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posted on 15 August 2016

August 15, 2016 Weather and Climate Report - Is La Nina Likely?

Written by Sig Silber

Is Fall coming early this year?

JAMSTEC has updated their two-year ENSO forecast but not yet released the discussion. But the Model results indicate ENSO Neutral not La Nina. Australia has updated their ENSO forecast and it also is Neutral. The Queensland Worldwide Precipitation Forecast is based on ENSO Neutral. If ENSO was determined on a daily or weekly basis we would today be declared to be in La Nina but it requires La Nina conditions to exist for a considerable duration and that occuring appears to be questionable at best. 



If JAMSTEC is correct, CONUS (except for the Northwest) will be dry for September, October and November. Southeast China and Eastern Africa will be dry also. Northern Europe will also be dry.

JAMSTEC SON Precip from August 1 Model run

Queensland Australia has a slightly different perspective and they are  covering August - September and October (rather than SON) so they have the Southwest Monsoon in their forecast. They are also not as clear in their wording as they might be. I am assuming that they mean that if the probability of exceeding median rainfall is 50% you get the median. If the probability is greater than 50% you have wetter than normal and if the probability is under 50% it is less wet than normal. But I am not positive that I have interpreted in correctly as I have not reviewed their research materials in a while. But I am pretty sure I am correct in my interpretation.

Queensland SOI based Precip forecast based on June/July 2016 SOI

I found this list of years with similar recent SOI history also to be very useful.

1881, 1887, 1890, 1891, 1894, 1895, 1897, 1902, 1904, 1907, 1908, 1913, 1915, 1922, 1927, 1929, 1930, 1932, 1935, 1942, 1944, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1978, 1980, 1983, 1990, 1991, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2014, 2016. For the U.S., you will see some drought years in that list. At any rate, these are years when the SOI was near zero for June and July. The SOI or Southern Oscillation Index simply compares the air pressure over the Island of Tahiti with the Air Pressure at Darwin Australia. Why that simple comparison can be used to predict Worldwide precipitation is a mystery but it is confirmed. Near Zero (plus or minus 5) for this Index is part of the definition of ENSO Neutral. More information on the approach can be found here.

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.

Atmospheric Rivers (Click to read full WunderBlog Dr. Bob Henson article)

 Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, Scripps/UCSD.

Image credit:Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, Scripps/UCSD.  The scale is water content but with a velocity component also as in kilograms per meter per second. I am not sure how that works as "m" is a one dimensional metric. I think the explanation is that they integrate the moisture from the ground up to 500 mb. At any rate, redder is wetter.

Click Here for 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 "click here". You can adjust the settings to show Temperature or many other things for THE WORLD. It 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 which now is only two months away. .

7 Day 500 MB Geopotential Forecast

Not sure one can rely on this graphic to locate the Four Corners High. If it showed up on this graphic, one could draw or imagine a one-inch or so in radius circle overlain on the Four Corners High with an arrow showing the wind pattern is clockwise (anticyclone), one can imagine where moisture might be being drawling into the edge of the High Pressure System. What  you can see is the forecast of a major Great Lakes Trough. You might see an "L" on or near Southern California. The comings and goings of that L is being hotly debated by meteorologists and what it does will have a big impact on Southwest weather.

The MJO has had significant impacts this winter but the impact on August is not likely to be very noticeable other than alternatively accelerating and decelerating the development of the La Nina. It is forecast to be more significant in September. But that is seeming to be less likely i.e. the forecasts of the MJO are all over the place and not suggesting a strong Active or Inactive Phase of the MJO any time soon. It may be October before it really is able to be factored in.

Western Pacific Tropical Activity

The above graphic which I believe covers the area from the Dateline west to 100E and from the Equator north to 45N `normally shows the movement of tropical storms towards Asia in the lower latitudes and the return of storms towards CONUS in the mid-latitudes. This is recent data in motion (last 24 hours) not a forecast.

Eastern Pacific 

The above is the Eastern Pacific again a 24hr loop of recent readings. I wish I know how to join them and show them side by side. Below is the current water vapor Imagery.for North America. 

 Water Vapor Imagery

Last week I said: " Looking at this graphic I am not real impressed as it looks like there is not much left of Javier." Turns outs I was correct as Javier basically  died in place. So we had a Monsoonal Burst but it was minimal at best.
Tonight, as I am looking at the above graphic Monday evening August 15 (and this is the current situation not an animation of recent history), the Monsoonal Moisture Boundary (MMB) is not crossing the Arizona and Western New Mexico border. There is some activity over by Texas and Eastern Texas at that.

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 except for the Southwest Monsoon.

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 August 9, 2016 Version and looking at Week 2 of that forecast.
Tropical Hazards

Mostly for the period August 17, 2016 to Aug 23, 2016, I see a small dry anomaly impacting mostly Panama and another moderate likelihood dry anomaly for the Maritime Continent (not very La Nina-ish) and a moderate likelihood of tropical cyclone activity in a band that could impact the Philippines and Vietnam and the southern tip of India below an area with moderate likelihood of dry conditions. There are also some moderate likelihood of wet anomalies for 10N in Africa.

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 continues to be a single band of tropical moisture and it is down by Southern Mexico and Central America. In general the tropical storms are not curving around and coming aground but heading out to sea rapidly. There is subtropical moisture that creates the occasional thunderstorm. Things could improve quickly but for now it is a minimal Monsoon (The Phoenix NWS refers to the Monsoonal situation as "High Grade", "Low Grade" and "No Grade". This is definitely No Grade at this point. I am skeptical about this Monsoon really starting to impact CONUS in a significant way on a consistent basis. Where I live in the Santa Fe New Mexico area, it feels like Fall is here. Summer is over.

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.  But there is a little Low in the Bering Straights.
The High Pressure off of California, the familiar RRR, is here and quite large and strong. The RRR continues to do a good job of 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. But it is so far north and offshore that one sees the Low that has formed off California. That Low will have impacts. 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. For CONUS, we do not see a lot of strong Highs or Lows. You can look at the difference in the shown air pressure for the Highs and the Lows and it is not a larger differential.

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 and over Canada and again is further south than usual for this time of the year. The sub-Jetstream level intensity winds shown by the vectors in this graphic are very important.  Last week it looked like they might enable moisture from Tropical Storm Javier to enter the CONUS circulation but that did not happen. Now they tend to disrupt the generation of tall cumulus clouds in Arizona and New Mexico which are needed to have a significant precipitation from the Southwest Monsoon. West and Northwest winds sweeping into Southern California and Arizona and even extending into Northern Mexico are likely to be  suppressing the Southwest Monsoon. They suggest that Fall is here.

Current Jet Stream

And below is the forecast out five days with a continuation of the overall northern tendency in the pattern but a somewhat reduction in the tendency for the westerlies to 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. Some days they are cooperating and some days they are not. Notice the vectors with easterly and  southeasterly direction entering California. This will impact the Monsoonal Moisture Plume. But it is important to understand that 300 mb is about 30,000 feet so the Monsoon can operate under the features shown in this graphic.

air pressure and altitude

Also the ideal situation is for the mid-level to be cooler than the Boundary Level. You need to have a steep decline in temperature at higher altitudes for the atmosphere to be unstable and create a significant number of healthy clouds and storms. The Devil is in the details.So there can be very higher PWATs i.e. the amount of moisture in the water column at a particular location but still no precipitation if there is no convection. A PWAT of 1.2 inches of water is sort of a summer trigger point,  Levels much higher than 1.2 inches of water could lead to hail. But in the absence of instability, nothing happens. Those westerlies are one reason why there has been less instability than optimal for the Southwest Monsoon to be productive.

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

Remember this discussion is all about anomalies not absolute it is deviation from seasonal norms.
The waters off of Japan remain warm. The Indian Ocean is now mixed: cool especially off of Africa and also off the southern coast of Australia. But water northwest of Australia to Indonesia is warm and suggestive of a La Nina Warm Pool. The waters off of New Zealand are warm to the north but not the south. The waters south of Africa are warm.
The overall Northern Pacific is perhaps PDO Positive (the horseshoe pattern with the cool anomaly inside the horseshoe shape) but is not as obvious and may not record as PDO+ as the waters just off the West Coast are cool not warm. The cool anomaly now is a belt south of a large intense warm anomaly. 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 and now down to +0.18 for July. 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 west of South America is not showing much of a strong La Nina pattern even though El Nino is history. There is a 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. It is gradually stretching west. But the connection to Ecuador is weak. It is a La Nina pattern but too weak yet to qualify as an official La Nina. The water off the West Coast of North America is warm but only off of Baja California and that anomaly seems to be drifting away from the coast. The remnants of El Nino have circled back and are mostly dissipated. Further north, the Gulf of Alaska is quite warm. That really is the most impressive feature of the overall pattern.
The water off the East Coast of CONUS is very warm covering a large area. The list of Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) values can be found here. Further north in the Atlantic east of Newfoundland the North Atlantic is becoming warmer than normal and the cool anomaly seems to be fading. There is now a cool anomaly off shore of Northwest Africa. The waters north of Antarctica East of South America are uniformly colder than climatology but we see some warm anomalies north of that pattern and partially intruding into that pattern. 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.  

August 15, 2015 four week change in 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 a slightly different pattern of cooling along the Equator in the Pacific. On a relative basis the Eastern Pacific along the Equator off of Ecuador is relatively unchanged but the pattern is lightly shifted to the south. The Indian Ocean no longer continues to cool relative to the graphic from last week. In fact the warming in the western part of the Indian Ocean especially off of the Arabian peninsula is sightly more extreme in this weeks graphic. The U.S. West Coast continues to show a cooling trend especially off of California. We now see mid-latitude cooling in the Mid-Atlantic and the Atlantic version of La Nina along the Equator. The warming in the North/Central Pacific is this week less intense.  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 ASO Outlook (for reference purposes), the updated Outlook for the single month of August, the 6 - 10 Day and 8 - 14 Day Maps and the Week 3 -  4 Experimental Outlook

First - Temperature

Here is the Three-Month ASO Temperature Outlook issued on July 21, 2016:

ASO Temperature Outlook Issued on July 21, 2016

Here is the Updated Temperature Outlook for August Issued on July 31, 2016

August  Temperature Outlook Updated on July 31, 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 August 15 (two of the five update each day and one updates every Friday), it appears that the main features through September 9 will during the second half of August be a warm Northwest and East Coast and a sliver of the Western Gulf Coast with a huge cool area in the center of CONUS with this pattern continuing into September with a warm East Coast and Northwest but with a reduced-in-size cool anomaly in the Central Plains States. Unlike last week, this looks feasible at the start of September but will that pattern hold through the first week of September. Alaska starts warm and remains warm.

Now - Precipitation 

Here is the three-month ASO Precipitation Outlook issued on July 21, 2016:

ASO Precipitation Outlook Issued on July 21, 2016

And here is the Updated Outlook for August Precipitation Issued on July 31, 2016

August 2016  Precipitation Outlook Issued on July 31, 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 August 15 (two of the five update each day and one updates every Friday), it looks like precipitation leading up to September 9 is tending for the second half of August to be wet in the Central Part of CONUS with a dry Northwest, Southwest and in some forecasts Florida with the pattern continuing into early September except that the dry anomaly in the Northwest and Southwest becomes EC and the central wet anomaly shrinks in size. The above week 3-4 graphic updates automatically on Fridays.

You may notice that the precipitation and temperature anomalies tend to be opposites. That is a common summer pattern where wetter means cooler and drier means warmer. In the winter, snow means cooler to some extent. Right now NOAA is using their precipitation forecast to figure out where there will be relief from a very hot summer.

Here is the NOAA rather abbreviated discussion released today August 15, 2016.

6-10 DAY OUTLOOK FOR AUG 21 - 25  2016





8-14 DAY OUTLOOK FOR AUG 23 - 29 2016 




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 ENSO events.

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.





Other Comments

August 12, 1953 Neutral N(t) +  
August 6, 1966 Neutral - N  
August 4, 1981 Neutral + -  
July 31, 1991 El Nino N(t) - Modoki Type I or II
August 1, 1991 El Nino N(t) - Modoki Type I or II
August 8, 1998 La Nina -(t) + Following the 1997 MegaNino
August 28, 1998 La Nina -(t) + Following the 1997 MegaNino


(t) = a month where the Ocean Cycle Index has changed or does change the following month.

One thing that jumped out at me right away was the spread among the analogs from July 31 to August 28 which is exactly 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 August 14. These analogs are centered on 3 days and 4 days ago (August 11 or 12). So the analogs are pretty much in sync with the calendar but perhaps two or three days later in the season than the typical  summer. That is a very small difference. 

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.

There is this time two El Nino Analogs (why are there any?), two La Nina Analogs, and three ENSO Neutral Analogs. The phases of the ocean cycles in the analogs are inconclusive with respect to McCabe Conditions. But many of the analogs seem to be associated with changes in the Phase of the PDO.

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
Aug 9   +9.04 +4.21 +2.69
Aug 10 +11.41 +4.16 +2.93
Aug 11   +7.46 +3.88 +3.03
Aug 12   +1.70 +3.82 +3.02
Aug 13    -1.64 +4.45 +2.96
Aug 14    -2.31 +4.96 +2.86
Aug 15    -4.31 +5.12 +2.81


The 30-day average, which is the most widely used measure, as of August 15 is reported at +5.14 which is up from last week and is marginally La Nina. How can that happen when you are recording negative daily values. It is the miracle of moving averages. You add a day and it places a day 31 days ago. If you add a negative number but remove an even more negative number the moving average become more positive. I am not sure exactly what days were removed but they probably include some or all of the below. The 195 etc is the day of the year. I could figure it out exactly but I am not that interested. The 30 day average probably will be a lower number next week. .

2016 195  -13.43

2016 196  -16.43

2016 197  -10.30

2016 198    -9.84

2016 199    -6.84

The 90-day average at +2.81 which is unchanged from last week and is ENSO Neutral . 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 disparity between the two is one reason why we look at both. 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. August will not be particularly favorable for La Nina development but it may happen anyway but September is likely to be more favorable for the development of La Nina in terms of the MJO. It is complicated in that some models predict a strong active MJO for September which normally means westerlies. But the reports I am reading suggest that there will be westerlies west of the Dateline and Easterlies east of the Dateline which may work to create a La Nina Modoki. It should be interesting to see how this plays out.

Low-Level Wind Anomalies

Here are the low-level wind anomalies. We now see westerly anomalies off of Ecuador which are to some extent retarding the development of the La Nina.

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 other than west of the Dateline.

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. There was a period of time when that website was up and down but it appears to be functioning well recently. :

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 coolest water at the surface shows up only in small isolated areas.  Water of La Nina coolness but not very intense shows up along the Equator from 170W to the Coast of Ecuador. But there are pockets of water slightly warmer than -0.5C mixed in.

The bottom half of the graphic (Absolute Values which highlights the Thermocline) is now more useful as we track the progress of this new Cool Event.

It shows the thermocline between warm and cool water. The 28C Isotherm is still located at about 170W  but seems to have moved to the west just a bit. 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 just east of 170W so we do not have significant convection along the Equator east of the Dateline. The 25C isotherm is just west of 140W. The 20C Isotherm has moved closer to the surface and may be intersecting it at at about 110W.   But the amount of warm water just west of the Dateline is not real impressive either but growing but staying fairly far east. 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. This graphic helps understand the logic behind some of the forecasts of the ONI. We now pretty much have La Nina conditions both in terms of water temperatures and the SOI but it appears to be transitory in the sense of moving back to Neutral very soon.

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


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.

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

As of Today

May 23, 2016

As of Today

May 23 2016

As of 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







0C or cooler Anomaly







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







-1C or cooler Anomaly







-1.5C or cooler Anomaly*









If you just look on the Equator, there are 50 degrees of Longitude of La Nina anomalies which is the maximum possible as the ONI Measurement Area is 50 degrees of Longitude wide. There are 50 degrees of Neutral to La Nina and that also is the maximum possible since the ENSO Measurement Area only stretches for 50 degrees. Subtracting 50 degrees from the 50 degrees you end up with 0 degrees of ENSO Neutral and 50 degrees of water cool enough to qualify as La Nina i.e. temperature anomalies more negative than -0.5C. But there is zero water along the Equator in the ONI Measurement that is -1.5C or less which would be cool enough to be a  strong La Nina when just looking at the Equator. But the ONI Measurement Area extends 5 degrees of Latitude North and South of the Equator so the above table is just a guide and a way of tracking the changes. Away from the Equator it is generally warmer when a La Nina is trying to get started. The water from 3N to 5N and from 3S to 5S is still relatively warm especially west of 150W so that probably is why the ONI is still Neutral or as it is today just marginally meeting the La Nina temperature requirement. 

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 August 15, in the afternoon working from the August 14 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 +0.0 +0.3
B. 160W to 150W -0.2 -0.5
C. 150W to 140W -0.8 -0.8
D. 140W to 130W -0.9 -0.9
E. 130W to 120W -0.6 -0.8
Total -2.5 -2.7
Total divided by five subregions i.e. the ONI (-2.5/5 = -0.5 (-2.7)/5 = -0.5


My estimate of the daily Nino 3.4 ONI is again -0.5.  NOAA has reported the weekly ONI to be -0.6 which is La Nina territory.  My calculation, which is based on a visual integration. was very close to coming out as -0.6 so I do not see the difference between my estimated and NOAA's estimate to be significant. Nino 4.0 is reported as being slightly less warm at at -0.1.  Nino 3 is being reported as slightly cooler at -0.7.  Nino 1 + 2 which extends from the Equator south rather than being centered on the Equator is being reported quite a bit cooler at +0.1.  WE REMAIN IN ENSO Neutral BUT WE HAVE HAD OUR Fifth LA NINA WEEKLY REPORT.  Five weeks are 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 but other information suggests the ONI readings will soon be less negative. 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.  NINO 1+ 2 stubbornly remains positive and determines the weather of Ecuador and Peru.

August 15, 2016 Nino Readings

ONI Recent History

August 8, 2016 ONI History

The official reading for May/Jun/Jul is now reported as +0.2. So  this El Nino is now officially over. 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 has now ended 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.

August 15, 2016 Subsurface Temperatures.

You can now see that the El Nino is totally gone however there is warm water west of the Dateline. The coolest water, however, is only reaching the surface from 135W to just east of 140W which is less than 10 degrees of longitude. 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. Further to the east outside of the ONI Measurement Area cool water is reaching the surface. At about 120W there is a break in the cold pool. That is not a sign that this is a healthy cool event. Right now we have westerly anomalies off the coast of Ecuador.  On the right you see every second week of this graphic historically so you can follow the progression. Notice how the subsurface cool anomaly has shrunk over time. It does not really look smaller compared to two weeks ago but there are pockets of lighter blue interior to the cool anomaly. The coldest water is ever so slightly moving to the west where it will not impact the ENSO Measurement Area if it surfaces there.

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. This Hovmoeller provides a good way to visually see the evolution of this ENSO event.  

SST Anomalies Hovmoeller

You read this Hovmoeller from bottom to top and you can clearly see how the El Nino ended and we are flirting with La Nina.

I do not usually show this NOAA Hovmoeller. It is similar to the above but reports the anomalies down to 300 meters but only on the Equator. If is useful in terms of estimating the subsurface cooling or warming that is in reserve. That heat content does not impact current weather but will impact future weather as it impacts the surface.

August 8, 2016 Upper Ocean Heat Anomalies

When I have shown it, I usually use the version that auto-updates but this version is a lot clearer. I use it mostly to show the Kelvin Waves. But I am showing it this time because it shows the deterioration of the cool anomaly. So the Upwelling phase of the prior Kelvin Wave is waning. That makes the La Nina call by some of the models suspect. I am showing last week's version above this text box followed by this week's version below this text box. You can clearly see the larger areas of lighter blue at the bottom which are the current readings. For the moment, this potential La Nina is dying. So the NOAA ONI readings are properly considered to be artifact.

August 15, Upper Ocean Heat Anomaly

Recent CONUS Weather

Since it is not mid-Summer not Spring, I have decided to no longer show May.

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 track July. Here is the temperature and precipitation anomalies for the 30 days ending July 30, 2016

August 1, 2016 30 Day temperature and precipitation departures.

We are now able to take a look at the three-month history or at least a 90 day history which is basically May through July.

August 1, 2016, 90 day Temperature and Precipitatin Departures.

Re precipitation, it is a similar pattern but not nearly as extreme. The Temperature departures a a bit different as in July the heat anomaly extended to the East Coast.

And now we start looking at August.

August 8, 2016 30 Day temperature and precipitation departures.

Not much  change from the  30 days ending July 30 which is two graphics above as the 90 day history is right above this graphic.

And now the 30 days ending August 13, 2016.

August 15, 2016 30 Day temperature and precipitation departures.

Same pattern but less intense.

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. POAMA is not currently predicting a La Nina. POAMA is the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) proprietary forecasting model. BOM also consults the other international forecasting models and after that consultation is not forecasting a La Nina at this point in time as per below. Notice they use a different standard than NOAA namely + or - 0.8 rather than the + - 0.5 that NOAA sues. But even with the NOAA Standard, POAMA would not be forecasting a La Nina.even though right now the ONI is at a La Nina level based on NOAA criteria. But with NOAA criteria the duration must be five overlapping three month periods which is about the same as seven months but with some leeway to not meet the criteria for a particular month. Five weeks does not make a La Nina.

La Niña WATCH remains; negative Indian Ocean Dipole weakens

The tropical Pacific Ocean persists at neutral El Niño—Southern Oscillation levels. However, the possibility of a weak La Niña in 2016 remains. In the Indian Ocean, a negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) continues, but has weakened in recent weeks. The current event peaked in July as the strongest negative IOD event recorded in at least 50 years of record.

Climate models indicate the negative IOD will continue to steadily weaken over the southern hemisphere spring. This means its influence on Australian rainfall may lessen in the coming months. Rainfall has been well above average for large parts of Australia since May 2016 – which is a typical rainfall pattern observed during negative IOD events. During negative IOD events, southern Australia typically experiences above average winter and spring rainfall and cooler than average daytime temperatures. Northern Australia often experiences warmer than usual day and night-time temperatures.

In the Pacific Ocean, only two of eight international climate models monitored by the Bureau indicate La Niña is likely to develop during the austral spring, with two more indicating a possible late-forming event in summer. The remaining models suggest neutral or near-La Niña conditions. A La Niña WATCH remains in place, but if La Niña does develop it is likely be weak.

During La Niña, eastern Australia typically experiences above average spring rainfall, with the first rains of the wet season often arriving earlier than normal in northern Australia. Some La Niña-like effects can still occur even if thresholds are not met.

IOD (Indian Ocean Dipole)


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

Indian Ocean Dipole outlooks

The negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) event has weakened in recent weeks, with cool SST anomalies largely dissipating in the northwest of the Indian Ocean, although warm anomalies persist over eastern parts of the basin. The weekly index value to 14 August was −0.54 °C.

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) index has been below the −0.4 °C negative IOD threshold for twelve weeks, peaking at −1.4 °C in early July. The July 2016 monthly IOD index value reported in the ERSSTv4 dataset was the strongest negative value in at least 50 years of record. 

International climate models indicate the negative IOD will continue to steadily weaken during spring. This means its influence on Australian rainfall may lessen in the coming months.

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 Research in the News

Atmospheric Rivers

Weather in the News

Hurricane Earl

Gulf Coast Flooding

Global Warming in the News

Nothing to report.

Putting it all Together.

This El Nino has ended in terms of currently satisfying the criteria. We are now speculating on the winter of 2016/2017 which now according to some of the models seems likely to be a La Nina or Neutral with a La Nina bias. But Australia and Japan do not see it that way and are not calling for a La Nina at this point in time. So NOAA is a bit the Odd Man Out but it is mostly a question of degree. NOAA is calling for a borderline La Nina and the others are forecasting a La Nina-ish event that does not quite meet the criteria for being labeled a La Nina  and does not last long enough to meet the criteria.

The below is first the CPC/IRI (Late Month) forecast issued on July 21, 2016 followed by the (Early Month) forecast issued on August 11, 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  At this point I am showing the second report for July (last month) and the first report for August (current Month). .

First the Model-Based Forecast.

July 21, 2016, IRI-CPC Model-Based ENSO Analysis

And now the Meteorologist Consensus Based Analysis. I assume they do it this way as to avoid forcing meteorologists to have to run their computers twice a month (some sarcasm expressed there).

August 11, 2016 CPC/IRI Probabilistic ENSO Forecast.

Notice that with this release, the probabilities for La Nina remain similar to the July 21 analysis until the DJF three-month period when relative likelihood of ENSO  Neutral begins to gain on La Nina and in FMA the likelihood of ENSO Neutral surpasses the likelihood of La Nina. So that is a fairly significant change in a short period of time. But we have been predicting this would happen since we monitor what they are forecasting in Japan and Australia.

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 again suggest a slightly weaker La Nina  in the Fall with again a possible strengthening in the heart of winter. Is the Mean of the forecast ensemble for the key periods OND and  NDJ below -0.5?  It  seems to be right now (-0.6?) but not by much or for very long. You can see the same thing in the Australian POAMA model and the August 1 JAMSTEC model run. It takes JAMSTEC a while each month to get their results posted especially the discussion that goes with the model run. The mean of the model ensemble for the ONI in the NOAA model has recently turned higher (less La Nina-ish) for the Spring of the coming winter as you can see. So this is forecast to be a short La Nina if it indeed actually meets the criteria to be recorded as a La Nina which remains to be seen. I doubt that this will be recorded as a La Nina.

We now have the JAMSTEC August 1 ENSO forecast but not yet their commentary

August 1, 2016 JAMSTEC ONI Forecast

They are pretty clear that they are talking about ENSO Neutral for the next two years.

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 or ENSO Neutral event and this appears to be the way this might 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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