The weather is freezing, but Earth is still warming

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View of downtown Chicago from Diversey Harbor during 2014 Polar Vortex. Photo credit: Edward Stojakovic/CC BY 2.0., via Flickr

Millions of Americans are experiencing the coldest weather in a generation. 

Norris Camp, Minnesota was -48°F today. Fargo, North Dakota, was -31°F. Chicago, Illinois was -20°F.

President Trump tweeted this week:

One town in Australia reached 121 degrees last week. The Arctic is warmer than usual. Last year, heat records were broken around the world, from Hong Kong to Norway to Southern California.

Scientists say many extreme cold weather events could also be the result of global warming.

CBS Meteorologist Jeff Berardelli says this theory is not set in stone. But  he explains, “The polar vortex is very cold. It causes a very strong jet stream around the Arctic. But when it starts to get warmer, the Arctic is amplifying. It’s getting warmer up there at two to three times the pace of the rest of the globe. It kind of disrupts the jet stream. It breaks apart the polar vortex. It splits. And pieces of the polar vortex can go further south. Now this kind of thing happens almost on a yearly basis. But it seems like it may be happening a little bit more. A disruption in the polar vortex because of Arctic amplification.”

WATCH : Polar vortex may be linked to climate change

While not all extreme weather events can be directly attributed to climate change, this latest polar vortex in the upper Midwest might be.

Climate scientists are also getting better and faster at attributing specific weather events to climate change.

Oxford climate scientist Myles Allen says meteorologists are going to have to do more. “In the long term, this should be part of the duties of the weather service. It’s no longer enough for the weather service just to predict the weather. They should be in the business of explaining it as well.”

--Written by Amy Ta, produced by Yael Even Or