About UsNewspaper Editor InfoAdvertising OpportunitiesContact Us


By Climatologist Cliff Harris

According to NASA, the sun’s output of energy was at its lowest level ever recorded by modern instruments at the end of 2008. Solar winds were at a 50-year low. The sun ‘went silent.’

From 1991 to 2007, the average yearly sunspot total was 1,099. But, in the entire year of 2008, there were only 55 sunspots, a massive reduction of 95%. September of 2008 had no sunspots counted for the first time since 1913.

The latest cycle of low sunspot activity, which had slowly come to an end by early 2010, as the number of sunspots gradually began to increase, was the longest such low sunspot cycle since 1796, when the world was plunged into the ‘Dalton Minimum,’ a period of exceptionally cold temperatures on a global scale that didn’t end until 1830, 34 years later.

If the past is indeed a predictor of future weather trends, the earth should generally be colder than normal for at least the next couple of decades, maybe longer, this despite a brief period of intense sunspot activity expected in 2012, the end of the Mayan calendar.

I should likewise mention that global changes in the concentration of CO2 (carbon dioxide), always follow changes in the earth’s temperature, not the reverse.

The oceans are huge collectors of CO2. When temperatures cool during frequent ‘La Ninas,’ like we’ve seen recently, the oceans absorb more CO2.

This factor, combined with a much less active sun, increases the global cooling effects. Glaciers begin to advance. The winter seasons become much more severe with bone-chilling sub-zero cold and frequent blizzards across wide areas, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, like we saw in the Midwest this past week.

Record cold temperatures from the Arctic regions ran headlong into a large juicy air mass from the Gulf of Mexico on February 1-2, that resulted in a massive blizzard across the nation’s heartland.

Thousands of motorists were stranded for hours and most schools and airports were closed as the monster storm, the worst in decades, delivered a series of knock-out punches from Texas northeast to Maine.

More than 20 inches of snow was measured at Chicago, the third largest snowstorm on record in the Windy City. One station in northern Missouri gauged 27 inches of the white stuff. More than a foot of snow crippled traffic from Oklahoma northeastward into Indiana and Ohio. Phone service was out as well in many areas.

To the northwest, on the back side of the blizzard, Havre, Montana dipped to a record low for February 1 of -42 degrees. It was -47 degrees at Harlem, Montana to the east of Havre. Jordan, Montana plunged to a record low of -40 degrees on February 2, Groundhog Day. Normally mild Amarillo, Texas dipped to -5 degrees early in the day.

"Punxutawney Phil," the world’s most famous groundhog, did not see his shadow on February 2, 2011 due to the raging blizzard outside his den early that day. So, the winter-weary northeastern U.S. should have an early spring. Somehow, I seriously doubt this optimistic prognostication.