Are volcanic eruptions affecting the amount of rain and snow?

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Dear Tom,
Are volcanic eruptions that are ongoing around the world affecting the amount of rain and snow that has been occurring over the past several months here in the United States?
— Halina Gumiela
Dear Halina,
No, not recently. Volcanoes throw a great deal of debris into the atmosphere, but much of it (such as heavy particles like pumice and ash) falls out either in the vicinity of the volcano or downwind within a few days. However, gases (like sulfur dioxide) mix into the atmosphere and are carried away. In sufficient quantity, these gases can have planetary cooling effects that persist for a few years. The most recent volcano to do this was Mount Pinatubo (in the Philippine Islands) in a June 1991 eruption. It threw so much sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere that global temperatures dropped 0.9 degrees in the following three years.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.