posted on 28 March 2016
Written by Sig Silber
Northern California has received some badly needed El Nino precipitation relief, Florida has become very tropical, and Arizona and New Mexico remain bone dry. But the basic pattern of a northerly displaced El Nino does not appear to have changed with respect to the Western half of CONUS. Worldwide, the impacts of this El Nino are winding down as the El Nino winds down.
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.
Just to remind everyone that not all El Ninos have the same weather impacts. A helpful person provided me with this graphic. The maps are (from left to right and row to row downward) in declining strength of the El Nino.
You can get a larger image here. You probably also get a larger image by just clicking on the graphic. It may required doing that twice.
That is why forecasts based on the typical "El Nino" are destined to often be very wrong. Unfortunately so far I have not been able to identify which of the above resembles the current EL Nino. Some time soon I will take the Monday NOAA Analogs and correlate them with the above El Nino patterns and see if there is a statistical correlation. I could do that now as the above graphics only cover Dec - Feb precipitation so I have the analogs I need to do that analysis. To do it correctly, I should use the 90 sets (in the three months) of 10 analogs per day and not discard the duplicates in a day (as I have been doing to make my report be more readable) as they have significance when you are doing a statistical analysis. I do not have the patience to go back into the NOAA archives (the data is there I believe) but will simply use the data from my weekly reports where I have already identified the El Nino associated with the date of each analog. So all that is left to do is tabulate my data and see if the distribution of the El Ninos associated with the analogs has a peak or peaks which may be potentially statistically significant. My method will be rough since as mentioned above I will only use the Monday analogs and have discarded duplicates. Thus it is not the best job that could be done. But after all, NOAA IS PAID TO DO THAT SORT OF WORK and there is a good opportunity for a university that has the willingness to file for a grant to redo my analysis if it looks like it has the potential to be useful. I am not at all convinced that I will find a pattern which is worth exploring further which is why I have not been real motivated to perform the analysis.
But this El Nino is already Dead all that remains is for the surface to catch up with the subsurface and the indices which are based on the surface to record that this El Nino is history.
Let's 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. 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.
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.
The MJO is shifting to its active phase but that is not likely to have much of an impact as this MJO cycle appears to be weak. The MJO is thought by some to be relatively unimportant during the winter but perhaps a strong El Nino increases the relevance of the MJO. It has had significant impacts this winter but the impact on April is not likely to be very noticeable.
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. I am trying to see if I can discern a change in pattern towards lower latitudes for storms arriving from the Western Pacific but so far I do not see that in this animation.
As I am looking at the below graphic Monday evening March 28, I again see a northerly displaced weather pattern with a storm which originated in the Pacific that is now moving to the east. 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 especially in the north.
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 March 22. 2016 Version and looking at Week 2 of that forecast.
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.
Looking at the current activity of the Jet Stream
And here is the forecast out five days.
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.
Click here to gain access to 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.
Below I show the changes over the last month in the Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomalies.
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 AMJ Outlook and the recently updated Outlook for the single month of April 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 AMJ Temperature Outlook issued on March 17, 2016:
Here is the Early Outlook for April Temperatures issued on March 17, 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.
6 - 10 Day Temperature Outlook
8 - 14 Day Temperature Outlook
Now - Precipitation
Here is the three-month AMJ Precipitation Outlook issued on March 17, 2016:
April Early Precipitation Outlook Issued on March 17, 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.
6 - 10 Day Precipitation Outlook
8 - 14 Day Precipitation Outlook
Here are excerpts from the NOAA discussion released today March 28, 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.
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 although I was forced to last week because the set of analogs I wanted to use was only partially available last week. This first set which is what I am using today applies to the 5 and 7 day observed pattern prior to today. The second set which I am not using (but used last week) relates to the forecasted outlook 6 - 10 days out correlation with 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 and I find it so.
One thing that jumped out at me right away was the spread among the analogs from Mar 7 to Apr 10 which is about five weeks. We can not compare this spread to the spread last week as it is a different kind of analog. It suggests that the prior week conditions are highly correlated with weather patterns which in the past occurred over a fairly wide range of dates as shown. There are this time zero El Nino Analogs, three ENSO Neutral Analogs and five La Nina Analogs suggesting that El Nino is not in control over our weather for the next 6 - 14 Days or perhaps more accurately the forecast best correlates with periods of time when ENSO was neutral or in the La Nina state.
The phases of the ocean cycles in the analogs do not point towards any particular McCabe Condition. 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.
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.
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.
The inactive phase of the MJO is changing to the active phase and you see this in the La Nina-ish SOI readings that started the week and then switched to the El Nino direction for the remainder of the week but never were extreme. The 30-day average, which is the most widely used measure, as of March 28 is reported at -7.86 which is barely 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 30 day average which is most widely used was considerably less El Nino-ish by the end of the week. The 90-day average remains in El Nino territory at -15.89 little changed from last week. Usually but not always the 90 day average changes more slowly than the 30 day average but it depends on what values drop out. 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. I believe we will continue to see a moderating trend in the SOI from here on with the possible exception of the Active Phase of the MJO which has begun and will last for perhaps a couple of more weeks but is not a very strong Active Phase so it will not have much impact on the SOI.
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 inactive in the Pacific Ocean.
Low-Level Wind Anomalies
Here are the low-level wind anomalies. We now for the first time see Easterly anomalies, the blue area at the bottom of the Hovmoeller graphic.
And now the Outgoing Longwave Anomalies which tells us where convection has been taking place.
Let us now take a look at the progress of Kelvin Waves which are the key to the situation. From the earliest to the most recent they can be named #1 through #5. Kelvin Wave #1 will soon be pushed off the top of this graphic as more recent information is added at the bottom.
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.
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. Notice the lag in getting this information posted so the current situation may be a bit different than shown.
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.
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.
Here are the above graphics as a time sequence animation. You may have to click on them to get the animation going.
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.
And then the December 14 version which I also "flash froze" to stop it from updating.
And then the current version of the TAO/TRITON Graphic.
And an earlier but recent reference point close to the peak of this El Nino re the bottom half of the TAO/TRITON Graphic. You can certainly see the difference that ten weeks makes.
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 recent weeks. The way I constructed the table, the 1.0C anomaly as an example includes all water warmer than 1.0C so the 1.5C anomaly is included within it as well as the 2.0C anomaly 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 also no longer exists as of mid-week. As this El Nino decays I am including the less warm anomalies in the table below.
* Western portion of the anomaly only
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 March 28, in the afternoon working from the March 21 TAO/TRITON report, this is what I calculated.
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.
Here is a shocker
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 and causes convection and also the warming and cooling of 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 the "hot spots" that existed in December and which resulted in the very high ONI readings. 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 reduction in NOAA ONI estimates. That is likely to continue to be the trend. You can see the steady decay in the anomalies from the east between 80W and almost to the Date Line. You also can clearly see the separation of the Warm Anomaly from the coast of South America. You also see the drifting to the west which could be Kelvin Wave #6 but I believe more likely it is the beginning of the return voyage of the warm pool to the Western Pacific. That is what the ENSO CYCLE is all about. Back and Forth....Back and Forth.
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.
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
View from Australia
Below is the discussion just released. Notice the discussion re forecasting a La Nina for next winter.
IOD (Indian Ocean Dipole)
The graphic comes with only a very short discussion and here is that discussion:
View from Japan
They are slow posting their commentary but it is available now and here it is.
Putting it all Together.
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 some of the models seems increasingly likely to be a La Nina.
The below is the CPC/IRI forecast issued on March 17, 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.
We have 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.
What is really strange is the NOAA's own model disagrees with their official IRI/CPC Model. What is that all about?
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)
1. Very High Frequency (short-term) Cycles PNA, AO,NAO (but the AO and NAO may also have a low frequency component.)
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.
D2. Climate Impacts of Global Warming
D3. Economic Impacts of Global Warming
D4. Reports from Around the World on Impacts of Global Warming
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