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Extra warm U.S. winter had nature’s thumbprint on it–Joe Bastardi

April 3, 2020

By Paul Homewood


Joe Bastardi explains why this winter has been so mild in the US, but also across N Europe, at CFACT:


I want you to read this article:

Two points:

1) I will make the case for why such winters like this happen

2) I will point out that nowhere in this article did the massive natural physical drivers that far outweigh the effect of CO2, which is only .041% of the atmosphere. Pointedly, of which man is only responsible for  25% and the US only 15% of that total.

I am not going to waste time attacking here, except to say this kind of one-sided journalism and the fact that nowhere did anyone show what I am about to reveal to you, should raise questions of any objective person.

Basically the rules of the game are, if its warm like this winter, its climate change, if it is cold, its climate change. It is typical of everyone gets a trophy in that any answer even if opposite, means you get credit.

I won’t copy the whole article as it is a bit technical, but it can be seen here. However these are the main points Joe raises, starting with the role of El Nino and water vapour:

Water vapor is by far the most important greenhouse gas when it comes to the planetary weather and climate. Meteorologist look at “saturation mixing ratios” which show a correlation of water vapor to temperature. Basically the colder and drier the air mass, the more the introduction of water vapor will lead higher temperatures, there is no place like the arctic to prove this is the case. The cyclically warmed oceans have put more water vapor (and CO2) into the air. When Super El Niño’s go off, the immense amounts dispersed lead to a step up of the temperature. The colder regions leading the way as will be opined on below.

Now look at the table below. Notice how small the correlated increase of WV is between -40 and -30 ( less than .1gram/kg). The introduction of those slight amounts create clouds, cause lower pressure and more turbulent mixing. All of which act to increase temperatures where its very cold. (Also in the high levels of the atmosphere, which is why the “trapping hot spot theory of warming in the upper levels over the tropics has gone the opposite way. ITS DRYING OUT NOT GETTING MORE MOIST). While its true this creates a distortion in the global temperature pattern, this is inherent in the system anyway. Notice at higher temperatures it takes much more water vapor to correlate to the temperature increase.

So look at the warming in the arctic:

The warming is in the very cold time of the year which skews the overall temp upward. Missing from this are the actual arctic temps which will still be frigid but not as low as they were in the winters 30 years ago. Still, no one is going to survive an arctic winter unless as prepared as they would have been 30 years  ago. BUT THERE IS NO SUMMER WARMING  meaning the amount of water vapor from the cyclically warmed oceans has little effect where it is warmer, much more when it’s cold. The fact that no such correlation chart exists for CO2 and temps should make one understand the minute effect it has on temperature anyway.


This goes to the heart of recent global warming trends, so to repeat:

1) We are seeing a double step up in global temperatures, as a direct result of the two super El Ninos, in 1998 and 2016/16.

2) El Ninos affect global temperatures by putting massive amounts of water vapour into the atmosphere

3) This water vapour has a disproportionate effect in dry regions, notable the Arctic, one of the reasons why an average global temperature is a meaningless concept.

Joe then proceeds to explain how sea surface temperatures in both the Pacific and Atlantic have been the drivers for the the mild US winter in the east this year.

1) The warm water was near and west of the dateline. This is huge as I will explain later. 2) The water was cooler near and off the west coast than further west. 3) Warm water off the east coast, which we knew, but with no cold attacking, it was free to overtake the pattern at will.

That warm water in area 1 favors enhanced thunderstorms and the release of  heat in the upper levels in a way that changes the pattern in the Pacific. If we look at the Madden Julian Oscillation, we see that favors a phase 6. Notice where the heavy precipitation is in the winter in phase 6

Look at this winter almost right on top of it.

What does a mean phase 6 give us for the US  temperature-wise?

Guess what happened this winter, what phase 6 gives us. Now if this is CO2,  why doesn’t it simply occur every winter? Because its not, its large scale natural forcing. Minute increases in CO2 are not going to push around the oceans, whose cycles are decades and in some cases even longer in the making.

But wait there is more. If we take the last 4 very warm winters  98-99, 2001-2002,2011-2012,2019-2020


and looked at the upper air pattern, we notice a  powerfully positive arctic oscillation (for the sake of ease, severe cold over the pole),

we see a positive eastern Pacific oscillation. Cold in Alaska, ridging north of Hawaii. This in turn forces ridging over the eastern US which is then fed by very warm water as it prevents cold intrusions, the ridging over Europe where it was quite warm and in much of Russia. What did we see this year?


Joe finishes by mapping out how small variations in the pattern of SSTs led to the snowmageddon in 2010.

It is a reminder that it is the oceans which drive our weather. As Joe puts it:

Minute increases in CO2 are not going to push around the oceans, whose cycles are decades and in some cases even longer in the making.

  1. GeorgeLet permalink
    April 3, 2020 10:25 pm

    Based on unadjusted temperature records in the U.S.- where valid data exists – and outside of urban heat islands, in general 1900-1940 was warming, 1940-1980 cooling, 1980-2020 warming. Will the pattern follow?

  2. Curious George permalink
    April 4, 2020 12:19 am

    A technical problem: the same post posted twice. Let’s not stutter.

    • April 4, 2020 1:24 pm

      Sorry about that George. Thanks for the heads up. I will fix that after dimner.

  3. Joe Irwin permalink
    April 4, 2020 12:46 am

    In western Canada, this Spring is the coldest ever. Lived here for 88 years

    • R2Dtoo permalink
      April 5, 2020 5:11 am

      Yup= -21C in Southern Manitoba overnight.

  4. April 4, 2020 12:48 am

    USA Today: Warm winter sets records across America (driven by 420ppm CO2).

    Nature Climate Change Journal: Warm Antarctica at 1000 ppm CO2 lays out our future if we don’t take climate action at COP26.

    • dave permalink
      April 4, 2020 10:33 am

      2019/2020 winter pattern just like the winter pattern of 1889/1890:

      It was specifically recalled as a “very warm winter” in this article written 91 years ago:

      So there was acknowledgement of the basic fact that USA winters vary between ‘warm’ and ‘cold,’ long before present day ‘climate wars.’

    • GeorgeLet permalink
      April 4, 2020 1:06 pm

      Something happened naturally eons ago. The CO2 level was higher. So if we put CO2 into the air that will happen to us. Real science – just like in the Summer, consumption of ice cream cones and shark attacks go up. So we better stop consuming ice cream to prevent shark attacks.

      • April 4, 2020 1:15 pm

        There’s a lot of truth to what you are saying that is not commonly understood. For example “in the industrial economy humans began burning fossil fuels and at the same time the atmospheric co2 bwgan to rise and as the co2 went up the earth began to warm etc etc. These kinds of arguments do not prove causation but climate scientists think they do. This is a huge issue.

    • Broadlands permalink
      April 4, 2020 1:53 pm

      Nature Climate Change Journal: Warm Antarctica at 1000 ppm CO2 lays out our future if we don’t take climate action at COP26.

      The corona virus is taking action…CO2 emissions are lowering in transportation. The social and economic result is not what anyone desires…. at COP26 or elsewhere. Especially to zero by 2050.

  5. Broadlands permalink
    April 4, 2020 1:45 pm

    Minor quibble. The “super” El-Nino was in 1997. It was the “super” La-Nina in 1998. Major El-Ninos are in December….Christmas time.

  6. April 4, 2020 2:54 pm

    I thought it had been cold- “Brutal Arctic Cold set to Engulf North America over the next 10 Days

    It’s already been an anomalously frigid Feb for much of the United States (600 new all-time cold records)”

    Wisconsin city endures 3 of the snowiest years on record in just 6 years

    Up to 13.8 ft of snow headed for the Cascades

    Winter Storm Blankets U.S. – Thousands of Flights Canceled
    January 12, 2020

    I-90 East of Seattle closed – Too much snow.
    January 11, 2020 b

    Record snowfall in Caribou, Maine
    January 13, 2020
    Almost double the previous record.

    Residents stranded by snow for days in Washington communities
    January 17, 2020

    More heavy snow for the Cascades, Sierra and Upper Midwest
    January 16, 2020

    More than 7 feet of snow piled up in Washington mountains in the last week
    January 21, 2020

    Snowiest January 18 in Detroit history
    January 19

    Global warming shuts down the Magic Kingdom!
    January 27, 2020
    Freezing weather conditions shut two theme parks!

    • A C Osborn permalink
      April 4, 2020 6:14 pm

      That is the problem with generalities, it was warm in some areas of the US and record breaking cold & snow in others.

      • dave permalink
        April 5, 2020 8:27 am

        As per Piers Corbyn, an era of ‘wavy’ or ‘wild’ jet stream will, in the mid-latitudes, necessarily produce a greater variability at any given location.

  7. Douglas Brodie permalink
    April 4, 2020 4:10 pm

    January and February were abnormally warm in the UK. The HadCET temperature series ended 2019 with the 2019 mean annual anomaly at about 0.7°C above the baseline, just below the red moving average. On 3rd March the calculated 2020 mean to date was off the scale at about 2.5°C above the baseline, a full degree above the dreaded “1.5 degrees”. Who noticed?! It has since fallen to about 2 degrees above the baseline, see

    Such sudden warming cannot be due to man-made CO2 which according to the UN IPCC models is supposed to happen at a rate of about 0.2°C per decade. The satellite temperature record since 1979 shows no trace of any such slow but steady warming, just the sudden step changes resulting from natural El Nino events which have nothing to do with man-made CO2.

    • dave permalink
      April 5, 2020 8:47 am

      Both RSS and UAH* show a drop in March of 0.3 C, of ‘Global Temperature Anomalies**’
      This reverses the rise of January and February.

      *Two independent analyses which nowadays are usually consistent with one another.

      **With the usual caveat, “Whatever the hell this metric actually means!”

      • dave permalink
        April 5, 2020 10:18 am

        We are in the month of Nisan (‘awakening’) of the calendar of ancient Akkad (still part of the Hebrew calendar).

        According to a tablet in the library of the Assyrian King Ashurbanipal “eight days of rain in Nisan means riches for the people.”

        Just saying, in case anyone is looking for a stock-market tip from a King.

      • dave permalink
        April 6, 2020 10:06 am

        A seasonal tidbit – appertaining to migratory birds in North America :

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