Does the Endgame of the Warm AMO Mean a Colder Mid-Winter Into Spring?
The January-April period this year means that nine of the last 12 periods have been colder than normal for the U.S. We have had three outstanding warm ones (2012, 2016 and 2017). They have looked like this:
But it seems that we are more likely to see cold than warm because eight of the last 11 years have been cold.
And this year will add to it. (Imagine if the two ultra-warm weeks in February did not show up). As of this writing, the year so far looks like this:
The rest of April is projected to look like this, which would likely make it the coldest April since the early 1980s.
This means the front four months of nine of the last 12 years have been colder than normal. Again, the three very warm ones blunt the overall.
But in terms of frequency, cold is increasing.
So what is the possible cause of this?
Well, I think the endgame of the warm AMO is a suspect, as we are now further along in the latter warm period (this Wikipedia chart is not entirely up to date).
Let’s look at the period 1956-1966 to approximate where we are. Regular readers saw some of those years highlighted back in February as analogs for where I thought March and April were going. So this is not Monday morning quarterbacking. There was a distinct pattern recognition technique used to a point where some of the storms amazingly resembled the analogs almost to the day! But the fact is in the last endgame of the AMO, we saw widespread cold for the January-April period (1956-1966). Almost all those periods were cold, so the frequency was even greater than now.
The question is, are we heading to this? One of the prime suspects right off the bat should be the stage of the AMO and its relation to U.S. weather.
Now you can say, “But Joe, look how much colder it was then overall than even the eight cold samples (soon to be nine).” There is no denying that, nor does anyone deny it. But what if we are heading back that way? And is it natural and cyclical — as I think it is for the most part — or is what is being pushed a product of human influence?
And so we circle back to that issue. Given what goes on today, with every event being blamed on climate change in some circles, it seems like that will be a permanent thorn in the side of objectivity. But in the interest of forecasting, let’s think about what the implication of all this is. If the endgame of the warm AMO is occurring (notice the cooler ring around the warmth in the Atlantic now vs. 2011, which was opposite), then the middle and latter part of winters into springs are in the process of returning toward what we saw in the ‘50s and '60s.
Remember, the cooler it is in the tropics, the more influence on the number one greenhouse gas — water vapor — and its input into the system. Is it exactly alike? No. Will it cool all the way back? Well, that would take a pretty drastic reversal from the last 30 to 40 years, but if it did, there would be real trouble because we have adjusted globally to a climate more conducive for progress in so many things (growing food comes to mind).
Some of my solar cycle friends are worried about a little ice age, I am not right now. The truth is, this March-April period is more like the '50s and '60s. I thought 1962 was a gift as we saw the pattern by and large go to that. But I think because of all the hype about warming, it leads to a slingshot effect where any cold is a sign of the opposite when it is likely just nature being nature and doing what she is supposed to do — search for a balance.
No doubt the sun asleep for several cycles is a huge factor, but keep in mind that, globally, with the sun where it is, we have still not fallen back to the 30-year average in the wake of the Super El Niño. It is the blend of all the factors, not just one, that created the entire tune. So if the AMO is heading back there, then it would likely seem to be a prime suspect. But my mission here is to show you that the why before the what may be a product of the what supplying the why!
It will be an interesting next five to 10 years, but if what I suspect is happening is actually true, there is going to be a lot of grumbling about late springs in the coming years. It’s not like this was not on the table beforehand, as numerous references were being shown in those heady early spring days of February showing it was a false spring. But the weather now not only means something for now, it may be showing you where it is going. And guess what? The hint to that is looking at what happened before.
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.”