Springtime in an Era of More Extreme Weather

Summary: Journalists have discovered weather porn! News about weather provides easily written clickbait to fill the space between ads, describing the weather as regular like a metronome unless disturbed by climate change due to global warming. In reaction the Right often responds with scientists don’t know nothing. Neither is correct, as shown in this analysis by Evelyn Browning-Garriss, someone paid to give advice about the weather to businesspeople who rely on it. She describes the complexity of natural cycles running over decades and centuries, with another layer on top of that from anthropogenic influences.  {1st of 2 posts today.}

North American weather in early 2015

 Springtime in an Era of More Extreme Weather

Excerpt from the March 2015 Browning Newsletter
Posted with their generous permission.


  1. The volcanic debris from two 2011 polar eruptions are causing the extreme Arctic cold and East Coast precipitation. This should be the last year of these eruptions affecting weather.
  2. With the current long-term cooler trend of the long-term Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the warm tropical El Niño has been weakened. … It currently is in Modoki (dry) configuration, but is warming to more standard El Niño conditions (wet) for March.
  3. The current long-term ocean patterns, a warm Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation and cool PDO phase, historically produce decades of more extreme weather for North and South America. Expect 15 to 20 years of more extreme climate.
  4. Despite above-average February rainfall, the drought conditions in South America, particularly Brazil continue. Coffee, sugar cane and soybean production is reduced and Brazil’s major cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are facing potential water rationing.

The temperatures, particularly eastern temperatures, have made headlines. North America has been so bipolar that in late February Anchorage, Alaska (25°F/3.9C) was 10°F warmer than Atlanta, Georgia (15°F/-9.4°C). El Niño conditions then produced Southern rain that raced up the East Coast, creating ice storms and wind chilled enhancement of the freezing cold. … The good news is that this weather was predictable. … This winter followed the historical pattern for years with volcanically cooled polar air, a weak El Niño and hot Atlantic waters off the East Coast.

Short term effects making the Weather More Extreme: Volcanoes

As regular readers are familiar with, our current weather has been partially shaped by recent volcanic activity – specifically the large eruptions of two polar volcanoes. In 2011, Mt. Grímsvötn in Iceland and Sheveluch volcano on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. While these eruptions were not tremendously powerful, they were both large enough to enter the stratosphere. There the volcanic ash and chemical aerosols lingered for 3 years, increasingly cooling the polar air mass.


Volcano's impact on weather
Volcano’s impact on weather. Credit: NASA/LaRC.

Recent volcanic activity has not been as powerful, but we are seeing constant activity in both Russia and Iceland. In Russia, several volcanoes are currently active. Sheveluch, Klyuchevskoy and Chikurachki have had a series of 5 – 7 km eruptions in February. While this is not high enough to change the climate for years, it is entering passing fronts. … Meanwhile, in Iceland, Bardarbunga volcano continues to leak lava and gas at low levels.

… The last time we saw this pattern of eruptions in both the Polar Regions of the North Atlantic and Pacific was back in the 1780s, so we are seeing patterns that haven’t existed in centuries. The dust and chemicals blocked out incoming sunlight, decreasing the Arctic’s summertime warming. Indeed, the end of the summer found 1.5 million sq. km (more than 579,000 sq. miles) more sea ice than two years previously.

Winter has allowed this cold to shift south, creating extreme, even record-breaking cold from Michigan to Miami. Only the fact that the North Atlantic Oscillation is currently positive, shifting weather patterns eastward quickly, has kept this year from being a repeat of last year’s awful polar vortex weather.

{T}he debris from Russian volcanoes in Kamchatka is also cooling the air in the North Pacific. This cooling strengthens a semi-permanent air pressure storm region called the Aleutian Low. The Aleutian Low is a key area for steering the polar jet stream and when it is strong, it veers the jetstream north along the West Coast. Unfortunately, this keeps polar storms from hitting the Western US. This, in turn, reduces rain and snowfall and creates warmer temperatures that evaporate the already low levels of moisture. When coupled with other air pressure patterns this makes a pattern known as a positive Pacific North American (pna) pattern that encourages cold air to plunge east of the Rockies.

California snowpack
California snowpack, from the Dept of Ag’s NRICS website.

The Russian volcanoes have been erupting at a moderate to low level for over a month and the Aleutian Low has been very strong most of January and February. This has created a very strong PNA pattern, or as the media is currently calling it, a “Siberian Express”.

US Drought Monitor
Heat from the positive PNA pattern has increased Western drought. From the US Drought Monitor. Click to enlarge.

Also, this winter a strong, cold Low Pressure area south of Iceland has lingered, creating a weather pattern known as a Positive North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). While there is no scientific consensus, there is a theory that the gasses from the still erupting Bardarbunga volcano in Iceland may be responsible for the cooling and strong low pressure. A positive NAO creates a faster polar jet stream over the Atlantic. This means the storms that the PNA sinks into the East are moving out to sea fairly quickly.

This is very different from last year when the “Polar Vortex” weather lingered. Instead of a prolonged cold, we are seeing wave after wave of cold fronts hit and zip eastward. Despite the fact that the fronts are colder than last year, this has shifted the cold east, allowing most of the US to be warmer than last year and makes the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and eastern Great Lakes areas colder.

Here’s the good news: most of the volcanic debris will precipitate out this year. While polar volcanoes remain a concern (the Kamchatka volcanoes and Iceland’s Bardarbunga eruption remain extremely active at a low level), this level of extreme cold in the Arctic air mass should fade. …

Atlantic Currents
The fast flow of the Atlantic currents has heated the North Atlantic. © Evelyn Browning Garriss.

Long-Term factors making the Weather More Extreme

As has been noted multiple times, since 1995 the Atlantic has been in the warm phase of the long-term Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. This means the Atlantic Thermohalene Current, the complex network of currents, including the Gulf Stream, are flowing faster and carrying more tropical warmth north. The water heats the air over the Gulf and Northern Atlantic and these air masses shape North American weather east of the Rocky Mountains. The results of this heat are:

  1. Hotter springs, summers and early autumns for the in Eastern and central North America.
  2. Stormier late autumns, winters, and early spring in the Midwest and eastern North America.

{T}he Pacific is in a long-term negative phase of the Pacific Decadal oscillation. This phase cools waters in the Tropical and Eastern Pacific while warming waters in the west and closer to the poles. … Between strengthening the Atmospheric River phenomenon, which concentrates the streams of tropical moisture, creating more floods and blizzards, and drying the western coasts of the Americas, the negative PDO tends to create more extreme weather patterns. The cooler air masses off the West Coast, during non-El Niño years, are carried east by the prevailing westerly winds and crash into the hot wet air from the Gulf and Atlantic, creating more severe storms.

Notice, this pattern is a trend. It can be and currently is being interrupted by warm El Niño conditions. However, it tends to weaken warmer climate patterns and strengthen cooler ones.

Both the warm phase of the Atlantic AMO and the cooler trend of the PDO are long-term oscillations that are expected to last another 15 – 20 years. This indicates a pattern of more extreme weather will probably continue for one to two more decades.

This newsletter contains articles, observations and facts to support our contention that humanity is significantly influenced by changing climate. Our calculations show the climate, over the next term, will cause dramatic changes in our social and economic patterns. We feel that readers, attuned to the changes that are occurring, may develop a competitive edge; and, by understanding their current and future environment, can use the momentum of change to their advantage.

 © Evelyn Browning Garriss


Evelyn Browning

About the Browning Newsletter

See the Browning Newsletter’s website. It’s one of the most highly regarded climate newsletters.

For over 35 years, The Browning Newsletter has been simply the best, most accurate source for long-term climate forecasts. Our subscribers include a diverse group of people and institutions interested in profiting from opportunities presented by changing climate, and those looking to protect their interests that might be affected by changing climate.

They include farmers and ranchers, commodities brokers, large banks and financial institutions, hedge funds, agricultural supply vendors, and people interested in our global climate.

About Evelyn Browning-Garriss

She is a historical climatologist who advises everyone from Texas cattle raisers to Midwestern utilities and Canadian banks about what the coming season will bring. She has spent over 30 years as a business consultant, editor and author explaining the impact of changing climate on economic and social trends. Editor of the Browning Newsletter, Evelyn has authored or co-authored five books on the changing climate’s impact on water supplies, agriculture, business and terrorism.

For the past 20 years she has taught professional seminars, lectured and/or conducted international seminars in the United States, Canada, England, Singapore, Korea, Central America and the Pacific Islands. In addition to her work as editor of the Browning Newsletter, she does daily consulting and contract research for businesses and investors.

Download a sample issue here.

This section is reposted from their website.

For More Information

(a) How Do High-Latitude Volcanic Eruptions Affect Climate?“,  Francesco S. R. Pausata (postdoc Meteorology, Stockholm U), EOS, 11 March 2015.

Truth Will Make You Free

(b)  Reference Pages about climate on the FM sites:

  1. The important things to know about global warming
  2. My posts
  3. Studies & reports, by subject

(c)  Posts asking if we’re prepared for past weather?

  1. Have we prepared for normal climate change and non-extreme weather?
  2. Droughts are coming. Are we ready for the past to repeat?
  3. Weather & climate change: how to interpret our past in order to prepare for our future.
  4. Everything you wanted to know about California’s drought (except when it will end).



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