The spring of 2015 is on track to be one of the most violent ever recorded in the US. While there were more violent events overall in 2014, there were fewer tornadoes and less flooding. Through May 24, there have been 499 tornadoes recorded in the US. Through the end of May in 2015 there have been 499 tornadoes. On February 20, 2015, Unknowncountry’s Climate Watch correctly predicted a violent spring in the US. This is because the jet stream has not yet moved off its typical early spring track, with the result that the center of the country is caught between warm air moving up from the Gulf Stream and arctic circulation that remains unusually powerful for the season.

A similar situation existed in 2014, generating more tornadoes but less rainfall and straight-line winds. At this time, an exceptional flow of warm air is continuing to be drawn up across the central US, then being released in the form of storms throughout the region. This pattern will continue as long as arctic air continues to be forced southward by warming in the arctic itself. As Climate Watch pointed out last February, an unanticipated outgassing of methane trapped in tundra and melting permafrost is likely to take place this summer across the entire arctic region. When this causes sufficient warming of the air, ocean temperatures will also rise, leading at some point in the future to the release of methane hydrates that are trapped on the ocean floor. This process will cause dramatic changes in climate, primarily heating due to methane’s high heat retaining efficiency.

However, at the same time, solar activity remains extremely low. Solar minimums are associated with cooling on planet Earth, and it was a solar minimum that caused the ‘Little Ice Age’ that extended from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Therefore, we are not likely to experience ‘straight line’ global warming, but violent weather will become the norm.

Climate Watch has been a feature of Unknowncountry.com since 2001, and is updated quarterly.