Ten days ago, the sun was quite active and peppered with several large spots. Now the sun has gone quiet and it is nearly completely blank. It appears that the solar maximum phase for solar cycle 24 may have been reached and it is not very impressive.
It looks as if this solar cycle is “double-peaked” (see below) which is not all that uncommon; however, it is somewhat rare that the second peak in sunspot number during the solar max phase is larger than the first. In fact, this solar cycle continues to rank among the weakest on record which continues the recent trend for increasingly weaker cycles.
The current predicted and observed size makes this the smallest sunspot cycle since Cycle 14 which had a maximum of 64.2 in February of 1906. Going back to 1755, there have been only a few solar cycles in the previous 23 that have had a lower number of sunspots during its maximum phase. For this reason, many solar researchers are calling this current solar maximum a “mini-max”.
Solar cycle 24 began after an unusually deep solar minimum that lasted from 2007 to 2009. In fact, in 2008 and 2009, there were almost no sunspots, a very unusual situation during a solar minimum phase that had not happened for almost a century."
I was hoping this winter would be warmer than last, like we discussed in an earlier article this year. It still could be and I hope it is. If you believe in the effect solar cycles have on weather, then the outlook in our lifetime is not so good! Not good unless you enjoy cold winters, that is!
At my age I still like the four seasons but I am not crazy about cold winters, especially if they are long like this year was. This past winter started reminding me of 1977 and 1978! Those were the hardest winters of my lifetime and the weather definitely affected my activities.
At this point in my life I have a choice. I can get away part of the winter if not all of it and we just may do that.