dependent on whether you accept this system and take allegiance to the unholy trinity.

What is Carbon? 6 protons, 6 electrons and 6 neutrons.


Environmentalism is their religion. The false song of global warming is the vehicle they will use to usher in this system. To worship the creation "Mother Gaia" but not it's creator.


I've never commented once questioning if climate change was real. It makes sense that 7 billion wasteful, ravaging, polluting humans would fundamentally alter the climate. We destroy, it's our nature. We consume with no regard. We let our waste collect and overflow. We always have and always will. We will not prevent nor fix the climate. It's outside of our collective capability.


Gosh, D, you are a born optimist, aren't you. You have already accepted your lot to receives only what crumbs are left behind by the super rich because you think we are powerless to stop them and their money from doing anything they want to us as a people and a nation. Now you figure it is simply hopeless to stop the damage that human do to our environment, ignoring, I guess, a century of successes in which we have often already turned things around. If you need examples, I will gladly supply them.


And you sir sound like Chip Denure. Are you the man?


Welcome back! You suspension now over? Anything new besides Climate and Hillary?


After spending almost 7 decades in Wisconsin I have witnessed changes in our winters. In the 50s, 60s and 70s, snowbanks were so high in Lacrosse that it was common practice for local businesses to hand out styrofoam balls to mount on car radio antennas so we could see each other as we came to intersections. Some of the more creative especially around UWL, had women's lingerie to mark their approach. In the 70s we were told we were entering global cooling due to CO2 pollution and winters would get worse. We did not have polar vortexes but just winter. But the opposite happened, we actually had less snow , milder winters with little snow. Then we were told global warming had started, our kids would never see snow again and wisconsin would become tropical. Well now we have a winter with more snow and we are told that is a sign of global warming. So what is it, tropical or more snow. Climate change has become such a political football we really do not know what is real and what is propaganda. What we need is common sense.


No one has ever said that CO2 "pollution" would cause global cooling. Try to get your facts straight. Your ignorance is painful to read.


mocha, I don't recall the styrofoam balls. It sounds like a pretty useless exercise if you think about it.

Just about as useless as your 8:33am post is overall. I don't recall this being true in the 1970s: "In the 70s we were told we were entering global cooling due to CO2 pollution and winters would get worse. " Could you back that up with any evidence that it is true?

Ditto for your statement: "Then we were told global warming had started, our kids would never see snow again and wisconsin would become tropical. " Evidence, please.

If you don't want to see climate change to be a political football, perhaps you could personally contribute to that outcome if you yourself quit trying to make it one. You cite propaganda, not what is "real", and common sense would dictate that it would be depoliticized if people quit listening to and believing the fossil fuel industry's propaganda.

A Veteran

mocha I too have lived in Wisconsin, most of my life and remember snowfalls that was as severe if not more so than this winter.I remember a heavy snowfall on Halloween in the late 80's or early 90's that stayed all winter.I also remember going to ag classes at WWTI and the instructors and guest speakers was telling us that by the year 2000 we would not be able to grow corn in Wisconsin because the growing season would be too short because of global cooling.My next door neighbor harvested over 240 bu. to the acre last year.I guess they was wrong then ARE THEY NOW I do not know ,I suspect they do not know either!!!!!!!!


Well, folks, there you have it! Global warming is a hoax. A Veteran (of no known military unit) has engaged his extraordinary memory and reminds us of the hilariously wide-spread theory in the 1970s that we were entering a global cooling period. He bases it on his explicit memory that instructors and guest speakers said so in a WWTI ag class. It MUST be so, base on that evidence. Pile on to that his memory of piles of snow when he was a wee one back in the day, we can finally, solidly explode this whole danged global warming thing for good. Good!

A Veteran

old phony You lie again show me where I said one word about piles of snow,you liberal LOONS like to put words in other peoples mouth to try to prove a point.When you are caught lying it just shows how little regard for truth you have.You are an old phony fool!!!!!!!!!


Blah, blah ,blah, same old krap, in other words, WHATEVER the weather, it’s caused by climate change. Guess what honey, climate change has been happening since there’s been climate. See, you’re not so smart


Yesterday you were a racist. Today you are just dumb. I prefer dumb.


"Your racist" "your dumb" The last refuge of someone without a legitimate argument.


It's you're racist. and you're dumb. I know basic English grammar is beyond you Mama'sBoy, but what is your excuse for the garbage you try to pass as thoughtful and well informed.


Physics, you made me laugh out loud with your 10:58am post. Good one.


It's either laugh or cry with these idiots. I prefer laughing, but sometimes it's hard to find any humor in the idiotic garbage they spew.


Thank you for this thoughtful and science based column young lady! Nice to see the younger generation not politicize everything and believe more in science than their political party. She has been taught well and has a bright future I believe.

In our family we have always thought much the same. We do believe that Women's rights are human rights. And no human is illegal. Science is real! Black lives do matter. Kindness is everything. Love is love, and cilantro is gross.


Now if we could only get Republicans out of their time machine into the present...

A Veteran

COMRADE martain I to believe no human is illegal ,but they can commit an illegal act(as in crossing into the U.S. illegally)would you not agree COMRADE????????


dah that is thought provoking there veteran. Yes humans do things that are illegal, including crossing borders. that is an earth shattering fact. Desperate people do desperate things. The instinct to survive, the drive to look for a better life, and determination to find a way is all part of the human spirit.


I agree except I like cilantro.

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