Huge swaths of America are paralyzed tonight by a nasty winter storm. And many of these places are down south where they're really not used to this kind of thing. In Alabama, impassable roads have... See More
Huge swaths of America are paralyzed tonight by a nasty winter storm. And many of these places are down south where they're really not used to this kind of thing. In Alabama, impassable roads have left 1,200 kids stranded at their schools. Meanwhile, some marooned drivers had to walk home from the highway. Now comes a quirky weather guru of sorts who says this is all a sign that we are entering a new mini-ice age. NBC's nick watt decided to investigate. Reporter: 140 million of you are right now shivering under winter weather warnings. And I'm not talking the usual northern suspects. We've got a state of energy across six southern states for goodness Spent the night here in the airport. In Birmingham, Alabama, 1,200 students are sleeping in schools, churches and fire stations. And half an inch of powder predicted for New Orleans. We're looking at the sleet, the freezing rain, the slow. Terrible times like these, quite naturally, we ask ourselves, why? I mean, many in this country saw superstorm sandy as the prelude to the end of times. A british politician just claimed the floods over there were triggered when the government approved gay marriage. And of course, there's apocalyptic talk of global warming. So what's caused the coldest January in central park I 117 years? And those frozen Oranges in California and the record snow the Carolinas are gearing up for as I speak? Now is not the time to take any unnecessary risks. Reporter: We asked nasa what's going on. What we're seeing today across the U.S. Is a pretty severe kind of me Ander of the jet stream. Allowing cold air to flood south. What we now all know as the polar vortex. We always quizzed piers Corbin who works out of London's messiest office. The jet stream which really marks the boundary between the colder air in north and the milder air in the south, that is behaving in very wild manner. Hooray, agreement. And they both agree this has nothing to do with global warming. Yeah. But just wait. We are now at the early sfajs of a miniice age. What? This is the new norm. America is going to have to get used to world extreme, very cold blasts, hot blasts as well. Interesting. I wonder what nasa thinks of that? Do you want my polite reaction? That's fit for a family audience? There's been a whole bunch of people in history who say they can predict the weather through phases of the moon, fluctuations of the son, the entrails of their chickens. But piers Corbin called this mini-ice age as long ago as 2006 without going near a chicken. The mini-ice age that we predicting are now developing. Claims he's so good at predicting the weather that book makers now refuse to take his bets. I was I was winning too much. I interviewed him a few years ago, and all I really cared about was whether it would rain on my summer vacation to Cornwall. You'll see a lot of thund ry places. Unfortunately piers Corbin was right. We're on vacation. Believe it or not, there's a lovely harbor behind me and the sea and the weather is terrible. Corbin believes all this bad weather at moment is to do with the big yellow ball. That's what's pushing the jet stream and the air masses it divides all over the map. Particles coming from the sun, guided by magnetic fields. And they enter the polar regions of the Earth. And then they, in fact, move the jet stream. It's a lot of fun, but it's on the par with your astrology horoscope in the funny pages. Reporter: Okay. So who can tell me it's going to be a hot summer? As we go into the summer we'll still have some big contrasts. Of course you'll see heat in places in the next 25 kbreerps of course you'll see cold in places over the next 25 years. All right, then, Mr. Nasa, why is it 16 below and snowing in Atlanta? It's warmer in Anchorage, Alaska, tonight. And why are cars skidding all over icy roads in Austin, Texas? About ten wrecks on the way here. An average of about 25 miles an hour. It snows in the south, you know, relatively infrequently. But it does happen. And it used to actually happen more often than it is happening now. I checked. He's right. It last snowed in New Orleans just six years ago. The coldest it's been in new York City was minus 19 fahrenheit in the 1930s. We're nowhere near that now. Right again. In 1934, the Mercury dipped to minus 52 degrees in New York state. This winter, the lowest low so far, plus 4. . People forget what it was like 30 or 40 years ago. That makes them a little susceptible to people peddling nonsense. Reporter: So he's saying don't listen to piers Corbin. Big extremes with very, very cold air at times. And this type of thing is going to continue for some decades. Toughen up. This is no big deal. And that's easy for me to say from sunny, California. I'm nick watt for "Nightline" in Los Angeles.
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