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Scientists connect 2013's weird weather extremes to jet stream

They're trying to understand the cause of these unusual patterns

They blame it for everything from snowstorms in May to the path of Superstorm Sandy.

And last week, it was responsible for downpours that led to historic floods in Alberta, Canada, as well as record-breaking heat in parts of Alaska, experts say. The town of McGrath, Alaska, hit 94. Just a few weeks earlier, the same spot was 15 degrees.

more below the ixthus

The jet stream is broken.

look at the animation of the pacific ocean, see the hurricane like low pressure system sitting off of the coast of southern Alaska?

flash animation

(parent page with links to satellite imagery here:

That spinning vortex is what is called a cut off low.

if you look at the global analysis, the entire jet stream is split in two.   The subtropical jet is moved up to 35-60'N latitude and a new jet (polar?) is moving around 70'N latitude.  This new jet is weaker and really just a creature formed by severe blocking currents forcing high pressure ridges farther and farther into the arctic.

Here is the global animation

because of the extra moisture feeding into the arctic, an unusual low pressure vortex has been spinning in the arctic for over 27 days now.

This vortex has kept temperatures in the arctic unusually low.

what does it all mean???

where do we go from here???

Early California wildfires fueled by heat contrasted with more than a foot of snow in Minnesota. Seattle was the hottest spot in the nation one day, and Maine and Edmonton, Canada, were warmer than Miami and Phoenix.

Consider these unusual occurrences over the past few years:

• The winter of 2011-12 seemed to disappear, with little snow and record warmth in March. That was followed by the winter of 2012-13 when nor’easters seemed to queue up to strike the same coastal areas repeatedly.

• Superstorm Sandy took an odd left turn in October from the Atlantic straight into New Jersey, something that happens once every 700 years or so.

• One 12-month period had a record number of tornadoes. That was followed by 12 months that set a record for lack of tornadoes

more extremes:  that's where

And here is what federal weather officials call a "spring paradox": The U.S. had both an unusually large area of snow cover in March and April and a near-record low area of snow cover in May. The entire Northern Hemisphere had record snow coverage area in December but the third lowest snow extent for May.

"I've been doing meteorology for 30 years and the jet stream the last three years has done stuff I've never seen," said Jeff Masters, meteorology director at the private service Weather Underground. "The fact that the jet stream is unusual could be an indicator of something. I'm not saying we know what it is."

4:17 AM PT: Dearly Beloved,

thank you for your comments, questions and efforts to make sure we finally begin to do something about this!

for those who are interested in the science behind this one aspect of global warming here is the definitive lecture from Jennifer Francis regarding these effects.

Her lecture was given in January of 2013

9:55 AM PT: In the discussions there has been talk about the abnormal weather on the west coast and I wanted to share the current situation in the Colorado River Watershed.  The following link  Shows the most recent Lake Powell (source of the Colorado River) projections as well as how much water they received during the most recent snowmelt season.

If you are wondering why Colorado is having such an early and intense fire season, just look at the left-most chart.  The historic spring runoff values show that this last spring melt was the smallest in the last 5 years.  the lake level is already receding.  My spreadsheet shows that this years melt has been comparable to the smallest runoff in recorded history.

For some reason the USGS doesn't show the update graphic, Also the Bureau of Reclamation isn't showing any inflows.  Maybe the gauges are all broken???

At the Bureau of Reclamation even the level data isn't feeding in now.

Lake Powell Elevation Projection

If there is actually zero inflows now (not likely) then at the current rate of loss there is about 450 days left in Lake Powell before the low-level drain is reached and the Colorado runs dry.  (according to my super wonky spreadsheet)  of course, there will be some (maybe a lot) of precipitation next year and there is probably SOME inflow of water so we are still on line for a dry Colorado River sometime in the next 10 years if this keeps up.

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