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'La Nada' Responsible for Spring's Freakish Weather July 1, 2011
Sea surface temperature images
La Nina disappeared across the tropical Pacific after the New Year, following a record outbreak in 2010.
A NASA climatologist contradicted reports that have attributed the recent string of killer tornadoes, floods and drought to the record La Niña ocean-cooling that altered the world’s weather much of last year.

Bill Patzert says that while La Niña was strong in December, it pulled a “disappearing act” in January “and left us with nothing — La Nada — to constrain the jet stream. Like an unruly teenager, the jet stream took advantage of the newfound freedom, and the results were disastrous,” Patzert said.

The first effects of the wayward jet were polar outbreaks across the U.S. and parts of Europe.

Then, when warmth and moisture from the Gulf of Mexico later streamed northward and confronted the cold, they triggered intense storms and violent tornadoes, according to the NASA scientist.

“The jet stream on steroids acted as an atmospheric mix master, causing tornadoes to explode across Dixie and Tornado Alley, and even into Massachusetts,” Patzert said.

Photo: NASA JPL