NOAA maintains the fiction that we have a La Nina and now forecasts two weeks of wet followed by two weeks of dry. This part of the forecast may indeed work out if the ridge forecast over the Western U.S. materializes. We should be having very interesting and highly changeable weather for the next 30 days at least. At this point, three storms are teed up to impact the West and Southwest within the next ten days. Then the pattern changes to a more dry pattern. The temperature changes may be even more rapid.
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. 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. We will of course publish a new 15 Month Update Report shortly after NOAA issues their update on January 19, 2017. We will compare the NOAA and JAMSTEC forecasts and publish our analysis probably on Saturday Night January 21.
A. 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.
To turn the above into a forecasting tool click hereand you will have a dashboard for a short-term forecasting model.
Notice that right now the major moisture inflow is from the storm that crossed over Mexico and looks like it is approaching from the Gulf of Mexico but there is a huge Atmospheric River approaching the Northwest.
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.
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.
The Aleutian Low is a split Low with one vortex near the Bering Straits with central air pressure of hPa 984 and a second centered way offshore of British Columbia with a central air pressure of 980 hPa. Remember this is a forecast for Day 3 not the current situation. 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. There is another Low of the Northeast Coast but I am not sure if that has any impact.
The High Pressure off of the West Coast, the familiar RRR, with Central Pressure of 1020 hPa will on Day 3 not be in a position to protect the West Coast from Pacific storms because it is way out to sea and the Low off of British Columbia extends far south. This is a forecast three days out. This is a set up for a lot of precipitation for CONUS.
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.
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. But recently as the Cool Event reaches its expiration date it was behaving in some ways more like a La Nina. Now it is gyrating back and forth between La Nina and El Nino patterns which is consistent with ENSO Neutral.
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.
Here is the seven-day precipitation forecast. More information is available here.
There is very strong activity involving California and significant activity along the Southern Tier into the Northeast.
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.
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 a West Coast trough and an East Coast closed Low.
Remember this is a forecast for Day 7. Note the 540 Thickness Line re the above discussion of thickness and snow likelihood. The 540 (valley snow) line on Day 7 is deep into CONUS in the West and again where the Low Pressure System is in the East.
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. But this Quasi-Polar view provides a lot of insight as to what is happening.
Well this animation appears to work. Remember this is the past 24 hours not a forecast. The winds and moisture approaching the West are of most interest. You can clearly see activity that is impacting the Northwest and a bit further out to sea moisture that will impact California and the Southwest and later points further east.
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 than 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. It is an enlargement of the graphic two above which covers the Eastern Pacific and CONUS and this is an enlargement of the CONUS portion.
Tonight, Monday evening January 16, 2017 (and this is the current situation not an animation of recent history), as I am looking at the above graphic, we see mostly the moisture entering Texas from Mexico..But you can see the Northwest moisture poised to impact the Northwest and probably later the entire West Coast. .
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.
One sees the current jet stream above. You can see how the most recent storm did not impact the Southwest to a major extent but is wreaking havoc on Texas and Oklahoma. You also see the northern branch of the Jet Stream.
Now looking at the 5 Day Forecast
You can see a split stream with the southern branch more visible in this graphic. It will be bringing a succession of storms to the West and Southwest and the entire Southern Tier. .
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.
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:
Here is the Temperature Outlook for January Issued on December 31, 2016
6 - 10 Day Temperature Outlook Issued Today (Note the NOAA Level of Confidence in the Forecast Released on January 16 was 4 out of 5)
8 - 14 Day Temperature Outlook Issued Today (Note the NOAA Level of Confidence in the Forecast Released on January 16 was 3 out of 5)
Looking further out.
Consolidation of 6 - 10, 8 - 14 and Experimental Week 3-4 Forecasts (interpreted on January 16, 2017
January 21 to January 30
January 28 to February 10
Alaska starts cool and then trends moderate. The West will be cool and the cool anomaly will expand to the east as the period unfolds. The Eastern half of CONUS will be warm with the warm area shrinking from south to north and the probabilities of being warmer than climatology will decline except to the north as the nine-day period unfolds.
Alaska will become warm including the Alaskan Panhandle. It will be warm for CONUS West and cool in the Southeast Quadrant of CONUS other than Florida. Between the warm and cool anomalies it will be EC, The transition to the pattern shown in the Week 3 - 4 Forecast seems to be a drastic change from the 8-14 Day forecast suggesting that one or the other of the forecasts will turn out to be incorrect.
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.
Now - Precipitation
Here is the three-month JFM Precipitation Outlook issued on December 15, 2016 that I do not have much confidence in.
And here is the Updated Precipitation Outlook for January issued on December 31, 2016
6 - 10 Day Precipitation Outlook Issued Today (Note the NOAA Level of Confidence in the Forecast Released on January 16 was 4 out of 5)
8 - 14 Day Precipitation Outlook Issued Today (Note the NOAA Level of Confidence in the Forecast Released on January 16 was 3 out of 5)
Looking further out.
Consolidation of 6 - 10, 8 - 14, and Week 3-4 Forecasts as of January 16, 2017
January 21 to January 30
January 28 to February 10, 2017
Alaska is mixed but trends towards wet, CONUS is wet except for a South Texas dry anomaly which expands towards the east. The Northwest trends towards dry as the wet anomaly moves south more like an El Nino than a La Nina.
There are two dry anomalies shown: one for CONUS which probably extends north to Alaska but this forecast does not show what is forecast for Canada so it is possible that the Alaskan dry anomaly is separate from the Western dry anomaly in CONUS. There is a second dry anomaly for the States related to the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and extending up through Vermont. There is a wet anomaly centered on the Dakotas. The Week 3 - 4 forecast over the last few days has begun to seem like a less drastic change from the 8 - 14 Day forecast, no longer suggesting that one or the other will not work out.
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.
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 16, 2017
6-10 DAY OUTLOOK FOR JAN 22 - 26 2017
TODAY'S DYNAMICAL MODEL SOLUTIONS ARE IN VERY GOOD AGREEMENT ON THE 500-HPA CIRCULATION PATTERN PREDICTED OVER NORTH AMERICA. TROUGHS ARE PREDICTED OVER WESTERN ALASKA EXTENDING INTO THE GULF OF ALASKA, AND THE CENTRAL CONUS, WHILE A RIDGE IS ANTICIPATED OVER THE NORTHEAST CONUS. A ZONAL FLOW PATTERN IS EXPECTED ACROSS THE SOUTHERN CONUS. TODAY'S BLENDED 500-HPA CHART INDICATES NEAR TO ABOVE NORMAL HEIGHTS OVER THE NORTHEAST CONUS, THE NORTHERN MID-ATLANTIC, THE GREAT LAKES, AND THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY, WHILE NEAR TO BELOW NORMAL HEIGHTS ARE ANTICIPATED OVER THE REMAINDER OF THE CONUS AND ALASKA.
THE ENSEMBLE SPAGHETTI CHARTS INDICATE MODERATE TO LARGE SPREAD IN THE NORTHERN JET STREAM, AND LOW TO MODERATE SPREAD IN THE SOUTHERN JET STREAM. THE AO INDEX WHICH RECENTLY HAS BEEN WEAKLY POSITIVE/CLOSE TO ZERO IS FORECAST TO REMAIN WEAKLY POSITIVE/CLOSE TO ZERO THROUGH DAY 14, ALTHOUGH THERE IS RELATIVELY LARGE SPREAD AMONG ENSEMBLE MEMBERS REGARDING THE SIGN AND MAGNITUDE OF THE INDEX. THE PNA INDEX WHICH RECENTLY HAS BEEN STRONGLY POSITIVE IS FORECAST TO BECOME WEAKLY NEGATIVE BY DAY 7, BE CLOSE TO ZERO AT DAY 10, AND REMAIN NEAR ZERO THROUGH DAY 14.
ABOVE NORMAL HEIGHTS AND/OR THE EXPECTATION OF AIR MASSES OF PACIFIC ORIGIN LEAD TO ENHANCED PROBABILITIES FOR ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR MOST OF THE EASTERN TWO THIRDS OF THE CONUS. BELOW NORMAL HEIGHTS FAVOR NEAR TO BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR ALASKA AND THE WESTERN THIRD OF THE CONUS.
A SOUTHERN JET STREAM AND THE TROUGH PREDICTED OVER THE CENTRAL CONUS ENHANCE PROBABILITIES FOR ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR MUCH OF THE CONUS. EXCEPTIONS A RE OVER MAINE WHERE THE FORECAST RIDGE TILTS THE ODDS TO BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION, AND OVER PARTS OF THE SOUTHERN PLAINS WHERE ANOMALOUS WESTERLY FLOW FAVORS BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION. SUBSIDENCE ON THE REAR SIDE OF THE CENTRAL U.S. TROUGH TILT THE ODDS TO BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR A SMALL PORTION OF THE NORTHERN ROCKIES. THE TROUGH EXPECTED OVER WESTERN ALASKA ENHANCE PROBABILITIES FOR ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATIONS FOR THAT REGION WHILE A WEAK RIDGE TILT THE ODDS TO BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR THE NORTHERN PORTIONS OF THE STATE.
FORECAST CONFIDENCE FOR THE 6-10 DAY PERIOD: ABOVE AVERAGE, 4 OUT OF 5, DUE TO VERY GOOD AGREEMENT AMONG THE MODEL SOLUTIONS AND THE VARIOUS FORECAST TOOLS, PARTIALLY OFFSET BY RELATIVELY LARGE SPREAD AMONG THE ENSEMBLE MEMBERS IN THE NORTHERN STREAM
8-14 DAY OUTLOOK FOR JAN 24 - 30 2017
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
ABOVE NORMAL HEIGHTS AND AIR MASSES OF PACIFIC ORIGIN TILT THE ODDS TO ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR MUCH OF THE NORTHEASTERN CONUS. BELOW NORMAL SST'S AND BELOW NORMAL HEIGHTS ENHANCE PROBABILITIES FOR BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR EASTERN FLORIDA AND PARTS OF THE SOUTHEAST COAST. BELOW NORMAL HEIGHTS AND/OR ANOMALOUS NORTHEASTERLY FLOW FAVOR BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR THE WESTERN THIRD OF THE U.S. AND THE WEST-CENTRAL PORTION OF THE CONUS. ABOVE NORMAL HEIGHTS AND ANOMALOUS SOUTHERLY FLOW ENHANCE PROBABILITIES FOR ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR SOUTHEASTERN ALASKA AND THE ALASKA PANHANDLE. BELOW NORMAL HEIGHTS TILT THE ODDS TO BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR PARTS OF NORTHWESTERN ALASKA.
ANOMALOUS WESTERLY FLOW ENHANCE PROBABILITIES FOR BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR THE SOUTHERN PORTION OF THE CONUS FROM THE EASTERN SOUTHERN PLAINS TO THE MID-ATLANTIC COAST. THE TROUGH OVER THE WEST-CENTRAL CONUS FAVORS ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FROM THE SOUTHWEST CONUS NORTHEASTWARD TO THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY/GREAT LAKES, AND EASTWARD TO THE NORTHEAST CONUS. THE RIDGE BUILDING OVER THE WESTERN CONUS INDICATES A CHANGE TO THE VERY WET PATTERN SEEN THERE IN RECENT WEEKS AND ENHANCES PROBABILITIES FOR BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR THE NORTHWEST U.S. ANOMALOUS SOUTHERLY FLOW TILTS THE ODDS TO ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR THE ALEUTIANS, WESTERN, CENTRAL AND SOUTHEASTERN ALASKA, AND THE ALASKA PANHANDLE.
FORECAST CONFIDENCE FOR THE 8-14 DAY PERIOD IS: ABOUT AVERAGE, 3 OUT OF 5, DUE TO GOOD AGREEMENT AMONG THE MODEL SOLUTIONS AND THE VARIOUS SURFACE TOOLS, OFFSET BY THE EXPECTED PROGRESSION OF THE LONGWAVE PATTERN
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.
Jan 23, 1974
Jan 24, 1984
Could be considered a La Nina
Dec 31, 1984
Jan 25 1989
Dec 31, 1989
Transition Period La Nina to El Nino
Jan 17, 1990
Transition Period La Nina to El Nino
Jan 18, 1990
Transition Period La Nina to El Nino
Jan 16, 2007
Jan 18, 2007
(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 31 to January 25 which is 26 days which is about the same as 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 12. These analogs are centered on 3 days and 4 days ago (January 11 or January 12). So the analogs could be considered to be in sync with the calendar meaning that we will be getting weather that we would normally get this time of the year.
There are two El Nino Analogs, three La Nina Analogs and five 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 B which fits with the 6 - 14 Day Forecast.
The seminal work on the impact of the PDO and AMO on U.S. climate can be found here. Water Planners might usefully pay attention to the low-frequency cycles such as the AMO and the PDO as the media tends to focus on the current and short-term forecasts to the exclusion of what we can reasonably anticipate over multi-decadal periods of time. 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.
Very Little Drought. Southern Tier and Northern Tier from Dakotas East Wet
More wet than dry but Great Plains Dry
Northern Tier and Mid-Atlantic Drought
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 January 7, 2017
I assume that NOAA meant to label this graphic as 7 January 2017. I had my own problems with the New Year last Monday (had 2016 in the Title which then needed to be fixed post publishing) so I will not say that it must have been a hell of a New Years Eve Party at NOAA Headquarters. Compared to the prior version, the cold anomaly in the Northwest and the wet El Nino type wet anomaly is more pronounced. The dry anomaly from Mexico up to Illinois is very impressive.
And the 30 Days ending January 14, 2017
You can see the El Nino-like wet pattern has intensified. The temperature anomaly is sort of like a rotation. The northern cool anomaly has retreated a bit to the west and the warm anomaly has expanded to the north in the eastern half of CONUS. Remember this is a 30 day average with only seven recent days added and seven more distant days removed. So it changes slowly.
B. Beyond Alaska and CONUS Let's Look at the World which of Course also includes Alaska and CONUS
The warm anomaly in Canada is interesting.
Notice the demarcation areas between wet and dry areas. It suggest a low Wave Number i.e. less than four to six planetary waves. This suggests that the pattern will not change very rapidly.
Additional Maps showing different weather variables can be found here.
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
Notice the large Low in the Central Pacific. That is controlling CONUS weather right now. Australia looks really wet.
Siberia looks really cold and the cold anomaly extends through much of China.
Looking Out a Few Months
Here is the new precipitation forecast from Queensland Australia:
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.Actually the signal that this is ENSO Neutral has become stronger over the past two months.
JAMSTEC issued their ENSO forecasts and climate maps on January 10 but I am not showing them this week. Their first three-month forecast is for MAM 2017. NOAA will be issuing their 15 Month Outlook Update on Thursday January 19 and we will publish a special Update Report on Saturday Night January 21. At that time we will not only present the NOAA 15 Month Outlook but compare MAM, JJA, and SON of the JAMSTEC forecast with the corresponding NOAA forecasts. For those who can not wait one can find the JAMSTEC updated maps 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.
Remember this discussion is all about anomalies not absolute temperatures...so it is deviation from seasonal norms.
What happened to the presumed La Nina? Did it go into Hibernation?The Tropical Pacific is NEUTRAL in the Nino 3.4 Measurement area but and now less definitely on the cool side of Neutral. The cool anomaly is slowly fading.
The waters west and east of Japan have become warm but the waters south of Kamchatka Siberia remain cool but warm to the east. The Central Indian Ocean is now mostly cool but south of the cool anomaly is a warm anomaly. The waters off the Southern and Western Coasts of Australia are also cool but the Southeast Coast is warm. Water north of Australia is close to neutral. The waters west of Africa are now neutral but to the south and east are cool. The overall Northern Pacific cool anomaly has shifted south with a warm anomaly in and south of the Bering Straits. Warm water has developed to the south of the cool anomaly increasingly crossing the Dateline. 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 +1.25, 2016- March 1.55, 2016- April +1.62. 2016- May +1.45, 2016-June +0.78, 2016-July 0.15, 2016-August -0.87, 2016- September -1.06, 2016- October -0.70, 2016- November +0.80.and now 2016- December +0.45 The above reading for December the PDO again POSITIVE (JAMSTEC Noticed). Here is the full 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 cool. The Gulf of Mexico is warm but less so than recently. The waters off of North American are warm. The list of Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) values can be found here.
The Black Sea, Caspian Sea, and The Mediterranean are neutral.
The waters north of Antarctica East of South America are again very cool.
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 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.
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 substantially more warming along the Equator in the Pacific especially closer to Ecuador. We seem to be in the transition from a Near La Nina to full ENSO Neutral. The Pacific cooling trend off the West Coast of North America at about 30N turned into a warming trend. Between Japan and the mainland the anomaly continues to be getting warmer. Northwest of Australia the cooling trend has again intensified and south of Australia the warming has moderated and shifted to the east a bit. The warming trend impacting the U.S. Gulf of Mexico has stabilized. West of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea the warming trend has changed to a cooling trend and that change extends all around the continent into the Indian Ocean. 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 January 10, 2017 Version and looking at Week 2 of that forecast.
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. Mostly I see for Week Two, the period January 18, 2016 to January 24, 2017, part of Southeast Africa, the Maritime Continent and Northwest Australia will be mostly wet except at the eastern end of the Maritime Continent which will be dry.
* Moderate Confidence that the indicated anomaly will be in the upper or lower third of the historical range as indicated in the Legend.
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.
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.
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.
Location Bar for Nino 3.4 Area Above and Below
I "froze" todays TAO/TRITON Graphic shown below and drew in the Nino 3.4 Measurement Area. You can see that the cool anomaly is now only in the western part of the Measurement Area (today mostly north of the Equator but that can change day to day) and with an Inactive Phase of the MJO forecast, that cool water will tend to be moved to the west and outside of the Nino 3.4 Measurement. Area.
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
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
0C or cooler Anomaly
These Rows Show the Extent of the La Nina Impacts on the Equator
-0.5C or cooler
-1C or cooler Anomaly
-1.5C or cooler Anomaly
It is useful to start comparing the current longitudinal extent of the water temperature anomalies with the situation on May 23, 2016.and the second checkpoint of December 12, 2016. As of today the cool event is less prevalent along the Equator than it was on May 23, 2016 and the more recently established reference point of December 12, 2016. I have not highlighted it but the Neutral Area has not recently expanded relative to December 12, 2016 but has relative to May 23, 2016. As the MJO enters its Inactive Phase that should happen at that point. It is part of the cycle of birth, growth, maturity and decline.
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 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 15 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 16, in the afternoon working from the January 15 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
A. 170W to 160W
B. 160W to 150W
C. 150W to 140W
D. 140W to 130W
E. 130W to 120W
Total divided by five subregions i.e. the ONI
(-2.6)5 = -0.5
(-1.5)/5 = -0.3
My estimate of the daily Nino 3.4 SST anomaly is a bit cooler at -0.3 which is an ENSO Neutral value. NOAA has also reported the weekly Nino 3.4 to be an ENSO Neutral value at -0.3. There had been prior to five weeks ago three weeks of NOAA reporting an ENSO neutral value for Nino 3.4. Then five weeks ago NOAA reported a value of -0.6. Then four weeks ago they reported a -0.4, three weeks ago a -0.3, two weeks ago -0.3 and last week the -0.5 which was probably legitimate. So over the past nine weeks, NOAA has reported two La Nina values and seven ENSO Neutral values but they still maintain that we have La Nina Conditions. They maintained that position on January 12. It may take a court order to get them to acknowledge that we have not had a La Nina and are now in ENSO Neutral. .
Nino 4.0 is reported as being the same as last week at -0.1. Nino 3 is reported warmer at -0.3. Nino 1 + 2 which extends from the Equator south rather than being centered on the Equator is now reported much warmer at +0.9 which is a huge increase. What is left of this Cool Event is now focused in one cool spot which we report on elsewhere in this report. Visually I can tell that cool spot is itself unchanged from last week but some other areas are 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.
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 five 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.
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. The channel is increasing and it looks like there could be an upside breakout. Either way, this cool event is coming to an end and did not qualify to being declared to be a legitimate La Nina.
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.
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 quite a bit of yellow from 110W east. 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 places. 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.
It is not a continuous process and we can see that in this graphic where the Y Axis is time. We see blue areas becoming white and then returning to blue etc. These are small weekly deviations from the trend of this Cool Event being in the decline phase.
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.
NOAA has now dashed in a Kelvin Wave. We have been indicating the warm pool building for the next El Nino. Looks like NOAA has noticed that this warm pool is moving east. It seems that they acted on our recommendation to get new glasses for all NOAA employees.
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.
There 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 January 13, 2017) 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 late Monday 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.
Below is 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.
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 just west of 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 150W. Subsurface Temperature Anomalies: Notice that the cool anomaly in excess of -1C no longer exists. .How is this cool event to be sustained? It looks like 145W to 100W 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 130W. It has now been declared by NOAA to be a Kelvin Wave and may be a sign of things to come. This graphic updated Monday night so I am updating my discussion and it looks like the warmer water is now only about 75 meters from the surface.
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. 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 170W 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 perhaps 110W) 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. That flattening has not occurred yet to a great extent. What has been happening has been the depleting of the subsurface cool pool.
Here are the above graphics as a time sequence animation. You may have to click on them to get the animation going.
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 had until this morning was only the upwelling phase of the series of Kelvin waves last winter. I guess NOAA has not clearly designated that upwelling phase as a new Kelvin Wave but they did put a "dash" through it in the graphic shown earlier.
There is again surface cool water now shown in this graphic only from 160W to 155W. From 155W to 100W the surface is essentially Climatology. And there is warmer water under the cool anomaly extending continuously and strengthening all the way to 140W. It has now risen to just 100 meters below the surface and NOAA has finally noticed it as described in an earlier graphic. The coolest water remains over to the east where La Nina is not measured by NOAA. Part of it is very close to the surface suggesting it will be gone soon. This graphic has not changed much recently but you can see the warm pool for the next warm event building.
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.
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. The conditions for a Westerly Wind Burst creating a Kelvin Wave are increasing. The system is not ready for that just yet. But warm water is moving east below the surface. There is a westerly wind burst shown in this Hovmoeller but it is too far west.
And now the Outgoing Longwave Radiation Anomalies which tells us where convection has been taking place.
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. We now have convection at 80W which is off the Coast of Ecuador. Not sure this graphic tells us much.
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.
90 Day Average
The 30 Day Average on January 16 was reported as +6.46 which is ENSO Neutral and essentially unchanged from last Monday. The 90 Day Average was reported at +0.76 which is also essentially unchanged from last Monday. That is why looking at both the 30 and 90 day averages is useful.
SOI = 10 X [ Pdiff - Pdiffav ]/ SD(Pdiff) where Pdiff = (average Tahiti MSLP for the month) - (average Darwin MSLP for the month), Pdiffav = long term average of Pdiff for the month in question, and SD(Pdiff) = long term standard deviation of Pdiff for the month in question. So really it is comparing the extent to which Tahiti is more cloudy than Darwin, Australia. During El Nino we expect Darwin Australia to have lower air pressure and more convection than Tahiti. During La Nina we expect the Warm Pool to be further east.
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. So far in January there has not been much change. That could change but for now the SOI is not signaling a La Nina but ENSO Neutral..
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 now suggesting an Inactive Phase. The MJO being Inactive is more favorable for the creation of a La Nina than the MJO being Active. But for a mature westerly displaced cool event the Inactive Phase of the MJO may be negative for that cool event.
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 surprising how weak the MJO has been for months. But it may account for what seems to be 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 now have the January 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.
But first the December 15, 2016 fully model-based version
And now the Tea Leaves report.
I call this report the reading of the Tea Leaves as it is based on a survey and discussion. That was fine when the title of the Report was called the Consensus Forecast. Now it is called the Probabilistic ENSO Forecast. If 20 meteorologists are surveyed and 11 believe we will have ENSO Neutral Conditions is the probability of ENSO Neutral Conditions (11/20)X100%? I do not think so. The new Title of the Report is misleading.
The official CPC/IRI ENSO probability forecast, based on a consensus of CPC and IRI forecasters. It is updated during the first half of the month, in association with the official CPC/IRI ENSO Diagnostic Discussion. It is based on observational and predictive information from early in the month and from the previous month. It uses human judgment in addition to model output, while the forecast shown in the Model-Based Probabilistic ENSO Forecast relies solely on model output. This is updated on the second Thursday of every month.
As usual, the Tea Leaves Report tends to be bit more partial to La Nina than the second report of the month. Nevertheless the Tea Leaves Report shows the probability of ENSO Neutral is higher than the probability of La Nina for DJF and we are in the midpoint of that three month .And here is the discussion that was released with the graphic.
During early January 2016 the tropical Pacific SST anomaly was near -0.5C, the threshold for weak La Niña. Many of the atmospheric variables across the tropical Pacific have also remained consistent with weak La Niña conditions, although some have become only weakly so. The upper and lower atmospheric winds have continued to be weakly suggestive of a strengthened Walker circulation, and the cloudiness and rainfall have remain suggestive of La Niña conditions. The collection of ENSO prediction models indicates SSTs, now near the threshold of La Niña, will dissipate to neutral levels by February.
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.
The estimated current value of the Nino 3.4 Temperature Anomaly after the adjustments have been applied can be read off this graphic as being -0.2C which is an ENSO Neutral Value. Looking ahead 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.
There is a delay between changes in the value of Nino 3.4 and impacts on CONUS Weather. Nino 3.4 is measure near the Equator between 170W and 120W. CONUS is located between 130W and 70W. The teleconnection between the Equator and mid-Latitudes is taking place continuously but the impact on Longitudes further east takes time which can be looked at as the Westerlies or the Rossby/Planetary Waves moving weather in the Pacific through CONUS. That can take a month or so and with the Low Wave Number discussed earlier, may take a bit longer. We will probably see that discussed in the NOAA Seasonal Outlook Update on January 19. For now one might assume that ENSO Neutral might be the pattern for February with January showing transitioning behavior and we see that in the difference between the 6 - 14 Day Outlook and the Week 3 - 4 Outlook as they are based on somewhat different methodologies.
Here is the NOAA statement on ENSO released on January 12.
EL NIÑO/SOUTHERN OSCILLATION (ENSO) DIAGNOSTIC DISCUSSION issued by CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER/NCEP/NWS and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society
12 January 2017ENSO Alert System Status: La Niña Advisory
Synopsis: A transition to ENSO-neutral is expected to occur by February 2017, with ENSO-neutral then continuing through the first half of 2017.
La Niña continued during December, with negative sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies continuing across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific (Fig. 1). The weekly Niño index values fluctuated during the last month, with the Niño-3 and Niño-3.4 regions hovering near and slightly warmer than -0.5°C (Fig. 2). [Editors note: If the Nino 3.4 Temperature Anomaly is warmer than -0.5C it is not La Nina Conditions]. The upper-ocean heat content anomaly was near zero when averaged across the eastern Pacific (Fig. 3), though near-to-below average subsurface temperatures were evident closer to the surface (Fig. 4). Atmospheric convection remained suppressed over the central tropical Pacific and enhanced over Indonesia (Fig. 5). The low-level easterly winds were slightly enhanced over the western Pacific, and upper-level westerly anomalies were observed across the eastern Pacific. Overall, the ocean and atmosphere system remained consistent with a weak La Niña.
The multi-model averages favor an imminent transition to ENSO-neutral (3-month average Niño-3.4 index between -0.5°C and 0.5°C), with ENSO-neutral lasting through August-October (ASO) 2017 (Fig. 6). Along with the model forecasts, the decay of the subsurface temperature anomalies and marginally cool conditions at and near the ocean surface portends the return of ENSO-neutral over the next month. In summary, a transition to ENSO-neutral is expected to occur by February 2017, with ENSO-neutral then continuing through the first half of 2017 (click CPC/IRI consensus forecast for the chance of each outcome for each 3-month period).
Even as the tropical Pacific Ocean returns to ENSO-neutral conditions, the atmospheric impacts from La Niña could persist during the upcoming months (NOAA’s 3-month seasonal outlook will be updated on Thursday January 19th). The current seasonal outlook for JFM 2017 favors above-average temperatures and below-median precipitation across much of the southern tier of the U.S., and below-average temperatures and above-median precipitation in portions of the northern tier of the U.S.
This discussion is a consolidated effort of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA’s National Weather Service, and their funded institutions. Oceanic and atmospheric conditions are updated weekly on the Climate Prediction Center web site (El Niño/La Niña Current Conditions and Expert Discussions). Forecasts are also updated monthly in the Forecast Forum of CPC's Climate Diagnostics Bulletin. Additional perspectives and analysis are also available in an ENSO blog. The next ENSO Diagnostics Discussion is scheduled for 9 February 2017. To receive an e-mail notification when the monthly ENSO Diagnostic Discussions are released, please send an e-mail message to: email@example.com.
Climate Prediction Center
National Centers for Environmental Prediction
NOAA/National Weather Service
College Park, MD 20740
I believe it was improper from a scientific perspective for NOAA to maintain the La Nina Advisory on January 12 but they have been willing to see what they have wanted to see which is different than what other Meteorological Agencies were seeing and now they have pretty much stated that their next System Status Report will be ENSO Neutral. I guess I am more of a purist and when the criteria for La Nina Conditions existing do not exist I would not say they did but on the other hand it was closer to La Nina than the mid-point of Neutral so one can understand why they have opted for the approach they have taken. At least this discussion above is accurate other than the Title Line. To get to the HTML version which will let you click on the links go to here.
Forecasts from Other Meteorological Agencies.
Here is the Nino 3.4 report from the Australian BOM (it updates every two weeks)
Discussion (notice their threshold criteria are different from NOAA but also their actuals are higher (less La Nina-ish) than reported by NOAA and yet Nino 3.4 is standard. So someone is incorrect OR WORSE.)
Here is the discussion.
Tropical Pacific Ocean remains ENSO neutral
In the tropical Pacific Ocean, the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) remains neutral. A neutral ENSO period indicates that the tropical Pacific Ocean is not shifting the odds towards a significantly wetter or drier period for Australia. When ENSO is in a neutral phase weather extremes can and do occur due to the influence of secondary or local factors.
Most indicators of ENSO, such as sea surface temperatures, the 90-day Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) and the trade winds are within the ENSO-neutral range. However, cloudiness near the Date Line continues to show a weak La Niña-like pattern.
All climate models indicate that the Pacific Ocean is likely to remain ENSO neutral through the southern summer and autumn. Model outlooks that span the autumn period tend to have lower skill than outlooks made at other times of the year, therefore outlooks beyond May should be used with caution.
We now have the new JAMSTEC January 1, 2017 ENSO forecast.
The model shows that we are in ENSO Neutral. The potential for an El Nino next winter is shown but right now the duration is too short to be recorded as an El Nino. That may change but we are dealing with the Spring Predictability Barrier SPB so it is way too early to be predicting next winter.
The Discussion that goes with their Nino 3.4 forecast has just been released.
Jan. 16, 2017 Prediction from 1st Jan., 2017
The latest SINTEX-F prediction suggests the termination of the current weak La Niña Modoki/La Niña state in coming months. Majority of the ensemble members continue to indicate recurrence of a weak 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 predictions continue to suggest development of a positive Indian Ocean Dipole in coming boreal fall. We also expect the Ningaloo Niño off the west coast of Australia in austral fall.
On a seasonal scale, most part of the globe will experience a warmer-than-normal condition, while some parts of eastern Canada, northern Brazil, and western Australia will experience a colder-than-normal condition in the boreal spring.
According to the seasonally averaged rainfall prediction, a wetter-than-normal condition is predicted for eastern part of Brazil, western Australia and South Africa during the austral fall. Most parts of southeastern China, Indonesia, eastern Africa, western half of Europe, northern part of South America (including Colombia, Venezuela, and Guyana) will experience a drier condition during the austral fall, whereas the Philippines, Indochina, southern Mexico, and the eastern half of Europe will experience a wetter-than-normal condition. Most parts of Japan will be warmer and drier than normal in boreal spring. However, we note that highly fluctuating mid- and -high latitude climate may not be captured well by the current model.
Indian Ocean IOD (It updates every two weeks)
The IOD Forecast is indirectly related to ENSO but in a complex way.
Indian Ocean Dipole outlooks
The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is neutral. The weekly index value to 15 January is −0.21 °C.
The influence of the IOD on Australian climate is weak during December to April. This is due to the monsoon trough shifting south over the tropical Indian Ocean and changing the overall wind circulation, which in turn prevents an IOD ocean temperature pattern from being able to form. Current outlooks suggest a neutral IOD for the end of autumn.
D. Putting it all Together.
Looks like this Cool Event is no longer even properly described as "La Nina Conditions Apply". But it still is.
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
There will be a Climate Conference sponsored by Los Alamos National Laboratories (LANL) February 5 - 10 in Santa Fe, New Mexico and I will be giving a talk on Southwest Climate and we will publish my talk on or about February 10..
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.
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.
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.
J FM 1951
ONI Recent History
The Aug/Sept/Oct reading has been issued and is now updated to be -0.8. The Sep/Oct/Nov preliminary estimate is -0.8 and the preliminary OND has just come out as -0.8 so there would now need for there to be only one more period 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. NOAA seems to be determined to make that happen. THEIR FUNDING OR CAREER PATHS MAY DEPEND ON THAT.
The full history of the ONI readings can be found here. The MEI index readings can be found here.
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