Forecaster: Two phenomena responsible for world's bizarre weather
A graphic outlining sea temperature anomalies the first week in January shows drops in the Pacific as air temperatures rise between the U.S. and Europe (continents in gray). La Niña and the North Atlantic Oscillation are to blame, an expert says.
January 13th, 2011
03:35 PM ET

Forecaster: Two phenomena responsible for world's bizarre weather

The catastrophic weather events taking place across the globe – from Brazil’s and Australia’s flooding to the Eastern United States’ heavy snowfall – have two likely explanations.

Tony Barnston, lead forecaster at Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society, said two phenomena – La Niña and the North Atlantic Oscillation – are likely responsible for the patterns we’re seeing.

Though La Niña is different every time, it can be simply defined as a drop in water temperature in the eastern and central tropical Pacific Ocean. This particular La Niña appeared in July, Barnston said, and will last through spring.

During La Niña, there is less rainfall in the tropical Pacific and a horseshoe pattern of warm water typically forms in the North Pacific, the coast of Southeast Asia and the seas around Indonesia and Australia (check out the graphic above).

In this case, though, “the whole globe looks to be compensating,” Barnston said, noting that it’s difficult to determine if  La Niña spawns individual weather events.

While Southeast Asia and Australia can typically expect warmer oceans and more rainfall during La Niña, the affected area stretches farther west this year and includes Sri Lanka and the southern tip of India, Barnston said.

There is presently a massive rescue operation under way in Sri Lanka to save victims of flooding that has already killed at least 13 people. Floods have killed another 40 people in the Philippines, and Australia has been inundated with deadly flooding reportedly estimated to cover an area the size of France and Germany combined. To the east of La Niña, South America's north coast has been slammed with rain, and hundreds have been killed in Brazil's flooding and mudslides.

La Niña usually means warmer temperatures in the United States, particularly the Southeast, but this year the North Atlantic Oscillation is trumping La Niña.

Since November, we have been in the negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation, Barnston said, meaning that air temperatures between the eastern U.S. and Europe will drop. This causes temperatures to rise in places like northeast Canada, Greenland and Iceland, as the mercury drops on thermometers in the eastern U.S.

Weather experts call it a see-saw pattern, and it will eventually affect water temperatures, though that’s a secondary effect, Barnston said.

So while La Niña would normally mean dryer, warmer weather for folks in the southern United States, “the North Atlantic Oscillation has superseded the La Niña” this year, bringing El Niño-like winter temperatures and snow to the Southeast, he said.

CNN meteorologists reported earlier this week that snow was present in every U.S. state but Florida.

Though La Nina typically lasts until April or May, the North Atlantic Oscillation can move from a negative to positive phase mid-winter. Barnston said the Southeast “could be warmer and dryer than normal later this year if the North Atlantic Oscillation ceases and desists.”

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Filed under: Australia • Brazil • India • Indonesia • Philippines • Sri Lanka • Tropical weather • U.S. • Weather • Winter weather
soundoff (963 Responses)
  1. J-dog

    The only way Jesus is coming back is if PROJECT BLUEBEAM has anything to do with it. Ever seen a CHEMTRAIL before? CHEMTRAILS are loaded with BARIUM. BARIUM is a conduit/surface chemical for HOLOGRAPHIC IMAGES...such as a "return" of this "Jesus". Look up the NEAT COMET that passed by the sun in 2003...a year later the tsunami hit Indonesia and things haven't been the same since. Is NIBIRU approaching? Have you heard of NIBURU? I would highly recommend looking into all of these "capped" items...because La Nina and a North Atlantic Oscillation have nothing to do with what is going on with all of the freak animal deaths going on in Western influenced countries all over the world, the bizarre weather the entire globe is facing, magnetic pole shiftings causing a Florida airport to change coordinates of its runways, snow in 49/50 U.S. states on one day...look into this could be a life or death situation for you and your families. When you hear the word "conspiracy", don't just write it off as some research. Crazy could be in your backyard in 2 years. Love one another and come together against the know who they are and they will never change.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • YetAnotherBob

      Barium is much more expensive than Kerosene (jet fuel). I don't believe that profit minded corporations would use it.

      January 14, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • J-dog

      I agree corporations wouldn't purchase it...but the US Government would. BARIUM is found in CHEMTRAILS. There have been tests done on chemtrails and some have been as much as 80% Barium...toxic skies.

      January 14, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Frank Rotiroti

    Nobody gets out of here alive. Remember atheists, we will all bow down to God, it is just a matter of time.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Morvegil

    Ragnarok is coming. Jesus is just Loki in disquise you fools...Odin and Thor will save us!!!

    January 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • YetAnotherBob

      According to the Druids, Odin (or Wotan) has always known that he and Thor will lose. Catch up on your mythology.

      January 14, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Joe in Kalispell

    It's called climate change. It has happened untold thousand of times in the past. Humanity has been lucky enough to have several thousands of years of stable weather. For whatever reason that is coming to an end. This change will shorten growing season or change the crops that can be grown in different regions. Get used to it and get used to mass starvation until the population stabilizes around @ 2-3 billion people.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff

    The world is definitely getting hotter; it's just going through a cold phase to get there.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Arpad101

    I like climate change. The same climate after a while gets boring.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kenny

    All this weird weather started right around the time they repealed 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • YetAnotherBob

      There's a Church in Kansas you should look into.

      January 14, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. 110th

    Humans have been around, at the high end of estimates, for about a million years. The Earth has been around for about 4.5 billion years. It's pretty arrogant to think that us humans, who have existed for a sliver of time in comparison to the Earth, can possibly cause significant climate change. Humans are a part of the Earth and the Earth wouldn't create something that would destroy itself.

    ...and the Jesus comment, just loony.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • john121

      Why wouldn't the Earth create something that would destroy itself? Does the Earth have a mind that I don't know about? Do you think that the population can continue to grow exponentially (at a faster and faster rate) and the Earth will miraculously be able to support ANY number of people that live here? What about a a hundred billion people? A trillion people? There HAS to be a limit. The Earht not creating something that will destroy it sounds more like an argument for God, to me. Overpopulations are a part of the Earth's ecology. They happen regularily. And when they have, something else in the ecology (preditors, a lack of food, disease, possibly even environmental forces) kills a part of that population to stabalize it. And that is, hopefully, what Earth is going to do to us. Because the other option is that we have disrupted the ecology so much that the Earth can't self-regulate, and THAT is a scary thought!

      January 14, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      The earth won't destroy itself, it will destroy us, if we don't take care of it. A couple of superhurricanes, a couple of tsunami's, volcanoes and earthquakes, can devistate humanity pretty quickly. Or a good drought or flood or ice age. Human's are pretty adaptive, but famine and worldwide pandemics can wipe us out pretty quickly. If resources are low, war and anarchy will ensue to get to those resources. That's how it has always been through the history of man.

      January 14, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Michael

    I know the cause of ALL this;

    Mother Nature on PMS

    January 14, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jim

    Actually I think it is mohammed who is coming back.

    Anyone brave enough to make a joke about this guy or can you only take cheap shots at jesus?

    January 14, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • john121

      Why must you encourage this?

      January 14, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      Both are coming back for the match of the century like the rumble in the jungle between Ali and Foreman.

      January 14, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • YetAnotherBob

      Actually, Mohammad said that it was Jesus who is coming back. Real Muslims are waiting to crown him King. Talk to some. It can be very enlightening. Real Muslims object to being called Christians, but are actually more Christian than some Christian churches.

      They observe Jesus teaching that Charity is more important than doctrine. (Charity here means kindness to others, not getting a tax deduction.) They remember that Faith means Obedience to God. Not just some random belief. In many ways, some Muslims are closer to Jesus than some Baptists I have met. There are of course, extremists. But look at the Christians in Northern Ireland.

      January 14, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Maluco

    That IS the ugliest graph ever posted on a news site... wow... are we back in the 80's?

    January 14, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • opeth31

      LOL so true!

      January 14, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • macmac33

      Amen brother

      January 14, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • marellyn

      yes, i agree.... but snow in every state by florida??? does hawaii have snow now??? i think that might be an error on someone's part. i can't believe there is snow in hawaii... can you?

      January 14, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry Speier

      No silly girl. Hawaii has mountainous regions and snow landed there.

      January 14, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • B

      You can go skiing in HI....

      Even in the summer when you go up to the top of some of the dormant volcanoes it can be near or below freezing.

      January 15, 2011 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      there have been TWO real snow storms in the North East how is that Bizarre? They lasted ONE DAY. grasping at straws. This is NOTHING to how it used to be.

      January 15, 2011 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
    • J-dog

      LMAO!!!! Good point. I'm sure whoever put that graph up there knew what they were doing. Can anyone figure out what it means?? LOL Looks like somebody messed up the watercolor painting booklet.

      January 15, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Burner

      yes, i agree.... but snow in every state by florida??? does hawaii have snow now??? i think that might be an error on someone's part. i can't believe there is snow in hawaii... can you?
      It always snows on Hawaii's big island.

      January 16, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • royrogers

      an you think it was bad, I had just toked a fatty, I thought CNN was jacking with me.

      January 16, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • enricorosan

      Frankly, it looks like a graph from the 1970's. I am old enough to remember. –D

      January 16, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Edward Nashville, TN

    It is funny, either people post deadly serious detailed comments on the article or they find a way to once again drag religion into every topic on so they can bash each other.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      it is even funnier well sad how in the year 2010 there are still wack jobs believing in some fabricated gods simply because their ancestors were threatened with death to believe in them.

      January 15, 2011 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
    • swtaylor

      Your just a F–k–g idiot friendo....

      January 16, 2011 at 3:31 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jerry

    In this case we need to ask Al Gore. I guess he's the only human that "correctly" predict the wether and its effects.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      weather he did or not wood it matter?

      January 15, 2011 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan the Man

      This article is WRONG. It is the weakening magnetic field being hit by heighten solar storms is causing this weather, seismic activity and the deaths of the animals. Research it. Google it! Google "South Atlantic Anomaly" – It's a 3000 mile hole in the magnetic field protecting earth. The earth is responding, trying to repair as this happens with eruptions from volcanoes. We have seen 5 erupt and several awaken in Jan alone. It will only get worse. Do your research!!

      February 4, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rexis

    Raptor Jesus. Nuff said. ʘᴥʘ

    January 14, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • YetAnotherBob

      Nice pun. By the way, Rapture is not in the Bible.

      January 14, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      which bible are u assuming he got it out of? I mean forgive me for not being your equal for I am not christian taliban.

      January 15, 2011 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Rezzee19

      Raptor Jesus indeed.

      January 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. me

    We f'd up the earth and now we are going to pay– stupid humans!!!

    January 14, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
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