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posted on 22 February 2016

February 22, 2016, Weather and Climate Report - NOAA Doubles Down

Written by Sig Silber

NOAA has issued their updated Seasonal Outlook and it calls for El Nino Conditions in March and April of this year even though January and February behaved more like a La Nina than an El Nino, especially for the West. Two months of a forecast that did not work out has had no impact on their Update. The maps issued with this Seasonal Outlook are almost identical to those used with the January 21 Seasonal Outlook. It is possible that as this El Nino weakens, the NOAA statistical tools will work better as the sample size of El Ninos of comparably strength will increase. 

 weather.caption

 

I suspect there is more going on than a methodological problem of too small a sample size. I am not criticizing NOAA but simply pointing out that their forecasts have not worked out for two months and this suggests less confidence in the approach being used. NOAA is calling for a La Nina next winter. Will they be 2 for 2, 0 for 2 or gain a split? Their 6 - 14 Day Outlook includes a new theory that essentially the Summer Monsoon will occur in March rather than this summer and this may indeed work out for Texas and points to the east of Texas. But that theory surfaced last week and I remain skeptical.

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.

NOAA Issued their Seasonal Outlook on February 18, 2016. Below are comparisons between this new Outlook and the Prior Outlook made on January 21, 2016.

Prior MAM Temperature Outlook

MAM 2016 Temperature Outlook Issued on January 21,  2016

New MAM Temperature Outlook

MAM 2016 Temperature Outlook Issued on February 18, 2016

There is almost no change in this forecast compared to the forecast made on January 21. The failure of January and February to work out even close to what was forecast has had no impact on how NOAA sees the rest of this winter or anything else actually through next winter.

Prior MAM Precipitation Outlook

MAm 2016 precipitation outlook Issued Jan 21, 2016

New MAM Precipitation Outlook

MAM 2016 Precipitation Issued on February 18, 2016

There is essentially no change other than the dry anomaly in the Northwest has expanded a bit.

Now let us focus on the long-term situation.

Prior 14 Month Temperature Outlook: Mar 2016 - Apr 2017

14 Month Temperature Outlooks Issued on January 21, 2016

New 14 Month Temperature Outlook: Apr 2016 - May 2017

14 Month Temperarture Outlook Issued on February 18, 2016

To compare maps from one release to another one needs to remember that the new release drops one three-month period and adds a later one. So to make the comparisons one has to shift the new maps to the right one position and that makes the map on the right drop down to become the left-most map in the next level. I do not have a computer software tool for doing that for you so you have to do it mentally. When I do the comparison I print them out and put them side by side and number the same three-month maps 1, 2, 3,.....,11 in both sets of maps to make it easier for me to easily compare the same three-month period in the new with the previous forecast. One uses the same procedure to compare the precipitation maps. Based on this procedure, I conclude that:

There is essentially no change other than in Sep - Oct - Nov where the warm anomaly has expanded to include parts of the Northern Tier shown as EC in the release last month.  The Transition to La Nina begins immediately after that and is pronounced starting in Nov - Dec  (2016)  - Jan (2017) but that is not a change from the January 21, 2016 Release.

Prior 14 Month Precipitation Outlook: Mar 2016 - Apr 2017

14 Month Precipitation Outlook Issued on January 21, 2016

New 14 Month Precipitation Outlook: Apr 2016 - May 2017

14 Month Precipitation Outlook Issued on February 18, 2016

Almost no change. The switch to a La Nina Pattern remains in Sep - Oct - Nov 2016 but with that first three-month La Nina period, the dry anomaly no longer extends over into the Plains States.

If you want larger versions of each map (temperature and precipitation) you can find them here. And each of those maps can be clicked on to further enlarge them.

Excerpts (somewhat reorganized) from the Discussion Released by NOAA on February 18, 2016

CURRENT ATMOSPHERIC AND OCEANIC CONDITIONS

EQUATORIAL PACIFIC SST ANOMALIES REMAIN HIGHLY ELEVATED. THE NOVEMBER-DECEMBER-JANUARY OCEANIC NINO INDEX CAME IN AT 2.3 DEGREES C, TYING THE HIGHEST SEASONAL VALUES DURING THE 1997-98 EVENT. SUBSURFACE OCEAN TEMPERATURES FROM 150W TO THE SOUTH AMERICAN COAST ARE AT LEAST 2.0 DEGREES C ABOVE AVERAGE TO DEPTHS OF 100 METERS, EXCEEDING 6.0 DEGREES C ABOVE AVERAGE IN PARTS OF THE EASTERN BASIN. NEGATIVE ANOMALIES AT DEPTH (-4.0 DEGREES NEAR 100 METERS) HAVE PUSHED EASTWARD TO NEAR 150W. THIS DEVELOPMENT COULD ALERT US TO THE POSSIBILITY OF A TRANSITION TO LA NINA IN A COUPLE OF MONTHS.

STRONGLY ENHANCED CONVECTION OCCURRED OVER THE EQUATORIAL PACIFIC DURING JANUARY AND INTO FEBRUARY, STRETCHING FROM NEAR 170E TO 140W. LOW-LEVEL WESTERLY WIND ANOMALIES WERE STRONG NEAR 170W IN EARLY JANUARY, BUT HAVE WEAKENED SINCE THAT TIME.

THE MADDEN-JULIAN OSCILLATION (MJO) PLAYED A LARGE ROLE IN TROPICAL ATMOSPHERIC VARIABILITY DURING THIS EVENT, AT LEAST INTO EARLY JANUARY, BUT HAS BEEN WEAKER  SINCE. RECENT OBSERVATIONS INDICATE STRONG PROJECTIONS ONTO MJO PATTERNS. REFER TO THE MONTHLY OUTLOOK AND DISCUSSION FOR A MORE IN-DEPTH DISCUSSION OF THE  POTENTIAL IMPACTS OF THE MJO.

THE EXTRA-TROPICAL PACIFIC OCEAN REMAINS CONSISTENT WITH THE POSITIVE PHASE OF THE PACIFIC DECADAL OSCILLATION WITH ABOVE AVERAGE SSTS SOUTH OF ALASKA AND ALONG THE WEST COAST. STRONG POSITIVE ATLANTIC SST ANOMALIES OFF THE EAST COAST HAVE BEEN NOTEWORTHY AND PERSISTENT FOR SEVERAL MONTHS.

PROGNOSTIC DISCUSSION OF SST FORECASTS

SINCE WE ARE NOW PAST THE PEAK OF THE EL NINO EVENT IN TERMS OF SST ANOMALIES, THE RELEVANT QUESTIONS RELATE TO HOW QUICKLY THE EVENT DECAYS AND WHETHER WE  SEE A TRANSITION TO LA NINA, WHICH FREQUENTLY FOLLOWS ON THE HEELS OF EL NINO  EVENTS. THE CPC SST CONSOLIDATION CONTINUES TO FORECAST A RETURN TO NEUTRAL CONDITIONS BY MJJ AND A 79% CHANCE OF LA NINA BY NEXT WINTER. THERE IS A LARGE SPREAD AMONG THE NMME CONSTITUENT MEMBERS IN TERMS OF JUST HOW QUICKLY A TRANSITION TO NEUTRAL CONDITIONS OCCURS. JUST AS LAST MONTH THE CFSV2 MAINTAINS ANOMALOUSLY WARM SSTS MUCH LONGER THAN THE OTHER GUIDANCE, WHILE ONE OF THE GFDL AND BOTH CANADIAN MODELS ARE ON THE FASTER SIDE OF GOING COLD IN SUMMER 2016.

THE CPC/IRI CONSENSUS FORECAST INDICATES THAT THE TRANSITION TO ENSO NEUTRAL IS  MOST LIKELY BY EARLY SUMMER, AND ODDS OF LA NINA DEVELOPING BY SON ABOUT 50%.

PROGNOSTIC TOOLS USED FOR U.S. TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION OUTLOOKS 

THE SEASONAL OUTLOOKS FROM MAM 2016 THROUGH AMJ 2016 ARE BASED PRIMARILY ON THE TYPICAL CIRCULATION RESPONSE TO EL NINO CONDITIONS AND THE ASSOCIATED TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION IMPACTS AS DETERMINED BY REGRESSION-BASED STATISTICAL MODELS AS WELL AS EL NINO COMPOSITES. THE NORTH AMERICAN  MULTI-MODEL ENSEMBLE (NMME) AND THE INTERNATIONAL MULTI-MODEL ENSEMBLE (IMME),  WHICH INCLUDE THE NCEP CLIMATE FORECAST SYSTEM (CFS), ALSO PLAYED A LARGE ROLE THROUGH SUMMER 2016. OUTLOOKS FOR MJJ 2016 THROUGH SON 2016 RELY PRIMARILY ON CPC STATISTICAL GUIDANCE INCLUDING TRENDS, THE SST CONSTRUCTED ANALOG, AND THE CPC CONSOLIDATION. FOR THE EARLY LEADS THE CONSTRUCTED ANALOGUE BASED ON SOIL MOISTURE CONDITIONS WAS CONSIDERED AS WELL. THE EXPECTATION IS FOR ENSO NEUTRAL CONDITIONSS DURING MUCH OF SUMMER 2016, SO SIGNALS FROM ENSO REGRESSIONS ARE LESS USEFUL DURING SUMMER 2016. BASED ON THE BEHAVIOR OF SST ANOMALIES AFTER MANY PAST EL NINO EVENTS AND THE CPC CONSOLIDATION NINO3.4 SST FORECAST, EFFECTS FROM POTENTIAL LA NINA CONDITIONS WERE SERIOUSLY CONSIDERED BEGINNING IN SON 2016 THROUGH MAM 2017.

30-DAY OUTLOOK DISCUSSION FOR MARCH 2016

THE MADDEN-JULIAN OSCILLATION (MJO) IS A POTENTIAL CONTRIBUTOR TO CLIMATE VARIABILITY OVER NORTH AMERICA ON SUBSEASONAL TIMESCALES. DYNAMICAL MODEL FORECASTS PREDICT THAT A CURRENT MJO EVENT WILL PROPAGATE DURING THE END OF FEBRUARY ACROSS THE WESTERN PACIFIC, WHERE IT CAN IMPACT THE CLIMATE OF NORTH AMERICA. HOWEVER, THERE IS SIGNIFICANT UNCERTAINTY IN DYNAMICAL MODEL FORECASTS OF THE STRENGTH OF THE MJO AFTER THE END OF FEBRUARY, SUCH THAT MJO IMPACTS ON THE CLIMATE OF NORTH AMERICA ARE UNCERTAIN AND DO NOT CONTRIBUTE TO THE MARCH OUTLOOK. [Editor's Note: Perhaps the MJO should have been factored in for the first part of March. We may see that in the March Update that will be issued at the end of February.]

IN THE TEMPERATURE FIELDS, MOST OF THE MODELS IN THE NMME INDICATE PATTERNS CONSISTENT WITH THE EL NINO IMPACTS BASED ON REGRESSION TO THE NINO 3.4 INDEX, WITH SMALL SPATIAL DIFFERENCES. THE NMME AND CFS MODEL FORECASTS FOR PRECIPITATION ARE ALSO CONSISTENT WITH CANONICAL EL NINO IMPACTS AS DETERMINED BY CORRELATION MAPS BASED ON NINO 3.4.ENHANCED PROBABILITIES FOR ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE PREDICTED ALONG THE WEST COAST AND OVER MUCH OF THE WEST, EASTWARD ACROSS THE NORTHERN STATES TO NEW ENGLAND AND THE NORTHERN MID-ATLANTIC. ALASKA IS PREDICTED TO HAVE ENHANCED PROBABILITIES FOR ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES. PROBABILITIES OF ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES EXCEED 60 PERCENT FOR SOUTHERN ALASKA AND THE ALASKA PANHANDLE, AS WELL AS FOR THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST.

ENHANCED PROBABILITIES OF ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION ARE PREDICTED ACROSS MUCH OF CALIFORNIA, THE SOUTHWEST, CENTRAL/SOUTHERN GREAT PLAINS, AND ALONG THE GULF AND ATLANTIC COASTS, AS FAR NORTH AS SOUTHERN MAINE, AND ALSO FOR SOUTHERN COASTAL ALASKA. THE HIGHEST PROBABILITIES FOR ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION ARE FOR THE FLORIDA PENINSULA, EXCEEDING 60 PERCENT. BELOW-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS MORE LIKELY ACROSS THE NORTHERN ROCKIES, AND FROM THE CENTRAL MISSISSIPPI VALLEY INTO THE CENTRAL GREAT LAKES REGION, AND MUCH OF WEST AND INTERIOR ALASKA. THE PRECIPITATION PATTERN AS PREDICTED BY THE NMME CLOSELY MATCHES THE MARCH IMPACTS OF EL NINO.

Three-Month Outlook: Mar - Apr - May

THE MARCH-APRIL-MAY (MAM) 2016 TEMPERATURE OUTLOOK FAVORS ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ACROSS MUCH OF THE CONTINENTAL U.S., HAWAII, AND ALL OF ALASKA.  ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURE ARE FAVORED FOR THE WEST COAST STATES ,  NEVADA, AND FROM THE NORTHERN ROCKIES ACROSS THE GREAT PLAINS TO THE MID-ATLANTIC AND NEW ENGLAND. THE ODDS OF ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE HIGHEST ACROSS THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST AND FROM THE UPPER GREAT LAKES TO NORTH DAKOTA. BELOW-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE FAVORED FOR A SMALL AREA OF THE SOUTHERN ROCKIES AND TEXAS.

THE MAM 2016 PRECIPITATION OUTLOOK IS CHANGED MINIMALLY FROM THE PRIOR OUTLOOK FOR THAT PERIOD. ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FORECAST FROM CALIFORNIA TO THE THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN GREAT PLAINS, AND FROM THE GULF COAST TO THE MID-ATLANTIC AND SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND. ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS ALSO FORECAST FOR SOUTHERN ALASKA. BELOW-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED FOR THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST, PORTIONS OF THE NORTHERN ROCKIES, AND FROM THE GREAT LAKES TO THE TENNESSEE VALLEY. WESTERN AND INTERIOR ALASKA ARE ALSO LIKELY TO EXPERIENCE BELOW-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION.

15 Month Outlook - MAM 2016 TO MAM 2017

TEMPERATURE

THE EARLY LEADS (MAM THROUGH AMJ) TEMPERATURE OUTLOOKS ARE CHANGED VERY LITTLE AS THEY RELY HEAVILY ON THE LOW-FREQUENCY [Editor's Note: NOAA refers to ENSO as a low- frequency cycle. Climate Researchers refer to ENSO as a medium frequency cycle with the AMO and PDO being the low frequency cycles.] ENSO RESPONSE, EVIDENT AMONG ALL THE CURRENT DYNAMICAL AND STATISTICAL GUIDANCE WHICH AGREE VERY MUCH. ALL TEMPERATURE TOOLS CONTINUE TO STRONGLY FAVOR ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ACROSS THE NORTHERN HALF OF THE CONTINENTAL U.S. THROUGH THE EARLY SPRING WHICH IS CONSISTENT WITH A STRONG EL NINO. ALSO, ABOVE-NORMAL SSTS ALONG THE WEST COAST CONTRIBUTE TO THE ENHANCED ODDS FOR ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES IN EARLY LEADS. BELOW-NORMAL TEMPERATURES FAVORED FOR THE SOUTHERN HIGH PLAINS DURING THE 2016 SPRING ARE PARTLY RELATED TO THE EXPECTATION OF ABNORMALLY MOIST TOPSOIL AT THAT LEAD TIME.

A TRANSITION TO ENSO NEUTRAL CONDITIONS IS FAVORED DURING THE LATE SPRING AND SUMMER 2016 SO THE OUTLOOKS FROM MJJ THROUGH SON 2016 FOLLOW A BLEND OF TREND, DYNAMICAL GUIDANCE WHERE AVAILABLE, AND OTHER STATISTICAL GUIDANCE, INCLUDING THE CPC CONSOLIDATION. ENHANCED ODDS OF ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE FORECAST FOR THE ENTIRE CONUS AT TIMES DURING THIS PERIOD, BUT AT MODEST PROBABILITIES ONLY. PROBABILITIES OF ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES OVER THE SOUTHWEST ARE SOMEWHAT RESTRAINED BY THE EXPECTATION OF ABOVE-NORMAL SOIL MOISTURE, ESPECIALLY EARLY IN THE WARM SEASON. THROUGH AUTUMN 2016, ODDS OF ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES INCREASE OVER THE SOUTHWESTERN AND SOUTH-CENTRAL CONUS WHERE TRENDS ARE STRONG.

INCREASED CHANCES FOR ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES FORECAST ACROSS THE SOUTHERN TIER OF THE CONUS FROM OND 2016 THROUGH MAM 2017 ARE BASED LARGELY ON THE ENHANCED PROBABILITIES OF LA NINA BY THAT TIME. A SLIGHT TILT IN THE ODDS FOR BELOW-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ACROSS THE NORTH-CENTRAL CONUS BEGINNING IN NDJ 2016-17 IS LIKEWISE RELATED TO THE POTENTIAL FOR LA NINA INFLUENCES AT THAT LEAD TIME. A VERY HIGH PROBABILITY OF ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES INDICATED FOR THE NORTH SLOPE OF ALASKA DURING THE AUTUMN IS DUE TO THE LIKELIHOOD OF ANOMALOUSLY OPEN SEA ICE DURING THAT TIME OF YEAR AND STRONG TRENDS.

PRECIPITATION

THE MAM 2016 PRECIPITATION OUTLOOK THROUGH THE EARLY SPRING CONTINUES TO FAVOR A PATTERN THAT IS TYPICALLY ASSOCIATED WITH EL NINO. ENHANCED ODDS FOR ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION ARE FORECAST ACROSS CALIFORNIA, THE SOUTHWEST, CENTRAL/SOUTHERN GREAT PLAINS, GULF COAST STATES, AND PARTS OF THE EAST COAST. THE HIGHEST PROBABILITIES (ABOVE 60 PERCENT) FOR ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION ARE FORECAST ACROSS THE FLORIDA PENINSULA FOR MAM 2016 WHICH TYPICALLY HAS THE STRONGEST WET SIGNAL DURING EL NINO.  BELOW-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED THROUGH THE EARLY SPRING ACROSS THE NORTHERN ROCKIES, PARTS OF THE NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS, GREAT LAKES, AND THE OHIO VALLEY. THIS DRY SIGNAL SLOWLY WEAKENS WITH TIME THROUGH LATE SPRING AND EARLY SUMMER.

CONSISTENT WITH A SOUTHWARD AND EASTWARD SHIFTED STORM TRACK DURING EL NINO AND CONSISTENT WITH THE NMME DYNAMICAL MODEL GUIDANCE, BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED FOR WEST-CENTRAL MAINLAND ALASKA FOR MAM 2016. A SLIGHT TILT IN THE ODDS FOR ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION ALONG SOUTHERN COASTAL ALASKA IS BASED ON EL NINO PRECIPITATION COMPOSITES AND ENSO REGRESSIONS.

DURING THE FALL SEASON OF 2016 AND WINTER 2016-17, THE POTENTIAL FOR LA NINA CONDITIONS IS THE PRIMARY REASON FOR THE FAVORED AREAS OF BELOW- (ABOVE-) MEDIAN PRECIPITATION ACROSS THE SOUTHERN TIER OF THE CONUS AND SOUTHERN COAST OF ALASKA (PACIFIC NORTHWEST AND OHIO VALLEY/GREAT LAKES).

Sometimes it is useful to compare the present month outlook to the three-month outlook                

March 2016 plus MAM Issued on February 18, 2016

One can mentally subtract the March Outlook from the three-month Outlook and create the Outlook for the last two months in the three-month period namely April and May 2016. When I do that, I deduce that:

With respect to temperature, some parts of Northern Texas and New Mexico shown as EC in March may have to catch up in April and May to have the probabilities for the cold anomaly shown in the three month map. With respect to precipitation, there are some subtle differences with respect to the two cold anomalies in the north and the location of the highest probability part of the wet anomaly in the Southwest. One of the two cold anomalies is larger and the other smaller in the three-month as compared to March alone. To make the probabilities work where the cold anomaly is larger, it needs to have higher priorities in the remaining two months to make the math work. Where the cold anomaly shrinks in the three-month map it may be that those areas have to be wetter than EC in April and May to make that math work. Because the March map and the three-month maps are so similar, we may be nitpicking and looking for information that is not really there in that the maps may not be sufficiently precise to use this method of analysis.

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.

7 Day 500 MB Geopotential Forecast

Right now it is showing for Day 7 a fairly significant ridge over the West and a huge trough moving towards the East Coast. That would normally mean that one could decide what sort of weather one prefers and adjust their travel plans accordingly.  Because "Thickness Lines" are shown by those green lines on this graphic it is a good place to define "Thickness"  and its uses. The 540 Level general signifies equal chances for snow at sea level locations. You can see where that is forecast. Time for Great Lakes Ice Fishing perhaps.

The MJO has been shifting back to its active phase this week and will peak perhaps next week. NOAA has not taken the MJO into account in their seasonal update released on February 18 and perhaps should have with respect to the first part of March. The MJO is thought to be relatively unimportant during the winter but perhaps a strong El Nino increases the relevance of the MJO: another research question for NOAA. 

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 February 22, I see where a storm system has dived down as far as the New Mexico/Texas area and looks to move to the east fairly quickly. 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 Feb 16, 2016 Version and looking at Week 2 of that forecast.
Tropical Hazards

Mostly I see for the period February 24 -  March 1, 2016 a moderate chance of below average precipitation for Northern Australia and part of the Maritime Continent. There is a also a moderate chance of below average precipitation for parts of Eastern Africa but also above average precipitation as well further south and west. Parts of Brazil are projected to have below normal precipitation. South Florida and parts of the Caribbean have a moderate chance of being wetter than normal. You can see that again, the majority of the impacts are to the west of the Date Line.

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.

Day 6 Weather Forecast

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 976 which is quite intense (the average in the winter is 1001hPa and 994 hPa for a non-split Low) but not quite as intense (i.e. it is higher) than recently. It is a unified single low just further west (but today it has shifted a bit to the east) and north than is ideal for El Nino providing precipitation to California and points south. The big problem is that we actually now have a mini RRR associated with the Western High Pressure System which now extents into the Pacific and this "protects" California from Pacific storms. That is a La Nina Pattern. The rapidly shifting position of the Low makes a big difference in how storms are steered. 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

Looking at the current activity of the Jet Stream

Current Jet Stream

one can certainly see that the wind speeds in the Jet are under-whelming. The path of the current weather pattern is fairly clear from this graphic.

And here is the forecast out five days. 

Jet Stream Five Days Out

One can see the Southern Branch of the Jet Stream. It is weak (wind speeds). So we will see how much of an impact it has. But not all weather is controlled by the Jet Stream (which is a high altitude phenomenon) but it does play a major role in steering storm systems.

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,

Daily SST Anomaly

We see a lot of them not just along the Equator related to El Nino.

The ENSO warm anomaly is no longer solidly connected to Peru and Ecuador so we essentially have a Modoki at this point in terms of weather impacts. To me it looks like the overall Northern Pacific is indeed PDO Positive (the horseshoe pattern with the cool anomaly inside the horseshoe shape but that is just an eyeball estimate but from other sources I hear that the PDO Index is being reported at 1.5 and that seems reasonable. The water off the West Coast is warm but the four-week analysis shows little change. The water off the East Coast of the U.S. is warm but the four-week analysis shows it is cooling i.e. less warm.  The North Atlantic is cooler than normal which is consistent with AMO+ and has implications for the NAO. Waters around Australia are warm except immediately off the southwest coast. The waters off of Japan are now warm. The water west of Africa particular to the south are warm. The set up is for a typical PDO-/AMO+ weather pattern but we are not getting that and NOAA is not noticing but making statistical forecasts when it is fairly obvious there is a missing variable in their equations. I am not a Meteorologist but an Operations Research Person and I can tell when models are not performing. 

Below I show the changes over the last month in the Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomalies.

February 22, 2016, change in weekly SST departures

Since these are "departures" or "anomalies", it is not a seasonal pattern that is being shown. Comparing a four-week graphic to a prior four-week graphic is always tricky since only 25% of the data has changed and I am not showing the former graphic (it is in last week's report). I add the new one, compare and comment on the change and then delete the old one to keep this report to a manageable size. What I see as I look at both (before deleting the prior version) is a change in the southern Pacific with the anomaly off of South American  (Chile) becoming cooler and the anomaly east of Africa moderating. I am not sure how to interpret the changes taking place in the Indian Ocean as they are south of where the IOD is defined and I just do not know much about that but the change off of Chile I believe is related to the process of the demise of this El Nino. That is a natural process and nothing to be concerned about.

6 -  10 Day Outlook

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 always available in Part II of this report but in the winter I often show both maps as the forecasted weather patterns change during that nine day period.

To put the forecasts which NOAA tends to call Outlooks into perspective, I am going to show the three-month MAM and the newly issued "Early Outlook" for the single month of March 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 February 18, 2016:

MAM 2016 Temperature Outlook Issued February 18, 2016

Here is the newly issued "Early Outlook" for March Temperature.

March Early Outlook Temperature Outlook Issued on February 18, 2016

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 February 22 (it updates each day), it appears that March will begin by having the same west/east temperature anomaly divide that NOAA has said should be a north/south divide because it is an El Nino. The pattern is starting to rotate a bit but not like one would expect with an El Nino.

6 - 10 Day Temperature Outlook

6 - 10 Day Temperature Outlook

8 - 14 Day Temperature Outlook  

8-14 Day Temperature Outlook

Now - Precipitation 

Here is the three-month Precipitation Outlook issued on February 18, 2016:

MAM 2016 Precipitation Outlook Issued January 21, 2016

Here is the recently issued "Early Outlook" for March Precipitation.

March 2016 Early Precipitation Outlook Issued on February 18, 2016

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 February 22 (the update each day), it looks like a continuation of the La Nina Pattern with the "Summer Monsoon in March" theory starting to introduce itself towards the end of the forecast period. I realize this is not technically a Monsoon, but it  has some of the characteristics of the Southwest Monsoon.

6 - 10 Day Precipitation Outlook

6 - 10 Day Precipitation Outlook

8 - 14 Day Precipitation Outlook 

Current 8 - 14 Day Precipitation Outlook

Here are excerpts from the NOAA discussion released today February 22, 2016. 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 FEB 28 - MAR 03, 2016

TODAY'S MODELS ARE IN GOOD AGREEMENT ON THE PREDICTED 500-HPA CIRCULATION PATTERN OVER THE NORTH AMERICAN FORECAST DOMAIN FOR THE 6-10 DAY PERIOD. MODELS INDICATE A ZONALLY ORIENTED TROUGH AT HIGH LATITUDES FROM NEAR NORTHERN SCANDINAVIA EASTWARD ACROSS NORTHERN RUSSIA, THE KAMCHATKA PENINSULA, THE ALEUTIANS, AND INTO THE GULF OF ALASKA. DOWNSTREAM OF THIS TROUGH, A HIGH-AMPLITUDE RIDGE/TROUGH PATTERN IS ANTICIPATED ACROSS NORTH AMERICA. MODEL SPREAD IS GENERALLY LOW WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE SOUTHWESTERN CONUS, WHERE THE VARIOUS MODEL ENSEMBLE MEMBERS DEPICT MODERATE SPREAD. THE BLENDED 500-HPA HEIGHT CHART PREDICTS ABOVE NORMAL HEIGHTS OVER WESTERN AND SOUTHERN PORTIONS OF NORTH AMERICA, EXCLUDING SOUTHWESTERN ALASKA, WHERE BELOW NORMAL HEIGHTS ARE FORECAST. IN ADDITION, BELOW NORMAL HEIGHTS ARE EXPECTED FROM THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY EASTWARD ACROSS THE GREAT LAKES AND NORTHEAST.

ENHANCED PROBABILITIES OF ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE FORECAST FROM THE WEST COAST EASTWARD ACROSS THE INTERMOUNTAIN REGION, THE ROCKIES, NEARLY ALL OF THE GREAT PLAINS, THE MIDDLE AND LOWER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY, THE LOWER OHIO AND TENNESSEE VALLEY, ALABAMA, AND WESTERN GEORGIA. ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE ALSO ANTICIPATED FOR ALL OF ALASKA. THESE AREAS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH 500-HPA RIDGING, AND IN MOST CASES, POSITIVE HEIGHT ANOMALIES. THE EXCEPTION IS SOUTHWESTERN ALASKA, WHERE SOUTHEASTERLY FLOW AND NEGATIVE HEIGHT ANOMALIES ARE FORECAST. THERE ARE ELEVATED CHANCES OF BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES FROM THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY EASTWARD ACROSS THE GREAT LAKES REGION AND INTERIOR NORTHEAST, AND OVER PENINSULAR FLORIDA. THE FORMER IS ASSOCIATED WITH A PREDICTED 500-HPA TROUGH AND BELOW NORMAL HEIGHTS, WHILE THE LATTER (PENINSULAR FLORIDA) IS INDICATED BY CALIBRATED 2-METER TEMPERATURE FORECASTS FROM THE VARIOUS MODELS, AND THE AUTO TEMPERATURE FORECAST.

ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED FOR MOST OF THE SOUTHERN COAST OF ALASKA,  THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST, EASTERN MONTANA, AND FROM FAR EASTERN TEXAS NORTHEASTWARD ACROSS THE TENNESSEE AND OHIO VALLEYS TO MAINE. CONSIDERATIONS INCLUDED THE AUTO PRECIPITATION FORECAST, REFORECAST PRECIPITATION FROM THE GEFS AND ECMWF ENSEMBLES, MOIST SOUTH TO SOUTHEAST FLOW (SOUTHERN ALASKA), SOUTHWEST FLOW ACROSS THE NORTHWEST CONUS, AND A WEAKENING LOW PRESSURE AREA (EASTERN CONUS). BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED FOR WESTERN ALASKA, CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN INTERMOUNTAIN REGION, AND FROM THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ROCKIES NORTHEASTWARD ACROSS THE CENTRAL PLAINS AND UPPER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY. BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS ALSO FAVORED FOR THE EASTERN GULF COAST (INCLUDING ALL OF FLORIDA) AND ALONG THE SOUTHERN ATLANTIC COAST. THE SAME TOOLS NOTED ABOVE WERE USED FOR DEFINING THE AREAS OF PREDICTED BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION.

FORECAST CONFIDENCE FOR THE 6-10 DAY PERIOD: ABOVE AVERAGE, 4 OUT OF 5, DUE TO GOOD MODEL AND TOOL AGREEMENT.

8-14 DAY OUTLOOK FOR MAR 01 - 07 2016 

TODAY'S ENSEMBLE MEAN SOLUTIONS ARE IN FAIRLY GOOD AGREEMENT ON THE PREDICTED 500-HPA CIRCULATION PATTERN OVER THE NORTH AMERICAN FORECAST DOMAIN FOR THE 8-14 DAY PERIOD, AND ARE SIMILAR TO THAT PREDICTED FOR THE 6-10 DAY PERIOD. AN IMPORTANT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO OUTLOOK PERIODS IS THE PREDICTED DEVELOPMENT OF SPLIT FLOW OVER THE SOUTHWESTERN CONUS DURING THE WEEK-2 TIME FRAME. SPLIT FLOW FAVORS THE EMERGENCE OF A DISTINCT SOUTHERN BRANCH OF THE WESTERLIES, WITH A 500-HPA TROUGH PREDICTED ACROSS NORTHWEST MEXICO. THE LARGE-SCALE ASCENT OF AIR AHEAD OF THIS MEAN TROUGH IS EXPECTED TO LEAD TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF A WIDESPREAD PRECIPITATION AREA, CONCENTRATED ACROSS THE SOUTH-CENTRAL CONUS.  [Editors's Note: Is this consistent with the timing in the MJO forecast?]

FORECAST CONFIDENCE FOR THE 8-14 DAY PERIOD IS: NEAR AVERAGE, 3 OUT OF 5, DUE TO FAIRLY GOOD AGREEMENT AMONG THE ENSEMBLE MEAN SOLUTIONS OFFSET BY THE EXPECTED DEVELOPMENT OF SPLIT FLOW (AND ASSOCIATED UNCERTAINTY) ACROSS THE SOUTHERN CONUS.

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

Feb 23, 1958 El Nino + +  
Feb 16, 1970 El Nino N - Tail End
Feb 19, 1970 El Nino N - Tail End
Feb 20, 1977 El Nino + - A very dry El Nino
Feb 29, 1983 El Nino + - Very strong El Nino
Feb 2, 1987 El Nino + -  
Feb 3, 1987 El Nino + -  
Feb 8, 1996 La Nina + +  
Feb 6, 2002 Neutral - +  

One thing that jumped out at me right away was the not so tight spread among the analogs from Feb 2 to February 29 which is about four weeks which is a lot in mid-winter.

There are this time seven El Nino Analogs and one ENSO Neutral Analog and just one La Nina Analog suggesting that El Nino is again in full control over our weather for the next 6 - 14 Days. The phases of the ocean cycles in the analogs are clearly indicating McCabe Condition A which suggests that our weather may be wetter than suggested in the 6 - 14 Day Forecast but perhaps not immediately. 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
Feb 16 -38.5 -10.01 -12.58
Feb 17 -40.2 -10.69 -13.10
Feb 18 -29.2 -10.95 -13.28
Feb 19 -25.0 -11.06 -13.57
Feb 20 -29.0 -11.23 -14.00
Feb 21 -34.0 -11.42 -14.51
Feb 22 -50.3 -12.24 -15.10

 

The Inactive Phase of the MJO has switched over to its active phase so we are beginning to see some SOI values which are quite a bit more negative. The 30-day average, which is the most widely used measure, as of February 22 is reported at -12.24 which is 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) and it is much higher (smaller negative number) than last week. The 90-day average remains in El Nino territory at -15.10 also a major change from last week. The SOI continues to be indicative of an El Nino Event in progress but it is pretty much passed the time of year where it is very meaningful re El Nino development but it is trying to make a point. It is difficult to know what this means. The February 22 SOI reading might be the strongest of this El Nino and is related to weather conditions in Tahiti but still WOW!  Can you say MJO?

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 there recently was a WWB (Westerly Wind Burst) in January near and east of the Date Line related to Tropical Storm Pali which has long since dissipated. But look at the intensity of the wind anomaly associated with that WWB: 14 That might be "all she wrote" for this El Nino as calm winds prevail.

Low Level Wlind Anomalies

In the below graphic, you can see how the convection pattern recently appeared to be shifting ever so slightly a bit to the east but not as far east as we would expect with a strong El Nino. Now that slight movement to the East has reversed. You can also see convection firing up in the Indian Ocean which may or may not be significant.

OLR Anomalies Along the Equator

Let us now take a look at the progress of Kelvin Waves which are the key to the situation. You can see all five of the Kelvin Waves which created this El Nino in this Hovmoeller graphic. From the earliest to the most recent they can be named #1 through #5.

Kelvin Waves Auto-updates

Kelvin Wave #5 which was fairly late in the El Nino development phase introduced a new episode of warming from 150W to 100W. But this Kelvin Wave appears to be less intense than Kelvin Waves #3 and #4 and is already beginning to leave the NINO 3.4 Measurement Area. This El Nino is dying but not without a fight.  I have been wrong before on Kelvin Wave #4 so I am hesitant to say this but it does look to me like Kelvin Wave #5 will not make it very far east and is already in its decline phase. We should soon see the next Upwelling Phase of this Kelvin Wave which should be the Coup de Grace for this El Nino.

Kelvin Wave # 5 did slow the retreat to the west of the Eastern Pacific Subsurface Warm Pool. That is why I believe the transition to ENSO Neutral will proceed more slowly than some have predicted.

Here is a fancier version of the graphic above...issued today by NOAA as part of their weekly ENSO report. I do not usually use it because it does not auto-update i.e. it is frozen in time. But it is graphically easier to read and contains useful commentary from NOAA. Notice they have essentially called the Coup de Grace El Nino ending upwelling phase of Kelvin Wave #5 but have not drawn it in probably because it is not exactly clear how to draw it yet. That probably will happen next week or in two weeks at most. Notice all that blue area. It already extends into the Nino 3.4 Measurement Area i.e. it is east of 170W. You can also see the less warm area in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. There is no indication that this Kelvin Wave will extend further to the east. 

February 22, 2015 Frozen Version of Kelvin Waves

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 and probably also Apr of 2016 rather than in Dec 2015 and Jan - Feb of 2016. The major impacts have started a bit later and most likely will last a bit longer. But the pattern in January and the first half of February and the forecast for the remainder of February makes me wonder how this will play out.

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.

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 no longer extends to 180W but only to 170W which is an indication that the El Nino is losing ground.The 3C anomaly has retreated towards 155W and now exists only over to 130W. So I am viewing the 3C anomaly as encompassing only about 30% of the Nino 3.4 Measurement Area for the ONI along the Equator but even there not the full area from a latitude perspective which extends five degrees latitude to the north and south of the Equator. It explains why NOAA is coming up with lower ONI estimates. The 4C anomaly is not not even close to intersecting the surface. The 6C anomaly is now almost completely gone and some are reporting that it is gone.  Water temperatures off the Coast of South America near the Equator are returning to normal.

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 now 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 but now appears to be migrating west consistent with this El Nino fading.

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. I "flash froze" the daily value that day so that it would not auto-update.

Oct 4, 2015 TAO/TRITON

And then the December 14 version which I also "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. Neither is the 3.0C anomaly. So basically the maximum anomalies (which did not appear everywhere) have declined by a full degree Centigrade. This means that if one is attempting to mentally estimate the daily ONI, an approach would be to make an initial estimate of the midpoint of the 2.5C to 2.999999C or 2.75C and subtract the reductions from there where the anomaly is less. That is not exactly the approach I use in my calculation below but it does provide a quick way to get a feel for the current strength of this El Nino. There is actually shading in the TAO/TRITON Graphic that might allow one to try to refine estimates a bit more than the contour lines but I rely on the contour lines. The Easterlies are now above normal all the way over to about 150W.

Current SST and wind anomalies

And an earlier but recent reference point re the bottom half of the TAO/TRITON Graphic.

January 19, 2016 Frozen TAU/TRITON Graphic

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

 

The below table tracks the changes. It only addresses the situation right on the Equator so visually the TAO/TRITON graphic contains more information. But the below table turns visual information into quantitative information so it may be useful. The degrees of coverage shown in the rightmost two columns shows that the extent of the warm water directly on the Equator has been reduced in the past few weeks. The way I constructed the table, the 2.0 anomaly as an example includes water warmer than 2.0C so the 2.5C anomaly is included within it which you can tell by the way I recorded the westward and eastward coordinates. I could have constructed this table in a different way. Note the 3C anomaly no longer exists. The 2.5C anomaly covers an area that is decreasing day by day.

Comparing Now to January 19, 2016
Subareas of the Warm Anomaly Westward Extension Eastward Extension Degrees of Coverage
Today January 19, 2016 Today January 19, 2026 Today January 19, 2016
3C Anomaly Gone 158W Gone 134W 0 24
2.5C Anomaly 160W 165W 140W 110W 20 55
2.0C Anomaly 170W 170W 120W 100W 50 70

 

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 February 22 in the afternoon working from the February 21 TAO/TRITON report, this is what I calculated.

Calculation of ONI from TAO/TRITON Graphic
Anomaly Segment Estimated Anomaly
  Last Week This Week
A. 170W to 160W 2.4 1.9
B. 160W to 150W 2.7 2.2
C. 150W to 140W 2.6 2.4
D. 140W to 130W 2.4 2.1
E. 130W to 120W 2.1 1.9
Total 12.2 10.5
Total divided by five subregions i.e. the ONI 12.2/5 =2.4 10.5/5 = 2.1

 

My estimate of the daily Nino 3.4 ONI after rounding is down to 2.1. NOAA has today reported the weekly ONI to have declined to 2.4. I suspect that the ONI is dropping so fast that weekly assessments can not keep up re going down with respect to daily assessments which is what I have attempted this evening.  Nino 4.0 is also being reported with a slight decline to 1.4 probably related to Kelvin Wave #5 gradually passing out of that area. Nino 3.0 is also being reported as lightly lower at 1.9.  I believe that Nino 3.0 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 and the Asian Meteorological Services do. The action which I think is most important to track right now is in Nino 1+2 which is now reported as being lower at 0.5 which is barely an El Nino value. This may be temporary as there is warmer water below the surface and Kelvin Waves yet to arrive. 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. Notice that all the indices are trending lower and in the far end of the Tropical Pacific this decline rate has increased.

February 22, 2016 Nino Readings

The full history of the ONI readings can be found here.   The MEI index readings can be found here.

Is this El Nino a Modoki?

It did not evolve as a Modoki unless you consider it to be a continuation of the Faux El Nino Modoki of 2014/2015 which is a possible interpretation. But the Walker Circulation appears to be much like that of a Modoki. These graphics help explain this.

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

February 22, 2016 Kelvin Wave History

Watching an El Nino evolve is like watching paint dry. The undercutting cool anomaly which had withdrawn to the west quite a bit is again expanding to the east and again quite rapidly basically arriving at 130W which means it has undercut essentially all of the NINO 3.4 Measurement Area. At that remains is for "The Grand Switch" to occur with the cool anomaly reversing positions with the warm anomaly.  This El Nino does not appear to be willing to just give up however. The weak area over by 100W has filled in with cold anomaly water at the surface with warmer anomaly water below. So either this will be a slow process or some event will just flush the warm water to the west. It may be the next Inactive Phase of the MJO that does just that and that is three to four weeks from now or a bit more. It is just a matter of time and watching more paint dry. 

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.

SST Anomalies Hovmoeller

One can easily see the historical evolution of this El Nino and the "hot spots" that existed in December and which resulted in 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 between 80W and 110W and even over to almost 140W with the strongest declines from 80W 120W. The resolution of this graphic is not that great.

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 date of the 30 day period is shown in the graphic.  It is a way of seeing how the impacts of this El Nino have 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

November 30, 2015 30 day temperature and precipitation departures.

January 4, 2016 30 Day Temperature and Precipitation Departures

February 1, 2016 30 Day Temperature and Weather Departures.

February 15, 2016 30 Day Temperature and Precipitatiion Departures

February 22, 2016 temperature and precipitation departures.

Remember this is a 30 day average and only seven days were added and seven days were removed. The La Nina pattern persists for the West with respect to both precipitation and temperature. The East is a bit like an El Nino.

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 the expected 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 now #5. This El Nino has peaked in intensity and is now in rapid decline. 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.

The below is the CPC/IRI forecast issued on February 11, 2016 followed by the forecast issued on February 18, 2016. It is important to remember that the first report in each month is based on a survey of meteorologists and the second report later in the month is based on the analysis of the forecast models. It is a minor difference but a difference.

February 15, 2016  CPC-IRI ENSO Consensus Forecast

Feb 18, 2016 IRI/CPC Plume Based ENSO Analysis

You can see the slower decline of the El Nino which has been obvious to us for a long time. The new Plume-Based model results show increased confidence that next winter will be a La Nina winter.

Three weeks ago we suggested that 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 winter 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. This would make NOAA 0 for 2 re the Seasonal Outlook released today. 

We have reason to believe that the models may not be taking into account all factors such as the Equatorial ocean currents and that this El Nino may not transition to a La Nina quite  as rapidly as the models are predicting.

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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