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posted on 11 April 2016

11 April 2016 Weather and Climate Report: Rapid Progression of Weather Patterns

Written by Sig Silber

Spring has Sprung, the Grass has Riz, indecision is what the forecast is. But that does not mean that we do not have some very interesting weather ahead over the next few weeks. It might be worth while reading about it. There are also some interesting articles on El Nino and Climate Change Models.

 weather.caption

 

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

Let's 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.

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

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. I am leaving this explanation in the report but it may not be very significant until next October or so. What is significant is that very clearly defined Mid-atmosphere Low right now forecast on Day 7 to be in the center of CONUS. It should have a major impact on our weather starting in a few days and lasting for about a week. There is also a Ridge north of the trough which is interesting. There is also now the first sign of a new Ridge moving into the West Coast which suggests dry and warm conditions there.

The MJO is not likely to have much of an impact for the month of April as a whole as this MJO cycle appears to be weak and the forecasts of phase changes are contradictory. 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. It probably will be more of a factor in the Summer.

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.

Western Pacific Tropical Activity

As I am looking at the below graphic Monday evening April 11, I still see a northerly displaced pattern but with some minor cloud cover activity in the Southwest and significant activity in Mississippi and Alabama. 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 April 5. 2016 Version and looking at Week 2 of that forecast.
Tropical Hazards

Mostly I see for the period April 13  -  April 19, 2016  essentially no anomalies impacting land areas with the possible exception of some small impacts on East Africa.

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 (the average in the winter is 1001hPa and 994 hPa for a non-split Low) fairly extreme for Winter and probably even more stronger than normal for Spring. It is now well organized. But the location is not favorable for producing El Nino type weather for CONUS. One the other hand, the High Pressure off of California is not organized to function like the RRR. The pressure gradient of this High is not very strong and it is centered well out in the Pacific. So it may only partially protect the West Coast from Pacific Storms. And that appears to be the case with storms recently undercutting the West Coast Ridge. They may however soon begin to enter CONUS further north than recently.
In fact last week this set up a REX BLOCK which would transfer a higher latitude storm track further south.  The High above the Low off or near the West Coast is where that pattern came into play. There may be a repeat of a similar pattern later this week. But I do not see any sign of that yet for the West Coast but the Ridge over the Trough in the Center of CONUS looks interesting.
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

The path of the current weather pattern is fairly clear from this graphic. The impact of the Southern Branch of the Jet Stream seems to be a bit too far south to really impact Southern California, Arizona and New Mexico but appears to have more impact further east.

And here is the forecast out five days. 

Jet Stream Five Days Out

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. If the storm track follows the Jet Stream, one sees an impressive Western Trough five days out. That could even produce lower snow levels than usual for this time of the year i.e. they may even reach valley levels further north than usual for this time of the year.

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.

Daily SST Anomaly

There is a lot less warm water off of Peru and Chile. It is clearly not connected to the ENSO Warm Pool at the surface. So we essentially have a Modoki pattern at this point in terms of weather impacts. The Tropical Warm Anomaly west of about 150W is dramatically present south of but not north of the Equator. This is very important. There is even a cool anomaly around the Galapagos which is the opposite of what we have been seeing. The overall Northern Pacific is indeed PDO Positive (the horseshoe pattern with the cool anomaly inside the horseshoe shape). The water off the West Coast of North America is warm. The water off the East Coast of North America is also warm and the four-week analysis shows it may be slowly getting warmer. Further north but off the North American Coast and south of Greenland and Iceland, the North Atlantic is cooler than normal which is consistent with AMO+ and has implications for the NAO and perhaps even this summer tropical storm potential in the Atlantic. An article in the El Nino News Section of this Report provides additional detail. Waters around Australia are warm especially to the east and southeast but now cool just to the west. The waters off of Japan are warm. The set up is for a typical PDO-/AMO+ weather pattern but we are not getting that just yet and NOAA has not been noticing but making statistical forecasts when it is fairly obvious there is a missing variable in their equations.  I believe that variable has been the location of the Aleutian Low. Someone in whom I have a lot of confidence believes the extra warm Indian Ocean plays a role in the forecast failure in Jan - Feb - and Mar.

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

April 11, 2016 Change in Weekly SST Anomalies

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 that the cooling off of West Africa has moderated. Even the cool blob south of Greenland may be becoming less intense. The remaining warm anomaly associated with the dying El Nino has west of the Galapagos stretched north and south which may weather impacts and also may indicate how it is dispersing i.e. not necessarily returning to the Western Pacific Warm Pool but mixing and keeping that area a bit warmer than usual. 

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:

AMJ Temperature Outlook Issue on March 17, 2016

Here is the Updated Outlook for April Temperatures issued on March 31, 2016.

April Temperature Outlook Updated on March 31, 2016

Below are the current 6 - 10 Day and 8 - 14 Day Temperature Outlook Maps which will auto-update daily 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 through the Spring as the patterns are moving from west to east fairly rapidly. I have also included the experimental Week 3 and 4 Outlook. I am not sure how often the Week 3-4 Experimental Outlook updates but I think it may be weekly on Friday. Notice the Week 3-4 Experimental Outlook has fewer levels of probability starting with 50%.

As I view these maps on April 11, it appears that the main feature for the remainder of April will be zonal progression of the warm anomaly and perhaps eventually a cool anomaly forming in the Southwest.

 6 - 10 Day Temperature Outlook

6 - 10 Day Temperature Outlook

8 - 14 Day Temperature Outlook  

8-14 Day Temperature Outlook

Looking further out.

Experimental Week 3-4 Temperature Outlook

It will be interesting to see if that cool anomaly in Arizona does indeed develop.

Now - Precipitation 

Here is the three-month AMJ Precipitation Outlook issued on March 17, 2016:

AMJ Precipitation Outlook Issue on March 17, 2016

April Updated Precipitation Outlook Issued on March 31, 2016

April Precipitation Outlook Issued on March 31, 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 through the Spring as the patterns are moving from west to east fairly rapidly. I have also included the experimental Week 3 and 4 Outlook. I do not know how often the Week 3-4 Experimental Outlook updates but I think it is weekly on Fridays. Notice the Week 3-4 Experimental Outlook has fewer levels of probability starting with 50%.

As I view these maps on April 11 (they update each day), it looks like precipitation for the remainder of April (beyond the next five days) will be a wet anomaly moving from the Center of CONUS to the east and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean. At about that time, perhaps a new wet anomaly may form in the Southwest.

6 - 10 Day Precipitation Outlook

6 - 10 Day Precipitation Outlook

8 - 14 Day Precipitation Outlook 

Current 8 - 14 Day Precipitation Outlook

Weeks 3 and 4 Experimental Forecast.

It will be interesting to see if this week three and four experimental Outlook works out. 

Here are excerpts from the NOAA discussion released today April 11, 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 APR 17 - 21 2016

RECENT MODEL OUTPUTS FOR THE 6-10 DAY OUTLOOK EXHIBIT GOOD AGREEMENT, WITH TROUGHING NEAR THE ALEUTIANS AND BROAD RIDGING OVER THE CONUS.  SOME MODEL SOLUTIONS DEPICT A TROUGH OVER THE SOUTHERN HIGH PLAINS, ALTHOUGH THE VARIABILITY ASSOCIATED WITH THAT FEATURE IS HIGH. SPREAD ALONG THE  SOUTHERN PERIPHERY OF THE RIDGE OVER THE CONUS IS HIGH, AS DEPICTED IN THE 6-10, 500-HPA SPAGHETTI DIAGRAMS.

DUE TO THE HIGH SPREAD, CONFIDENCE IN THE OUTLOOK IS RELATIVELY LOW. THE HIGH SPREAD ALSO RESULTED IN LOWER WEIGHTINGS IN GENERAL FOR THE 500-HPA MANUAL BLEND, HEAVILY FAVORING THE ENSEMBLE MEANS. ALL OF THE SOLUTIONS WITH AN INITIALIZATION TIME OF 0Z ON 11 APR HAD SIGNIFICANTLY LOWER ANALOG CORRELATION SCORES, SO THAT GROUPING OF MODEL INPUTS WAS NOT WEIGHTED HEAVILY IN THE BLEND.

ABOVE AVERAGE HEIGHTS AND A PROGRESSIVE PATTERN FAVOR ABOVE AVERAGE  TEMPERATURES DURING THE 6-10 PERIOD FOR MOST OF THE CONUS, EXCEPT FOR THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN HIGH PLAINS. THE POTENTIAL FOR TROUGHING OVER THE SOUTHERN HIGH PLAINS RESULTS IN A SLIGHT FAVORING OF BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR NEW MEXICO, COLORADO, WESTERN TEXAS AND THE PANHANDLE OF OKLAHOMA. ABOVE AVERAGE HEIGHTS AND MEAN SOUTHERLY FLOW FAVOR ABOVE AVERAGE TEMPERATURES OVER ALASKA, ESPECIALLY SOUTHWEST ALASKA. THE ODDS FOR ABOVE AVERAGE TEMPERATURES FALL OFF QUICKLY OVER THE CENTRAL BASIN AND NORTHERN ALASKA.

THE POTENTIAL FOR TROUGHING OVER THE HIGH PLAINS, COMBINED WITH PREDICTED LOW-LEVEL SOUTHERLY FLOW FAVORS ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION OVER THE CENTRAL CONUS, FROM THE ROCKIES TO THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER. BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED FOR THE WESTERN CONUS UNDER WEAK FLOW ALOFT AND MEAN ABOVE AVERAGE HEIGHTS. RIDGING NEAR THE GREAT LAKES FAVORS BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR THE NORTHEAST QUADRANT OF THE CONUS.

FORECAST CONFIDENCE FOR THE 6-10 DAY PERIOD: AVERAGE, 3 OUT OF 5, DUE TO  REASONABLY GOOD AGREEMENT AMONG THE TEMPERATURE TOOLS OFFSET BY UNCERTAINTY ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF A LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM NEAR THE SOUTHEAST COAST.  

8-14 DAY OUTLOOK FOR APR 19 - 25 2016  

THE FORECAST PATTERN FROM THE MODELS DURING THE 8-14 DAY TIME FRAME EXHIBITS A HIGH AMOUNT OF SPREAD, ESPECIALLY ACROSS THE SOUTHERN CONUS. MOST MODEL FORECASTS INDICATE ABOVE AVERAGE HEIGHTS FOR MOST OF THE CONUS. THE GFS AND CANADIAN BASED SOLUTIONS DEPICT A CONTINUOUS RIDGE ACROSS THE NORTHERN CONUS,  WHILE THE EUROPEAN CENTER MODEL SOLUTIONS BREAK THE RIDGE FROM THE GREAT LAKES TO THE GULF COAST. [Editors' Note: This could be important re the actual weather that occurs.] THE 500-HPA MANUAL BLEND DEPICTS A CONTINUOUS RIDGE, WITH LOWER HEIGHTS OVER THE EASTERN CONUS THAN THE GFS, SO A MIX OF THE GFS AND EUROPEAN CENTER SOLUTIONS.

THE RESULTANT TEMPERATURE OUTLOOK FAVORS ABOVE AVERAGE HEIGHTS FOR MOST OF THE CONUS, EXCEPT FOR SOUTHERN TEXAS, WHERE MID-LEVEL HEIGHTS HAVE A CHANCE OF BEING BELOW AVERAGE. ACROSS THE MIDWEST, PROBABILITIES FOR ABOVE AVERAGE TEMPERATURES ARE LOWER TODAY THAN YESTERDAY, DUE TO THE UNCERTAINTY SURROUNDING THE BREAK IN THE RIDGING. TROUGHING TO THE WEST OF ALASKA WITH RIDGING OVER MOST OF THE STATE FAVORS ABOVE AVERAGE TEMPERATURES.

TROUGHING TO THE WEST OF ALASKA FAVORS ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR SOUTHERN  ALASKA. RIDGING FAVORS BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FROM THE NORTHWEST TO THE CENTRAL ROCKIES. ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED FROM THE SOUTHERN PLAINS TO THE GREAT LAKES, ALONG THE AREA WITH POTENTIAL WEAKNESSES IN THE UPPER-LEVEL  RIDGING AND WHERE SOUTHERLY LOW-LEVEL FLOW IS FORECAST BY MOST MODELS.   

FORECAST CONFIDENCE FOR THE 8-14 DAY PERIOD IS: BELOW AVERAGE, 2 OUT OF 5, DUE TO INCREASING SPREAD AMONG THE GFS AND ECMWF ENSEMBLE MEMBERS ALONG WITH WEAK SIGNALS AMONG THE PRECIPITATION TOOLS. 

THE NEXT SET OF LONG-LEAD MONTHLY AND SEASONAL OUTLOOKS WILL BE RELEASED ON  APRIL 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. The 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, relates to the correlation of the forecastesd outlook 6 - 10 days out with similar patterns that have occurred in the past during the dates covered by the 6 - 10 Day Outlook. The second set of analogs may also be useful information but they put the first set of analogs in the discussion with the second set available by a link so I am assuming that the first set of analogs is the most meaningful and I find it so.

Centered

Day

ENSO

Phase

PDO AMO

Other Comments

Mar 31, 1962 Neutral - +  
Apr 1, 1962 Neutral - +  
Apr 11, 1973 El Nino - - Tail end of Strong El Nino
Apr 12, 1973 El Nino - - Tail end of Strong El Nino
Apr 15, 1988 Neutral + N Right after an El Nino
Mar 26, 1990 Neutral - - Strong El Nino Modoki the following winter
Mar 30, 1994 Neutral - - El Nino that summer
Mar 31, 1994 Neutral - -  
Apr 11, 2000 La Nina - + Strong La Nina
Apr 7, 2004 Neutral + + Before an El Nino Modoki

One thing that jumped out at me right away was the spread among the analogs from Mar 26 to Apr 15 which is just under three weeks. It suggests that the prior week conditions are highly correlated with weather patterns which in the past occurred over a fairly narrow range of dates as shown. There are this time two El Nino Analogs, seven ENSO Neutral Analogs and one La Nina Analog suggesting that El Nino is again 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 1990 and 1994 analogs are quite interesting as they are before and after a wet period. It raises some questions about the forecast shift to La Nina.

The phases of the ocean cycles in the analogs point clearly towards McCabe Condition B which is fairly consistent with the indecision in the forecast. 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
Apr 5 -12.6 -4.30 -14.20
Apr 6   -8.3 -4.59 -13.97
Apr 7 -18.2 -5.41 -13.90
Apr 8 -19.7 -6.38 -13.88
Apr 9 -12.9 -6.80 -13.70
Apr 10   -2.6 -6.89 -13.54
Apr 11   -9.2 -7.29 -13.45

The 30-day average, which is the most widely used measure, as of April 11 is reported at -7.29 which is again clearly 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 remains in El Nino territory at -13.45 a bit weaker than 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 somewhat 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 current impact of the MJO and continued local stormy conditions in Tahiti which should end soon.

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.

Low-Level Wind Anomalies

Here are the low-level wind anomalies. We now see Easterly anomalies, the blue area at the bottom of the Hovmoeller graphic. This is part of the process of cleaning up after this El Nino.

Low Level Wlind Anomalies

And now the Outgoing Longwave Anomalies which tells us where convection has been taking place.

OLR Anomalies Along the Equator

In the above graphic, you can see how the convection pattern due to the active phase of the MJO may have shifted more than a bit to the east.  But it also appears to be collapsing. It may be that we are seeing the Walker Cycle shifting to the west. We will know more after the next update of this graphic.

Kelvin Waves

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 is being pushed off the top of this graphic as more recent information is added at the bottom.

Kelvin Waves Auto-updates

We now see the major Upwelling Phase which is the Coup de Grace for this El Nino.

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 this winter six 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.

Because of the difficulties NOAA has been having this week I have included this graphic which will auto-update. I am not sure how to interpret the numbers on the graphic i.e. not sure what 4 times 3pts means but you can clearly see that in December the -20C thermocline was much deeper than usual and now it is much closer to the surface than usual except in the most eastern part of the Pacific where a remnant of the El Nino hangs on as the last Kelvin Waves make it there. 

April 5, 2016 20C Depth Anomaly

 

And now the pair of graphics that I regularly provide:

Subsurface Heat Anomalies

The above pair of graphics 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 which shows temperature anomaolies is still the most useful of the two. The 2C is basically gone and no longer exists in the ONI Measurement Area. The 3C, 4C, 5C and 6C anomalies are long gone. But there remains some warmer water near the Galapagos as what might be the last Kelvin Wave to get that far comes to the surface. But at depth, cool water has made it up to the 200 meter deep point off the coast of South America. From the West, cool water is as far east as 100W and in some places the anomaly exceeds negative 3C. The 0.5C anomaly extends west to almost 160E. The 1C anomaly extends to about 150W with some pockets further west. There is no 1.5C anomaly in the ONI Measurement Area.

The bottom half of the graphic (Absolute Values which highlights the Thermocline) 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 the transition from a Warm Event to ENSO Neutral. 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 temporarily is not reaching the surface. But there is a lot of compression of the Isotherms so the 20C is close to the surface even though the 25C Isotherm does not reach 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 had retraced east to 140W as the MJO went through but is now back at 160W. It most likely will continue to shift to the west.  When it passes the Dateline, the El Nino is over in terms of being able to impact CONUS weather. 

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

This discussion is longer than necessary to describe current conditions but I am retaining the snap shots of the earlier TAO/TRITON graphics to allow the reader to understand how this El Nino evolved and how it is now decaying.

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.

Current SST and wind anomalies

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

 

The overall pattern is quite a bit less intense than on December 14. The 3.5C anomaly is no longer visible. Neither is the 3.0C anomaly. The 2.5C anomaly and the 2C anomaly no longer exists in the Nino 3.4 Measurement Area. So the maximum anomalies (which do not appear everywhere) have declined by a full two degrees 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 1.5C to 2.0C or 1.75C and subtract the reductions from there where the anomaly is less. Soon we will be subtracting from 1.25C. What I have just described 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 1.5C anomaly is also now shrinking. And the western part of the 1.5C anomaly is almost all south of the Equator which means that it has less than half the impact of an anomaly that extends from 5 degrees north latitude to 5 degrees south latitude. This El Nino is crashing. 

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 three months makes.

January 19, 2016 Frozen TAU/TRITON Graphic

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.

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 Gone 165W Land 110W 0 55
2.0C Anomaly 100W 170W Land 100W 5 70
1.5C Anomaly Gone* 175W Land Land 0* 80
1.0C Anomaly 150E 175E Land Land 85 90
0.5C Anomaly 170E Inf Land Land 105 Inf

* The western portion of the anomaly is almost all South of the Equator and the above graphic only shows where the anomalies are on the Equator.

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 April 11, in the afternoon working from the April 10 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 1.2 1.0
B. 160W to 150W 1.4 1.2
C. 150W to 140W 1.4 1.4
D. 140W to 130W 1.6 1.2
E. 130W to 120W 1.7 1.2
Total 7.3 6.0
Total divided by five subregions i.e. the ONI (7.3)/5 = 1.5 (6.0)/5 = 1.2

 

My estimate of the daily Nino 3.4 ONI after rounding is down to 1.2. NOAA has reported the weekly ONI to be 1.3.  Nino 4.0 is being reported as being lower at 0.9. Nino 3.0 is being reported as being lower at 1.4. The action which I think is most important to track right now is in Nino 1+2 which last week had soared to 1.5. This probably was due to Kelvin Wave #5 surfacing with some help from the MJO and marks the last Hurrah for this El Nino. It is now reported as being down to 1.3. 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.

April 11, 2016 Nino Readings

ONI Recent History

The official reading for Jan/Feb/Mar is now reported as 2.0. I have discussed before the mystery of how the CFSv2 values above get translated into the ERSST.v4 values shown below and if NOAA feels that working with two sets of books is a good way to operate, who am I argue. Many businesses do the same thing. As you can see this El Nino peaked in NDJ and is now declining and depending on what system you use it is either the 2nd or 3rd strongest El Nino since modern records were kept which is considered to be 1950. You could argue for it being #1 based on a week of readings but few are buying that argument. Still #2 or #3 means it is one of the strongest ever based on the way these events are measured. I will be writing more about that soon in a separate article. I believe the measurement system is inadequate re being useful in forecasting Worldwide weather impacts.

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.

April 11, 2016 Kelvin Wave History

Watching an El Nino evolve is like watching paint dry. The undercutting cool anomaly is again expanding to the east quite rapidly actually now edging east of 100W which means it has now undercut all of the NINO 3.4 Measurement Area.  All that remains is for "The Grand Switch" to occur with the cool anomaly reversing positions with the warm anomaly.  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. You can also see cooler water rising but still at depth (200m) in the Eastern Pacific.  It will replace the warm water in a few months. You can also see the break in the warm pool at 150W which I discuss elsewhere and another one at 110W.

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.  You can easily see how the intensity peaked in November 2015, declined in December and then declined substantially in late February and continues to decline.

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. 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 beyond the Dateline.

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.

Feb  29, 2016 temperature and Precipitation Departures.

March 7, 2016 30 Day Temperature and Precipitation Departures

April  2016 20 day temperature and precipitation departures.

Remember this is a 30 day average and last week I used a different graphic so this can not be compared to last week but is best compared with last month. The La Nina pattern persists for much of the West with respect to both precipitation and temperature but is a normal El Nino for the Mississippi Valley in March. Northern California was wet but it is hard to say if that looks like El Nino or La Nina. This is one strange El Nino and for the 2nd or 3rd strongest in modern history it is a mystery that has not been given adequate attention. 

Lets take a look at 90 Days.

April 4, 2016 90 Day Temperature and Precipitation Departures.

Well that does not look like an El Nino pattern to me but more like a La Nina pattern for precipitation and just plain warm pretty much everywhere which is neither an El Nino nor a La Nina Pattern.

And here is the latest

April 11, 2016 30 Day Temperature and Precipitation Departures.

There has been no change. The La Nina pattern in the West and Great Lakes persists.  The temperature pattern is simply warm all over except for Southwest Texas which does seem like it is consistent with 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

Tracking El Nino

The Cold Blob in the North Atlantic  [Editor's Note: This might belong under the Climate Change heading]

View from Australia

El Nino

Australia POAMA ENSO model run

Below is the discussion just released. Notice the discussion re forecasting a La Nina for next winter.

El Niño declining; 50 per cent likelihood of La Niña for later in 2016

While the 2015–16 El Niño remains at weak to moderate levels, recent changes in the tropical Pacific Ocean and atmosphere, combined with current climate model outlooks, suggest the likelihood of La Niña forming in 2016 has increased to around 50%. As a result, the Bureau's ENSO Outlook status has moved to La Niña WATCH.

Temperatures below the Pacific Ocean surface have declined since late 2015, with all but the top 50 metres now cooler than normal. At the sea surface, temperatures have cooled by over 1 °C since their peak, but remain warmer than average and still at El Niño levels. The Southern Oscillation Index and trade winds also show clear signs that El Niño is in decline. The SOI has recently risen to near-neutral levels, while trade winds are near normal. However some indicators, such as cloudiness near the Date Line, have shown only a limited shift away from El Niño patterns.

International climate models suggest El Niño will continue to weaken during the southern autumn, returning to neutral levels by mid-2016. By spring, five of the eight surveyed models suggest La Niña is likely, with three remaining neutral. ENSO forecasts made at this time of year tend to have lower accuracy than at other times, with a clearer picture to emerge over the coming months.

La Niña is often, but not always, associated with above-average winter-spring rainfall over northern, central and eastern Australia.

Australia's climate is also being influenced by record warm temperatures in the Indian Ocean. The warmth in the Indian Ocean will likely provide extra moisture for rain systems as they cross Australia during the southern autumn.

IOD (Indian Ocean Dipole)

IOD POAMA Model Run

The graphic comes with only a very short discussion and here is that discussion:

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is neutral. The weekly Dipole Mode Index value to 10 April was −0.16 °C. The IOD does not typically influence Australian climate during the months December to May, when the monsoon trough is in the southern hemisphere (as positive and negative events are typically unable to form in monsoonal flow).

Currently four of five international models monitored by the Bureau clearly indicate negative IOD conditions are possible by August, with the fifth very close to negative IOD levels. However, model skill is generally lower at this time of year, and outlooks, particularly towards the end of the forecast period, should be used with caution.

Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) remain significantly warmer than average across the tropical Indian Ocean.

Information on the impact of a negative IOD on Australia can be found here.

Climate Change News

"Northern Hemisphere Hydroclimate Variability over the Past Twelve Centuries". It is not the full article which requires a subscription but some of the graphics are available here.

Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist, Paul J. Krusic, Hanna S. Sundqvist, Eduardo Zorita, Gudrun Brattström & David Frank

Accurate modelling and prediction of the local to continental-scale hydroclimate response to global warming is essential given the strong impact of hydroclimate on ecosystem functioning, crop yields, water resources, and economic security. However, uncertainty in hydroclimate projections remains large, in part due to the short length of instrumental measurements available with which to assess climate models. Here we present a spatial reconstruction of hydroclimate variability over the past twelve centuries across the Northern Hemisphere derived from a network of 196 at least millennium-long proxy records. We use this reconstruction to place recent hydrological changes and future precipitation scenarios in a long-term context of spatially resolved and temporally persistent hydroclimate patterns. We find a larger percentage of land area with relatively wetter conditions in the ninth to eleventh and the twentieth centuries, whereas drier conditions are more widespread between the twelfth and nineteenth centuries. Our reconstruction reveals that prominent seesaw patterns of alternating moisture regimes observed in instrumental data across the Mediterranean, western USA, and China have operated consistently over the past twelve centuries. Using an updated compilation of 128 temperature proxy records, we assess the relationship between the reconstructed centennial-scale Northern Hemisphere hydroclimate and temperature variability. Even though dry and wet conditions occurred over extensive areas under both warm and cold climate regimes, a statistically significant co-variability of hydroclimate and temperature is evident for particular regions. We compare the reconstructed hydroclimate anomalies with coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation model simulations and find reasonable agreement during pre-industrial times. However, the intensification of the twentieth-century-mean hydroclimate anomalies in the simulations, as compared to previous centuries, is not supported by our new multi-proxy reconstruction. This finding suggests that much work remains before we can model hydroclimate variability accurately, and highlights the importance of using palaeoclimate data to place recent and predicted hydroclimate changes in a millennium-long context

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 most of the models seems increasingly likely to be a La Nina.

The below is the CPC/IRI forecast issued on March 17, 2016. We should be getting an update soon. 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.

March 21, 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.

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.

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 some of the models are predicting.

 CFS.V2 SST Forecast

But, notice the mean of the NOAA model is now forecasting a fairly strong La Nina for next winter. It is too soon to begin discussing the Spring Prediction Barrier this week but I would take all these forecasts with a grain of salt at this point in time. It is only April 11 and too early to forecast next winter.

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.

The odds of a climate shift for CONUS taking place has increased. It may be in progress. It may require one more La Nina. But it appears that "McCabe Condition A" is coming soon. Right now we seem to have a blend of McCabe Conditions A and C which are opposites which may explain some of the forecasting difficult. The AMO is pretty much neutral at this point so it may need to become a bit more negative for the McCabe A pattern to become established.

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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