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posted on 03 January 2017

January 2, 2017 Weather and Climate Report - NOAA Updates January Outlook

Written by Sig Silber

The updated January Outlook has been released. The full-month forecast is dominated by the first week which has the extreme temperature anomalies. NOAA refuses to acknowledge that a La Nina never fully materialized and the previously cool ENSO event is now ENSO Neutral. This is a bureaucratic problem, among other things, and on January 12 I believe that the troops will be given permission to say that we are now in ENSO Neutral. Government in Action. One has to respect the hierarchy.

 weather.caption

First some housekeeping information. For those who want the forecasts beyond three months, we reported previously on the December 15 NOAA 15-Month Forecast and compared the first nine months of the NOAA Outlook with that of JAMSTEC in a special Update that you can get to by clicking here. We will of course publish a new 15 Month Update Report shortly after January 19, 2017. Remember if you leave this page to visit links provided in this article, you can return by hitting your "Back Arrow", usually top left corner of your screen just to the left of the URL box.

NOAA Update of their January Outlook

NOAA has, as usual, issued an update for the month following the last day of the prior month. This update was issued on December 31 and rather than have a Special Update that covers simply the next month, we combined that report with our Regular Weekly Report and we will discuss that first by comparing the Updated Outlook for January to the Early Outlook for January issued on December 15, 2016. 

Temperature

Prior Outlook Issued on December 15, 2016

January Early Temperature Outlook Issued on December 15, 2016

Updated Outlook Issued on December 31, 2016

Updated Temperature 2017 Outlook Updated on December 31, 2016

The new Temperature Outlook is a lot cooler in the Northwest and the warm anomaly now includes the Mid-Atlantic States but no longer extends further west into Southern California.

Precipitation

Prior Outlook Issued on December 15, 2016

January Precipitation Early Outlook Issued on December 15,  2016

Updated Precipitation Outlook Issued on December 31, 2016

January 2017, Precipitation Outlook Updated on  December 31, 2016

The Upper Great Lakes wet anomaly is gone. The Northwest wet anomaly is larger. There is now a Southeast wet anomaly with a dry Southern Florida. The Southern Tier dry anomaly has been reduced to West Texas.

Below is the discussion issued with this update.

PROGNOSTIC DISCUSSION FOR MONTHLY OUTLOOK NWS CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER COLLEGE PARK MD 300 PM EST SAT DEC 31 2016

30-DAY OUTLOOK DISCUSSION FOR JANUARY 2017

THE MAJOR CLIMATE FACTORS IMPACTING THE JANUARY OUTLOOK HAVE NOT CHANGED SIGNIFICANTLY. RECENT SST ANOMALIES OVER THE CENTRAL PACIFIC REMAINED NEGATIVE, WITH WEEKLY VALUES NEAR THE THRESHOLD FOR LA NINA [Editor's Note: NOAA-Speak for there is no La Nina]. THE ATMOSPHERIC PATTERN REMAINS INCONSISTENT WITH A ROBUST MJO, SO THE MJO WILL LIKELY NOT PLAY A ROLE IN THE JANUARY TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION PATTERNS. EXTRATROPICAL MODES OF VARIABILITY ARE LIKELY TO DOMINATE THE PATTERN OVER NORTH AMERICA. SINCE THOSE MODES HAVE LOWER LEVELS OF PREDICTABILITY BEYOND ABOUT 14 DAYS, THE UNCERTAINTY IN THE LATTER HALF OF JANUARY REDUCES THE OVERALL CONFIDENCE.  

THE TEMPERATURE OUTLOOK REMAINS LARGELY THE SAME, THOUGH THE SIGNALS FOR BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES ACROSS THE NORTHWEST QUADRANT OF THE CONUS ARE MORE CERTAIN, SO PROBABILITIES ARE INCREASED. THE ANOMALIES FORECAST DURING THE FIRST 7 DAYS OF THE MONTH ARE LIKELY TO BE QUITE LARGE, SO EVEN WITH NEAR OR ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES DURING THE LATTER HALF OF THE MONTH, THE MONTHLY VALUES ARE LIKELY TO BE BELOW AVERAGE FOR THE NORTHWESTERN PORTION OF THE CONUS. THAT SIGNAL FOR BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES EXTENDS OVER SOUTHEAST ALASKA  AND THE ALASKA PANHANDLE. WARMTH EARLY IN THE PERIOD AND A PERSISTENT SIGNAL  FROM ABOVE NORMAL SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES FAVORS ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR WESTERN ALASKA. ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE STILL FAVORED FOR MUCH OF THE SOUTHERN CONUS AND THE NORTHEAST, WITH THE LATEST MODEL RUNS FAVORING ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES OVER THE MID-ATLANTIC RATHER THAN NEW ENGLAND. ABOVE NORM AL TEMPERATURES ACROSS THE SOUTHERN TIER IS CONSISTENT WITH THE SEASONAL SIGNALS, SO THAT SIGNAL WAS INCORPORATED INTO THE OUTLOOKS.

THE PRECIPITATION OUTLOOK IS MODIFIED TO REFLECT THE SHORTER TERM OUTLOOKS FOR HEAVY PRECIPITATION ACROSS THE SOUTHEAST DURING THE FIRST 7 DAYS OF THE MONTH, ALTHOUGH THE CLIMATE SIGNALS STILL FAVOR BELOW NORMAL PRECIPITATION FOR SOME OF THE SOUTHEAST, SO THE PROBABILITIES ARE KEPT LOWER. A STORM SYSTEM EARLY IN THE PERIOD, COMBINED WITH THE OUTLOOKS THROUGH 14 DAYS, FAVOR ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION ACROSS THE GREAT BASIN, CENTRAL AND NORTHERN ROCKIES, AND PACIFIC NORTHWEST. SIGNALS FOR THE LATTER HALF OF JANUARY FAVOR ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST AND NORTHERN ROCKIES, SO THE HIGHEST PROBABILITIES FOR ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION ARE ACROSS THE NORTHERN PORTION OF THE WESTERN CONUS.

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

January Plus January 2017  -  March 2017 Outlook

January and JFM 2016  Updated on December 31, 2016

One can mentally subtract the January Outlook from the three-month Outlook and create the Outlook for the last two months in the three-month period namely February and March 2017. If one does that you might conclude that:

Re temperature, there are parts of the West where to make the Three-Month average work out, February and March will need to be warm where it is cool in January but EC for the three-month period and have a higher probability of being warm in February and March where the three-month outlook is warm but January is only showing EC. Re precipitation, you have a similar situation for the Eastern half of CONUS. The probabilities for the Great Lakes down to Tennessee being wet for February and March may need to be higher than shown for the three-months as there is a need to catch up in areas where January is showing EC. Similarly some parts of the Southeast are shown as wet in January but dry for the three months. We discuss that in the following paragraph.  

One has to keep in mind that we are now subtracting a January Map issued on December 31 from a December 15 three-month map so it is less reliable than the exercise we went through in the special Update Report. We are assuming that the three-month outlook issued on December 15 would not change if it was released today. The results in the box above might be an indication of how February and March will differ from the three-month outlook or it might alternatively indicate how the three-month outlook might be modified if issued today. So the discussion in the paragraph above this may be overruled by a conclusion that the three-month outlook is no longer correct and the updated January Outlook is a better predictor of the three-month outlook than the three-month maps issued on December 15. The Southeast excluding Florida may fall into that category since January is shown as wet and the three months are shown as dry. It is not likely that February and March will have sufficiently high probabilities to be dry to overcome a wet January and still have the three-month period show as a dry anomaly.

Focus on Alaska and CONUS (all U.S. except Hawaii)

First Let us focus on the Current (Right Now to 5 Days Out) Weather Situation.

This graphic provides a good indication of where the moisture is. It is a bit different than just moisture imagery as it is quantitative.

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

Image credit:  Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, Scripps/UCSD.  More explanation can be found at Atmospheric Rivers (Click to read full Weather Underground Dr. Bob Henson article)

To turn the above into a forecasting tool click here and you will have a dashboard for a short-term forecasting model.

Notice that right now the major moisture inflow is mostly from the Gulf of Mexico and impacts the Gulf Coast and points north and east. There is also moisture crossing Baja California and potentially impacting the Southwest.

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 links provided below.

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.

U.S.  3 Day to  7 Day Forecasts

Below is a graphic which highlights the forecasted surface Highs and the Lows re air pressure on Day 3. The Day 6 forecast can be found here.

Day 3 Weather Forecast

The Aleutian Low is a non-split Low with central air pressure of hPa 988 centered over Kamchatka. The average sea level air pressure in the winter is 1001 hPa and 994 hPa for a non-split Low. This graphic changes every six hours.
The High Pressure off of the West Coast, the familiar RRR, has Central Pressure of 1048 hPa but is extremely displaced to the north and is reported as being a Blocking High moving the jet stream further north than its usual position. Thus, right now the RRR (Ridiculously Resilient Ridge) is for the moment doing its job of protecting the West Coast from Pacific storms. But storms can undercut this High as it is so far displaced north. We can see two Lows out in the Pacific and the one close to California is likely to have an impact. More on that later.
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. Remember this is a forecast for Day 3. It is not the current situation but Day 3 is not very far out.

This is perhaps a good place to describe what a "Canonical" La Nina looks like. It is part of a very good write up covering many topics which can be found here.

La Nina Pattern

For almost all of this Fall and Winter the Aleutian Low has been where the blocking high should be with the Pacific High pushed to the South. That is why that although this is clearly a cool ENSO pattern, the actual impacts have been somewhat different than one would expect from a Canonical La Nina. Right now the pattern is more consistent with this graphic.

You can enlarge the below daily (days 3 - 7) weather maps for CONUS by clicking on Day 3 or Day 4 or Day 5 or Day 6 or Day 7. These maps auto-update so whenever you click on them they will be forecast maps for the number of days in the future shown.

Short term forecasts

Here is the seven-day precipitation forecast. More information is available here.

Seven Day WPC Quantitative precipitation forecast

There is some activity on the Gulf Coast and East Coast but stronger activity involving California.

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. Remember that 540 relates to sea level.

7 Day 500 MB Geopotential Forecast

Thinking about clockwise movements around High Pressure Systems and counter- clockwise movements around Low Pressure Systems provides a lot of information.
What you can see in the above graphic is fairly zonal. NOAA talks about an East Coast trough and one can talk themselves into seeing it in this graphic. One can also see a West Coast trough.
Remember this is a forecast for Day 7. Note the 540 Thickness Line re the above discussion of thickness and snow likelihood. The 540 line on Day 7 now intrudes into CONUS mostly in the Northwest.

The graphic that I have been showing below was the Eastern Pacific a 24 hr loop of recent readings. When working, it does a good job of showing what is going on right now. When I published and in recent weeks, that graphic was not being displayed but the NOAA website indicated that was a temporary outage. So for the time being I have substituted a static version of that image which works almost as well. However you can obtain somewhat similar imagery loop image by clicking here. It actually provides more functionality than the either the previously or currently displayed version but you have to click to get it as I have not figured out how to get it to display otherwise. It is really cool imagery and explains a lot. For now you have the static image without clicking but can click to view a more elaborate loop image. The loop image provides a better feel for the speed at which things are taking place.

Eastern Pacific Static not Loop

The winds and moisture approaching the West are of most interest. You can clearly see activity that is impacting California.

I have stopped showing the Tropical events graphic. We are still having tropical events even though it is January but we can track them with the other graphics that I am presenting including the graphic above and below.  They are both the same graphic which you can tell by looking at the date and time stamp but the above graphic covers a larger area and is centered on the Eastern Pacific and the graphic below is centered on North America. That provides more resolution that trying to work with a single graphic that covers a larger fraction of Planet Earth. 

Below is the current water vapor Imagery for North America.

 Water Vapor Imagery

Tonight, Monday evening January 2, 2017 (and this is the current situation not an animation of recent history), as I am looking at the above graphic, we see a sharp division between Western and Eastern weather systems.

Looking at the current activity of the Jet Stream.

First the current situation. 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. The sub-Jetstream level intensity winds shown by the vectors in this graphic are also very important in understanding the impacts north and south of the Jet Stream which is the higher-speed part of the wind circulation and is shown in gray on this map. 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. This usually is more significant for the lower half of CONUS i.e. further south than the Jet Stream.

Current Jet Stream

One sees the current jet stream above. You  can see how it is crossing Mexico and taking storms south of CONUS at least as they impact the Southwest.

Now looking at the 5 Day Forecast

Jet Stream Five Days Out .

You can see it is zonal and only bringing subtropical moisture into CONUS from the Gulf of Mexico. In the West the pattern is more of bringing Arctic air south rather that subtropical warm air north.

Putting the Jet Stream into Motion and Looking Forward a Few Days Also

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.

When we discuss the jet stream and for other reasons, we often discuss different layers of the atmosphere. These are expressed in terms of the atmospheric pressure above that layer. It is kind of counter-intuitive to me. The below table may help the reader translate air pressure to the usual altitude and temperature one might expect at that level of air pressure. It is just an approximation but useful.

air pressure and altitude
Re the above, H8 is a frequently used abbreviation for the height of the 850 millibar level, H7 is the 700 mb level, H5 is the 500 mb level, H3 is the 300 mb level. So if you see those abbreviations in a weather forecast you will know what they are talking about.

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. This amazing graphic covers North and South America. It could be included in the Worldwide weather forecast section of this report but it is useful here re understanding the wind circulation patterns.

Four- Week Outlook

I am going to show the three-month JFM Outlook (for reference purposes although I do not have a lot of confidence in it), the Updated Outlook for the single month of January,  the 6 - 10 Day and 8 - 14 Day Maps and the Week 3 -  4 Experimental Outlook. I use "EC" in my discussions although NOAA sometimes uses "EC" (Equal Chances) and sometimes uses "N" (Normal) to pretty much indicate the same thing although "N" may be more definitive.  

First - Temperature

Here is the Three-Month JFM Temperature Outlook issued on December 15, 2016:

JFM 2017  Temperature Outlook Issued on December 15, 2016

Here is the Temperature Outlook for January Issued on December 31, 2016

January Early Temperature Outlook Issued on December 15, 2016

 6 - 10 Day Temperature Outlook Issued Today (Note the NOAA Level of Confidence in the Forecast Released on January 2 was 4 out of 5)

6 - 10 Day Temperature Outlook

8 - 14 Day Temperature Outlook Issued Today (Note the NOAA Level of Confidence in the Forecast Released on January 2 was 4 out of 5) 

8-14 Day Temperature Outlook

Looking further out.

Experimental Week 3-4 Temperature Outlook

Consolidation of 6 - 10, 8 - 14 and Experimental Week 3-4 Forecasts (interpreted on January 2, 2017

January 8 to January 16 January 14 to January 27

Alaska will be warm in the north and cool in the south, The Northwest will be cool. The  Southwest will be warm and the East will start cool but evolve to EC.

Alaska will remain warm to the north and cool to the South and the Alaskan Panhandle. It will be warm from Southern California to Michigan and points east with a small Northwest cool anomaly and EC in between. The transition to the patterns shown in the Week 3 - 4 Forecast seems to be a smooth transition.
Remember the Week 3-4 Experimental Outlook was issued last Friday and I am looking at the 6 - 10 and 8 - 14 day forecasts issued today i.e. Monday. So that explains the overlap of dates. Remember that the Week 3 - 4 Forecast covers two weeks so it can appear to not mesh perfectly but actually do so over the two-week period. At this point it meshes fairly well.

 

One concludes that the temperature is consistent with a near La Nina Pattern.

Now - Precipitation

Here is the three-month JFM Precipitation Outlook issued on December 15, 2016 that I do not have much confidence in.

JFM 2017 Precipitation Outlook Issued on Decemberf 15, 2016

And here is the Updated Precipitation Outlook for January issued on December 31, 2016

January 2017 Updatd Precipitation Outlook Issued on December 31, 2016

6 - 10 Day Precipitation Outlook Issued Today (Note the NOAA Level of Confidence in the Forecast Released on January 2 was 4 out of 5)

6 - 10 Day Precipitation Outlook

8 - 14 Day Precipitation Outlook Issued Today (Note the NOAA Level of Confidence in the Forecast Released on January 2 was 4 out of 5)

Current 8 - 14 Day Precipitation Outlook

Looking further out.

Weeks 3 and 4 Experimental Forecast..

Consolidation of 6 - 10, 8 - 14, and Week 3-4 Forecasts as of January 2, 2017
January 8  to January 16  January 14 to January 27, 2017
Alaska is wet north and dry for the south coast and the Panhandle. CONUS is wet from California to Utah and wet but less so across the Northern Tier. There is a dry anomaly in Texas and Florida. Much of CONUS  is wet and there is a well defined EC area between the wet and dry anomalies. 

There are three dry anomalies shown: one for the Alaskan south coast, a second for Southern Arizona and Southwest New Mexico and a large Southeast dry anomaly. The Northwest is wet and there is a wet swath from Eastern Oklahoma northeast to Western Ohio.

Remember the Week 3 - 4 Experimental Outlook was issued last Friday and I am doing this analysis on Monday which explains the overlap in dates.

 

The Precipitation seems to be more consistent with ENSO Neutral than either La Nina or El Nino since it is neither far to the North or far to the South.

Here is the NOAA discussion released today January 2, 2017

6-10 DAY OUTLOOK FOR JAN 08 - 12 2017

TODAY'S NUMERICAL MODEL SOLUTIONS ARE IN GOOD AGREEMENT ON THE 500-HPA FLOW PATTERN PREDICTED OVER THE FORECAST DOMAIN. ALL OF TODAY'S MODELS PREDICT AN ANOMALOUSLY STRONG RIDGE CENTERED NEAR THE WEST COAST OF ALASKA, A POSITIVELY TILTED DOWNSTREAM TROUGH CENTERED ACROSS BRITISH COLUMBIA, A FLAT RIDGE ACROSS  THE CONUS, AND ANOTHER TROUGH CENTERED NEAR THE EASTERN SEABOARD. ENSEMBLE SPREAD FOR THE CONUS IS LOW TO MODERATE, AS DEPICTED BY THE LATEST GFS, ECMWF, AND CANADIAN SPAGHETTI MAPS. THOUGH TODAY'S SOLUTIONS ARE ALL IN GOOD AGREEMENT, THE 0Z ECWMF ENSEMBLE MEAN WAS FAVORED, SINCE IT HAS SLIGHTLY OUTPERFORMED THE OTHER MODEL SOLUTIONS DURING THE PAST 60 DAYS ACROSS THE FORECAST DOMAIN.

ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE FAVORED OVER APPROXIMATELY THE SOUTHERN HALF OF CALIFORNIA, CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN PORTIONS OF BOTH THE INTERMOUNTAIN REGION AND THE ROCKIES, THE SOUTHERN GREAT PLAINS, LOUISIANA, AND OVER WESTERN AND NORTHERN PARTS OF ALASKA. THIS IS ATTRIBUTED TO A COMBINATION OF FACTORS, SUCH AS 500-HPA RIDGING AND/OR ABOVE-NORMAL 500-HPA HEIGHTS, AREAS AHEAD OF AN EXPECTED TROUGH, AND AREAS OF AGREEMENT BETWEEN A VARIETY OF DYNAMICAL TOOLS.BELOW-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE FAVORED OVER SOUTHEASTERN ALASKA INCLUDING THE PANHANDLE, FROM THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST AND NORTHERN CALIFORNIA EASTWARD ACROSS THE NORTHERN ROCKIES AND NORTHERN PLAINS TO THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY REGION, AND ALONG THE ATLANTIC COAST FROM MAINE TO NORTHERN FLORIDA. THIS IS DUE TO A COMBINATION OF FACTORS, SUCH AS NORTHERLY ANOMALOUS FLOW AND/OR BELOW-NORMAL 500-HPA HEIGHTS, AREAS BEHIND A MID-LEVEL TROUGH, AND AREAS OF AGREEMENT BETWEEN A VARIETY OF DYNAMICAL TOOLS.

ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED FOR MOST AREAS WEST OF THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE, FOR MOST OF THE ROCKIES, THE NORTHERN AND PORTIONS OF THE CENTRAL PLAINS, MOST OF THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY, THE GREAT LAKES REGION, THE OHIO AND TENNESSEE VALLEYS, AND THE NORTH SLOPE OF ALASKA. THIS IS ATTRIBUTED TO A COMBINATION OF FACTORS, SUCH AS ONSHORE FLOW, BROAD AREAS OUT AHEAD OF A MAJOR MID-LEVEL TROUGH, AND IN THE GENERAL VICINITY OF THE MEAN STORM TRACK. BELOW-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED FOR APPROXIMATELY THE SOUTHERN HALF OF ALASKA, THE SOUTHERN GREAT PLAINS, AND ACROSS THE GULF COAST AND SOUTHERN ATLANTIC COAST REGIONS. THIS IS DUE TO A COMBINATION OF FACTORS, SUCH AS DRY NORTHERLY ANOMALOUS FLOW, WEAK 500-HPA RIDGING AND ASSOCIATED ABOVE-NORMAL HEIGHTS, AND SUFFICIENT DISTANCE FROM THE MEAN STORM TRACK.

FORECAST CONFIDENCE FOR THE 6-10 DAY PERIOD: ABOVE AVERAGE, 4 OUT OF 5, DUE TO  GOOD AGREEMENT AMONG THE MODEL SOLUTIONS AND THE VARIOUS SURFACE TOOLS, AND A  HIGH-AMPLITUDE PATTERN FORECAST ACROSS ALASKA, BUT OFFSET SOMEWHAT FROM  EXPECTED LOW-AMPLITUDE FLOW ACROSS THE LOWER 48 STATES.

8-14 DAY OUTLOOK FOR JAN 10 - 16 2017 

THE ENSEMBLE MEANS ARE GENERALLY IN GOOD AGREEMENT FOR THE WEEK-2 PERIOD, THOUGH THEY FORECAST A SLIGHT WESTWARD SHIFT IN THE LOCATION OF THE RIDGE IN FAR WESTERN ALASKA (COMPARED TO DAYS 6-10). SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES APPEAR IN THE 0Z AND 6Z OPERATIONAL GFS SOLUTIONS, PRIMARILY AT HIGH LATITUDES. THESE TWO RUNS PREDICT THE RIDGE WILL SHIFT EVEN FARTHER WEST, ALLOWING A TROUGH (AND BELOW-NORMAL 500-HPA HEIGHTS) TO ENVELOP THE ENTIRE ALASKA MAINLAND. THE OPERATIONAL 0Z GFS SOLUTION ALSO FORECASTS BELOW-NORMAL HEIGHTS OVER MOST OF THE CONTIGUOUS U.S., SUBSTANTIALLY MORE THAN ALL OTHER MODEL SOLUTIONS.

THE SURFACE TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION FORECASTS FOR WEEK-2 ARE SIMILAR TO THOSE PREDICTED FOR DAYS 6-10, WITH ONLY RELATIVELY SMALL ADJUSTMENTS MADE. FOR TEMPERATURE, A WESTWARD SHIFT IN THE ANOMALY PATTERN IS ANTICIPATED ACROSS ALASKA, TO BE CONSISTENT WITH THE EXPECTED RETROGRESSION OF A 500-HPA RIDGE ACROSS THE BERING SEA. TEMPERATURES ARE ALSO PREDICTED TO MODERATE BY ONE CATEGORY ACROSS MUCH OF THE EASTERN THIRD OF THE CONUS. ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION OVER THE MIDWEST AND OHIO VALLEY DURING THE 6-10 DAY PERIOD IS FORECAST TO CONTINUE EASTWARD ACROSS THE NORTHEAST AND MID-ATLANTIC DURING WEEK-2.

FORECAST CONFIDENCE FOR THE 8-14 DAY PERIOD IS: ABOVE AVERAGE, 4 OUT OF 5, DUE TO GOOD AGREEMENT AMONG THE ENSEMBLE MEANS AND ASSORTED SURFACE TOOLS, BUT OFFSET BY SUBSTANTIAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE THREE LATEST OPERATIONAL GFS RUNS (0Z, 6Z, AND 12Z INTEGRATIONS).

THE NEXT SET OF LONG-LEAD MONTHLY AND SEASONAL OUTLOOKS WILL BE RELEASED ON  JANUARY 19

Some might find this analysis click to read interesting as the organization which prepares it focuses on the Pacific Ocean and 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.

Day

ENSO

Phase

PDO AMO

Other Comments

Dec 29, 1951 El Nino - +  
Jan 14, 1954 El Nino - + Tail End
Jan 12, 1957 Neutral - -  
Jan 13, 1957 Neutral - -  
Jan 14, 1962 Neutral - +  
Jan 4, 1968 La Nina - +  
Jan 5, 1968 La Nina - +  
Dec 20, 1970 El Nino - - Tail End
Jan 5, 1970 Neutral + -  

 

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

One thing that jumped out at me right away was the spread among the analogs from December 20 to January 14 which is 25 days which is a lot tighter than last week. 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 January 2. These analogs are centered on 3 days and 4 days ago (December 28 or December 29). So the analogs could be considered a bit out of sync with the calendar meaning that we will be getting weather that normally would occur three or four days later in a normal  year. Does this mean we are  headed for an early Sprint. It is way too soon to tell.

For more information on Analogs see discussion in the GEI Weather Page Glossary.

There are three El Nino Analogs (why are there any?), just two La Nina Analogs and three ENSO Neutral Analogs. Looks like the analogs are suggesting that ENSO Neutral Conditions Apply. The phase of the ocean cycles in the analogs points strongly towards McCabe Condition D and to a lesser extent McCabe Condition B. These are opposites and may not support the level of confidence that NOAA has in their 6 - 14 Day Forecasts. All but one of the analogs is associated with PDO Negative which I believe is the pattern in the Pacific right now. It is curious that all of the analogs are prior to the 1997/1998 Climate Shift in the Pacific and all but one are prior to the 1976/1977 Climate Shift in the Pacific. I have not had the time to try to see if that tells us anything.

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

McCabe Condition Main Characteristics
A Very Little Drought. Southern Tier and Northern Tier from Dakotas East Wet
B More wet than dry but Great Plains Dry
C Northern Tier and Mid-Atlantic Drought
D Southwest Drought extending to the North and also the Great Lakes

 

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.

Recent CONUS Weather

This is provided mainly to see the pattern in the weather that has occurred recently.

Here is the 30 Days ending December 24, 2016

December 24, 2016 30 Day temperature and precipitation departures.

Definitely wetter and shifted south rather than north as one would expect with a La Nina. With temperature the cool anomaly has expanded into the Plains States. Remember this graphic shows a 30 day average so 7 days are added and seven more distant days are removed. So it changes slowly.

And the 30 Days ending December 31, 2016

January 2, 2017 30 Day Temperature and Precipitation Departures

The  precipitation pattern has not changed much. The temperature pattern has but in the opposite direction than I would have expected with  a warmer eastern Southern Tier and more neutral Plains States. Remember that this is a 30 day average so seven recent days are added and seven distant days are removed.

B. Beyond Alaska and CONUS Let's Look at the World which of Course also includes Alaska and CONUS

Near Term

World Weather Forecast produced by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Unfortunately I do not know how to extract the control panel and embed it into my report so that you could use the tool within my report. But if you visit it Click Here you will be able to use the tool to view temperature or many other things for THE WORLD. It can forecast out for a week. Pretty cool. Return to this report by using the "Back Arrow" usually found top left corner of your screen to the left of the URL Box. It may require hitting it a few times depending on how deep you are into the BOM tool.

Although I can not display the interactive control panel in my article, I can display any of the graphics it provides so below are the current worldwide precipitation and temperature forecasts for three days out. They will auto-update and be current for Day 3 whenever you view them. If you want the forecast for a different day Click Here

Precipitation

BOM World Preciptation  Wednesday

Again the North Atlantic is interesting.                  

Temperature

BOM Current Temperature Wedensday

Australia and the Sahel are forecast to be unusually warm. 

Looking Out a Few Months

The new precipitation forecast from Queensland Australia was based on a rapidly rising SOI. That did not seem to be correct for October and November. Below are the numbers as of December 19. I am not confident in the 30 day and 90 day averages released this week due to a very extreme value released for December 23 so I have not updated the data below since December 19.

So I used the feature to create a forecast based on stable SOI and this is what was generated.

Stable near zero SOI  forecast for Jan - Mar 2017.

It is kind of amazing that you can make a worldwide forecast based on just one parameter the SOI and changes in the SOI. Recently, we ran a weather column with the Title El Nino or La Nina? The point of that article was simply that ENSO is not solid La Nina at this point. We are getting mixed signals. This project may be based on a mixed signal but it also is based on the lag between the SOI and weather impacts so it may be valid even if the SOI begins to increase now.

Here is the most recent JAMSTEC three-month Temperature Forecast. 
 

DJF 2016.2017 Temperature JAMSTEC

It is mostly warm but with notable cool areas in Northern Brazil, Australia, and Southern Canada and CONUS other than the Southwest. 

And here is the most recent three month JAMSTEC  Precipitation Forecast.

D 2016 JF Jamstec Precipitation Forecast

Of interest is the wet South America. South Africa and Australia and dry Maritime Continent and Japan. The Eastern Part of CONUS is wet.

And then to get more focus, I extracted and enlarged an image for CONUS on the left and Europe on the right.

 

For many purposes 55N latitude is the dividing line in Europe in regards to the Arctic Oscillation (AO) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) Impacts. You see that here with Scandinavia wet and southern Europe dry. It is suggestive of AO+. The NAO is highly correlated with the AO so  it is also suggestive of NAO +. For CONUS it is a La Nina pattern but different than shown below for NOAA and it is not a North/South divide. 

There is a short but very important JAMSTEC discussion:

Dec. 19, 2016  Prediction from 1st Dec., 2016

ENSO forecast:

According to the SINTEX-F prediction, the current La Niña Modoki/La Niña state will continue until late winter. Interestingly, majority of the ensemble members indicate recurrence of a moderate El Niño event in the latter half of 2017. It will be interesting if an El Niño event really evolves in 2017, which may suggest a decadal turnabout in the tropical Pacific climate condition to El Niño-like state after a long spell of La Niña-like state, which led to the global warming hiatus.

Indian Ocean forecast:

The negative Indian Ocean Dipole has started decaying and will be terminated by the end of 2016. Then we expect a positive Indian Ocean Dipole in summer of 2017. We also expect the Ningaloo Niño off the west coast of Australia in late austral summer, which may persist until late austral fall. However, the prediction plumes are spreading and those expectations are still uncertain at the present stage.

Regional forecast:

On a seasonal scale, most part of the globe will experience a warmer-than-normal condition, while some parts of northern U.S., southern Canada, northern Brazil, and Australia will experience a colder-than-normal condition in the boreal winter.

According to the seasonally averaged rainfall prediction, most parts of southeastern China, Indonesia, eastern Africa, eastern half of Europe including Italy, and Caribbean countries including Florida will experience a drier condition during winter, whereas the Philippines, the eastern U.S., and the western part of Europe will experience a wetter-than-normal condition. Most parts of Brazil, Australia and South Africa will experience a wetter-than-normal condition during austral summer. Most parts of Japan will be warmer and quite drier than normal in winter. However, we note that highly fluctuating mid- and -high latitude climate in winter may not be captured well by the current model.

Additional forecasts from JAMSTEC including future time periods can be found at this link.

Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Departures from Normal for this Time of the Year i.e. Anomalies

My focus here is sea surface temperature anomalies as they are one of the two largest factors determining weather around the World.

And when we look at the current Sea Surface anomalies below, we see a lot of them not just along the Equator related to ENSO.

Daily SST Anomaly

What happened to the presumed La Nina? Did it go into Hibernation? It will take a while to fade totally but there is less of it now than two months ago. The readings along the Equator in the Pacific vary dramatically day to day which reduces confidence in the reliability of this graphic. The weekly version only updates once a week so it is not necessarily a good alternative. Remember this discussion is all about anomalies not absolute temperatures...so it is deviation from seasonal norms. 
The Tropical Pacific is NEUTRAL in the Nino 3.4 Measurement area. The cool anomaly is slowly fading. The waters off the West Coast of South America have become quite warm.
The waters west and east of Japan have become warm but the waters south  and east of Kamchatka Siberia remain cool but not intense cool, The Central Indian Ocean is now mostly cool but south of the cool anomaly is a warm anomaly. The waters off the Southern Coast of Australia are also cool especially to the west but the Southeast Coast is warm. Water north of Australia is close to neutral. The waters south and southeast of Africa is warm but to the Southeast is cool. To the west of Africa especially in the Gulf of Guinea, the water is slightly warm.
The overall Northern Pacific cool anomaly remains about the same size and extending to the east. Warm water has developed to the south of the cool anomaly but closer to the Dateline and extending beyond the Dateline to Japan. The NOAA Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) Index as reported by NOAA (Washington University also reports the PDO but using a different methodology which results in higher index numbers) has been 2016-January 0.79, 2016- February 1.23, 2016- March 1.55, 2016- April  1.59. 2016- May 1.40, 2016-June 0.76, 2016-July 0.12, 2016-August-0.90, 2016- September -1.09, 2016- October -0.88 and now November +0.53. 
The above reading for November would make the PDO now POSITIVE (JAMSTEC Noticed). But to me it looks like PDO Negative right now.  Here is the list of PDO values.
The waters west of CONUS are now mostly neutral probably due to the northerly winds creating upwelling. But with the Central Pacific cool anomaly extending to the East the waters west of CONUS are beginning to be impacted.
The Gulf of California is neutral. Further north, the Gulf of Alaska is warm but only where it is very close to land with the Bering Straits also warm but not overly impressive,
The Black Sea is now almost neutral and the Caspian Sea is now cool. The Mediterranean is very slightly warm.
The U.S. Great Lakes are neutral. The North Atlantic is mixed. North of Scandinavia and to the east is warm. The Northern Gulf of Mexico is warm. The waters off the southern coast of CONUS is warm. The waters north of Antarctica East of South America are again cool but further out to sea and the coastal waters are now warm.
I have some additional commentary on this static analysis of the anomalies below where I examine the four-week change in these anomalies. The list of Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) values can be found here.
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 over the last four weeks. 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 is simply the current 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 week's version of the graphic to the prior week and report on the differences below.  

January 2, 2017 Four Week Change in Weekly 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 substantial warming along the Equator in the Pacific. It is a lot warmer over by South America. The Pacific cooling trend continues to be less impressive off the West Coast of North America. North of Australia the cooling trend is intensified especially to the West. The warming trend in the North Atlantic over by the British Isles is gone and off the extreme northern coast of North America the cooling trend has moderated but extends further out to sea. But further south there is a warming trend impacting the Southeast Coast of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (significantly) and the Antilles. West of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea the warming trend has stabilized in the Gulf of Guinea but remains further south but not all the way around the Cape into the Indian Ocean. East of South America the cooling trend has moderated but close to shore the waters are no loner warming. 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.  

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 December 27, 2016 Version and looking at Week 2 of that forecast.

Tropical Hazards

Mostly I see for Week Two (this graphic updates on Tuesdays and I post on Monday which is almost  a week later so Week Two applies unless I go back on Tuesday and update the discussion when the map updates), the period January 4, 2016 to January 10, 2017, it will likely be wet* for Northeast Australia and the Philippines.

* Moderate Confidence that weekly total rainfall will be in the upper third of the historical range.

Look at the Western Pacific in Motion. NOAA is having problems with their web site so I have temporarily substituted a static image but you can find a somewhat similar loop version by clicking here.  It actually provides more functionality than the displayed version but you have to click to get it as I have not figured out how to get it to display otherwise.

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 (Trade Winds) and the return of storms towards CONUS in the mid-latitudes (Prevailing Westerlies). This is recent data not a forecast. But, it ties in with the Week 1 forecast in the  graphic just above the graphic. Information on Western Pacific storms can be found here. This is an unofficial private source but one that is easy to read.

C. Progress of the Cool ENSO Event

A major driver of weather is Surface Ocean Temperatures. Evaporation only occurs from the Surface of Water. So we are very interested in the temperatures of water especially when these temperatures deviate from seasonal norms thus creating an anomaly. The geographical distribution of the anomalies is very important.
To a substantial extent, the temperature anomalies along the Equator have disproportionate impact on weather so we study them intensely and that is what the ENSO (El Nino - Southern Oscillation) cycle is all about.
Subsurface water can be thought of as the future surface temperatures. They may have only indirect impacts on current weather but they have major impacts on future weather by changing the temperature of the water surface.
Winds and Convection (evaporation forming clouds) is weather and is a result of the Phases of ENSO and also a feedback loop that perpetuates the current Phase of ENSO or changes it. That is why we monitor winds and convection along or near the Equator especially the Equator in the Eastern Pacific. 

Starting with Surface Conditions.

TAO/TRITON GRAPHIC (a good way of viewing data related to the part of the Equator and the waters close to the Equator in the Eastern Pacific  where we monitor to determining the current phase of ENSO. It is probably not necessary to follow the discussion below, but here is a link to TAO/TRITON terminology.

I have deleted many of the TAO/TRITON graphics we looked at when we were watching El Nino develop and decline. But I saved this 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. Since most of my graphics auto-update,  in order to be able to view a prior version of a particular graphic, I "freeze it" by basically cut and paste to a graphics file and then embed that "frozen graphic" in my article.

January 19, 2016 Frozen TAU/TRITON Graphic

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

The above should be compared to the bottom part of the following graphic. Notice the pattern is remarkably similar. The difference is that in January, the anomaly was a warm anomaly stretching from 130W to 160W and now it is a cool anomaly. When it was a warm anomaly, it was a 3C anomaly in the center ring. Now the center ring is a -0.5C anomaly. So this is opposite to last winter but the intensity is a third or less of the situation last winter.

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

Dec 12, 2016

May 23, 2016

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

175E

155E

Land

155W

90

50

95

50

0C or cooler Anomaly

175W

155W

LAND

Land

80

50

85

60

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

165W

135W

145W

145W

125W

Land

30

30

65

50

-1C or cooler Anomaly

LAND

140W

LAND

105W

0

0

40

35

-1.5C or cooler Anomaly

LAND

135W

LAND

120W

0

0

0

0

 

It is useful to start comparing the rightmost column to the column to the left of it. One can now usefully compare the current longitudinal extent of the water temperature anomalies with the situation on May 23, 2016. As of today the cool event is less prevalent along the Equator than it was on May 23 and the more recently established reference point of December 12, 2016.
If you just look on the Equator, there are 50 degrees of Longitude of Neutral to La Nina anomalies which is the maximum possible as the ONI Measurement Area is 50 degrees of Longitude wide and that also is the maximum possible since the ENSO Measurement Area only stretches for 50 degrees. There are today again only 30 degrees of water anomalies cool enough to be a La Nina. Subtracting 30 degrees from the 50 degrees you end up with 20 degrees of ENSO Neutral and 30 degrees of water cool enough to qualify as La Nina i.e. temperature anomalies more negative than -0.5C. There are today 0 degrees of water along the Equator in the ONI Measurement that is -1C or less which would be cool enough to be a moderate La Nina when just looking at the Equator and there are 0 degrees of -1.5C water. 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. The water from 3N to 5N and from 3S to 5S had until recently remained relatively warm. At 130W the warmer water is intruding from both the north and the south as the cool anomaly is being broken into two pieces as part of its transformation into ENSO Neutral.

I calculate the current value of the ONI index (really the value of NINO 3.4 as the ONI is not reported as a daily value) each week using a method that I have devised. To refine my calculation, I have divided the 170W to 120W Nino 3.4 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 January 2, in the afternoon working from the January 1 TAO/TRITON report, this is what I calculated. [Although the TAO/TRITON Graphic appears to update once a day, in reality it updates more frequently.]

Calculation of ONI from TAO/TRITON Graphic
Anomaly Segment Estimated Anomaly
  Last Week This Week
A. 170W to 160W -0.4 -0.3
B. 160W to 150W -0.7 -0.5
C. 150W to 140W -0.2 -0.3
D. 140W to 130W -0.0 -0.2
E. 130W to 120W -0.3 -0.6
Total -1.6 -2.0
Total divided by five subregions i.e. the ONI (-1.6)5 = -0.3 (-2.0)/5 = -0.4

 

My estimate of the daily Nino 3.4 SST anomaly is a bit cooler at -0.4 which remains an ENSO Neutral value. NOAA has again reported the weekly Nino 3.4 to be a La Nina Neutral value at -0.3. There had been prior to three weeks ago three weeks of NOAA reporting an ENSO neutral value for Nino 3.4. Then three weeks ago perhaps the Inactive Phase of the MJO gave NOAA a temporary reprieve or perhaps they just made the -0.6 up as I did not believe that their estimate that week was correct as a weekly estimate. Then last week they reported a -0.4, last week a -0.3 and this week we again have an ENSO Neutral reading of -0.3 submitted by NOAA. So over the past six weeks, NOAA has reported one La Nina value and five ENSO Neutral values but they still maintain that we have La Nina Conditions. It is a travesty. Meteorologist should have second grade math be a required subject.
Nino 4.0 is reported as being the same as last week at -0.1. Nino 3 is being slightly cooler at at -0.3.  Nino 1 + 2 which extends from the Equator south rather than being centered on the Equator is now again warmer at positive +0.8 which is quite warm. What is left of this Cool Event is now focused in mostly one cool spot which we report on elsewhere in this report. Visually I can tell that cool spot is itself slight warmer than last week.
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 table form but going back a couple of more years can be found here. 

January 2, 2017 Nino Readings

From Tropical Tidbits.com

CDAS Legacy System

The above is from a legacy "frozen" NOAA system meaning the software is maintained but not updated. It seems to show a cycle in the Nino 3.4 Index Values. I see that as I monitor the TAO/TRITON graphic. My best guess is that it is related to the MJO but it certainly is intriguing. If this was read like a stock chart one might conclude that there had been a triple bottom and an upside breakout. Below is a "frozen" version of this graphic that I first prepared four weeks ago and updated today with the trend lines for the highs and lows added. I think it is pretty clear that this method of analysis has value.  .

January 2, 2017 Tropical Tidbits CDAS Nino 3.4 with lines drawn in by Sig Silber

There is not space to extend the trend lines by two months and I am not arguing that the pattern is linear but it does look like the lows are increasing by about +0.2C to +0.3C per month. This is a lot simpler model than NOAA uses but I have found that simplifications of complex models can provide a lot of insight.

Sea Surface Temperature and Anomalies

It is the ocean surface that interacts with the atmosphere and causes convection and also the warming and cooling of the atmosphere. So we are interested in the actual ocean surface temperatures and the departure from seasonal normal temperatures which is called "departures" or "anomalies". Since warm water facilitates evaporation which results in cloud convection, the pattern of SST anomalies suggests how the weather pattern east of the anomalies will be different than normal.

January 2, 2017 Equatorial Pacific SST Anomalies

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 snapshots of the conditions at different points in time. This Hovmoeller provides a good way to visually see the evolution of this ENSO event. I have decided to use the prettied-up version that comes out on Mondays rather that the version that auto-updates daily because the SST Departures on the Equator do not change rapidly and the prettied-up version is so much easier to read. You can see that the cool anomaly (bottom of the Hovmoeller is vanishing right before our eyes with almost no blue, more white and now some yellow. This graphic explains to a large extent the small week to week changes in the Nino 3.4 Index Reading. Remember the +5, -5 degree strip around the Equator that is being reported in this graphic. So it is the surface but not just the Equator.
There has been a clear pattern of the Cool Anomaly vanishing everywhere in Nino 3.4 Measurement Area. You can really see the yellow area off to the left gradually extending to the east. One also sees patches of yellow in many place. The light yellow is Neutral but on the El Nino side of Neutral; the darker Yellow is in the El Nino Range. It is a slow process but relentless. The Cool Event is completely over. Remember, ENSO  in the U.S. is measured from between 170W and 120W. In nations with a more sophisticated weather service more attention is paid to the other parts of the area as shown in a later graphic namely the Nino 4.0, 3.0, and 1.+2 areas. NOAA reports them but tends to ignore them. It may be that for Asia the other areas have impacts somewhat different than the 3.4 area which is a combination of part of 4.0 and 3.0. Clearly Nino 1+2 is very important to South America.

I had stopped showing the below graphic which is more focused on the Equator but looks down to 300 meters rather than just being the surface. But over the last month there has been sufficient change to warrant including this graphic.

Janaury 2, 2017 Upper Ocean Heat Anoma

NOAA has dashed-in the upwelling phase of the multiple Kelvin Waves that has created this pseudo-La Nina and you can see that it is playing out just as NOAA upgrades the status of this Cool Event. However a small cool area has been clearly visible at 155W to 145W which has caused the Nino 3.4 reading hover around La Nina range. But now we see that cool anomaly is no longer there on this graphic.  You might even be able to see a little bit of yellow at the bottom of the graphic. On the other hand way to the west you can see the warm pool building for the next El Nino.
The life cycle of a La Nina is based on the reservoir of cool water that formed in the Eastern Pacific rising or mixing out or being warmed by sunshine or otherwise returning to a more normal temperature. Unlike an El Nino, there is no reinforcements from the west available to the Cool Event. So it is just a matter of time for the surface to return to ENSO Normal Limits. The currents in the subsurface are complex and there are winds impacting the surface so the exact process is difficult to forecast. So really the only issue here is will the process play out in December or in January. The white and yellow area is ENSO Neutral. There is in this graphic no blue area between 170W and 120W.
The is now no La Nina. Wake up NOAA.

Let us look in more detail at the Equatorial Water Temperatures.

We are now going to change the way we look at a three-dimensional view of the Equator and move from the surface view and an average of the subsurface heat content to a more detailed view from the surface down. Notice by the date of the graphic (dated December 29, 2016) that the lag in getting this information posted so the current situation may be a bit different than shown although this graphic was updated on Sunday so it is more current than usual. The date shown is the midpoint of a five-day period with that date as the center of the five-day period.

But I am going to start with a graphic I rarely show.

January 2, 2017 Central and Eastern Pacific Upper Ocean heat anomaly

I do not usually show this because it covers a wider area than 170W to 120W but it is pretty conclusive that as of right now the upper ocean heat anomaly is DEAD NEUTRAL. This is a NOAA Graphic. Shame they do not look at their own graphics.

And now the pair of graphics that I regularly provide. 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. At different times and today in particular, I have discussed the difference between the actual values and the deviation of the actual values from what is defined as current climatology (which adjusts every ten years except along the Equator where it is adjusted every five years) and how both measures are useful but for different purposes.

Subsurface Heat Anomalies

Re the top graphic, let us first look at surface temperature anomalies. The coolest water at the surface shows up only in very small non-connected areas except right off the coast of Ecuador.  Water of La Nina coolness but not very intense shows up along the Equator from 170W to the Coast of Ecuador but with significant gaps of less cool water. The -1C water shows most strongly east of the Nino 3.4 Measurement Area and in the Nino 3.4 Measurement Area only in a small area from 160W to 155W. Subsurface Temperature Anomalies: Notice that the cool anomaly in excess of -1C no longer exists within the Nino 3.4 Measurement Area and appears to be rotating towards the coast and diminishing in size. How is this cool event to be sustained? It looks like 150W to 110W has gone to totally Neutral. There are now diminishing areas of -1C water below the Nino 3.4 Measurement Area.
Notice the warm water at depth all the way to 140W. It is not a Kelvin Wave but may be a sign of things to come. We may see a Kelvin Wave in January or February.

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 again located close to the Dateline at about 175W. This graphic does not show a 27.5C anomaly which might more precisely indicate where convection is likely to occur. The 27C isotherm is at 165W so we do not have ideal conditions for significant convection along the Equator east of the Dateline which is a characteristic of a Cool Event but it is shifting to the East. The 25C isotherm is at 135W (and the 24C isotherm is over now to beyond 120W) indicating the decline of the Cool Event. The 20C Isotherm seems to be being depressed. We are beginning to see the great swap where neutral water replaces the cooler water at the surface.
The flattening of the Isotherm Pattern is an indication  of ENSO Neutral just as the steepening of the pattern indicates La Nina or El Nino depending on where the slope shows the warm or cool pool to be.

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

Although I did not fully 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.

January 2,  2017 Subsurface Temperatures.

There is surface cool water now shown in this graphic only from 160W to 155W. And there is warmer water under the cool anomaly extending continuously and strengthening all the way to 140W. The coolest water remains over to the east where La Nina is not measured by NOAA. It is close to the surface suggesting it will be gone soon.
This is probably not the best place to express the thought but this way of measuring an ENSO event leaves a lot to be desired. Only the surface interacts with the atmosphere and is able to influence weather. The subsurface tells us how long the surface will remain cool (or warm). Anomalies are deviations from "Normal". NOAA calculates and determines what is "Normal" which changes due to long ocean cycles and Global Warming. So to some extent, the system is "rigged". Hopefully it is rigged to assist in providing improved weather forecasts. But to assume that any numbers reported can be assumed to be accurate to a high level of precision is foolhardy. It is strange to me that the Asian forecasting services generally conclude that that this cool ENSO Phase is not a La Nina but a near La Nina and NOAA concludes it is a La Nina but they express their confidence in that declaration in percentages. It is the same ocean. The reported readings are very close but the Asian readings are generally slightly higher (less La Nina-ish) than the NOAA reading and their cut-off points for declaring a La Nina are a bit different and the parts of the Equator they look at are a bit different. It might be explained by what part of the ENSO pattern impacts their area of geography but it just seems to me that NOAA is a bit over eager. And I wonder why.

And now Let us look at the Atmosphere.

Low-Level Wind Anomalies near the Equator

Here are the low-level wind anomalies.

Low Level Wlind Anomalies

The Easterlies (the blue) are suddenly again no longer there in the Eastern Pacific probably because of MJO action. There are Easterlies west of the Dateline. It is fairly normal at this point. Some of the forecasts call for a weak Inactive Phase of the MJO followed by a weak Active Phase which should first enhance the Easterlies in the Eastern Pacific and then decrease the Easterlies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area and create the conditions for a Westerly Wind Burst creating a Kelvin Wave. The system is not ready for that just yet.

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

OLR Anomalies Along the Equator

This is the graphic used by NOAA to justify the upgrade in status of the Cool Event based on lack of cloudiness near the Dateline and to the east. That is true but there is a lack of cloudiness over by 80E as well and not much convection at 120E and convection from 80W towards land. Hard to describe this as anything other than ENSO Neutral.

And Now the Air Pressure which Shows up Mostly in an Index called the SOI.

This index provides an easy way to assess the location of and the relative strength of the Convection (Low Pressure) and the Subsidence (High Pressure) near the Equator. Experience shows that the extent to which the Atmospheric Air Pressure at Tahiti exceeds the Atmospheric Pressure at Darwin Australia when normalized is substantially correlated with the Precipitation Pattern of the entire World.

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
Dec 27    -2.02    
Dec 28    -3.06    
Dec 29    -5.50    
Dec 30   +2.59    
Dec 31   +9.76    
Jan 1 +24.83    
Jan 2 +36.75    
Seven Day Total +63.35    
Seven Day Average   +9.05    

 

* The reported value for December 23  is questionable.  I have asked for clarification and so far no response. So for the time being I am calculating and reporting a seven day average. After we get to January 22 I will begin reporting the 30 day average and 60 days later I will begin to report a 90 day average. Between now and then if the December 23 value is correct or adequately explained I will begin reporting the 30 day average and 90 day average.

The seven day average as of January 2, 2017 is +9.05 which is a La Nina value. You can see the change during the week so obviously some storm systems were involved.

To some extent it is the change in the SOI that is of most importance. It had been increasing in September but now in October and November and through most of December has stabilized in the Neutral Range. That could change but for now the SOI is not signaling a La Nina but ENSO Neutral (not this seven day period however).

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. December was not particularly favorable for La Nina development and most likely neither will be January in terms of the MJO.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.The MJO being Inactive is more favorable for La Nina than the MJO being Active. But the MJO goes back and forth from being Active, Inactive, strong and weak so it has mostly a short-term impact. It is possible that a weak Inactive Phase of the MJO might be giving this dying La Nina a little reprieve but the forecast is that this will soon change to a weak Active Phase so it is not very significant other than on a weekly basis.

The MJO tends to be more important when the situation is ENSO Neutral and the MJO can start the process of an El Nino getting started. It is less significant re the initiation of a La Nina but is a factor. It is surprising how weak the MJO has been for months. But it may account for what seems like a cycling of the estimate of Nino 3.4 as the cool water is blown first to the west and then to the east. This impacts the upwelling also.

Forecasting the Evolution of ENSO

We have the December early-month report from CPC/IRI which I call the reading of the tea leaves in that it is based on a combination of model results and a survey of the views of meteorologists.

Figure 1 is based on a consensus of CPC and IRI forecasters, in association with the official CPC/IRI ENSO Diagnostic Discussion

December 8, 2016 IRI/CPC Consensus based ENSO forecast.

Now we have the December 15, 2016 fully model-based version .

December 15, 2016 Model Based ENSO Forecast

And here is the discussion that was released with the graphic.

What is the outlook for the ENSO status going forward? The most recent official diagnosis and outlook was issued one week ago in the NOAA/Climate Prediction Center ENSO Diagnostic Discussion, produced jointly by CPC and IRI; it carries a La Niña advisory and called for weak La Niña to last through winter 2016-17 (i.e., for December-February), and for a transition to neutral to occur by late winter. The latest set of model ENSO predictions, from mid-December, now available in the IRI/CPC ENSO prediction plume, is discussed below.  Those predictions suggest that the SST could remain in the weak La Niña category during the rest of 2016 and into the early part of 2017, or may return to neutral by the New Year.

As of mid-November, 17% of the dynamical or statistical models predicts La Niña conditions for the initial Dec-Feb 2016-17 season, while 83% predict neutral ENSO.  At lead times of 3 or more months into the future, statistical and dynamical models that incorporate information about the ocean’s observed subsurface thermal structure generally exhibit higher predictive skill than those that do not. For the Mar-May 2017 season, among models that do use subsurface temperature information, no model predicts La Niña conditions, 89% predicts ENSO-neutral conditions, and 11% predicts El Niño conditions. For all model types, the probabilities for La Niña are 9% for Jan-Mar 2016-17, and less than 5% for all subsequent seasons out to Aug-Oct 2017. The probability for neutral conditions is at least 70% for all seasons through the final season of Aug-Oct 2017, and rise to greater than 90% from Jan-Mar through Apr-Jun 2017. Probabilities for El Niño are near zero initially, rise to 5-10% by Mar-May 2017, and to 25-30% from Jun-Aug through the final season of Aug-Oct.

So even the IRI/CPC realizes the game is up re promoting a phantom La Nina. Even if one accepted the NOAA JAS reported value which I do not, this Cool Event does not qualify to be recorded as a La Nina due to insufficient duration. It may be accepted by NOAA as having been a La Nina but it will not be in Asia and this complicates statistical analysis and is not a good practice. One needs discipline to be a scientist and NOAA has been showing a disturbing lack of discipline. This is a Cool Event and close to meeting the criteria for being considered a La Nina but close only counts in horseshoes.

Here is the daily PDF and Spread Corrected version of the NOAA CFSv2 Forecast Model.

 CFS.V2 SST Forecast

The estimated current actually after the adjustments have been applied is cooler (more La Nina-ish)  than last week. It is now Borderline La Nina but rising into Neutral. And out to next summer you see some El Nino members of the forecast ensemble but it is before the Spring Prediction Barrier which means we need to wait a few months before getting  excited about that. But we clearly are forecast to be in ENSO Neutral for the rest of this Winter.

The full list of weekly values can be found here.

Forecasts from Other Meteorological Agencies.

Here is the Nino 3.4 report from the Australian BOM (it updates every two weeks)

Australia POAMA ENSO model run

Discussion (notice their threshold criteria are different from NOAA but also their actuals are higher than recorded by NOAA and yet Nino 3.4 is standard. So someone is incorrect OR WORSE.)

Here is the discussion.

El Niño–Southern Oscillation remains neutral

The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) remains neutral—neither El Niño nor La Niña. All but one of the climate models surveyed by the Bureau indicate neutral conditions are likely to persist until at least early in the southern autumn. When ENSO is neutral, weather patterns over the Pacific region are typically close to normal. This means there is a lower likelihood that eastern Australia's climate will be considerably wetter or drier than normal.

Although almost all ENSO indicators are firmly within their neutral range, cloud and rainfall patterns continue to show some weak La Niña-like characteristics. However, the central tropical Pacific Ocean has warmed in recent weeks, and further warming is expected in the coming months, suggesting cloud patterns are likely to return to normal during the southern summer. Similarly, warm waters in the eastern Indian Ocean have cooled considerably in recent weeks, with the onset of the southern monsoon, and hence cloud patterns have eased closer to normal.

The Indian Ocean Dipole has little influence on Australian climate during the months of December to April.

We also have the most recent JAMSTEC December 1,  2016 ENSO forecast.

JAMSTEC December 1, 2016 Two Year Enso Forecast

The model continues to show ENSO Neutral or what they call a weak La Nina Modoki gradually ending. The potential for an El Nino had been taken out of the forecast last month but is  back in the  forecast again.  The JAMSTEC Discussion is shown earlier in this report.

Indian Ocean IOD (It updates every two weeks)

The IOD Forecast is indirectly related to ENSO but in a complex way.

IOD POAMA Model Run

Discussion

Indian Ocean Dipole outlooks

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is neutral. The weekly index value to 1 January is −0.23 °C.

The May outlook suggests a neutral IOD for the end of autumn.

The influence of the IOD on Australian climate is weak during December to April. This is because the monsoon trough shifts south over the tropical Indian Ocean, changing wind patterns, preventing an IOD ocean temperature pattern from being able to form.

D. Putting it all Together.

Looks like this Cool Event is no longer even properly described as La Nina Conditions Apply.

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. Parts of that discussion are in the beginning  section of this week's Report.

The odds of a climate shift for CONUS taking place has significantly increased. It may be in progress. It looks like it may follow  this ENSO Cool Event this summer or perhaps the Cool Event will last for one more year.  JAMSTEC is suggesting that if there is an El Nino in the winter of 2017/2018 this could signify that the PDO has entered its Positive Phase. The AMO is pretty much neutral at this point (but more positive i.e. warm than I had expected) 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. JAMSTEC is suggesting it might occur very soon.

E. Relevant Recent Articles and Reports

Weather in the News

Nothing to report

Weather Research in the News

Nothing to report.

Global Warming in the News

Nothing to report

F. Table of Contents for Page II of this Report Which Provides a lot of Background Information on Weather and Climate Science  

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.

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.

4. Computer Models and Methodologies

5. Reserved for a Future Topic  (Possibly Predictable Economic Impacts)

G. Table of Contents of Contents for Page 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.

1. Introduction

2. Climate Impacts of Global Warming

3. Economic Impacts of Global Warming

4. Reports from Around the World on Impacts of Global Warming

Useful Background Information

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          

 

ONI Recent History

ONI History Updated on December 5, 2016

The Aug/Sept/Oct reading has been issued and is currently listed as -0.7. The Sep/Oct/Nov preliminary estimate is -0.8 so there would now need for there to be two more periods of -0.5 or colder for this to be eligible to be formally recorded as a La Nina. I suspect there will be one more but not two. NOAA seems to be determined to make that happen. THEIR FUNDING MAY DEPEND ON THAT.

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

Click here for a list of Sig Silber's Weather Posts

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