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Joe Bastardi / Feb. 23, 2018

Can We See Man's Imprint on Recent Extreme Weather?

Just like we saw after the brutal cold earlier this year, the predictable sources are claiming already that the warmth and flooding rainfall we've experienced this February are signs of "climate change."

Just like we saw after the brutal cold earlier this year, the predictable sources are claiming already that the warmth and flooding rainfall we’ve experienced this February are signs of “climate change” — that wonderful all-encompassing term that gives you carte blanche to say anything can happen, and when it does, it’s because of what agenda-driven climate alarmists said. But before the winter season, our seasonal forecast emphasized the wild swings this winter was going to have, and not solely because it was a “La Niña” winter. The fact is, as far as the Southern Oscillation Index goes, it was not a La Niña winter, as the 90-day running number is neutral.

It got that way through wild swings — swings we alluded to here:

“Our high-stakes forecast relies on a milder late winter period to balance out what will be cold up front. The forecast we have had out stressed this winter would be a wild ride… We have low solar activity and an easterly QBO, which favor an enhanced MJO.”

I think we can agree the enhanced MJO showed up not only in amplitude but also in what looks to be a record long stay in phase 7, which is a warm stage. This happened in 2006 also, only then it occurred in January. This year it is happening in February.

The warm winter phases are 4, 5, 6 and 7, and the time spent in those phases has taken its toll. The reason for the MJO’s being enhanced has been discussed in papers. When we have low solar activity and an easterly QBO like we do this year, the MJO becomes magnified. This, in turn, creates feedback and produces more amplitude to patterns in the Northern Hemisphere. The ridges are stronger and so are the troughs. So you are going to look for more wild swings in the weather, as this vital tool adds its input into the hemispheric circulation. This is a natural process that’s enhanced by natural processes — the sun and the QBO shift to the east, neither of which we can control.

All these terms — MJO, QBO, AMO, etc. — may seem like mumbo-jumbo, but they are natural phenomena used to help forecast the weather. 


As for the extreme ridge and the warmth — not to mention all the mayhem this can cause with the inevitable clashes (for example, the flooding rains we are seeing) — the warm Atlantic Multidecadol Oscillation ( AMO) and the very warm water near the U.S. coast adds more heat to the pattern by further amplifying the East Coast upper ridge of high pressure, which reached record strength this February. By the way, this ridge will be replaced in March by a major strong trough, also a byproduct of the pattern that produces the pattern we are seeing this year.


There are some thoughts that the increase of CO2 and the warming of the air above the oceans, even though that air is cooler, are causing the oceans to warm. I think before we can accept that argument (notice I am open-minded about the argument) we have to ask ourselves three questions.

  1. Why does it warm in one place but not others? Look at how very cold the water is off of Africa.

  2. Is it part of the larger cycle so wonderfully described by Bill Gray in his ideas on the Meridional Overturning Circulation?

  3. Over a longer term, are we balancing the very cold conditions in the Western Atlantic basin that was prevalent from the ‘60s to '80s? Before we simply blame “climate change” — which, of course, tails back to the CO22 attribution — do we, in essence, have three natural processes that have combined to contribute to what we are seeing?

My conclusion here is that the players that cause extremes were on the field, and they combined. Claiming that enhancement was because of climate change when perfectly natural events were there in the first place to cause it seems to be reaching a conclusion that, while possible, does not appear probable.

It’s like Hurricane Harvey’s rains. If not for the major strong cold trough (a natural event) that caused the storm to stall close to the coast, the storm likely would have just kept moving and rainfall would have been less. The strong cold trough was not induced by climate change, was it? When large-scale natural drivers are present, blaming climate change is certainly not something that should be accepted as conclusive. No more than extra acorns on the ground in the fall should be accepted as the reason it snowed more or less that winter. Perhaps a preseason pattern caused it, but all other patterns directly related to such events should be suspected first.

Shown above is the natural evidence for what we have seen, and not without some preseason ideas on the wild swings this winter would have.


Joe Bastardi, a pioneer in extreme weather and long-range forecasting, is a contributor to The Patriot Post on environmental issues. He is the author of “The Climate Chronicle: Inconvenient Revelations You Won’t Hear From Al Gore — and Others.”

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