2015 will be remembered as a wild year for many reasons, including the weather.

While the Eastern part of the country was enjoying record high temperatures, the Great Plains was slammed by “Winter Storm Goliath”.

Winter Storm Goliath, the seventh named storm of the 2015-16 season, brought more than three feet of snow and extremely dangerous blizzard conditions to parts of the Southern Plains.

New Mexico was under a state of emergency, where the governor called the weather a “dire situation.” The panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma were also hammered by this storm, and officials were forced to close Interstate 40, which runs through Amarillo, because of the life-threatening conditions. Major roads were covered in snow, and drifts up to 10 feet were reported.

Snow drifts even stranded a couple in their car for 20 hours overnight Saturday and into Sunday near Clovis, New Mexico. Jimmy and Betty Anderson were eventually pulled from their car when whiteout conditions ended and crews were able to locate them, according to the Clovis News Journal.

The storm is now moving to the Northeast, and is expected to subside sometime Tuesday.

I was following the coverage of Texas closely, as I have several good friends in the Dallas area. The most powerful twister was in Garland, Texas, and was rated at an EF-4 level by the National Weather Service. According to the Enhanced Fujita Scale, this is an extremely rare and powerful class of tornado, with wind speeds close to 200 mph and capable of lifting cars and leveling houses.

The storm’s impact on Garland and nearby Rowlett was devastating:

In Garland alone, 600 homes were damaged or leveled, reports CBS News correspondent David Begnaud, and people have begun the painful of assessing what was lost – for some, even their loved ones.

Petra Ruiz was a 27-year-old mother of four. She was on her way home when the tornado tossed her car off Interstate 30. She was among the eight victims who died when their cars went airborne.

So far, Goliath has claimed 43 lives, including that of a newborn baby girl in Texas.

However, our nation is only one of several that have been impacted by extreme weather conditions. Several South American countries are reporting historic flooding:

Vast areas in Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil are being hit by the worst flooding in 50 years, forcing the evacuation of more than 150,000 people.

Days of heavy rains brought on by the El Nino weather phenomenon have caused three major rivers to swell, and officials report at least six deaths.

A state of emergency is in force in Paraguay, the worst hit nation, where 130,000 people have fled their homes.

In northern Argentina, some 20,000 people have left their homes.

El Niño is a predictable weather pattern that occurs every four to seven years on and are triggered by a shift in trade winds across the Pacific around the equator. What has been surprising is that US meteorologists have been distinguishing the cyclic pattern from “climate change”.

An analysis of the extremely warm weather the preceded Goliath by American weather professionals revealed no rush to jump on the “climate change” bandwagon with the reports.

…WABC’s Jeff Smith agreed that El Niño played a role, but dismissed a link to climate change, saying that “you can never really blame one weather event, including a really warm month or two, on global warming.”

WRAL meteorologist Greg Fishel called it “irresponsible” to connect current weather patterns to the changing climate.

“I could sit here and say that this is proof of the fact that there’s global warming going on — no, I can’t,” the North Carolina-based meteorologist told viewers on Monday.

Given the fact that 2016 is likely to be even wilder than 2015, it is good to see some sober and serious coverage from at least one segment of the American news media.