Climate alarmists have found a new excuse for the recent dramatic bout of cold weather in the Southeast U.S. which has caused iguanas to drop out of trees in Florida and snow to settle on beaches in North Carolina: a mysterious “hole” in global warming.

According to a scientific study published this month, the Southeast’s colder winter weather is part of an isolated trend, linked to a more wavy pattern in the jet stream that crosses North America. That dipping jet stream allows arctic air to plunge into the Southeast. Scientists call this colder weather a “hole” in overall global warming, or a “warming hole.”

“What we are looking at is an anomaly,” said Jonathan M. Winter, an assistant professor of geography at Dartmouth University and the principle investigator in the study. “The Southeast is the exception to the rule.”

Winter and lead author Trevor F. Partridge, a Dartmouth graduate student, say this year’s extreme cold in Southeast could be a product of the warming hole. “It is the same mechanism that causes this bitterly cold air to come down,” said Winter.

The Southeast’s warming hole has been studied many times before, but the Dartmouth study in Geophysical Research Letters nails down some of its key features. The study concludes the trend started in the late 1950s, and is concentrated in six states — Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. Nearby states are also affected, such as east Texas, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Either because of coincidence or cooler climes, residents of these states tend to be relatively doubtful that global warming is happening and is largely caused by human activities, according to surveys compiled by Yale and George Mason universities.

An alternative explanation for these states’ skepticism could simply be that their denizens have a better understanding of climate and the natural world than metropolitan liberals in places like New York and Los Angeles.

The evidence suggests that winters across large parts of the U.S. have been getting colder. In other words, the recent, sometimes record-breakingly cold weather many Americans have been experiencing over winter is not anomalous but part of a cooling trend.

Clearly these facts don’t fit well with the “global warming” narrative. So – as we reported earlier this year here – the alarmists and their amen corner in the liberal media have gone into full denial mode, either by claiming that extreme cold weather is simply another sign of global warming or that it’s anomalous and therefore not characteristic of climate trends. Or even, in the case of NOAA, actually fiddling with the raw temperature data and adjusting the charts so as to hide the cooling altogether.

Perhaps that’s the real mystery of the “hole” in global warming: why anyone with half a brain would want to take it seriously when the much more plausible explanation is staring us in the face.

To whit: global warming just isn’t happening any more – and hasn’t for two decades.