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posted on 12 January 2016

11 January 2016, Weather and Climate Report

Written by Sig Silber

This El Nino is organized a bit differently than any other Non-Modoki El Nino and is centered a bit to the west of the previous El Ninos of this strength. This so far seems to be benefiting the Northwest and now California with respect to precipitation. But it is early in the three key months where this El Nino will have its impacts. So we are mostly observers of this pattern which has occurred at this level of intensity only three prior times since good records began to be kept in 1950. So we have a long way to watch and observe. In the short term, it looks like it will be warming up again.

 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.

I thought some might find this interesting.

Worldwide Precipitation Outlook

The Australian Queensland Bureau of Meteorology uses the SOI to make a worldwide precipitation forecast and here it is. It is interesting because it is based on just one variable: the air pressure differential between Tahiti and Darwin Australia which is known as the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). 

Queensland Australia analysis of impact of consistantly low SOI values.

You can read about it here and find updated maps here as they do not auto-update. Notice they are basing this on rapidly falling SOI in November and December. But below is the actual history of the SOI Index.

2013-2014-2015 SOI

So I am not sure their assumption of initial conditions for their model is correct. The SOI was falling rapidly through October but not in both November and December. It did fall in December and it is falling this week. If I change the assumptions, the map changes to the below

Steady low SOI for Jan - Mar

So perhaps somewhere in between might be the best interpretation of their model. It certainly is interesting that you can make a pretty good forecast of precipitation for the World by looking at the air pressure in just two locations Tahiti and Darwin Australia. What the Queensland Australia scientists have added is that it is not just the level of the difference between the levels of the atmospheric pressure which is the SOI but the first derivative of the SOI. I do not think that NOAA has incorporated this knowledge into their forecasts. 

Let's Now 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 it may take a few seconds for your browser to go through the two-step process of getting to Page II and then moving to the Section within Page II that is specified by this link.

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.This graphic auto-updates so when you look at it you will see NOAA's latest thinking. The speed at which these troughs and ridges travel across the nation will determine the timing of weather impacts. This graphic auto-updates I think every six hours and it changes a lot. Right now it is showing a Western Ridge and an Eastern CONUS Trough for Day 6 which is similar to last week.

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. The thickness lines are now for the first time below 540 for many areas in CONUS especially in the Great Lakes Area. The 540 Level general signifies equal chances for snow at sea level locations. The level of storm activity in the Western Pacific has picked up since the MJO has transitioned to its active phase. 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

As I am looking at the below graphic Monday evening January 11, I see a pattern which suggests two fairly non-interconnected weather patterns, This graphic updates automatically so it most likely will look different by the time you look at it as the weather patterns are moving from west to east.

 Water Vapor Imagery

Below is an analysis of projected tropical hazards and benefits over an approximately two-week period. This graphic is scheduled to update on Tuesday and I am reading the Jan 5, 2016 Version and looking at Week 2 of that forecast. Mostly I see for the period January 13 - January 19, 2016 below average precipitation for the Maritime Continent and Northern Australia with moderate confidence that there will be below average rainfall across Northern South America but above average rainfall for part of Brazil.  

Tropical Hazards

Below is a graphic which highlights the forecasted surface Highs and the Lows re air pressure on Day 6 (the Day 3 forecast is available on Page II of this Report). This graphic also auto-updates.  In recent weeks, the projected location and strength of the Aleutian Low has varied a lot. On some days, the forecast is showing a split low with each of the two lows weaker than a combined single Low. Right now the forecasted Low has an hPa of 972 which is quite intense (the average in the winter is 1001hPa and 994 hPa for a non-split Low). It is a single unified but located just a bit further to the west than is ideal for El Nino but extends quite a bit to the south. The rapidly shifting position of the Low makes a big difference in how storms are steered. With this forecast, one can see how on Day 6, Pacific storms can easily enter CONUS south of Canada.  There is no RRR in the picture. 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

Looking at the current activity of the Jet Stream one can certainly see how the Jet Stream is actually taking storms into Mexico and to some extent missing the Southwest or resulting in storms that have a higher ratio of rain to snow than is usual for this time of the year.

Current Jet Stream

And the forecast out five days.  Of course this is a forecast and changes daily or perhaps even more frequently. But not all weather is controlled by the Jet Stream (which is a high altitude phenomenon) but it plays a major role in steering storm systems.

Jet Stream Five Days Out

To see how the pattern is projected to evolve, please click here. 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.

This longer animation shows how the jet stream is crossing the Pacific and when it reaches the U.S. West Coast is going every which way.

Here is a very flexible computer graphic. You can adjust what is being displayed by clicking on "earth" adjusting the parameters and then clicking again on "earth" to remove the menu. Right now it is set up to show the 500 hPa wind patterns which is the main way of looking at synoptic weather patterns. .

And when we look at Sea Surface anomalies below, we see a lot of them not just along the Equator related to El Nino. The slight gap between the El Nino warm anomaly and the Coast of Ecuador is of interest since this is a daily chart and more up to date than some other sources of information.

The overall appearance of the warm anomaly along the Equator is that it is shifted to the west perhaps by 20 degrees with minimal development to the south along the coast of South America. But warm anomalies stretch from the Equator north and east to Central America.The warm water off the West Coast of the U.S. is no longer there. To me it looks like PDO Neutral but that is just an eyeball estimate. The water off the East Coast of the U.S. is warm but the four-week analysis does not show it getting warmer but remaining about the same. The North Atlantic is cooler than normal. Waters around Australia are warm but again the four-week trend (skip over the daily to the four-week) is a reduction in the warm anomaly.

Daily SST Anomaly

The two graphics below show first the changes over the four weeks (ending November 4) as compared to the above graphic which shows the current SST anomalies and then the changes over the four weeks ending on January 6, 2016. 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 November 4, 2015

Nov 9, 2015 Change in Weekly SST Departures

I am also showing the new version issued today which basically shows the changes over the last month in the Sea Surface Temperature anomalies. It is approximately nine weeks later than the above graphic which you can tell by checking the dates in the graphic. You can clearly see the cooling pattern in the Pacific and since these are "departures" or "anomalies", it is not a seasonal pattern that is being shown. The intensification of the warm anomaly in the Western Pacific along the Equator has ceased. In between the prior reading and this reading, the water along the Eastern Pacific warmed but this has now diminished except in the furthest east part of the Pacific indicating the weakening of the El Nino especially off of Ecuador and south but not off the coast of Central America although that seems to be a but more diffuse. The waters around Australia have cooled significantly but according to the daily graphic above remains warm but less warm than two months ago. The warm swath between Africa and the East Coast of South America is now gone. The cool anomaly off of Beringia is pretty much gone and the PDO+ pattern has diminished or possibly even reversed which you can not tell from this graphic alone. The waters off of the East Coast of North America no longer show continued warming from the already warm levels. Overall, the changes this week are more muted.

Jan 11, 2016 Change in SST Departures four weeks

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 JFM and the "early" single month of January forecasts and then discuss the 8 - 14 day Maps and the 6 - 14 Day NOAA Discussion within that framework.

First - Temperature

Here is the Three-Month Temperature Outlook issued on December 17,  2015:

JFM 2016 Temperature Outlook Issued December 17, 2015

Here is the January Temperature Outlook issued on December 31, 2015.

January 2016 Temperatures Outlood Updated on December 31 2015

Below is the current 6 - 10 Day and 8 - 14 Day Temperature Outlook Maps which will auto-update and thus be current when you view them. It covers the nine days following the tail end of the current week. I have included both today and probably will continue to do that all winter as the patterns are moving from west to east fairly rapidly. As I view these two maps on January 11 (it updates each day), it appears that the third week of January may continue to have the east/west divide relative to temperature anomalies rather than the north/south divide more typical of an El Nino which is shown in the full month NOAA Outlook for January.

6 - 10 Day Temperature Outlook

6 - 10 Day Temperature Outlook

8 - 14 Day Temperature Outlook  In the later part of the period. it looks like the warm anomaly expands to the east along the Northern Tier of CONUS.

8-14 Day Temperature Outlook

Now - Precipitation 

Here is the three-month Precipitation Outlook issued on December 17, 2015:

JFM 2016 Precipitation Outlook Issued December 17. 2015

And here is the month of January Precipitation Outlook which was issued on December 31, 2015.

January 2016 Precipitation Outlook Updated on December 31, 2015

Below are the current 6 - 10 Day and 8 - 14 Day Precipitation Outlook Maps which will auto-update and thus be current when you view them. It covers the nine days following the tail end of the current week. I have included both today and probably will continue to do that all winter as the patterns are moving from west to east fairly rapidly. As I view these two maps on January 11 (it updates each day), it appears that the third week of January may continue the recent pattern of a wet Northwest and a wet extreme Southeast without the extremely wet Southwest which is usually associated with a strong El Nino. 

6 - 10 Day Precipitation Outlook

6 - 10 Day Precipitation Outlook

8 - 14 Day Precipitation Outlook  Notice the somewhat northern displacement of the precipitation which is not usual during a strong El Nino.

Current 8 - 14 Day Precipitation Outlook

Here are excerpts from the NOAA discussion released today January 11, 2015. It covers the full nine-day period and this week I have shown both the 6 -10 Day and the  8-14 Day Maps.

6-10 DAY OUTLOOK FOR JAN 17 - 21 2016

TODAY'S DYNAMICAL MODELS ARE IN GOOD AGREEMENT ON THE PREDICTED 500-HPA  CIRCULATION PATTERN ACROSS MOST OF THE FORECAST DOMAIN. THE OFFICIAL BLENDED  HEIGHT PATTERN FEATURES A HIGH AMPLITUDE FLOW PATTERN, CHARACTERIZED BY A  FULL-LATITUDE RIDGE CENTERED OVER EASTERN ALASKA AND WESTERN NORTH AMERICA, AND  A TROUGH CENTERED OVER EASTERN NORTH AMERICA. ANOTHER TROUGH IS ALSO FORECAST OVER THE ALEUTIANS. THE ENSEMBLE SPAGHETTI DIAGRAMS INDICATE LOW TO MODERATE SPREAD ACROSS THE MAJORITY OF THE FORECAST DOMAIN. TODAY'S MANUAL 500-HPA  HEIGHT BLEND IS COMPOSED PRIMARILY OF THE ENSEMBLE MEAN SOLUTIONS, BASED  LARGELY ON CONSIDERATIONS OF RECENT SKILL AND ON ANALOG CORRELATIONS, WHICH MEASURE HOW CLOSELY THE MODEL SOLUTIONS RESEMBLE CASES THAT HAVE OCCURRED IN THE PAST. 

ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE FAVORED IN SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL ALASKA, AND OVER  THE WESTERN CONUS, ASSOCIATED WITH ONSHORE FLOW.  BELOW-NORMAL HEIGHTS ENHANCE  PROBABILITIES FOR BELOW-NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR MOST OF THE EASTERN CONUS.  

ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED FOR THE WEST COAST, THE NORTHERN AND CENTRAL GREAT BASIN, THE NORTHER AND CENTRAL ROCKIES, THE NORTHERN AND CENTRAL PLAINS, AS WELL AS SOUTHERN FLORIDA. THIS IS DUE TO THE EXPECTED MEAN POSITIONS OF THE STORM TRACK AND JET STREAM. BELOW-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED FOR MOST OF THE EASTERN CONUS AND ALASKA. THIS IS DUE TO FACTORS SUCH AS 500-HPA RIDGING (ALASKA), AND THE EXPECTED STORM TRACK DURING THIS TIME PERIOD (EASTERN CONUS). MOST MODELS ALSO PREDICT BELOW-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR SOUTHERN ARIZONA AND SOUTHERN NEW MEXICO.

FORECAST CONFIDENCE FOR THE 6-10 DAY PERIOD: ABOVE-AVERAGE, 4 OUT OF 5, DUE TO  GOOD AGREEMENT AMONG THE ENSEMBLE MEAN SOLUTIONS, AND GOOD AGREEMENT AMONG THE TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION TOOLS.

8-14 DAY OUTLOOK FOR JAN 19 - 25 2016 

TODAY'S ENSEMBLE-MEAN DYNAMICAL-MODEL FORECASTS ARE IN GOOD AGREEMENT ON THE  PREDICTED 500-HPA CIRCULATION PATTERN OVER NORTH AMERICA INTO THE WEEK-2  PERIOD. THE PREDICTED CIRCULATION PATTERN IS SIMILAR TO THAT EXPECTED FOR THE 6-10 DAY PERIOD. TROUGHS ARE FORECAST OVER THE EASTERN PART OF THE NATION  AND THE NORTH PACIFIC OCEAN, WHILE A RIDGE IS PREDICTED NEAR THE WEST COAST OF THE CONUS AND EASTERN ALASKA. THE ENSEMBLE SPAGHETTI DIAGRAMS INDICATE LOW TO MODERATE SPREAD ACROSS THE MAJORITY OF THE FORECAST DOMAIN.

THERE ARE INCREASED CHANCES OF ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR ALASKA AND THE  WESTERN CONUS WITH THE PREDICTED RIDGE. ABOVE-NORMAL HEIGHTS ALSO TILT THE ODDS FOR ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR THE NORTHERN CONUS. BELOW-NORMAL HEIGHTS  ENHANCE THE ODDS FOR BELOW-NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR THE SOUTHEAST CONUS.

THE TROUGH EXPECTED OVER THE NORTH PACIFIC OCEAN FAVORS NEAR- TO ABOVE-MEDIAN  PRECIPITATION FOR MOST OF THE WESTERN CONUS. THE TROUGH PREDICTED OVER THE EASTERN CONUS ENHANCES PROBABILITIES FOR NEAR- TO ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR BOTH THE EAST COAST AND THE GULF COAST. SUBSIDENCE ON THE REAR SIDE OF THE TROUGH FORECAST OVER THE EAST CONUS TILTS THE ODDS TO BELOW-MEDIAN  PRECIPITATION FOR THE GREAT LAKES REGION AND THE OHIO VALLEY. BELOW-MEDIAN  PRECIPITATION PROBABILITIES ARE ENHANCED FOR NORTHERN AND CENTRAL ALASKA DUE TO 500-HPA RIDGING. MOST MODELS FAVOR ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR SOUTHERN ALASKA AND BELOW-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR SOUTHERN ARIZONA AND SOUTHERN NEW MEXICO.

FORECAST CONFIDENCE FOR THE 8-14 DAY PERIOD IS: AVERAGE, 3 OUT OF 5, DUE TO  GOOD AGREEMENT AMONG THE ENSEMBLE MEAN SOLUTIONS, AND RELATIVELY GOOD AGREEMENT AMONG THE TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION TOOLS.

THE NEXT SET OF LONG-LEAD MONTHLY AND SEASONAL OUTLOOKS WILL BE RELEASED ON JANUARY 21

Some might find this analysis interesting as the organization which prepares it looks at things from a very detailed perspective and their analysis provides a lot of information on the history and evolution of this El Nino.

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

Jan 24, 1958 El Nino + + Possibly a Modoki
Jan 24, 1966 El Nino - - Possibly a Modoki
Jan 1, 1979 Neutral - -  
Jan 22, 1983 El Nino + - Strong Traditional El Nino
Dec 30, 1994 El Nino - - Modoki
Jan 13, 1997 Neutral + - Prior to the 97/98 Super El Nino
Dec 24, 2001 Neutral - +  
Dec 25, 2009 El Nino - + Modoki Type II

 

One thing that jumped out at me right away was the full month spread among the analogs from December 24 to January 24 which is more than last week. There are this time five El Nino Analogs and three ENSO Neutral Analogs so this does suggest that El Nino is a factor in our weather over the next 6 - 14 Days. The phases of the ocean cycles in the analogs are not clear but if you aggregate the pluses and minuses it point to McCabe Condition B. However the Atlantic is not in the AMO- state right now. 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 as easily interpreted. 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 + +          
T 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
Jan 5 -37.1 -10.62 -11.31
Jan 6 -33.7 -11.32 -11.50
Jan 7 -28,4 -11.84 -11.56
Jan 8 -24.7 -12.15 -11.56
Jan 9 -22.0 -12.17 -11.60
Jan 10 -23.6 -12.31 -11.61
Jan 11 -21.7 -12.62 -11.53

 

The Inactive Phase of the MJO has played out and has shifted to the Active Phase and we have been seeing strong negative readings all week. The 30-day average, which is the most widely used measure, on January 11 is reported at -12.62 which is stronger than last week and definitely a reading that is associated with an El Nino (usually required to be more negative than -8.0 but some consider -6.0 value good enough). The 90-day average has not really changed but remains in El Nino territory at -11.53. The SOI continues to be indicative of an El Nino Event in progress. 

The MJO or Madden Julian Oscillation is an important factor in regulating the SOI and Kelvin Waves and other tropical weather characteristics. More information on the MJO can be found here. Here is another good resource and it shows that right now the MJO is active in the Pacific Ocean.

Low-Level Wind Anomalies

Here are the low-level wind anomalies. In October, the area from 180W to 160W was of interest and quite intense. There then was an area of interest at 160W which also was quite intense. Now, calm appears to prevail but that is changing as the MJO changes phase and becomes more active. There is a WWB (Westerly Wind Burst) near and east of the Date Line. Will it lead to another Kelvin Wave? If so, that will probably not have much of an impact on the final rating of this El Nino due to the fact that we are already in January. But it will contribute to the strange western characteristic of the warm anomaly along the Equator.

Low Level Wlind Anomalies

In the below graphic, you can see how the convection pattern may be shifting a bit to the west. Actually perhaps quite a bit to the west. The anomalies however are much stronger right now than in November when they seemed to vanish.

OLR Anomalies Along the Equator

Let us now take a look at the progress of Kelvin Waves which are the key to the situation. The most extreme temperature anomaly colored gray in the graphic is now no longer there. We now focus on the next lower level of warm anomaly which also has exited the ONI/Nino 3.4 Measurement Area which runs from 170W to 120W. In fact it is now nowhere on the Equator. We are down to the next level of anomaly, the 1.5 to 2C anomaly, and it also is now out of the Nino 3.4 Measurement Area.The eastern movement of the warm anomaly is quite evident. This El Nino may be decaying quite rapidly. The decline in the temperature anomalies in the far Eastern Pacific show up here better than in some other graphics that I present. But you also see some warming from 140W to 170W which if I have keep track correctly is due to Kelvin Wave #5 or perhaps it is #6.

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. 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.

One should keep in mind that for a new Kelvin Wave, the period of time from initiation to the termination of impacts is about six months. So when you have four or five  in a row, the pattern of impacts on different indices and geographic areas becomes quite complex. It is further complicated as you can see above because the Kelvin Waves do not necessarily originate at the same location i.e. longitude. Looking at many factors I have come to a conclusion that his El Nino may have the greatest impact on CONUS during Jan - Feb - Mar of 2016 rather than in Dec 2015 and Jan - Feb of 2016. The major impacts have started a bit later and may last a bit longer.

Current Sub-Surface Conditions

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 beyond 160W to almost 170W so I am viewing the 3C anomaly as encompassing essentially 100% of the Nino 3.4 Measurement Area for the ONI along the Equator but not the full area which extends five degrees latitude to the north and south of the Equator. It explains why NOAA is coming up with high ONI estimates. The 4C anomaly is now not intersecting the surface.

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. In fact, the 25C Isotherm no longer reaches the surface. We now will pay more attention to the 28C Isotherm as west of that temperature is where convection is more easy to occur. The 28C Isotherm has pretty much remained in the same place for months now.

Here are the above graphics as a time sequence animation. You may have to click on them to get the animation going.

Equatorial Temperature Simulation

Isotherm Simulation

TAO/TRITON GRAPHIC

Let us compare the situation as reported on October 4 to the most recent graphic. 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

First the October 4 version which I am providing for purposes of comparison.

Oct 4, 2015 TAO/TRITON

And then the December 14 version which I "flash froze" to stop it from updating.

December 14, 2015 Frozen TAO/TRITON GRAPHIC

And then the current version of the TAO/TRITON Graphic. It is quite a bit less intense than on December 14. The 3.5C anomaly is no longer visible. The 3.0C anomaly now only shows in the center of the NINO3.4 Measurement Area. It also seems that in the center of the Nino 3.4 Measurement Area, the anomaly is broader north and south of the Equator possibly due to recent Kelvin Wave activity. .

 Current SST and wind anomalies

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

 

The Easterlies are diminished (except east of 110W) but now show as Easterlies almost everywhere (top graphic) which is different than on October 4, 2015 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.

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 from west to east as A through E) 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 January 11 in the afternoon working from the January 10 TAO/TRITON report, this is what I calculated.

Calculation of ONI from TAO/TRITON Graphic
Anomaly Segment Estimated Anomaly
A. 170W to 160W 2.2
B. 160W to 150W 2.7
C. 150W to 140W 2.8
D. 140W to 130W 2.7
E. 130W to 120W 2.5
Total 12.9
Total divided by five subregions i.e. the ONI (12.9)/5 = 2.6

 

My estimate of the daily Nino 3.4 ONI after rounding is again 2.6. NOAA has today reported the weekly ONI as being 2.6 which is a bit lower than last week. Nino 4.0 is reported as being 1.4 which is a bit lower than last week. Nino 3.0 is being reported as 2.7 a bit higher than last week. I believe it peaked at 3.7 during the El Nino of 1997/1998. This is one of many reasons for thinking that this El Nino is shifted to the west to some extent and is clearly significantly weaker than the 1997/1998 Super El Nino if you believe that the Nino 3.0 area is important. The action which I think is most important to track right now is in Nino 1+2 which is now reported as being 1.8 which is a bit higher than last week. The issue remains the extent to which warm water off of Ecuador and Peru impacts CONUS weather. I think it has very little impact except from the tropical storms that move up the west coast of Central America and sometimes contribute moisture to the circulation over CONUS. These part of an El Nino seems to have come to an end. Most El Ninos decay from east to west so it will be observed most clearly first in Nino 1+2 and it seems that this process has begun.

This is summarized in the following NOAA Table. I am only showing the currently issued version as the prior values are shown in the small graphics on the right with this graphic.

Jan 11, 2016 Nino Readings

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. October-November-December has now been recorded as having an ONI of 2.3. In the NINO value historical graphics on the right, eyeballing it you might conclude that the three months were observed as being 2.5, 2.9 and 2.7. So the impact of adjusting these observed values to what is considered "adjusted" is not obvious to me. If  2.5, 2.9, and 2.7 when averaged and adjusted by NOAA come to 2.3 how should we interpret the unadjusted weekly value of 2.6? To me (and some other knowledgeable folks) it is meaningless but I dutifully report it. I believe it has to do with the two systems of calculating the base temperature profile and I might try to shed some light on this in a future issue of this Weather and Climate Report.

Recent ONI History as of Jan 11, 2016

The above is the recent portion of the ONI history and notice it is based on the ERSST.v4 system of determining the temperature anomalies. The full history of the ONI readings can be found here.

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

Jan 11, 2016 Change in Week SST Departures

I do not see much change week to week as watching an El Nino evolve is like watching paint dry. I am a bit intrigued by the discontinuity in the subsurface cool anomaly at the Date Line but do not know the significance of it.

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. Nevertheless this Hovmoeller provides a good way to visually see the evolution of this El Nino and later track its demise. One can easily see the historical evolution of this El Nino and also the current "hot spots" that are showing up and leading to the very high ONI readings. But one can also see the western edge of the warm anomaly starting to shift to the East. You can see at the very bottom of this graphic, which shows the most recent readings, the easing of the extreme temperature anomalies in the Nino 3.4 Measurement area (see the scale on the right: red is less warm than dark red) namely 170W to 120W. That explains the slight reduction in NOAA ONI estimate. That is likely to continue to be the trend. You also see the decay in the anomalies from the east but they are difficult to see with the resolution of this graphic.

SST Anomalies Hovmoeller

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

Below are snapshots of 30 Day temperature and precipitation departures over the life of this El Nino. The end of the 30 day period is shown in the graphic.  It is a way of seeing how the impacts of this El Nino of unfolded.

June 15, 2015 30 Day Temperature and Precipitation Departures.

July 13, 2015 30 Day Temperature and Preciptiation Departures

August 10 2015 30 Day Temperature and Precipitation Departures

Sept 5, 2015 30 Day Temperature and Precipitation Departures

Oct 3, 2015 30 day Temperature and Precipitation Departures

30 day Temperature and Precipitation Departures

30 Day Temperature and Precipitation Departures as of November 14

Dec 21, 2015 30 day temperature and precipitation departures.

January 4, 2016 30 Day Temperature and Precipitation Departures

This is a big change from last week especially in precipitation. And remember this is a 30 day average and only seven days were added and seven days were removed. It is much more of an El Nino pattern in the East and you can see the changing in the temperature pattern in the East.

I realize this is a lot of graphics but one needs to look at the history of an event to assess it. As you can see, so far we are not having expect El Nino Impacts in CONUS.

El Nino in the News

Nothing to report this week.

Putting it all Together.

The subsurface reservoir of warm water in the Eastern Pacific has reached its maximum and is now beginning to discharge. This would have occurred earlier if not for Kelvin Waves #4 and possibly #5. This El Nino has peaked in intensity and is now in rapid decline.

The impacts in the Indian Ocean seem to have peaked and are moderating. Same goes for the Western Pacific. Now the focus shifts to North and South America. But this remains a very strong El Nino but perhaps no longer a Super El Nino. There is a debate going on as to whether or not this El Nino will be rated as a "Super El Nino". Not that this is important but it will be a close call. The impacts of an El Nino on CONUS tend to lag the Index values by about two months. The best bet is that it will behave more like the two strong El Ninos which occurred with PDO+ than the one that occurred with PDO-. The three geographic areas I used to categorize regional impacts are all likely to be wetter than normal/climatology. But the Southeast is not likely to be as wet as it was the case with the 1997/1998 El Nino. We are currently having flooding in the middle and southern Mississippi river but that is further west than was the case with the 1997/1998 Super-El Nino. So far, the impacts to CONUS appear to be shifted further north and perhaps west than usual for an El Nino. That may change as the winter unfolds but that is by no means certain.

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

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

The below is the recently updated CPC/IRI forecast which is not much different from the Early December forecast. 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. We also now see the rise in the probabilities for La Nina heading into next Winter.

IRI/CPC Dec 17, 2015 ENSO Probabilities

It is possible the models will be wrong about how fast the Eastern Pacific Warm Pool moves back towards its La Nina location and it may well be that next year will be more of a Neutral year or even have some characteristics of an El Nino Modoki and thus be wetter than a typical year as the Warm Pool may still be more in the Central Pacific than shifted all the way west to its La Nina position.

Forecasting Beyond Five Years.

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.

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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