Amid U.S. Heatwave, Snow Stories Abound From Boston to Yosemite

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Snow in New South Wales
School was cancelled in Oberon, New South Wales, after a heavy snowfall, July 17. Photographer: Brendan Esposito/The Sydney Morning Herald/Fairfax Media via Getty Images

Let’s talk about snow.

With global temperatures setting a record in June, and readings forecast to reach into the 90s Fahrenheit (30s Celsius) from Washington to New York, snow still has produced its share of headlines from California to Massachusetts and Australia.

Last week, as Boston finally rid itself of a dirt-covered snow pile left over from a record-breaking winter, parts of Queensland and lower elevations of New South Wales in Australia got snow for the first time anyone could really remember.

“This event was unusual due to its widespread nature and the depth of the snow that fell in places where snow is relatively uncommon,” said Lisa Sainsbury, a spokeswoman for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s New South Wales Regional Office.

The cause was a surge of cold air that blew in from a low-pressure system just off the coast, Sainsbury said.

Snow isn’t foreign to Australia: The country regularly gets some in its mountains. In fact, most of the ski resorts in New South Wales are open and reporting a natural base ranging from 14 to 29 inches (36 to 73 centimeters), which is a lot better than many western U.S. slopes managed at the start of 2015.

U.S. Drought

In January and February, dirt was the order of the day across the West, and drought grips almost 75 percent of the region, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Two weeks ago, however, it snowed at Yosemite National Park and the California Transportation Department was encouraging people venturing through Tioga Pass to carry chains.

All of this is happening as the world heads toward what may be its warmest year on record, surpassing 2014.

The Earth’s combined land and ocean temperatures were 1.53 degrees above the 20th century average, the warmest in records going back to 1880, said the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina. Sea ice in the Arctic reached its third-smallest area for June.

Heat Advisories

Back in the U.S., the past few days have been anything but chilly. On Monday, heat advisories stretched from Oklahoma in a giant arc up the East Coast to New York City. Temperatures were above 90 as far as Boston.

Washington declared a heat emergency, warning people to drink water, use fans and air conditioning to cool off, and not to leave pets or children in parked cars.

Relief is forecast to come from Canada by mid-week.

“The good news is that we only have a few more days left before high pressure starts to build in Canada, bringing cooler, drier air even as far south as the Washington, D.C., area,” said Rich Bann, a meteorologist with the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

We can’t wait, but here in Boston, we still don’t miss the snow.

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