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posted on 16 November 2015

16 November 2015 Weather and Climate Report - Again, Waiting for El Nino

Written by Sig Silber

So we wait. But we may not have much longer to wait. In fact it is now more of a question of how Winter will roll out rather than when it will.

weather.caption

 

This is the Regular Edition of my weekly Weather and Climate Update Report. Additional information can be found here on Page II of the Global Economic Intersection Weather and Climate Report.

Let's take a look at the new JAMSTEC precipitation forecast.

JAMSTEC Precipitation Forecasts DJF 2015/2016 as of Nov 1, 2015

I do not intend to go through all the new information from JAMSTEC. I may next week when NOAA updates its Seasonal Outlook but probably I will wait until the following week. Suffice it to say JAMSTEC is no longer predicting a generally wet winter for CONUS. It is a more traditional El Nino pattern.

Not Let us Focus on the Current (Right Now to 5 Days Out) Weather Situation.

A more complete version of this report with daily forecasts is available in Part II. This is a summary of that more extensive report. This link Worldwide Weather: Current and Three-Month Outlooks: 15 Month Outlooks will take you directly to that set of information but in some Internet Browsers it may just take you to the top of Page II where there is a TABLE OF CONTENTS and you may have to wait for a few seconds for your Browser to redirect to the selected section with that Page or if that process is very slow you can simply click a second time within the TABLE OF CONTENTS to get to that specific part of the webpage.

First, here is a national animation of weather front and precipitation forecasts with four 6-hour projections of the conditions that will apply covering the next 24 hours and a second day of two 12-hour projections the second of which is the forecast for 48 hours out and to the extent it applies for 12 hours, this animation is intended to provide coverage out to 60 hours. Beyond 60 hours, additional maps are available at the link provided above.

current highs and lows

The explanation for the coding used in these maps, i.e. the full legend, can be found here although it includes some symbols that are no longer shown in the graphic because they are implemented by color coding.

The map below is the mid-atmosphere 7-Day chart rather than the surface highs and lows and weather features. In some cases it provides a clearer less confusing picture as it shows only the major pressure gradients. One can see Winter finally arriving in the Great Lakes area and even the Northeast in this Day 7 graphic.

7 Day 500 MB Geopotential Forecast

Because "Thickness Lines" are shown by those green lines on this graphic it is a good place to define "Thickness" and its uses. You can find a full uk.sci.weather style explanation (thorough) at that link or just remember that Thickness measures the virtual temperature plus moisture content) of the lower atmosphere and is very useful especially in the winter at identifying areas prone to snow and in the summer areas which are going to be hot and humid. Here is a U.S. style explanation of  "Thickness"  by Jeff Haby who is a valuable source at Haby Hints for anyone who wants an explanation of a meteorological term. The thickness lines do not yet indicate winter conditions which might be thickness levels below 540 for most areas. This suggests that for the next two weeks, snow is not likely to be prevalent in CONUS other than in areas of high elevation and in the Great Lakes area. The above uk.sci.weather link is is an explanation for the U.K. The levels for CONUS might be slightly different. Obviously these thickness lines do not tell you about mountain peaks. The particular definition of "thickness" on this graphic may not be the best way to define the snow line and this is discussed in the link provided but it is I believe the older method and gives a first approximation which can be further refined as per the discussion in the link.

The following table is useful but designed for Europe. I was not able to find the corresponding information for the U.S. but it would not be drastically different. In the U.S., the last zero is dropped off the Thickness Level so where it says 5640 that would show as 564 in the U.S. Also remember the temperatures shown are in Centigrade. So 580 would correspond to about 80F in full sunshine during the summer. That is why I say the 582 and 576 thickness levels showing up in the Eastern half of CONUS are a bit unusual for late November. On the other hand the 540 thickness line is now in this Day 7 Forecast intruding into or close to intruding into parts of CONUS indicating that Winter has arrived in those areas. Although this is an imprecise tool, it is useful for a first look at the situation. One can refine the tool by looking at the temperature distribution of the air column to take into account warm and cool bias the relative humidity of the air (evaporative cooling potential) and of course the altitude as higher thickness levels will produce snow at higher elevation locations.  

Thickness Table

More information on this table is available here.

The level of storm activity in the Western Pacific has declined right now. Notice the Northern Pacific is like a giant anticyclone with clockwise motion so that which gets sent west due to El Nino is to some extent returned to North America but at higher latitudes.

Western Pacific Tropical Activity

Looking at the graphic below, the cyclones generated by the warm ocean water west of Central America can provide Monsoon-like impacts for short periods if those cyclones stay close enough to the Mexican coastline. So that is what is being watched now and there seems to be an endless sequence of the storms forming. Each of these El Nino related tropical storms off the coast of Mexico has the potential, if they are close enough to shore, to introduce moisture into the circulation that enters CONUS and that was the case this summer and continues in early Fall but it is sporadic. For Mexico, an El Nino is a drought event.

.Eastern Pacific Tropical Storms

The graphic below is harder to look at but provides more detail on the water vapor in place which is a good proxy for where precipitation can occur. It covers a much larger area within CONUS so you can see where the moisture currently is and is going. This graphic is very good at pointing out the divisions between cloudy and not cloudy areas. As I am looking at this graphic Monday evening, I see a flow of subtropical moisture sandwiched in between drier areas. I also see the trough in the West descending from the north which is bringing some light snow to where I live in Northern New Mexico. This graphic updates automatically so it most likely will look different by the time you look at it.

 Water Vapor Imagery

Below is an analysis of projected tropical hazards and benefits over an approximately two-week period. There are two views.

The first graphic (A) is focused on the Eastern Tropical Pacific including North and South America. It updates on Friday so on Monday when I write my report, I pay most attention to this graphic for information on the tropical area of North and South America but it is mostly the week-two part of the forecast that is still relevant by the Monday following the Friday update. 

The second graphic (B) covers the same area as the first graphic but it also covers the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean. Since it updates on Tuesday, the first graphic (A) is more current on Monday evening for the Eastern Pacific including the tropical part of North and Central America which includes the U.S. Southeast. But by Tuesday, Graphic (B) is the preferred choice for the entire area of interest.

When looking at a lot of graphics, the dates for which the graphic applies and the dates when issued and updated become very important in making sense out of the information. It is easy to draw incorrect conclusions by not considering or getting confused by the different timeframes. The below discussion is based on the two graphics as shown on Monday but they continue to auto-update during the week and may look different than what I am seeing by the time you view them.  More information on these two graphics can be found here.

Graphic "A" (which updates on Friday and from which I use the Week 2 of the forecast to look at North and South America). What is it telling us this Monday evening?

Mostly it is showing potential cyclonic development off the west coast of Central America and an area of above average precipitation in the West Indies.

Tropical Hazards

Graphic B (which updates on Tuesday and on a Monday I use the Week 2 of this Forecast to look at the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean). What is it telling us this Monday evening?

Mostly I see a fairly benign situation in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean with moderate dryness in Indonesia. The Week 1 forecast shows what looks like Monsoonal activity in Eastern India but that has already occurred by now.

Tropical Hazards

Remember my discussion is created on Monday and one of these two graphics updates on Tuesday and the other on Friday. When you look at this article depending on the day of the week these graphics may have updated so you need to learn how to read and interpret them yourself. The coding is very clear so that should not be difficult to do as long as you are viewing it in color.

Below is a view which highlights the surface Highs and the Lows re air pressure on Day 3. I usually only show the 6 day graphic on Page I of my report (they both are always on Page II of my report) but because of the volatility of the situation in the Pacific this time of the year, I am again showing both this week. Notice the location of the Aleutian Low forecast for Day 3. Also notice the Low Pressure Area centered on Hudson Bay.

Day 3 highs and lows

Here is the Day 6 forecast  In recent weeks the projected location and strength of the Aleutian Low has varied a bit. On some days, the forecast is showing a split low with each of the two lows weaker than a combined single Low and this is not characteristic of El Nino. Right now the Aleutian Low is projected on Day 6 to be weak and over by Kamchatka. An hPa of 1004 is relatively weak.(the average in the winter is 1001hPa and 994 hPa for a non-split Low). The shifting position of the Low makes a big difference. As shown, the Day 6 forecast allows for the RRR to valiantly "protect" the West Coast from Pacific storms. This is not at all consistent with a strong El Nino. A longer discussion of the climate of Beringia and the role of the Aleutian Low is in Part II of this Report 2. Medium Frequency Cycles such as ENSO and IOD.

Day 6 Weather Forecast

We now need to monitor the Jet Stream to see if it is shifting to the South. We certainly can see the current trough.

Current Jet Stream

And the forecast out five days.  Of course this is a forecast and changes daily or perhaps even more frequently. The tendency still remains to keep weather patterns north. But you can see the incursion into the Great Lakes Region. This is not a typical El Nino pattern.

Jet Stream Five Days Out

To see how the pattern is projected to evolve, please click here. The activity is projected to become quite meridional which allows troughs to bring precipitation down to lower latitudes. In addition to the shaded areas which show an interpretation of the Jet Stream, one can also see the wind vectors (arrows) at the 300 Mb level.

And when we look at Sea Surface anomalies we see a lot of them not just along the Equator related to El Nino. One sees a slight fading of the warm anomaly off of Ecuador and perhaps a reduction in size of the warm anomaly around Baja California which sometimes is referred to as the "BLOB'. It is an unusual occurrence which the Japanese have referred to as the California Nino. 

Daily SST Anomaly

The two graphics below show first the changes over the four weeks (ending September 16) as compared to the above graphic which shows the current SST anomalies and then the changes over the four weeks ending on October 28. Looking at both of these change in anomaly graphics is helpful in putting the current situation shown above into perspective.

First the four weeks ending on September 16.

Sept 21, 2015 four week change in SST Anomalies

And now the four weeks ending on November 4, 2015

Nov 9, 2015 Change in Weekly SST Departures

You can see a deamplifying of the pattern and the situation along the Equator in the Eastern Pacific looks like cooling rather than warming. So I question the reported increase in the ONI but realize that there may be conflicts in the data that is being reported which I discuss later. The water off of Mexico is less warm than recently which is important. Something is going on south of the Equator over at about 160W which probably is very important but I do not know enough to know why. It might explain why this El Nino is not impacting CONUS in the way that has been forecast. The entire Northern Pacific seems to have changed a lot. It is a lot less PDO+. I am not sure I still see the IOD in the Indian Ocean. The waters off of the West Coast of Africa are less warm than the prior analysis. Remember these are four-week averages and graphic above the two four-week average of the changes in the anomalies is the daily readings of the anomalies which auto-updates. You can get a better feel there for the current impacts. It is difficult to relate the actuals to the four-week changes but it paints a picture. Remember the observed values in the first graphic are expressed as anomalies which is the change from climatology (normal) so we are talking in these two bottom two graphics about the change in the change. It is kind of like the first derivative of the "anomalies" which to confuse things NOAA interchanges the word "anomaly" and "departures" which are the same thing.

I am also showing the new version issued today which adds two new weeks and removes the two most distant weeks from the average change in the Sea Surface Temperature anomalies.

November 11, 2015 change in Weekly SST Departures.

These graphics are hard to interpret because they are four-week changes. But you have the daily values three graphics up. Here you actual see some strengthening in the El Nino to the west but continued reduction of the warm anomaly just off of Ecuador. More importantly you see a cooling of the warm anomaly off of the West Coast of the U.S. and also Australia and West Africa except for the Bay of Guinea. So there are some changes taking place.

So we may have two conflicting things going on here namely a strengthening of the El Nino and a weakening of what has been reported as a positive phase of the PDO which I have considered to be associated with the El Nino and not a real phase shift. This seems to be producing a complicated pattern of sea surface temperatures (SST) and other measurements that are hard to interpret. It will be interesting to read what NOAA has to say about this on Thursday November 19 when they issue their updated Seasonal Outlook.

6 - 14 Day Outlooks

Now let us focus on the 6 - 14 Day Forecast for which I generally only show the 8 - 14 Day Maps. The 6 - 10 Day maps are available in Part II of this report.

To put the forecasts which NOAA tends to call Outlooks into perspective, I am going to show the three-month NDJ and single month of November forecasts and then discuss the 8 - 14 day Maps and the 6 - 14 Day NOAA Discussion within that framework. Some of these graphics are repeats of graphics that I presented earlier as part of the discussion of the NOAA Update of the November Outlook.

First Temperature

Here is the Three-Month Temperature Outlook issued on October 15,  2015:

NDJ Temperature Outlook Issued on Oct 15, 2015

Here is the updated November Temperature Outlook issued on October 31.

.

November 2015 Temperature Issued on October 31, 2015

Below is the current 8 - 14 Day Temperature Outlook Map which will auto-update and thus be current when you view it. It covers the week following the current week. Today's 6 - 14 Day Outlook is just nine days of the month and the map shown below of the 8 to 14 day Outlook only shows seven days. The 6 - 10 Day Map is available on Page II of this report. As I view this map on November 16 (it updates each day), it appears that late November will quite different from the full-month November Outlook. Winter has arrived in the West but the East Coast is still experiencing Autumn conditions. The expected El Nino temperature distribution with a cold southern tier and less cold (compared to climatology) northern tier at this point in time is reversed.

8-14 Day Temperature Outlook

Now Precipitation 

Here is the three-month Precipitation Outlook issued on October 15, 2015:

NDj Precipitation Outlook Issued Oct 15, 2015

And here is the updated single month of November Precipitation Outlook issued on October 31.

.

November Precipitaton Outlook Issued on October 31, 2015

Below is the current 8 - 14 Day Precipitation Outlook Map which will auto-update and thus be current when you view it. It covers the week following the current week. Today's 6 - 14 Day Outlook is just nine days of the month and the map shown covers seven days of the nine. The 6 - 10 Day Map (the two maps overlap) is available on Page II of this report. As I view this map on November 16 (it updates each day) it appears that late November will be generally les wet than the Outlook for November especially along the West Coast but possibly also the East Coast. Unlike the Temperature Outlook which has been very stable, the Precipitation Outlook has changed dramatically almost from day to day. So I would not place heavy reliance on the precipitation outlook.

Current 8 - 14 Day Precipitation Outlook

Here are excerpts from the NOAA discussion released today November 16, 2015. It covers the full nine day period not just the seven days shown in the 8-14 Day Map.

6-10 DAY OUTLOOK FOR NOV 22 - 26 2015

TODAY'S NUMERICAL MODELS ARE IN POOR AGREEMENT ON THE PREDICTED 500-HPA FLOW PATTERN ACROSS MUCH OF THE FORECAST DOMAIN. THE ENSEMBLE MEAN SOLUTIONS FROM THE ECMWF, CANADIAN, AND GFS FORECAST A RIDGE OVER ALASKA. DOWNSTREAM OF THIS RIDGE, BROAD, RELATIVELY LOW AMPLITUDE CYCLONIC FLOW IS GENERALLY PREDICTED BY THE ENSEMBLE MEANS ACROSS MUCH OF THE CONUS. THE DETERMINISTIC RUNS FROM THE GFS SHOW LITTLE RUN TO RUN CONTINUITY AS TODAY'S 0Z RUN PREDICTS A TROUGH OVER  THE EASTERN CONUS, THE 6Z RUN FORECASTS MOSTLY ZONAL FLOW, AND THE 12Z RUN DEVELOPS A TROUGH OFF THE COAST OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST. THE DETERMINISTIC ECMWF RUNS ARE MORE CONSISTENT WITH EACH OTHER AS BOTH YESTERDAY'S 12Z RUN AND TODAY'S 0Z RUN PREDICT A TROUGH OVER THE WESTERN CONUS. MOST MODEL SOLUTIONS FORECAST A STRONG POSITIVE HEIGHT ANOMALY CENTER NEAR THE GULF OF ALASKA CORRESPONDING TO THE PREDICTED ALASKAN RIDGE. TELECONNECTIONS FROM THIS ANOMALY CENTER SUPPORTS A LOWERING OF HEIGHTS DOWNSTREAM OVER THE WESTERN CONUS WHICH ALIGNS MOST CLOSELY TO THE DETERMINISTIC ECMWF SOLUTIONS. DUE TO LARGE UNCERTAINTIES IN TODAY'S MODEL SOLUTIONS, THE OFFICIAL 500-HPA MANUAL HEIGHT  BLEND CONSISTS PRIMARILY OF THE ENSEMBLE MEAN SOLUTIONS. HOWEVER, THE DETERMINISTIC 0Z ECMWF SOLUTION WAS INCLUDED IN THE BLEND DUE TO SUPPORT FROM THE TELECONNECTIONS.

BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE FAVORED FOR MUCH OF THE CONUS UNDERNEATH PREDICTED CYCLONIC FLOW. PROBABILITIES OF BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE THE HIGHEST FOR PARTS OF THE NORTHWEST CONUS, CONSISTENT WITH TELECONNECTIONS FROM UPSTREAM POSITIVE HEIGHT ANOMALIES PREDICTED OVER THE GULF OF ALASKA AND FOR THE TENNESSEE VALLEY, CONSISTENT WITH BIAS CORRECTED TEMPERATURES FROM THE ECMWF AND WITH GEFS REFORECAST GUIDANCE. ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE WEAKLY FAVORED FOR MAINE IN ASSOCIATION WITH PREDICTED NEAR TO SLIGHTLY ABOVE NORMAL HEIGHTS. THERE ARE ENHANCED PROBABILITIES OF ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR MUCH OF THE FLORIDA PENINSULA AND PARTS OF THE SOUTHWEST CONUS CONSISTENT WITH BIAS CORRECTED TEMPERATURES FROM THE ECMWF. ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE ALSO FAVORED FOR WESTERN AND NORTHERN ALASKA IN ASSOCIATION WITH A RIDGE PREDICTED OVER THE STATE. BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE FAVORED FOR THE ALASKA PANHANDLE DOWNSTREAM OF THE PREDICTED RIDGE AXIS.

PRECIPITATION ESTIMATES FROM THE GFS AND ECMWF ENSEMBLE MEMBERS SUPPORT ENHANCED PROBABILITIES OF ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR MOST OF ALASKA. CONVERSELY, BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED FOR THE NORTHWEST CONUS DOWNSTREAM OF A RIDGE PREDICTED OVER THE GULF OF ALASKA. ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED FOR PARTS OF THE NORTHERN PLAINS AND GREAT LAKES CONSISTENT WITH ANALOGS FROM THE MANUAL BLEND. MODEL GUIDANCE STRONGLY CONFLICTS OVER THE EASTERN CONUS BETWEEN THE DRIER GFS AND THE WETTER ECMWF LEADING TO A LARGE AREA OF FAVORED NEAR NORMAL PRECIPITATION FOR MUCH OF THIS REGION.

FORECAST CONFIDENCE FOR THE 6-10 DAY PERIOD: BELOW AVERAGE, 2 OUT OF 5, DUE TO POOR MODEL AGREEMENT AND POOR CONSISTENCY AMONG THE SURFACE TOOLS.  

8-14 DAY OUTLOOK FOR NOV 24 - 30 2015 

DURING THE WEEK TWO PERIOD, THE ENSEMBLE MEAN SOLUTIONS ARE SIMILAR TO THAT INDICATED FOR THE 6 TO 10 DAY PERIOD. A MEAN 500-HPA TROUGH IS PREDICTED OVER THE WESTERN ALEUTIANS, RIDGING IS FORECAST OVER MUCH OF THE REMAINDER OF ALASKA, AND CYCLONIC FLOW IS FORECAST FOR MUCH OF THE CONUS. AGREEMENT AMONG SUCCESSIVE RUNS OF THE DETERMINISTIC GFS IS POOR. THEREFORE, THE WEEK TWO MANUAL 500-HPA HEIGHT BLEND IS BASED ALMOST ENTIRELY ON THE ENSEMBLE MEAN SOLUTIONS. THE GREATEST WEIGHT WAS GIVEN TO THE 0Z ECMWF DUE, IN PART, TO CONSIDERATIONS OF RECENT SKILL.

THE FORECAST TEMPERATURE ANOMALY PROBABILITIES FOR WEEK-2 ARE SIMILAR TO THOSE DEPICTED FOR THE 6-10 DAY PERIOD. ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE FAVORED FOR MOST OF ALASKA DUE TO FORECAST RIDGING WHILE PREDICTED CYCLONIC FLOW LEADS TO ENHANCED PROBABILITIES OF BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR MUCH OF THE CONUS.

ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED FOR MUCH OF ALASKA AHEAD OF A TROUGH PREDICTED OVER THE BERING SEA. THERE ARE ENHANCED PROBABILITIES OF BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR THE NORTHWEST CONUS DOWNSTREAM OF A RIDGE PREDICTED OFF THE COAST. CONVERSELY, ABOVE MEDIAN IS FAVORED FOR MUCH OF THE CENTRAL CONUS AHEAD OF A MEAN TROUGH FORECAST OVER THE SOUTHWESTERN CONUS. CONFLICTING GUIDANCE BETWEEN ECMWF AND GFS ENSEMBLE PRECIPITATION ESTIMATES LEADS TO ENHANCED PROBABILITIES OF NEAR NORMAL PRECIPITATION FOR MUCH OF THE EASTERN CONUS.

FORECAST CONFIDENCE FOR THE 8-14 DAY PERIOD IS: BELOW AVERAGE, 2 OUT OF 5, DUE TO POOR CONTINUITY AMONG THE DETERMINISTIC GFS SOLUTIONS AND CONFLICTING  GUIDANCE AMONG THE SURFACE TOOLS.

Analogs to Current Conditions

Now let us take a detailed look at the "Analogs" which NOAA provides related to the 5 day period centered on 3 days ago and the 7 day period centered on 4 days ago. "Analog" means that the weather pattern then resembles the recent weather pattern and was used in some way to predict the 6 - 14 day Outlook.

Here are today's analogs in chronological order although this information is also available with the analog dates listed by the level of correlation. I find the chronological order easier for me to work with. There is a second set of analogs associated with the outlook but I have not been analyzing this second set of information. This first set applies to the 5 and 7 day observed pattern prior to today. The second set which I am not using relates to the forecast outlook 6 - 10 days out to similar patterns that have occurred in the past during the dates covered by the 6 - 10 Day Outlook. That may also be useful information but they put this set of analogs in the discussion with the other set available by a link so I am assuming that this set of analogs is the most meaningful.

Analog

Centered

Day

ENSO

Phase

PDO AMO

Other Comments

November 8, 1964 La Nina - -  
November 21, 1988 La Nina - -  
November 22, 1988 La Nina - -  
November 8, 1994 El Nino - - Modoki
November 15, 2003 Neutral + +  
November 1, 2004 El Nino + + Modoki Type II
November 14, 2009 El Nino + + Modoki Type II

 

One thing that jumped out at me right away was the tight spread among the analogs from November 1 to November 22 which is just three weeks which is unusually tight and suggestive of a good forecast. Curiously this range is similar to last week i.e. the calendar has not advanced with respect to the analogs. There are this time three El Nino Analogs (all Modokis) and three La Nina Analogs and just one ENSO Neutral Analogs so unlike last week, this does not suggest that El Nino (of a Modokish nature) is a major factor in our weather over the next 6 - 14 Days. The phases of the ocean cycles are divided with some consistent with McCabe Condition B and others consistent with McCabe Condition C. Those two McCabe conditions are opposites of each other and you will notice the low level of confidence that NOAA has assigned to their 6 - 14 Day Outlook which is no surprise.  Both the Atlantic and the Pacific are influencing our weather about equally. The seminal work on the impact of the PDO and AMO on U.S. climate can be found here. Water Planners might usefully pay attention to the low-frequency cycles such as the AMO and the PDO as the media tends to focus on the current and short-term forecasts to the exclusion of what we can reasonably anticipate over multi-decadal periods of time.

 McCabe Maps modified to include the subtitles

You may have to squint but the drought probabilities are shown on the map and also indicated by the color coding with shades of red indicating higher than 25% of the years are drought years (25% or less of average precipitation for that area) and shades of blue indicating less than 25% of the years are drought years. Thus drought is defined as the condition that occurs 25% of the time and this ties in nicely with each of the four pairs of two phases of the AMO and PDO.

Historical Anomaly Analysis

When I see the same dates showing up often I find it interesting to consult this list.

With respect to relating analog dates to ENSO Events, the following table might be useful. In most cases this table will allow the reader to draw appropriate conclusions from NOAA supplied analogs. If the analogs are not associated with an El Nino or La Nina they probably are not significant. Remember, an analog is indicating a similarity to a weather pattern in the past. So if the analogs are not associated with a prior El Nino or prior La Nina the computer models are not likely to generate a forecast that is consistent with an El Nino or a La Nina.

  El Ninos La Ninas
  Start Finish Max ONI PDO AMO Start Finish Max ONI PDO AMO
            DJF 1950 J FM 1951 -1.4 - N
T   JJA 1951  DJF 1952 0.9 - +          
   DJF 1953  DJF 1954 0.8 - + AMJ 1954  AMJ 1956 -1.6 - +
M MAM 1957   JJA 1958 1.7 + -          
M SON 1958  JFM 1959 0.6 + -          
M   JJA 1963  JFM 1964 1.2 - - AMJ 1964  DJF 1965 -0.8 - -
M  MJJ 1965 MAM 1966 1.8 - - NDJ 1967 MAM 1968 -0.8 - -
M OND 1968   MJJ 1969 1.0 - -          
T  JAS 1969   DJF 1970 0.8 N -  JJA 1970  DJF 1972 -1.3 - -
T AMJ 1972  FMA 1973 2.0 - - MJJ 1973 JJA 1974 -1.9 - -
            SON 1974 FMA 1976 -1.6 - -
T ASO 1976  JFM 1977 0.8 + -          
M ASO 1977  DJF 1978 0.8 N -          
M SON 1979  JFM 1980 0.6 + -          
T MAM 1982  MJJ 1983 2.1 + - SON 1984 MJJ 1985 -1.1 + -
M ASO 1986  JFM 1988 1.6 + - AMJ 1988 AMJ 1989 -1.8 - -
M MJJ 1991    JJA 1992 1.6 + -          
M SON 1994   FMA 1995 1.0 - - JAS 1995 FMA 1996 -1.0 + +
T AMJ 1997   AMJ 1998 2.3 + + JJA 1998 FMA 2001 -1.6 - +
M MJJ 2002   JFM 2003 1.3 + N          
M  JJA 2004 MAM 2005 0.7 + +          
M ASO 2006   DJF 2007 1.0 - + JAS 2007  MJJ 2008 -1.4 - +
M JJA 2009 MAM 2010 1.3 N + JJA 2010 MAM 2011 -1.4 + +
            JAS 2011 FMA 2012 -0.9 - +
T MAM 2015 NA 1.0 + N          

 

Progress of the Warm Event

Let us start with the SOI.

Below is the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) reported by Queensland, Australia. The first column is the tentative daily reading, the second is the 30 day moving/running average and the third is the 90 day moving/running average.

Date Current Reading 30-Day Average 90 Day Average
10 Nov +4.5 -13.96 -17.41
11 Nov +6.8 -12.97 -17.12
12 Nov +7.0 -11.78 -16.70
13 Nov -4.0 -10.51 -16.40
14 Nov -4.6  -9.61 -16.31
15 Nov +0.9  -9.15 -15.93
16 Nov +3.4  -8.91 -15.81

 

The 30-day average, which is the most widely used measure, on November 16 is reported at  -8.91 which is now barely a reading associated with an El Nino (more negative than -8.0) and very significantly less negative (El Nino-ish) than last week. The 90-day average also is rapidly declining but still in El Nino territory at -15.81 which is also quite less El Nino-ish than last week given that it is a 90-day average.  The SOI remains indicative of an El Nino Event in progress but marginally. The SOI has plateaued and this past week there have been not only no extreme values but all the values have been ENSO Neutral. This can be important as some studies show that the change in the level of SOI is at least as important as the actual level in terms of predicting precipitation.

Low-Level Wind Anomalies

Here are the low-level wind anomalies. The area from 180W to 160W was of interest and quite intense but appears to have played out. There then was an area of interest at 160W which has also been quite intense and also seems to have played out. There is no current indication of strong wind gusts.

Low Level Wlind Anomalies

In the below graphic, you can see how the convection pattern (really cloud tops has since May shifted to the East from a Date Line (180) Modoki pattern to a 170W to 120W Traditional/Canonical El Nino Pattern. But recently the signs of an El Nino are getting quite faint and shifting back to the west. You can see the lack of convection over at 120W which is Indonesia but the convection has withdrawn to the West not moved to the East as would be the case with a normal El Nino. That may still happen. In the 1997/1998 El Nino, that did not happen until 1998 which is why the Fall of 1997 was not wet for CONUS.

When I hear that with this El Nino the atmosphere is strongly coupled with the ocean, I really wonder what those meteorological agencies are smoking. For sure the SOI until this past week has been behaving like it would be expected to behave in a strong El Nino. The Easterlies in the Pacific along the Equator are suppressed. So if this is all that is meant, that part has fallen into place. But the Walker Circulation may not be consistent with a standard El Nino. That is my point. 

The interconnection with the Indian Ocean seems to be unusual to say the least. The convection in the Pacific has moved away from Indonesia which is an El Nino impact but until now has been remaining where one would expect it to be if this was a Modoki. The November 11 Update, which is what I am looking at on Monday November 16, suggests that the area of anomalies in convection is strongest over by the Date Line but suddenly the wet-side of that anomaly has shrunk and the dry side has expanded to the east. There appears to be an overall reduction in anomalies which is quite strange.

OLR Anomalies Along the Equator

Let us now take a look at the progress of Kelvin Waves which are the key to the situation. Since February there have been three successive "genuine" downwelling Kelvin Waves without really an upwelling Kelvin Wave of any consequence to counter their impact. The first wave which started in February was the most effective at getting this El Nino started. The second wave reinforced to some extent but not much and this third (and I had believed would be the last) downwelling Kelvin Wave has created an El Nino that will have a major peak coming soon and an extended life but at a diminished strength. We now see a fourth "possible" Kelvin wave and it shows up marginally in the TAO/TRITON graphic which is discussed later in this report. But we also now see less extreme anomalies at 80W and more importantly from 155W through 110W, the most extreme temperature anomaly colored gray in the graphic, is beginning to slowly cover a smaller part of the Equator but has shifted to the east and is now located at 145W to 105W which means a smaller portion is in the ONI/Nino 3.4 Measurement Area namely the part that is between 145W and 120W. We also see a slight but accelerating retreat to the east of the western extreme of this pattern and an expansion to the east of the cold anomaly further to the west which is undercutting the warm anomaly.

I can not tell for sure if earlier problems with TAO/TRITON have compromised this graphic but we should know the answer to that next week.

Kelvin Waves Auto-updates

We are now going to change the way we look at a three dimensional view of the Equator and move from the surface view to the view from the surface down. When I examine the current situation as compared to the 1997/1998 El Nino which I described graphically recently, the current El Nino has developed more rapidly. This El Nino is a couple of months further along in its evolution than the 1997/1998 El Nino and will end earlier in the winter than the 1997/1998 El Nino. Also the 1997/1998 had a slightly larger amount of warm subsurface water in the Eastern Pacific and that water takes time to surface, create convection, and thus cool. Something happens to allow the Easterlies to resume their strength and that in turn moves this water back towards the Western Pacific Warm Pool. This El Nino appears to be fading slowly from west to east. The real decline will be from east to west so that may be starting but has not progressed to any large extent as yet but there are signs that it is beginning.

Current Sub-Surface Conditions


One question on my mind with respect to this graphic relates to the operational problems with TAO/TRITON discussed below.  I do not know the source of the data for this graphic and it has been changing very slowly so that has me wondering.


Subsurface Heat Anomalies

Top Graphic (Anomalies)

The above graphic showing the current situation has an upper and lower graphic.  The bottom graphic shows the absolute values, the upper graphic shows anomalies compared to what one might expect at this time of the year in the various areas both 130E to 90W Longitude and from the surface down to 450 meters.

The top graphic is still the most useful of the two and shows where 2C (anomaly) water is impacting the area in which the ONI is measured i.e. 170W to 120W. The 2C anomaly now extends to 180W which is very impressive. The 3C anomaly now extends to 160W so I am viewing the 3C anomaly as now encompassing almost 80% of the Nino 3.4 Measurement Area for the ONI. It explains how NOAA is coming up with such high ONI estimates. The 4C anomaly is again close to intersecting the surface and maiy be doing so in places. 

It is important to differentiate between anomalies and actual temperature. The warm anomaly shown in the upper graphic is not covered by colder water as it might appear to be in the upper graphic but is shown as a warm anomaly because normally water at those depths is colder than it currently is. That is why this warm anomaly does not simply rise to the surface as warm water would normally do but it is preventing cooler water from entering the area as one would expect as summer transitions to Fall. That is why it takes time for this warm anomaly to dissipate.  

Bottom Graphic (Absolute Values which highlights the Thermocline)

The bottom half of the graphic may soon become more useful in terms of tracking the progress of this Warm Event as it converts to ENSO Neutral and then La Nina. It shows the thermocline between warm and cool water which pretty much looks like this as shown here during a Warm Event. You can see that the cooler water is not yet fully making it to the surface to the east along the coast of Ecuador. We now will pay more attention to the 28C Isotherm as west of that temperature is where convection is more easy to occur. Right now that Isotherm intersects the surface near 130W which has been the case for some time but it appears to have moved a bit to the west which is consistent with the El Nino beginning to decline in intensity.

TAO/TRITON GRAPHIC

Before starting this discussion I need to mention that I had for a number of weeks observed what seemed to me to be oddities in the data reported by the TAO/TRITON system which I have discussed in recent editions of my weekly report. I see no need to repeat the issue other than to remind everyone that the TAO/TRITON system may not be fully operational at this time. Never-the-less, I believe there is value in the analysis that I do using the TAO/TRITON information so I will for the time being continue to do that analysis but please keep in mind that the reliability of the data is in question right now.

Taking a close look at the TAO/TRITON graphic but first let us compare the situation as reported on October 4

Oct 4, 2015 TAO/TRITON

to the most recent graphic shown below. Remember each graphic has two parts the top part is the average values, the bottom part is those values expressed as an anomaly compared to the expected values for that date. Generally I am mainly discussing the bottom of the pairs of graphics namely the anomalies.

 Current SST and wind anomalies

Location Bar for Nino 3.4 Area Above
-----------------------------------------------  A      B      C      D      E      ----------------

 

With the current graphic, there is again a lot of resemblance to the situation on October 4. I now clearly see the new Kelvin Wave over at 170W. The 2C anomaly on Oct 4 was showing all the way over to 170W. Now it extends even further to the west but then is lower until you reach 145W. This graphic changes quite a bit from day to day so my commentary can be out of date as quickly as tomorrow. The 3C anomaly extends only slightly beyond 120W perhaps to 130W and thus is mostly not in the ONI/Nino 3.4 Measurement Area.  The Easterlies are diminished but now show as Easterlies everywhere which is different than recently when the anomalies were so strong that west of 150W they showed as having been converted into Westerlies. That could be an indication that the conditions for maintaining this El Nino are slowly changing.

It may be artifact related to less than full operation of the TAO/TRITON System but the graphic shows a definite decline in the warm anomaly north of the Equator in the western part of the ONI/Nino 3.4 Measurement Area. Remember the definition of the ONI Measurement Area is 170W to 120W extending north and south of the Equator by 5 degrees latitude. So we see in this graphic a lot of 0.5C to 1.0C water which is still of El Nino strength but just barely. We did not see that on October 4.

But of course I still do not have full confidence in this TAO/TRITON Graphic.  

I calculate the ONI each week using a method that I have devised. To refine my calculation, I have divided the 170W to 120W ONI measuring area into five subregions (which I have designated A through E -  from west to east) with a location bar shown under the TAO/TRITON Graphic). I use a rough estimation approach to integrate what I see below and record that in the table I have constructed. Then I take the average of the anomalies I estimated for each of the five subregions. So as of Monday November 16 in the afternoon working from the November 15 TAO/TRITON report, this is what I calculated.

Calculation of ONI from TAO/TRITON Graphic
Anomaly Segment Estimated Anomaly
A. 170W to 160W 1.9
B. 160W to 150W 1.5
C. 150W to 140W 2.0
D. 140W to 130W 2.5
E. 130W to 120W 2.9
Total 10.8
Total divided by five subregions i.e. the ONI (10.8)/5 = 2.2

My estimate of the Nino 3.4 ONI after rounding has decreased to 2.2.  NOAA has today reported the weekly ONI as being 3.0 WOW!. I have already discussed the issues with the TAO/TRITON graphic which could cause me to underestimate the ONI.

Nino 4.0 is now reported as being 1.7, the same as last week, which probably reflects the passage of the new and fourth Kelvin Wave. The action which I think is most important to track right now is in Nino 1+2 which is now reported as being 2.0 which is again marginally lower than last week. One issue remains the extent to which warm water off of Ecuador and Peru impacts CONUS weather. I think it has very little impact and that is what we are seeing right now. There is warm water north of the Equator which has been generating tropical storms along the west coast of Central America which have impacted CONUS. That warm water may or may not be related to this El Nino. The other issue is that most El Ninos decay from east to west so it will be observed most clearly first in Nino 1+2 and we are now probably seeing that process starting.

This is summarized in the following NOAA Tables and I am showing both the table for five weeks ago and the updated table. 

Oct 5, 2015 NINO Departures

And here are the values this week.

Nov 16, 2015 NINO SST Departures.

One can in the bottom chart on the right see the significant decline in the Nino 1+2 measurement area. This is confirmed in a graphic that I present later. I think it is quite possible that this El Nino has now peaked and has begun its decline. But NOAA is still reporting increases in the ONI value.

One wonders about these calculations as they appear to not be related to the "adjusted" version of the NOAA forecast model which was discussed recently. So it is not clear to me how this El Nino will be officially recorded. August-September-October  has been recorded as having an ONI of 1.7. In the above graphic eyeballing it you might conclude that the three months were observed as being 2.0, 2.3 and 2.4. So the impact of adjusting these observed values to what is considered "adjusted" is not obvious to me. If 2.0, 2.3, and 2.4 when averaged and adjusted come to 1.7 how should we interpret the unadjusted weekly value of 3.0? To me it is meaningless but I dutifully report it.

Although I discussed the Kelvin Waves earlier, now seems to be the best place to show the evolution of the subsurface temperatures.

Nov 16 Kelvin Wave History


I do not see much change week to week and it is hard to know if that is reality or the issues with TAO/TRITON. I am not sure of the source of the data for this graphic. A couple of things are interesting however. The cool anomaly in the west under the warm anomaly is slowly creeping east undercutting the warm anomaly and now is now at 160W. In the east at around 100W it still looks like the warm anomaly is gradually splitting into two pieces but the graphic is not as dramatic.


SST Surface Anomaly Hovmoeller

Here is another way of looking at it: Unlike the Upper Ocean Heat Anomaly Hovmoeller (I call it the Kelvin Wave Hovmoeller) which takes an average down to 300 meters, this just measures the surface temperature anomaly. It is the surface that interacts with the atmosphere. A major advantage of the Hovmoeller method of displaying information is that it shows the history so I do not need to show a sequence of snap shots of the conditions at different points in time. As you can see the warm water rising off the South American Coast had (or at least the value of the anomaly when calculated) worked its way all the way over to beyond 170W so it fully contributes to the increasing ONI but the western edge of the warm anomaly is showing some signs of stalling and drifting to the east. So far the various graphics many of which are looking at the same information from a different perspective are not indicating to me that the "possible" new Kelvin Wave is capable of intensifying this El Nino, but the new Kelvin Wave,.even if not very strong, may extend its life a bit. We may be seeing a significant decline in the warm anomaly between 90W and 80W and perhaps even all the way over to 100W. On the other hand, one can see how NOAA may be calculating a higher ONI due mostly to this fourth Kelvin Wave which may not have been very strong but added to an already formed El Nino might be enough to boost the ONI calculation a bit especially in the western end of the Nino 3.4 Measurement Area. One might also see some indication of a warm anomaly around 120W and also further to the west but it is hard to tell if that is really warm water rising or simply the calendar adjustment of normal temperatures for that part of the Pacific.

Nevertheless this Hovmoeller provides a good way to visually see the evolution of this El Nino and later track its demise.

SST Anomalies Hovmoeller

El Nino in the News

Nothing to report this week.

Recent Impacts of Weather Mostly El Nino but possibly Also PDO and AMO Impacts.

First the Temperature and Precipitation Departures from five months ago (Ending Date June 13)

June 15, 2015 30 Day Temperature and Precipitation Departures.

Then the same graphic one month later (Ending Date July 11)

July 13, 2015 30 Day Temperature and Preciptiation Departures

And then the same graphic (Ending Date August 8). 

August 10 2015 30 Day Temperature and Precipitation Departures

And now the view from September 5 which is one month later. 

Sept 5, 2015 30 Day Temperature and Precipitation Departures

And again four weeks later (Ending Date October 3, 2015)

Oct 3, 2015 30 day Temperature and Precipitation Departures

And again four weeks later (Ending Date October 31, 2015)

30 day Temperature and Precipitation Departures

This provides a six-month sequence of snapshots of the four-week departures from normal as this El Nino has progressed.

You can see these graphics as well as I can and it is difficult to describe the changes that have taken place over six periods of time because of the large number of changes. Currently we see:

  • A general pattern of fairly extreme warm anomalies in most of CONUS especially the West.
  • What suddenly looks like an El Nino pattern in the Southwest and Mexico re wetter than climatology. It is the first sign of it. We also see the impact of the storm that impacted South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

And one more:

30 Day Temperature and Precipitation Departures as of November 14

Strangely it looks generally warmer and bit wetter but the warmer is fairly unusual for El Nino especially in the Southwest. But this is a 30 day average. I have not shown the graphic from last week but the warm areas are a bit less intense than last week and that should change a lot by next week. The wet areas are a typical El Nino pattern but that might change by next week if the Jet Stream remains mostly to the north.

Putting it all Together.

The El Nino I believe has peaked in intensity and plateaued but NOAA continues to report ever increasing values for the ONI. The actual impacts on CONUS are not clear. We started in the Spring by having wetter conditions than usual in the Southwest but that has tapered off quite a bit although that is starting to change. The El Nino is probably influencing the IOD to tend towards being positive thus providing a double whammy for parts of Asia and Australia. Indonesia and the Philippines have been hit by drought. 

The length and intensity of this El Nino is still not clear mostly in terms of whether or not it will extend into the early part of 2016. There does not seem to be an obvious match to any prior El Nino in the modern era which to me means there is no model to use to predict impacts. That is a complicated subject which is probably best dealt with on a post mortem basis. 

We may or may not have a Pacific Climate Shift as the PDO+ may be simply related to the Warm Event and quite frankly at this point appears to be and may be moving back to PDO Negative. But for now we do have PDO+. The AMO being an overturning may be more predictable so the Neutral status moving towards AMO- is probably fairly reliable but not necessarily proceeding in a straight line as indeed the storm track for hurricanes in the Atlantic is suddenly unusually warm. 

So in terms of long-term forecasting, none of this is very difficult to figure out actually if you are looking at say a five-year or longer forecast. The research on Ocean Cycles is fairly conclusive and widely available to those who seek it out. I have provided a lot of information on this in prior weeks and all of that information is preserved in Part II of my report in the Section on Low Frequency Cycles 3. Low Frequency Cycles such as PDO, AMO, IOBD, EATS.  It includes decade by decade predictions through 2050. Predicting a particular year is far harder.

We are beginning to speculate on the winter of 2016/2017 which it now seems increasingly likely will be a La Nina. One thing that is fairly certain for the U.S.is that compared to this winter the following winter is projected to be:

  • warmer in the south and less warm in the north and
  • more dry in the south and less dry in the north

Here is the new ONI forecast from JAMSTEC

JAMSTEC ONI Forecast from Oct 1,2015

The discussion is not jet available. It shows this El Nino declining fairly precipitously starting NOW and becoming a La Nina next winter and then moving back towards Neutral.

The below is the recently issued CPC/IRI forecast and you can see the rapid shift away from El Nino that is now predicted starting in AMJ and really showing up in MJJ 2016 i.e. late Spring early Summer 2016.

Nov 12, 2015 CPC-IRI ENSO Probabilities.

TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR PART II OF THIS REPORT  The links below may take you directly to the set of information that you have selected but in some Internet Browsers it may first take you to the top of Page II where there is a TABLE OF CONTENTS and take a few extra seconds to get you to the specific section selected. If you do not feel like waiting, you can click a second time within the TABLE OF CONTENTS to get to the specific part of the webpage that interests you. 

A. Worldwide Weather: Current and Three-Month Outlooks: 15 Month Outlooks  (Usefully bookmarked as it provides automatically updated current weather conditions and forecasts at all times. It does not replace local forecasts but does provide U.S. national and regional forecasts and, with less detail, international forecasts)

B. Factors Impacting the Outlook

1. Very High Frequency (short-term) Cycles PNA, AO,NAO (but the AO and NAO may also have a low frequency component.)

2. Medium Frequency Cycles such as ENSO and IOD

3. Low Frequency Cycles such as PDO, AMO, IOBD, EATS.

C. Computer Models and Methodologies

D. Reserved for a Future Topic  (Possibly Predictable Economic Impacts)

TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR PART III OF THIS REPORT - GLOBAL WARMING WHICH SOME CALL CLIMATE CHANGE. The links below may take you directly to the set of information that you have selected but in some Internet Browsers it may first take you to the top of Page III where there is a TABLE OF CONTENTS and take a few extra seconds to get you to the specific section selected. If you do not feel like waiting, you can click a second time within the TABLE OF CONTENTS to get to the specific part of the webpage that interests you.

D1. Introduction

D2. Climate Impacts of Global Warming

D3. Economic Impacts of Global Warming

D4. Reports from Around the World on Impacts of Global Warming

Click here for a list of Sig Silber's Weather Posts

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