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By Climatologist Cliff Harris and Meteorologist Randy Mann

Since mid-1967, we have seen more long-standing weather records broken worldwide for both temperature and precipitation than we did from the end of the Civil War until the late 20th Century. Based on our long-term weather charts that date back to 600 B.C., we may be only halfway through a long-term 70-YEAR GLOBAL CYCLE OF WIDE WEATHER "EXTREMES" that began in the late 1960s and probably won't end until at least the late 2030s.

The weather, like many other things does appear to go through a variety of short and long-term cycles. Have you ever noticed that rain will fall on a particular day during the week (usually the weekend days from what I hear) for about a month? Or, we'll notice one region getting deluged from record precipitation while other parts of the country are suffering from parching drought? Well, Climatologist Cliff Harris and I believe that the weather does have a number of cycles that range from nearly 7 days to 6 weeks and much longer.

This particular global cycle of wide weather EXTREMES seems to occur about every 500 years. Since this cycle began, we've seen at least 70,000 worldwide records fall that once stood for over 200 years.

Since we're only about half way through this cycle, we can obviously expect more extreme weather conditions. The Winter of 2007-08 was indeed one of the harshest in recorded history across the globe.

There have been record snows across parts of the Inland Northwest that have raised fears of major flooding. In February alone, there have been heavy snows near the Great Lakes. We just had one of the worst February outbreaks of tornadoes in the mid-South early in 2008, with the worst in eastern Arkansas and western Tennessee with severe flooding in the Ohio Valley. Severe ice storms have also plagued Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Schools were closed in southern Illinois for the first time since the 1980s.

In February, 2008, Minnesota plunged to an all-time record -40 degrees this morning, a place officially known as the nation’s "icebox." Many places across the northern regions of the U.S. experienced temperatures from -20 to -35 degrees.

Arctic cold also gripped Europe as records were shattered due to the extreme conditions. Vienna, Austria’s subway tracks cracked and German authorities had to shut down a key water canal after it iced up. Heavy snows fell on Greece’s elevated ancient Acropolis and lighter snows covered much of nearby Athens. One lake in Siberia, where temperatures dipped to an all-time low of -64 degrees, reported ice as much as 13-feet thick which killed most of the fish.

Even normally mild southern China has seen blizzard conditions making this one of the most severe weather seasons in over 800 years. Over 40% of the China’s winter rapeseed (canola) crop has been lost to cold, snow and ice. Afghanistan has also observed rare blizzards this winter season resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people. "Rare" snow were likewise observed in normally warm Baghdad, Iraq; Cairo, Egypt; Palermo and Sicily in the "boot" of Italy; Istanbul, Turkey and Jerusalem in Israel, just to name a few spots.

In the last 10 years, we've also seen disastrous 500-YEAR FLOODS in the Midwestern U.S. There have also been big floods throughout much of Central Europe and parts of Russia in 2002 that caused billions of dollars in property damage. In 1998-99, Mt. Baker in Washington State recorded the highest worldwide snowfall ever with 1,140 inches.

While some parts of the world receive the flooding rains, as mentioned earlier, others have seen some of the WORST DROUGHTS in 400-500 years in parts of the U.S., Mexico and central Canada as well as across portions of Asia, much of Africa, Australia, extreme southern Europe and the Mediterranean regions. For example, the western U.S. Great Plains, the Desert Southwest and Southern California experinced the worst drought conditions since the infamous DUST BOWL DAYS of the 1930s back in 2006.

Since the early 1990s, we've experienced the WARMEST period overall since the last cycle of global warming about 1,000 years ago. Believe it or not, temperatures were even milder than what they are today. During that time, it was warm enough that the Vikings were farming parts of southwestern Greenland. But, 200 years later, the climate drastically changed and the so-called LITTLE ICE AGE brought bitter cold and snow to that region forcing the Vikings to evacuate.

But, in early 2008, global temperatures have dropped approximately seven-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit since August of 2007. Sunspot activity has noticeably quiet in early 2008.

We eventually see more sudden shifts in the fast-moving upper-level jet stream winds that help steer weather systems around the planet. These global shifts in climate tend to occur with the arrival of the virtually every El Nino, the abnormal warming of ocean waters, or La Nina, the abnormal cooling of sea-surface temperatures in the South-Central Pacific Ocean along the Equatorial regions near the West Coast of South America. Within the last several years, we've seen dramatic warming and cooling of ocean temperatures within very short periods of time.

So when will we finally get out of this Cycle of Wide Weather Extremes that's the strongest in about 1,000 years? Well, this particular cycle usually lasts about 70 years. Since it started around 1967, it probably will not peak until at least 2038 and possibly will become the worst such climatological cycle in at least 6,000 years.

Until then, expect more long-standing weather records to fall. But, there may be a brief break in this weather pattern. Cliff is forecasting a brief period of "calm" from these extremes around 2010, give or take a few years either way. However, the EXTREMES are expected to return and perhaps become even more severe from about 2017 to 2038. Only time will tell.

By Meteorologist Randy Mann.