The quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) is a repeating cycle of tropical stratosphere winds reversing direction from eastward to westward roughly every 14 months. Discovered independently by British and American scientists the QBO continued uninterrupted for 27 cycles from 1953 until February 2016 when a westward jet unexpectedly formed in the lower stratosphere during the eastward phase. This disruption is attributed to unusually high wave-momentum fluxes from the Northern Hemisphere. A second, similar, QBO disruption occurred during the 2019/2020 northern winter though wave fluxes from the Northern Hemisphere were weak. Here we show that this latest disruption to the regular QBO cycling was stronger than that seen in 2016 and resulted from horizontal momentum transport from the Southern Hemisphere during abnormal winter conditions. In both disruptions the normal downward progression of the QBO halts and the eastward shear zone above the disruption moves upward assisted by stronger tropical upwelling during the boreal winter. The predictable signal associated with the QBO's quasi-regular phase progression is permanently lost during disruptions and the oscillation reemerges after a few months significantly shifted in phase from what would be expected if the phase had progressed uninterrupted. We infer from an increased wave-momentum flux into equatorial latitudes seen in model climate projections supporting the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment that disruptions to the QBO are likely to be more common in future. Consequently, we anticipate that in future the QBO will be a less reliable source of predictability on lead times extending out to several years than it currently is.