Right Opinion

Who or What Is to Blame for Coldmageddon?

Joe Bastardi · Jan. 23, 2019

Nature.

I could end this piece there, but The Patriot Post does expect me to opine on this, so I will.

I have dubbed the upcoming Arctic outbreak “Coldmageddon.”

When we at Weatherbell.com put out our preseason forecast in August, we outlined several factors that would contribute to a winter that could produce extremes of cold and snow in the U.S. and Europe,

Specifically, we argued that a weak Modoki El Niño pattern would develop based on research that we did from the previous winter. Also forecasted was warm water in the northeast Pacific.

The signature for that can be seen here:

So we took the El Niño years of 2002-2003, 2006-2007, 2009-2010, and 2014-2015 and said this winter would reflect them. The blend gives us a cold November into early December, followed by a milder period before it turns cold mid-January into February.

That is what winter has done and is doing.

We also argued that the configuration of sea surface temperatures would encourage a more active Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO). This is relatively rare during an El Niño winter, but when it happens, like it did in 1977-1978, it means extreme winter weather during January, February, and March.

Notice how active the MJO has been this year.

Finally, we identified the threat, which is linked to an active MJO, for a major stratospheric warming event. The research on this is limited, but enhanced MJO events set off stratospheric warming. During the strat-warm years we warned people about — 1966, 1985, and 1994 — major warming occurred late in December, and then from mid-January on, winter turned extreme. In two of the three cases it was very warm in late December and into early January, but the last 10 days of the month and into February and March were very cold. This is happening again.

Since mid-January, winter has turned like clockwork.

Cold has started to invade. Essentially, this is the start of a long cold period for the U.S. and Europe.

All the factors we were looking at — all natural, all there to see — are coming together.

On Jan. 3, when it was still warm (our clients have been well aware of this threat for quite some time), I tweeted this:

I followed up on this a week later because I felt I had a shot at hitting another forecast. So I issued a “Climate Blame Watch” as the ambulance chasers were going to come out once they woke up to what was coming. Remember: When it’s nice and mild, they have nothing to blame. But since we thought this was coming, why not hit a forecast off of a forecast? It could snow cheese in New York City and they would assign blame.

By the way, this is not a sign of a little ice age, either. The fact is that there was a lot of precedent referred to beforehand, with intersecting natural drivers predicted too. And their trying to come together now means if this does turn out the way we have been saying, it’s for the reasons we have been showing. None of the preceding events was followed by a little ice age, nor was CO2 a driving factor.

Bottom line: This winter is starting to hit its stride, and we believe the overall cold, stormy pattern lasts well into March in both the U.S. and Europe. This has many repercussions, as the weather has its hands in everything. Agenda-driven explanations seek to hide the reasons. Our strategy as forecasters is to explain the why before the what, which is exactly what we have been doing for quite some time.

That is quite different from waiting till after the fact then claiming it’s because of something based on an agenda, not a foundation built from research on what the atmosphere has done and is doing.


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 Chronicles: Inconvenient Revelations You Won’t Hear From Al Gore — and Others.”

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