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posted on 18 July 2016

July 18, 2016 Weather and Climate Report - More Normal with La Nina Closer

Written by Sig Silber

But Certainly Not Completely Normal and Not Yet La Nina

The Westerlies may not be as intense.  But thunderstorms are now newsworthy events. It is warm, warm, warm. NOAA has reported a La Nina value for the week. They still report conditions to be ENSO Neutral but the direction is clear. According to NOAA, we are not in La Nina Conditions yet, but it is probably coming. That determination is reported on the 2nd Thursday of each month. They may want the SOI to confirm but they are not always meticulous. It may come out with the Seasonal Update this Thursday.

 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.

From the Sunday Noon NWS Discussion released by the Phoenix Arizona Office:

Additionally, an easterly wave currently seen over west Texas near Big Bend is modeled to move west into the Mexican state of Chihuahua later today, then set off more convection in Sonora early tonight.  This will result more moisture flowing north into AZ under increasing southerly flow. On Monday, in the absence of any well defined mid/upper level disturbance, the low grade minimum monsoon will continue, meaning that a slight chance of afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms will continue, until they don`t.

That pretty well sums up the situation. The westerlies are now no longer in total control but the Sonoran Monsoon is staying pretty much in Sonora and occasionally nosing into Southern Arizona and Western New Mexico. So there is no steady moisture tap for the Southwest which could provider moisture for many other states.

But Phoenix is a bit more optimistic today:

Synopsis...

An increase in clouds and humidity can be expected during the next  few days along with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms,  mainly east of the lower Colorado River Valley. High temperatures will also be a bit cooler. Storm chances on the lower deserts will be slight, with better chances over the higher terrain and over Southeast Arizona. During the latter half of the week, storm chances will dwindle, and temperatures will increase to above normal levels.

So it is kind of like a tease. The Monsoon is right there and what are called inverted troughs keep on penetrating the southern boundary of Arizona but somehow all the ingredients are not there to have a really good Monsoonal burst with heavy rainfall for multiple days.

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.  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.

Characteristics of a Weekly Weather Column.

Many graphics in this report are auto-updated by the source of the graphic. It is always my choice as the writer to allow these graphics to auto-update or "freeze them" to what they looked like when I write the article. Generally speaking graphics in research themes which appear above this point do not auto-update as they come from published scientific papers. When I make the decision to allow certain graphics to auto-update, it creates two issues:

A. As the graphic updates, my commentary becomes out of sync with the new version of the graphic. This can be very extreme if for example you take a look at my report from months ago.

B. On rare occasions, source sites for graphics go down and the graphic does not appear in the article and you probably see white space.  If you experience such an event and that graphic is important to your understanding of the report, please return later to view my weather and climate column.  Sometimes the "outage" is only for several minutes, but often the duration can be a number of hours or even one or more days.  We feel that this inconvenience is preferable to looking at "frozen" weather map images that do not update since I write the article on Monday evenings and you probably do not read it until Tuesday and perhaps later in the week. So I want you to have the advantage of seeing the most up-to-date graphics. If the source is down, the white space is the price paid for most of the time being able to see the latest available graphics.

First, here is a national animation of weather fronts 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.

Here is a World Precipitation Forecast produced by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Unfortunately I do not know how to extract the map only so to see it you have to click where I said "here". You can adjust the settings to show Temperature or many other things for THE WORLD. I can forecast out for a week. Pretty cool!

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. 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.

7 Day 500 MB Geopotential Forecast

We now see the Four Corners High forecast on Day 7 to be pretty much where you might expect it and in this location it blocks more than it draws in moisture. If the Four Corners High were further east, that would enhance the Monsoon rather than block it. There is also shown a very pronounced Great Lakes Trough. The trough and the location of the Four Corners High pretty much determine the Temperature and Precipitation Pattern for CONUS. One graphic says a lot. Some forecasts show the Four Corners High migrating north into the Great Basin and others show it heading east. So there is not a lot of confidence in how this will play out.

The MJO has had significant impacts this winter but the impact on July is not likely to be very noticeable other than alternatively accelerating and decelerating the development of the La Nina.

Western Pacific Tropical Activity

I was going to stop showing the above graphic for the summer but there is something about the pattern in the Eastern Pacific that looked strange to me. I still have not figured it out but I notice the moisture stream moving east in the mid-latitudes turns slightly to the south as it reaches CONUS.

 Water Vapor Imagery

As I am looking at the above graphic Monday evening July 18, the Monsoonal Moisture Boundary (MMB) is crossing the Arizona and Western New Mexico border but there does not seem to be much behind it in Mexico to sustain it. The Monsoon is not non-existent just minimal and not all that inclined to cross the border into CONUS on a consistent basis.

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.

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 July 12, 2016 Version and looking at Week 2 of that forecast.
Tropical Hazards

Mostly for the period July 20 to July 26, 2016, I see a moderate probability of dry conditions for India and Indochina and the Philippines and more tropical activity off the west coast of Central America. Equatorial Africa looks to be a bit dry but wet just north of the Equator.

Eastern Pacific Tropical Storms

For CONUS, the above graphic is more specific and near term with interpretation and has a focus on tropical storms.  It does not cover as wide an area e.g. it does not cover the Western Pacific or the Atlantic far east of the U.S. It is actually a convenient graphic for tracking the Southwest Monsoon. As you can see, there is now a single band of moisture and and it is down by Panama. There is some minimal moisture also arriving via the Gulf of California and possibly partially related to the tropical storms that are clearly noted in this graphic. But the storms are not curving around and coming aground but heading out to sea rapidly. I am skeptical about this Monsoon really starting to impact CONUS in a significant way any time soon. There is subtropical moisture that creates the occasional thunderstorm. Things could improve quickly but for now it is a minimal Monsoon.

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

The Aleutian Low is not the controlling factor during the summer.
The High Pressure off of California, the familiar RRR, is here and quite large and strong extended into the Bering Sea and protecting the West Coast from Pacific storms and also providing northerly winds for California. It is normal for this time of the year unlike during the winter.  Recently, I provided this  K - 12 write up that provides a simple explanation on the importance of semipermanent Highs and Lows and another link that discussed possible changes in the patterns of these highs and lows which could be related to a Climate Shift (cycle) in the Pacific or Global Warming. We also see a Low in the Gulf of Alaska so that means that the Alaskan Peninsula and parts of Canada will be wet.

Looking at the current activity of the Jet Stream.

The path of the current weather pattern is fairly clear from this graphic and it is across the Northern Tier of CONUS but a bit further south than usual for this time of the year at least to some extent suppressing the Southwest Monsoon. In the summer, weather patterns are usually moving from west to east more slowly than usual but not so much this July. But the wind vectors shown are different than last week and much more "normal".

Current Jet Stream

And below is the forecast out five days with a continuation of the overall northern tendency in the pattern but far enough south to create westerlies which partially suppress the Southwest Monsoon. Pay attention to the wind vector arrows in addition to the areas shaded as being part of the Jet Stream. You see wind vectors indicating circulation that is close to being able to bring moist air from Mexico into CONUS. They are now forecast in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona to be easterly not westerly. So the situation has evolved this last week and may soon change to southerly winds which would be the Monsoon. 300 mb (which is what this forecast is showing) is fairly high in the atmosphere so there can be mid-level and lower-level moisture entering CONUS from Mexico and there is but it is not yet a lot. 

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. In some cases however a Low-Pressure System becomes separated or "cut off" from the Jet Stream. In that case it's movements may be more difficult to predict until that disturbance is again recaptured by the Jet Stream.

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 ENSO.

Daily SST Anomaly

The waters off of Japan remain warm. The Indian Ocean is increasingly cool rather than warm especially off of Africa and now also off the southern coast of Australia. But water northwest of Australia to Indonesia is very warm and suggestive of a La Nina Warm Pool. The waters off of New Zealand are warm to the north and west but not the south.
The overall Northern Pacific is indeed PDO Positive (the horseshoe pattern with the cool anomaly inside the horseshoe shape). The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) Index rose to 2.4 in March which with El Nino fading may be significant. It was up to 2.62 in April but eased to 2.35 in May and then to +0.78 in June. The question remains about the PDO. Is it acting independently of the El Nino or is this the change from PDO- to PDO+ that would signal a multi-decadal change in the Pacific. I anticipate that the PDO will turn negative as the La Nina gains control. Here is the list of PDO values.
The water directly off of South America is not showing much of a La Nina pattern even though El Nino is history. There is a very narrow cool anomaly in the Pacific right along the Equator in the La Nina Measurement Area but it does not extend very far north or south of the Equator but may be beginning to do so.The water off the West Coast of North America is very warm  especially off of Baja California. The remnants of El Nino have circled back and may now contribute to the North American Monsoon but so far have not. They now appear to be too far north to play that role. Further north, the Gulf of Alaska is quite warm.
The water off the East Coast of CONUS is very warm covering a large area. The waters of the Gulf of Mexico are very warm. The list of Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) values can be found here. Further north in the Atlantic east of Newfoundland the North Atlantic is cooler than normal and that seems to be moving south. But the waters north of the British Isles now show a warm anomaly. The waters north of Antarctica East of South America are uniformly colder than climatology. I have some additional commentary on this static analysis of the anomalies below where I examine the four-week change in these anomalies.
Since these are "departures" or "anomalies", it is not a seasonal pattern that is being shown it is the changes from what we would expect on a seasonal basis. It is important to understand that and interpret my comments above in the context of anomalies not absolute temperatures.

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

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 to my draft report, compare and comment on the change and then delete the old one to keep this report to a manageable size. Also it is important to recognize that what you see in this graphic is the change in the anomaly. So blue means either cooler or less warm. Red means warmer or less cool. So you have to refer to the graphic above this one to really interpret this graphic as what we are seeing here is the change in the anomalies. What we see in this graphic is four weeks of change not the current absolute anomalies which are shown in the above graphic. It is not derivatives in the mathematical sense but deltas. They are somewhat similar. The graphic above this one has no time component. It is simply the deviation from climatology and this graphic below shows the four week change in the deviation from climatology. So it is a bit like the first (graphic above) and second (graphic below) derivatives but not exactly. I take it a step further by comparing this weeks version of the graphic to the prior week and report on the differences below.  

July 18, 2016, Change in four week SST Anomalies

What I see as I look at both last week's version of this graphic and the current one (before deleting the prior version) is general cooling along the Equator in the Pacific. The Indian Ocean continues to cool in the West and but unlike last week is now warming in the East particularly north of Australia. The warming in the North/Central Pacific is slightly less intense. Of interest is the continued warming off of Baja California, the East Coast of North America, and the Gulf of Mexico. The cool anomaly southeast of South America has ceased its warming (becoming less cool). Remember we are talking about changes in the anomalies something like a second derivative so you have to refer to the graphic above this one to know if blue is cool or less warm and if red is warm or less cool.  

Four- Week Outlook

I am going to show the three-month JAS Outlook, the recently updated Outlook for the single month of July, the 6 - 10 Day and 8 - 14 Day Maps and the Week 3 -  4 Experimental Outlook

First - Temperature

Here is the Three-Month JAS Temperature Outlook issued on June 16, 2016:

JAS Temperature Outlook Issue on June 16, 2016

Here is the Updated July Temperature Outlook Issued on June 30

July 2016 Updated Temperature Outlook Issued on June 30, 2016

 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

As I view these maps on July 18 (two of the five update each day and one updates every Friday), it appears that the main features through August 12 will during the second half of July be an EC anomaly in the Northwest and a second larger one further east in the Greater Upper Mississippi Valley with everything else warm and transforming later in the month to everywhere having a probability of being warmer than climatology. In the early part of August, the EC anomaly reforms in the Northeast quadrant of CONUS. Alaska remains very warm.

Now - Precipitation 

Here is the three-month JAS Precipitation Outlook issued on June 16, 2016:

JAS Precipitation Outlook Issue on June 16, 2016

And here is the Updated Precipitation Outlook for July Issued on June 30, 2016

July 2016 Updated Precipitation Outlook Issued on June 30, 2016

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.

As I view these maps on July 18 (two of the five update each day and one updates every Friday), it looks like precipitation leading up to August 12 is tending for the second half of July to be drier than climatology in the Northwest to the Great Lakes with much of the East Coast and Southeast other than Florida wet. In the first two weeks of August, the drier than climatology areas shrink. The Northern Plains/ Great Lakes dry anomaly shifts a bit to the east and south. So far this summer, the Southwest Monsoon has been weak and is forecast to continue to be weak. It will show up from time to time mostly focused on Arizona but also impacting parts of neighboring states.

Here are excerpts from the NOAA discussion released today July 18, 2016.

6-10 DAY OUTLOOK FOR JUL 24 - 28 2016

TODAY'S ENSEMBLE MEAN SOLUTIONS ARE IN GOOD AGREEMENT ON THE FORECAST 500-HPA CIRCULATION PATTERN ACROSS MOST OF THE FORECAST DOMAIN. A STRONG SUBTROPICAL  RIDGE IS FORECAST OVER THE WESTERN CONUS WHILE TROUGHS ARE PREDICTED OVER THE  GULF OF ALASKA AND THE NORTHEASTERN CONUS. ENSEMBLE SPREAD IS LOW TO MODERATE FOR MOST OF THE FORECAST DOMAIN. THE GREATEST WEIGHTS IN TODAY'S OFFICIAL 500-HPA BLEND WERE GIVEN TO THE ENSEMBLE MEAN SOLUTIONS BASED PRIMARILY ON CONSIDERATIONS OF RECENT SKILL. 

PREDICTED SUBTROPICAL RIDGING AND ASSOCIATED ABOVE NORMAL HEIGHTS LEAD TO ENHANCED PROBABILITIES FOR ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR THE WESTERN, SOUTH CENTRAL, AND EASTERN CONUS. ENHANCED PROBABILITIES FOR BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE ALSO INDICATED FOR MUCH OF NORTHERN ALASKA, CONSISTENT WITH GEFS REFORECAST GUIDANCE AND BIAS CORRECTED TEMPERATURES FROM THE 0Z ECMWF ENSEMBLE MEMBERS. ABOVE NORMAL SSTS LEAD TO INCREASED ODDS OF ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR PARTS OF SOUTHERN AND WESTERN ALASKA.

BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED FOR MUCH OF THE WESTERN AND NORTH CENTRAL  CONUS IN ASSOCIATION WITH PREDICTED SUBTROPICAL RIDGING. ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED FOR THE ATLANTIC COAST STATES AND PARTS OF THE GULF COAST REGION IN ASSOCIATION WITH AN ANTICIPATED TROUGH. ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED FOR ALASKA AND THE ALASKA PANHANDLE UNDERNEATH PREDICTED CYCLONIC FLOW, CONSISTENT WITH PRECIPITATION ESTIMATES FROM THE GFS AND ECMWF ENSEMBLE MEMBERS.

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

8-14 DAY OUTLOOK FOR JUL 26 - AUG 01, 2016 

THE WEEK TWO 500-HPA ENSEMBLE MEAN SOLUTIONS FEATURE A RETROGRESSION OF THE OVERALL PATTERN RELATIVE TO THE 6-10 DAY PERIOD. A SUBTROPICAL RIDGE IS  FORECAST TO DOMINATE THE WEST-CENTRAL CONUS WHILE TROUGHS ARE PREDICTED OVER  THE NORTHEASTERN CONUS AND OFF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST COAST EXTENDING TO ALASKA.  ABOVE NORMAL HEIGHTS ARE PREDICTED FOR ALL MOST OF CONUS. THE WEEK-TWO 500-HPA  MANUAL HEIGHT BLEND IS COMPOSED PRIMARILY OF THE ENSEMBLE MEAN SOLUTIONS. 

PREDICTED SUBTROPICAL RIDGING IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE TO FAVOR ABOVE NORMAL  TEMPERATURES FOR THE CONUS. GEFS REFORECAST GUIDANCE AND BIAS CORRECTED  TEMPERATURES FROM THE 0Z ECMWF ENSEMBLE MEMBERS FAVOR BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES  FOR THE INTERIOR BASIN OF ALASKA WHILE ENHANCED PROBABILITIES FOR ABOVE NORMAL  TEMPERATURES FOR MUCH OF SOUTHERN ALASKA, THE ALEUTIANS AND THE ALASKA  PANHANDLE IN ASSOCIATED WITH ABOVE NORMAL SSTS CURRENTLY BEING EXPERIENCED  THERE. 

BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED FOR MUCH OF THE NORTHERN CONUS IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE PREDICTED RIDGE. THE POTENTIAL FOR MOIST EASTERLY FLOW  AROUND THE BASE OF THE SUBTROPICAL RIDGE LEADS TO ENHANCED PROBABILITIES OF  NEAR TO ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR THE GULF COAST REGION AND ATLANTIC COAST  STATES. GEFS REFORECAST GUIDANCE FAVORS ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR PARTS OF THE SOUTHWEST MONSOON REGION. THERE ARE ENHANCED PROBABILITIES OF ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR ALASKA DUE TO A FORECAST TROUGH.

FORECAST CONFIDENCE FOR THE 8-14 DAY PERIOD IS: AVERAGE, 3 OUT OF 5, DUE TO  GOOD MODEL AGREEMENT.

THE NEXT SET OF LONG-LEAD MONTHLY AND SEASONAL OUTLOOKS WILL BE RELEASED ON JULY 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 the Outlook.

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 regularly 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 forecasted 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.

Day

ENSO

Phase

PDO AMO

Other Comments

July 10, 1951 El Nino - +  
July 20, 1952 Normal - +  
June 27, 1953 Neutral + +  
June 28, 1953 Neutral + +  
July 24, 1966 Neutral - N  
June 29, 1969 Neutral - N  
July 21, 1981 Neutral + -  
June 29, 200 La Nina - N Following the MegaNino
July 6, 2004 El Nino + + Modoki Type II

One thing that jumped out at me right away was the spread among the analogs from June 27 to July 24 which is about four weeks. I have not calculated the centroid of this distribution which would be the better way to look at things but the midpoint, which is a lot easier to calculate, is about July 10 and these analogs are centered on 3 days and 4 days ago (July 14 or 15). I am kind of concluding that current conditions (as represented in the historical analogs) are generally three or four days ahead of the normal summer pattern much like last week. [Editors's Note: In reviewing this article after publication, I think my wording was misleading. The analogs should have reflected July 14 or 15 conditions but they reflected with a rough estimation procedure July 10 conditions so that means that we were three or four days behind with respect to the conditions in placed as reflected by the choice of analogs].

I think NOAA would appreciate it if I said that these analogs are not a substitute for their very sophisticated forecasting software and I am not suggesting that they are. I present them partially for curiosity purposes but also to see how current conditions correlate with medium and low frequency cycles. The medium frequency cycle I track is ENSO and the two low- frequency cycles I track are the PDO and AMO. When I see that forecasts are consistent with the current phases of these cycles (as represented by the analogs), that seems very suggestive to me that our weather is probably fairly easy to forecast. If the analogs are all over the place then I have to wonder if the forecasts are good or if our weather is just not related to these cycles. That certainly can be the case. So I am doing some research here and you are seeing how I look at things. I hope you find it interesting.

The 1951, 1952, and 1953 analogs are very interesting because that might have been period which preceded a climate shift in the Pacific and that decade was a period with extensive drought.

There are this time two El Nino Analogs, one La Nina Analog and six ENSO Neutral Analogs. This may simply be suggesting that we are now beyond the time of the year where the Phase of ENSO is very important or that the analogs are indicating that conditions are in flux.

The phases of the ocean cycles in the analogs are inconclusive with respect to McCabe Conditions. Since half of the analogs are associated with PDO Negative and we currently have a positive PDO which for the last two months has recorded less high values, it makes me wonder if this Positive PDO is really associated with the recent El Nino rather than a true PDO phase change.

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. One of the major reasons that I write this weather and climate column is to encourage a more long-term and World view of weather.

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 Cool ENSO 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
July 12 +15.8 +4.07 -2.24
July 13   +3.4 +4.24 -1.98
July 14 -20.6 +3.43 -1.87
July 15 -17.6 +2.93 -1.79
July 16  -9.0 +2.74 -1.67
July 17  -7.0 +1.99 -1.53
July 18      

Queensland seems to be one day behind schedule but what I have is good enough. The 30-day average, which is the most widely used measure, as of July 17 is reported at +1.99 which is less La Nina-ish than last week and is clearly Neutral but also clearly tilted towards La Nina. The 90-day average at -1.53 is up from last week (less El Nino-ish) and is no longer in El Nino range but is neutral but still on the El Nino side of "0" but rising (less negative) and switching over to La Nina or at least to a positive SOI over time. Usually but not always the 90 day average changes more slowly than the 30 day average but it depends on what values drop out. Different agencies use a different range to classify the SOI as being El Nino or La Nina. The strictest range is -5 for El Nino and +5 for La Nina. Some meteorological agencies sometimes uses -8 or +8. So the range +5 to -5 is clearly neutral and above +8 is clearly La Nina and below -8 is clearly El Nino and between -8 and -5 and +5 to + 8 is somewhat marginal but suggestive of El Nino if negative and La Nina if positive.

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 westerly anomalies which are retarding the development of the La Nina. This is an El Nino pattern.  It may be related to the MJO but it is to a certain extent unexplained.

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, we see basically no convection along the Equator. It is all north or south of the Equator.

Equatorial Subsurface Analysis

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.

Current Sub-Surface Conditions.   Notice the lag in getting this information posted so the current situation may be a bit different than shown.

And now the pair of graphics that I regularly provide and which as I publish are currently able to be accessed from the NOAA website:

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 shows surface temperature anomalies. The 0.5 C anomaly now does not show up. But the coolest water at the surface shows up mostly between 155W and 130W. The cold subsurface water appears to be somewhat slow to rise to the surface. The -3C anomaly appears to have shrunk since last week which is hard to explain.

The bottom half of the graphic (Absolute Values which highlights the Thermocline) perhaps is now more useful as we shift our focus and begin tracking the progress of this new Cool Event.

It shows the thermocline between warm and cool water. The 28C Isotherm is now located at about 170W. This graphic does not show a 27.5C anomaly which might more precisely indicate where convection is likely to occur. The 27C isotherm is now at about 155W with the 25C isotherm at about 140W. Surprisingly, the 20C Isotherm remains down close to 50 meters and not moving closer to the surface. So we do not have significant convection along the Equator east of the Dateline. But the amount of warm water just west of the Dateline is not real impressive either. It is clearly a transition state and all of this is important not just for tracking this cool event but thinking about when the next El Nino might be triggered.

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

We now have to change our focus from tracking the El Nino to tracking the transition to ENSO Neutral and most likely to ENSO La Nina. So I have deleted many of the TAO/TRITON graphics to show how the El Nino developed except one which was close to the maximum. It was not the maximum but it was the one that I froze which was the closest to the maximum that I saved. It is useful for comparing the current situation with the pattern that prevailed near the peak of the El Nino this past winter.

January 19, 2016 Frozen TAU/TRITON Graphic

And here is the current version of the TAO/TRITON Graphic.

We seem to be having a number of things going on at the same time. The warm anomaly is gone, the cool anomaly extends further into the Pacific but the cool anomaly near Ecuador is actually weaker.   So the actual pattern may be more nuanced than is being measured by the models.

Current SST and wind anomalies

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

 

The below table which only looks at the Equator shows the extent of anomalies along the Equator. I had split the table to show warm, neutral, and cool anomalies. The top rows showed El Nino anomalies. When there were no more El Nino anomalies along the Equator, I eliminated those rows. The two rows just below that break point contribute to ENSO Neutral and after another break the rows are associated with La Nina conditions. I have changed the reference date to May 23, 1016.

Comparing Now to May 23, 2016

Subareas of the Anomaly

Westward Extension Eastward Extension Degrees of Coverage

Today

May 23, 2016

Today

May 2016

Today

In Nino 3.4

May 23, 2016
These Rows Show the Extent of ENSO Neutral Impacts on the Equator
0.5C or cooler Anomaly

175W

155E

Land

155W

80

50

50
0C or cooler Anomaly

170W

155W

Land

Land

75

50

60
These Rows Show the Extent of the La Nina Impacts on the Equator
-0.5C or cooler Anomaly

160W

145W

100W

Land

65

40

55
-1C or cooler Anomaly

155W

140W

120W

105W

60

35

35
-1.5C or cooler Anomaly

145W

135W

130W*

120W

15

15

15

* South of the Equator it extends further east.

If you just look on the Equator, there are 40 degrees of La Nina anomalies with zero degrees of very cold water. There are 50 degrees of Neutral to La Nina and that is the maximum possible since the ENSO Measurement Area only stretches for 50 degrees. Subtracting 40 degrees from the 50 degrees you end up with 10 degrees of ENSO Neutral and 40 degrees of cool enough to qualify as La Nina (with fifteen degrees of water cool enough to be a very strong La Nina) when just looking at the Equator. But away from the Equator it is generally warmer when a La Nina is trying to get started. So this table suggests La Nina but the water from 3N to 5N and more dramatically from 3S to 5S is still relatively warm especially west of 150W..

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 July 18, in the afternoon working from the July 17 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 +0.2 +0.2
B. 160W to 150W -0.3 -0.2
C. 150W to 140W -0.5 -0.7
D. 140W to 130W -0.4 -0.8
E. 130W to 120W -0.2 -0.5
Total -1.2 -2.0
Total divided by five subregions i.e. the ONI (-1.2)/5 = -0.2 (-2.0)/5 = -0.4

 

My estimate of the daily Nino 3.4 ONI has decreased to -0.4.  NOAA has reported the weekly ONI declined to -0.6 which is in La Nina territory. Their calculation appears to me to be a bit on the cool side but others also have reported this value. At this point, the contours of the temperature anomalies are very close together and the exact size and intensity of the -1.5C or colder anomaly makes a big difference in the calculation so their value may be correct and it may vary day by day. Nino 4.0 is again being reported at 0.3. Nino 3.0 is being reported significantly less cool at -0.6 .  Nino 1 + 2 which extends from the Equator south rather than being centered on the Equator is being reported less warm at 0.0 and that also makes sense.  WE REMAIN IN ENSO Neutral BUT WE HAVE HAD OUR FIRST LA NINA WEEKLY REPORT. One week is not definitive (the criteria for declaring an El Nino or La Nina includes five overlapping three- month periods with the appropriate conditions) but suggests the direction things are headed. I am only showing the currently issued version of the NINO SST Index Table as the prior values are shown in the small graphics on the right with this graphic. The same data in graphical form but going back a couple of more years can be found here.

July 18, 2016 Nino Readings

ONI Recent History

July 4, 2016 ONI History

The official reading for Apr/May/Jun is now reported as 0.7. I have discussed before the mystery of how the Nino 3.4 (ONI) 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.

Although I did not discuss the Kelvin Waves earlier, now seems to be the best place to show the evolution of the subsurface temperatures which remains relevant. What we have is only the upwelling phase of the series of Kelvin waves last winter.

July 18, 2016 Subsurface Temperatures.

You can now see that the El Nino is totally gone. The coolest water, however, is only reaching the surface from 130W to 155W. Either this La Nina is shy or it is a Modoki. Or it is just not happening as rapidly as one might have expected. I think it is not happening to the extent originally forecast. On the right you see every second week of this graphic historically so you can follow the progression. We do now see the cooler water at depth near South America reaching the surface as well as the upwelling of the Kelvin Waves. So that is fairly recent and showing up mostly in the Nino 1+2 Index.

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.  

SST Anomalies Hovmoeller

You read this Hovmoeller from bottom to top and you can clearly see how the El Nino ended and we flirted with La Nina but that has been a bit reversed. The blue colored water is more visible between 120W and 170W so it contributes to the ONI calculation but further east there are some El Nino remnants. They do not show up in the ONI calculations but they are there.

Recent CONUS Weather

Here is what May looked like:

May 30, 2016 30 Day Tempeature and Precipitation Departures

The final days of this El Nino behaved like an El Nino. Quite interesting.

But looking at a longer time period in this 90 days or approximately three months.  

May 30, 2016 90 Day Tempeature and Precipitation Departures

Looking at the three months (March - May), it certainly at least with respect to precipitation was more like a La Nina event than an El Nino event. Except for Texas. Northern California caught up and Northeast Mexico also. But Arizona, New Mexico and Southern California did not participate in this El Nino in 2016 although they did in the Fall of 2015. Variability is the norm

And then we started to track June.

Here is the 30 day period through June 25.

June 27, 2016, 30 Day Temperature and Precipitation Departures

It has sure been dry. I has also sure been warm.

Here is the 30 day period through July 3. It completes the month of June.

July 4, 2016, 30 Day Temperature and Precipitation Departures

Adding the seven days and removing the first seven days changed the precipitation picture for Arizona and Nevada and Texas. It also did so for the Northeast. It still presents mostly a warm and dry assessment of June, 2016..

And now we start to track July. Here is the temperature and precipitation anomalies for the 30 days ending July 9, 2016

July 11, 2016 30 Day temperature and precipitation departures.

And now one week later

July 18, 2016 30 Day temperature and precipitation departures.

The addition of one week and deletion of the earlier seven days really shows how dry the Southwest is actually the southern tier extending south to eastern Mexico. You can see a wet belt between the southern and northern dry belts. The temperature pattern is similar but moderated.

View from Australia

El Nino

Australia POAMA ENSO model run

Below is the discussion just released.

ENSO neutral, negative Indian Ocean Dipole strengthens

ENSO indicators in the Pacific Ocean remain neutral, while sea surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean show a strong negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD).

Latest values of the IOD index show the dipole has strengthened in recent weeks. Climate models indicate the negative IOD will persist through to the end of spring. A negative IOD typically brings above average rainfall to southern Australia during winter-spring, with cooler daytime temperatures across southern Australia, and warmer daytime and night-time temperatures in northern Australia. Find out more about the Indian Ocean Dipole on our website.

In the tropical Pacific Ocean, recent model outlooks indicate a reduced chance of La Niña in 2016. Most climate models indicate the central Pacific Ocean will continue to cool, but only two of eight models show La Niña values through the southern spring. Recent observations of cloudiness, trade winds and the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) show little change from normal patterns. These observations, combined with current climate model outlooks, means the Bureau's ENSO Outlook remains at La Niña WATCH. This means the likelihood of La Niña forming in 2016 remains a 50% chance.

Typically during La Niña, winter-spring rainfall is above average over northern, central and eastern Australia. If La Niña does develop, climate models indicate it will not be as strong as the most recent La Niña of 2010–12, which was one of the strongest La Niña on record.

IOD (Indian Ocean Dipole)

IOD POAMA Model Run

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

Indian Ocean Dipole outlooks

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) remains negative, with cool SST anomalies present in the northwest of the Indian Ocean and warm anomalies over the eastern and central parts of the basin. The index value to 17 July was −1.30 °C.

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) index has been below the −0.4 °C negative IOD threshold for eight weeks. Last week’s index value, −1.37 °C, was the most negative value of the index in at least the past 15 years.

International climate models indicate the negative IOD will persist over the southern winter and spring.

A negative IOD typically brings above average rainfall to southern Australia during winter–spring, cooler than normal daytime temperatures to southern Australia, and warmer daytime and night-time temperatures to northern Australia.

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

Weather in the News

Nothing to report

Global Warming in the News

Better Understanding gained of Antarctic Ice Melt

Putting it all Together.

This El Nino has ended in terms of currently satisfying the criteria. It is possible that officially it may not be declared dead until the end of July because the  Apr - May - June value of the ONI at -0.7 satisfies the 0.5 cutoff.

We are now speculating on the winter of 2016/2017 which now according to most (but not all) of the models seems likely to be a La Nina or Neutral with a La Nina bias.

The below is first the CPC/IRI (Late Month) forecast issued on June 16, 2016. followed by the newly released (Early Month) forecast issued on July 14, 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.

June 20, 2016 IRI-CPC ENSO Plume Analtsus
And here is the updated report.

July 16, 2016, CPC/IRI ENSO Analysis

Notice that with this release, the probabilities for La Nina have been pushed out another month. The methodology of these two graphics are different but I think the results are consistent with other information that is available. According to the CPC/IRI forecast, the La Nina is coming but not as quickly as some had thought. It is not that significant as the key winter period remains as being predicted to be a La Nina but not as strong as originally thought. Two graphics down is the JAMSTEC forecast which does not conclude that the cooling SST's in the ONI Measurement Area will reach the level of La Nina criteria.

One more chart.

July 18, 2016 ENSO Report on earlier IRI/IPC Plume Analysis with comments.

I have included this only because of the NOAA Commentary that the dynamical models and statistical models disagree on the timing slightly.

We have suggested that it is possible that some of the models and in particular NOAA's model 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.

 CFS.V2 SST Forecast

The mean of the NOAA model was until recently forecasting a fairly strong La Nina for next winter. The model gradually shifted to a weak La Nina Forecast and now to a marginal La Nina Forecast. Notice the blue members of the ensemble forecast which are the more recent ones. This week they suggest a slightly deeper La Nina. The mean of the model ensemble for the ONI has recently turned higher (less La Nina-ish) for the second half of the coming winter as you can see. Is the Mean of the forecast ensemble for the key period NDJ below -0.5?  It  seems to be right now (-0.8?) but not by much or for very long. You can see the same thing in the Australian POAMA model and the July 1 JAMSTEC model run.

We now have the JAMSTEC forecast but not yet their commentary

July 1, 2016 JAMSTEC ONI Forecast

It is not  predicting a La Nina. Notice the forecast shows a decline in the ONI followed by a small recovery (that has indeed occurred probably due to MJO activity) and then additional cooling this winter but not meeting the criteria for a La Nina designation. Then it shows warming not meeting the criteria for El Nino designation. It is a fluid situation.

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 significantly increased. It may be in progress. It looks like it will require one more La Nina and this appears to be the way this will unfold. 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. That seems to be slow to happen so I am thinking we need at least a couple more years for that to happen..maybe as many as five.

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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