On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams fretted over winter doing a "disappearing act" and proclaimed: "It was so warm today across much of the country, as you know, they're calling it June-uary. It's got a lot of people wondering whatever happened to winter?" The headline on screen pondered: "Where's Winter?"
In the report that followed, chief environmental affairs correspondent Anne Thompson added to the alarmism as she declared: "This most unusual January ending on a remarkably mild note across the country....2,890 daily high temperature records broken or tied." She later cited climatologist and global warming proponent Dr. Gerald Meehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research: "Add to that a world warming because of climate change and it stacks the deck, Dr. Meehl says, against a traditional winter."
On Wednesday's NBC Today, Thompson went further, seeming to suggest that the more mild temperatures actually caused deaths: "In upstate New York, where Lake George is only partly frozen, they are trucking in ice to build the winter carnival castle. Thin ice in Patterson, Iowa tragically took the lives of two friends out fishing."
In January of 2007 , during a similar period of unseasonably warm weather, former Today co-host Meredith Vieira went so far as to blurt out: "So I'm running in the park on Saturday, in shorts thinking this is great but are we all gonna die?"
On Wednesday, Thompson repeated her assertion that it was a "most unusual winter" and noted how: "It is confusing crops in California, blooming too soon....The Sandhill cranes are early birds, returning to Lincoln County, Nebraska, a month ahead of schedule. So, yes, even nature is confused."
Concluding the morning segment, Thompson again pushed the global warming message: "Now scientists are unwilling to pin any one weather event on climate change but they say there's no question that our warming world is shifting the odds against a traditional winter, winters as we have known them."
Back in November, just days after a snowstorm the weekend before Halloween, Williams somberly observed : "Everybody out East said the same thing about this freak snowstorm, 'This kind of thing didn't used to happen. This never happened before.'"
In the report Thompson did at that time, she cited the same climate scientist, Dr. Meehl: "He says our warming planet makes extreme weather events more likely as greenhouse gases created by burning fossil fuels, such as oil, gas and coal, alter the climate."
Here is a full transcript of the January 31 Nightly News report:
7:00PM ET TEASE:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: And disappearing act. Here's the picture a year ago. Here's the picture now. It's been a January for the record books. We know we're tempting fate, but why is it happening?
7:12PM ET TEASE:
WILLIAMS: Up next here as we continue tonight, another January day that looks and feels a lot more like June to some folks. Why has this winter been so warm in much of the country?
7:15PM ET SEGMENT:
WILLIAMS: What a difference a year makes. If you live anywhere from Boston to Chicago or points in between and you walked out the door this morning and turned right around to take out a few layers, who would blame you? Some people did put their coats away here in New York today. It was so warm today across much of the country, as you know, they're calling it June-uary. It's got a lot of people wondering whatever happened to winter? Again, realizing we're tempting fate, we get the story tonight from our chief environmental affairs correspondent, Anne Thompson.
ANNE THOMPSON: In New York's Central Park today, it might as well be spring.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I heard it was so warm out, I had to come out and take a walk.
THOMPSON: This most unusual January ending on a remarkably mild note across the country. Today they hit the links in North Platt, Nebraska. Took to skateboards in northern Virginia and sported shorts in St. Louis.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN B: I would much rather be walking on a hill than sliding down it.
THOMPSON: This is a January for the history books. 2,890 daily high temperature records broken or tied. More than four times the number of highs reached or exceeded last year. While today is certainly worthy of a walk in the park, it's also a good time to take a stroll down memory lane. A year ago, the nation braced for 2011's first billion dollar-plus weather event, the Groundhog Day snowstorm. It trapped Glenn Tylutki in his car on Chicago's Lakeshore drive.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How long have you been in here?
GLENN TYLUTKI: 7 ½ Hours.
THOMPSON: Today it was a perfect day to get that same car washed.
TYLUTKI: I have no jacket, I have no gloves, I have no scraper my hand, and I can see my car.
THOMPSON: The difference is the jet stream. Last year, it followed a typical La Nina pattern, bringing warmer and drier temperatures to the south and colder and wetter conditions to the north.
GERALD MEEHL [NAT'L CTR. FOR ATMOSPHERIC RESEARCH]: What's happened this year is that the – this pattern has shifted a little bit further north and so now almost the entire country is covered by this warmer drier part of the La Nina pattern.
THOMPSON: Add to that a world warming because of climate change and it stacks the deck, Dr. Meehl says, against a traditional winter.
MEEHL: We just shift the odds towards a better chance of record warmth and a reduced chance of record cold.
THOMPSON: Leaving much of America with a very early case of spring fever. Anne Thompson, NBC News, New York.
- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here  to follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.