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posted on 22 January 2017

New Seasonal Outlook Updates from NOAA and JAMSTEC Disagree Dramatically

Written by Sig Silber

On January 19, 2017 NOAA released their Seasonal Outlook (which actually looks out fifteen months). JAMSTEC, which is a Japanese Research Institute, also has issued their Outlook based on their January 1 forecast for ENSO. We will review what have we learned - and address the question:  Are either of these forecasts credible?

 weather.caption for Updates

In this Update, we compare the JAMSTEC temperature and precipitation forecast maps, which are for the World, with the NOAA temperature and precipitation forecast maps that cover only CONUS and Alaska. We do this primarily for educational purposes. Remember: these are forecasts not guarantees. But the differences between the NOAA and JAMSTEC forecasts are very significant - especially in the further-out months - and are mostly related to the differing perspectives on the strength and duration of this Cool ENSO Event and the evolution of ENSO into Summer and Fall. JAMSTEC in their further-out forecast (which is only out to Sept - Nov 2017) is reflecting a higher probability of El Nino or near El Nino conditions next Fall.

The NOAA ENSO forecast is not that different from the JAMSTEC ENSO forecast. But NOAA has not factored in a likelihood of El Nino Conditions next Summer and Fall and JAMSTEC has. I have not addressed the Spring Prediction Barrier (SPB) in this Update and perhaps I should have as it may well be valid for NOAA to take the conservative approach of ignoring the computer models because we are not beyond the SPB. The reader is thus presented with essentially two scenarios for Summer and Fall which is the 2nd and 3rd periods in the forecast that I compare namely June - August and September - November. The difference in ENSO assumptions is probably not the only difference but I think it is the big difference and lets the reader see how significant the ENSO phase is for CONUS weather. We see the impact on World weather also but have no ENSO Neutral forecast to compare against. 

Some Housekeeping Issues

This report will be posted late Saturday January 21 and will be referred to in the Weekly Report for reference until the Saturday after the next NOAA Update on February 16, 2017. The Regular Weekly Report will be published on January 23. If you are reading this Update Report and wish to transfer to the Current Weather and Climate Report, Click here for the list of Weather Posts. That link takes you to the archive of all weather articles written by Sig Silber so you can if the new Weekly Weather Report has been published go there or back to an earlier report but please keep in mind that the graphics in earlier reports in some cases auto-update and the text may no longer apply to the graphics shown. 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 Updated Seasonal Outlook

NOAA issued their updated Seasonal Outlook on the third Thursday of the month i.e. January 19, 2017 as is their normal schedule. Let's first take a look. In the NOAA maps. Then we will compare the NOAA Maps to those  issued by JAMSTEC. A note about terminology; the deviations from climatology/normal are color coded but also labeled "A" for more than normal and "B" for less than normal. The area designated EC means Equal Chances of being more or less than normal. JAMSTEC relies on their color coding. In my comments I have used EC to cover all the situations where a clear anomaly is not shown.

First we will take a look at the Early Outlook for February 2017. It is called the Early Outlook because it will be updated at the end of January. Only the February Outlook is updated at that time.

Temperature

February 2017 Early Temperature Report Issued on Januaryi 19, 2017

Precipitation

February 2017 Early Preciitation Outlook Issued on January 19, 2017

We have nothing to compare these maps with as NOAA does not in their Update provide a forecast for two months out separate from their three-month forecast. Thus I do not have February maps from the December 15 NOAA Report to compare against. And January is not over so we can not really compare the February forecast against January actual. It is probably best to just try to understand what NOAA is trying to convey about February which can be summarized as for temperature, we have a warm narrow Southern Tier as well as most of Alaska.  For precipitation, we have a dry Southwest and a dry Southeast Coastal dry anomaly centered on South Carolina. There are two wet anomalies one in the Great Lakes area and the other in the North Central states where the cool anomaly is shown on the Temperature Map.

Now we consider the three-month Outlook.

Notice that the three-month periods are abbreviated e.g. February/March,April is shown as FMA. You will see such abbreviations often in this report.

Prior Temperature Outlook for FMA 2017

FMA 2017 Temperature Outlook Issued December 15, 2016

New Temperature Outlook for FMA 2017

fMA 2017 Temperature Outlook Issued on January 19, 2017

It is almost identical to the prior forecast. The warm anomaly is rotated just a bit counter-clockwise thus the anomaly is further south. This shows up most clearly in Southern California. But you can also see it relative to the Ohio River Valley where the warm anomaly has been moved further south.

Prior Precipitation Outlook for FMA 2017

FMA 2017 Precipitation Outlook Issued on Decemer 15, 2016

New Precipitation Outlook for FMA 2017

FMA 2017 Precipitation Outlook issued January 19, 2017

It is very similar to the map issued last month expect that the Southern Tier dry anomaly is not continuous.  

Now let us focus on the long-term situation and compare the new set of maps with the maps issued on December 15, 2016.

Prior 14 Month Temperature Outlook: FMA  2017 - JFM 2018

14 Month Temperature Maps Issued on December 15, 2016

New 14 Month Temperature Outlook: MAM 2017 - FMA 2018

14 Month Temperature Issued on January 19, 2017

To compare maps from one release to another, one needs to remember that the new release drops one three-month period and adds a later one. So to make the comparisons one has to shift the new maps to the right one position and that makes the map on the right drop down to become the left-most map in the next level. I do not have a computer software tool for doing that for you so you have to do it mentally. When I do the comparison, I print the two sets of maps and put them side by side and number the same three-month maps 1, 2, 3,.....,11 in both sets of maps to make it easier for me to easily compare the same three-month period in the new with the previous forecast. One uses the same procedure to compare the precipitation maps. Based on this procedure, I conclude that:

There is essentially no change from the prior forecast.  If one wants to focus on minutia, March - June now show the warm anomaly covering less of Southern California.

Prior 14 Month Precipitation Outlook: FMA 2017 - JFM 2018

14 month precipitation maps Issued on December 15, 2016

New 14 Month Precipitation Outlook: MAM 2017 - FMA 2018

14 Month Precipitation Issued on January 19, 2017

Unlike temperature, there are some significant changes in the precipitation maps as follows: Mar-Apr-May 2017 (Southeast dry anomaly is larger: Apr-May-Jun 2017 (Great Lakes wet anomaly is no longer shown); May-Jun-Jul-Aug 2017 (A  small Southwest Monsoon wetter than usual anomaly is shown centered on the Arizona/New Mexico border).

If you want larger versions of each map (temperature and precipitation) you can find them here. And then each of those maps can be clicked on to further enlarge them.

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

February plus FMA 2017 Issued on January 19, 2017

One can mentally subtract the February Outlook from the three-month Outlook and create the Outlook for the last two months in the three-month period namely March and April 2017. When I do that, I deduce that:

With respect to temperature, the three-month forecast has an elongated cool area across the Northern Tier which in the February map has a smaller east to west coverage but extends a bit further south. This suggests that March and April may have to have the opposite anomaly where the two patterns differ for the three-month average to work out. Also the warm anomaly is rotated counterclockwise a bit so that where the February and three-month wet anomaly do not match, March and April will need to be a bit different than shown in the three-month average for the three-month average to work out. There are for precipitation similar situations. The Northern Tier three-month wet anomaly shows as EC in places in February. So again March and April need to have probabilities that differ from what is shown for the three-months for the three-month average to work out. Same goes for the Southern Tier dry anomalies.

The whole idea is that a three-month average set of probabilities for anomalies is the sum of that information for three months. If you have the first month differing in places from the three-month average you can calculate what a map of the second and third month would look like for the sum of the two maps (February and March/April) to equal the published three-month map. This then allows us to create a March/April map. I have not created a graphic for such a map but simply pointed out where such a map would differ from either the February Map or the three-month map. There are so many differences this time that I have not really itemized the States where the March/April anomalies and probabilities differ from what is shown for the three-month period. Hopefully, I have provided enough for the reader to work it out for the locations of interest.

Discussion

Below are excerpts (significantly reorganized and with a lot of the redundancy removed) from the Discussion released by NOAA on January 19, 2017. Headings that are "Initial Cap" only rather than all caps were added by the Author of this Update Report for clarity. Also we have organized the sequence of the sections of NOAA Discussion to first present the Atmospheric and Oceanic Conditions and then the Current Month, the Three or Four-month period, and finally the remainder of the 15 Month Forecast. We think that sequence with the three- to four-month period broken out separately, makes the discussion more useful for more readers.

CURRENT ATMOSPHERIC AND OCEANIC CONDITIONS

OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC OBSERVATIONS INDICATE THAT LA NINA CONDITIONS ARE PRESENT. DURING THE PAST FOUR WEEKS, EQUATORIAL SSTS IN THE NINO INDEX REGIONS REMAINED BELOW (ABOVE)-AVERAGE ACROSS THE CENTRAL AND EASTERN PACIFIC OCEAN (NEAR THE MARITIME CONTINENT). NEGATIVE ANOMALIES REMAINED IN PLACE FROM THE DATE LINE TO 80W. ANOMALIES WERE AS LARGE -1.0 DEGREE C, THOUGH THE NINO REGION INDEX VALUES HOVERED NEAR -0.5 DEGREE C AS THE LARGER MAGNITUDE ANOMALY VALUES EXTENDED OVER RELATIVELY SMALL AREAS.  NEGATIVE SUBSURFACE TEMPERATURE ANOMALIES PERSISTED, SINCE APRIL 2016, ACROSS THE CENTRAL AND EASTERN PACIFIC. HOWEVER, THESE ANOMALIES WEAKENED DURING DECEMBER. THE ONI VALUE (OCTOBER - NOVEMBER - DECEMBER 2016), BASED ON SST DEPARTURES FROM AVERAGE IN THE NINO 3.4 REGION, WAS -0.8 DEGREES C.

ENHANCED CONVECTION REMAINED CENTERED OVER THE MARITIME CONTINENT, WITH SUPPRESSED CONVECTION EXTENDING EASTWARD FROM 160E ACROSS MUCH OF THE EQUATORIAL PACIFIC. DURING THE PAST COUPLE OF MONTHS, SUBSEASONAL VARIABILITY HAS DISRUPTED THIS PATTERN AND LED TO PERIODIC DRYING ACROSS PARTS OF THE MARITIME CONTINENT AND EASTERN INDIAN OCEAN. TRADE WINDS AVERAGED NEAR NORMAL ACROSS THE CENTRAL AND EASTERN EQUATORIAL PACIFIC FROM NOVEMBER 10 TO DECEMBER 9, 2016.

AS OF EARLY JANUARY, NEGATIVE SST ANOMALIES WERE PRESENT OVER THE NORTH PACIFIC ALONG 45N. POSITIVE SST ANOMALIES WERE MEASURED OVER THE BERING SEA AND NEAR THE COAST OF ALASKA, AS WELL AS OVER THE CENTRAL PACIFIC ALONG 30N. THE ABOVE-NORMAL SSTS NEAR ALASKA, COMBINED WITH THE RECENT ATMOSPHERIC CIRCULATION, HAVE RESULTED IN SEA ICE COVERAGE THAT IS MUCH BELOW-NORMAL AND LATE TO ARRIVE AT POINTS ALONG THE WEST COAST OF ALASKA.

PROGNOSTIC DISCUSSION OF SST FORECASTS

THE CPC SST CONSOLIDATION FORECAST, WHICH INCLUDES THREE STATISTICAL FORECASTS ALONG WITH THE CFS, PREDICTS ENSO-NEUTRAL CONDITIONS DURING FMA 2017 AND BEYOND. THERE IS A SLIGHT TILT TOWARD BELOW-AVERAGE SSTS [Editor's Note: I think they meant to say above-average SSTS] DURING NEXT WINTER, BUT THE UNCERTAINTY IS TOO LARGE TO MAKE ANY DEFINITIVE STATEMENT ABOUT TROPICAL PACIFIC SSTS NEXT WINTER. THE NORTH AMERICAN MULTI-MODEL ENSEMBLE (NMME) ENSEMBLE MEAN FORECAST FOR THE NINO-3.4 SST ANOMALY IS SLIGHTLY WARMER THAN LAST MONTH, WITH ENSO-NEUTRAL FAVORED EARLY IN OUTLOOK PERIOD. BASED ON THE LATEST OBSERVATIONAL AND MODEL FORECAST INDICATORS, THE OFFICIAL CPC/IRI ENSO OUTLOOK FAVORS ENSO-NEUTRAL CONDITIONS AT 70% DURING FMA 2017.

30-DAY OUTLOOK DISCUSSION FOR FEBRUARY 2017

THE FEBRUARY 2017 TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION OUTLOOKS ARE BASED ON VARIOUS CLIMATE MODELS, STATISTICAL TOOLS, AND THE LIKELY STATES OF PATTERNS OF EXTRA-TROPICAL VARIABILITY. THE CURRENT LA NINA CONTINUES TO FADE, AND A TRANSITION TO NEUTRAL ENSO CONDITIONS IS EXPECTED BY FEBRUARY. CLIMATE SIGNALS ASSOCIATED WITH LA NINA WERE THEREFORE NOT LARGELY CONSIDERED.  

THE MJO IS CURRENTLY ACTIVE, WITH THE ENHANCED CONVECTIVE PHASE OVER THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE AND AFRICA. DURING THE NEXT 2 WEEKS, THE ENHANCED PHASE IS ANTICIPATED TO PROGRESS EASTWARD INTO THE WESTERN (AND PERHAPS EASTERN) INDIAN OCEAN. THE INDIAN OCEAN DIPOLE (IOD) HAS BEEN PERSISTENT IN ITS NEGATIVE PHASE, WITH ENHANCED CONVECTION CONCENTRATED NEAR AND OVER THE MARITIME CONTINENT, AND GENERALLY SUPPRESSED CONVECTION OVER MOST OF THE INDIAN OCEAN AND WESTERN PACIFIC. MJO COMPOSITES (BASED ON THE EXPECTATION THAT THE ENHANCED PHASE OF THE MJO WILL REMAIN OVER THE INDIAN OCEAN) PROVIDE LITTLE GUIDANCE FOR THE U.S. TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION OUTLOOKS FOR FEBRUARY.

Temperature

THE TEMPERATURE OUTLOOK FOR FEBRUARY 2017 IS VERY UNCERTAIN, PRIMARILY DUE TO CONFLICTING DYNAMICAL AND STATISTICAL PREDICTIONS. THERE ARE ELEVATED CHANCES OF ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR NEAR-COASTAL CALIFORNIA, AND ALONG THE FAR SOUTHERN BORDER STATES TO, AND INCLUDING, THE GULF COAST AND SOUTHERN ATLANTIC COAST STATES. ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE ALSO FAVORED IN FEBRUARY FOR APPROXIMATELY THE WESTERN AND SOUTHERN HALVES OF ALASKA, PART OF WHICH IS DUE TO ABOVE-AVERAGE COASTAL SSTS. THE AREAS OF FAVORED ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE GENERALLY SUPPORTED BY THE CALIBRATED AND UNCALIBRATED VERSIONS OF THE NMME, THE NCAR CLIMATE MODELS, THE CANADIAN MODELS, AND TO A LESSER EXTENT, THE IMME (INTERNATIONAL MULTI-MODEL ENSEMBLE), NASA, AND GFDL MODELS. EARLIER RUNS OF THE CFS MODEL (ABOUT 10 DAYS AGO) PREDICTED ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR MOST OF THE CONTIGUOUS UNITED STATES, AND NORTHWESTERN PORTIONS OF ALASKA. SINCE THAT TIME, THE CFS HAS UNDERGONE SEVERAL TRANSITIONS. THE FIRST INVOLVED A RELATIVELY COLD PATTERN EAST OF THE ROCKIES, AND A RELATIVELY WARM PATTERN WEST OF THE ROCKIES. MOST RECENTLY, THE CFS FORECAST PATTERN HAS FLIPPED, FAVORING BELOW-NORMAL TEMPERATURES IN MUCH OF THE INTERIOR WEST, AND A RETURN TO ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ACROSS THE EAST. THE FLUCTUATIONS OF THE CFS DURING THE PAST 10 DAYS SEEM TO SUGGEST A CIRCULATION PATTERN THAT HAS NOT YET LOCKED IN TO A STABLE SOLUTION. THESE FLUCTUATIONS IN THE CFS OUTPUT ARE ALSO LARGELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PREDOMINANCE OF EQUAL CHANCES (EC) ANTICIPATED IN THE TEMPERATURE PATTERN ACROSS THE CONUS. BELOW-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE FAVORED OVER THE NORTHERN PLAINS AND PORTIONS OF THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY. THIS IS BASED ON SOME OF THE CFS MODEL RUNS, THE NCAR CLIMATE MODELS, AND TO A LESSER EXTENT, THE IMME. THIS AREA OF FAVORED BELOW-NORMAL TEMPERATURES IS ALSO SUPPORTED BY THE PRESENCE OF DEEP SNOW COVER.

Precipitation  

THE PRECIPITATION OUTLOOK FOR FEBRUARY 2017 IS ALSO FAIRLY UNCERTAIN, MOSTLY DUE TO CONFLICTING DYNAMICAL AND STATISTICAL MODEL SOLUTIONS. ODDS FOR ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION ARE ENHANCED ACROSS THE NORTHERN PLAINS, AND FROM ABOUT ILLINOIS AND INDIANA NORTHEASTWARD ACROSS THE CENTRAL AND EASTERN GREAT LAKES REGION, AND NORTHERN NEW ENGLAND. THESE TWO AREAS OF FAVORED ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION ARE SUPPORTED BY RECENT RUNS (ABOUT PAST 8-10 DAYS) OF THE PROBABILISTIC CFS, AND TO SOME EXTENT, THE NMME, AND THE NASA MODEL. BELOW-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED ACROSS CALIFORNIA, MOST OF NEVADA, ARIZONA, NEW MEXICO, MOST OF THE SOUTHERN PLAINS, AND ACROSS GEORGIA AND THE CAROLINAS. THIS IS BASED PRIMARILY ON THE CFS, WITH LESSER CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE SMLR, CCA, AND THE OCN. THE CALIBRATED AND UNCALIBRATED NMME SOLUTIONS SUPPORT RELATIVE DRYNESS OVER PORTIONS OF THE SOUTHEAST, AS DO THE CANADIAN CANCM4 MODEL, NCAR, AND NASA GEOS5 RUNS.

Three Month February - March – April

Temperature

THE FEBRUARY-MARCH-APRIL (FMA) 2017 TEMPERATURE OUTLOOK FAVORS ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES FROM THE NORTHEAST TO THE GULF COAST, AND WESTWARD ACROSS THE SOUTHERN PLAINS TO THE FOUR CORNERS REGION. THE HIGHEST ODDS (GREATER THAN 50 PERCENT) FOR ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE INDICATED OVER NEW MEXICO AND TEXAS. ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE ALSO FAVORED FOR WESTERN AND NORTHERN ALASKA. ELEVATED ODDS FOR BELOW-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE PREDICTED FROM THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST TO THE NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS AND UPPER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY.

THE OUTLOOK FOR FMA 2017 WAS CHANGED LITTLE FROM LAST MONTH. PROBABILITIES FOR ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES FROM THE OHIO VALLEY TO THE SOUTHEAST WERE REDUCED DUE TO UNCERTAINTY IMPLIED BY MODEL OUTLOOKS AND STATISTICAL TOOLS (CCA AND CA-SST) INDICATING THE POTENTIAL FOR COLDER AIR TO SPILL ACROSS THE GREAT LAKES REGION. THE DECREASED ODDS RESULTED IN EC NOW INDICATED OVER THE OHIO VALLEY, WHILE A SLIGHT TILT TOWARD ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES REMAINED OVER THE TENNESSEE VALLEY, MID-ATLANTIC, AND THE SOUTHEAST. RECENT HEAVY SNOWS AND THE LAGGED IMPACT TO TEMPERATURES ACROSS THE GREAT BASIN AND CENTRAL ROCKIES ALSO RESULTED IN A SHIFT AWAY FROM FAVORING ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES IN THOSE REGIONS.

SUBSEASONAL TROPICAL VARIABILITY SUCH AS THE MADDEN-JULIAN OSCILLATION, ESPECIALLY DURING FEBRUARY WHEN VARIANCE IS HIGHEST, MAY PLAY A ROLE IN DETERMINING THE OBSERVED TEMPERATURE FIELD DURING FMA 2017 ACROSS THE CENTRAL AND EASTERN U.S. IF ENHANCED CONVECTION REMAINS CENTERED OVER THE MARITIME CONTINENT AND FAR WESTERN PACIFIC, THE COLDER OUTCOME INDICATED BY STATISTICAL GUIDANCE IS MORE LIKELY ACROSS THE NORTHERN CONUS. THE ARCTIC OSCILLATION (AO) HAS BEEN POSITIVE FOR THE PAST 45 DAYS. THE GFS MODEL INDICATES THAT A POSITIVE AO INDEX WILL PERSIST INTO THE LATTER HALF OF JANUARY AND INTO EARLY FEBRUARY. THE AO INDEX HAS VERIFIED OUTSIDE OF THE MODEL ENVELOPE A FEW TIMES DURING THE PAST 60 DAYS, SO THERE IS UNCERTAINTY WITH THE AO OUTLOOK GOING FORWARD.

Precipitation

THE FMA 2017 PRECIPITATION OUTLOOK INDICATES ENHANCED PROBABILITIES OF ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FROM THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST, ACROSS THE NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS, TO THE GREAT LAKES AND OHIO VALLEY. BELOW-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION AMOUNTS ARE MOST LIKELY FOR THE SOUTHWEST AND WESTERN TEXAS, AS WELL AS FROM THE CENTRAL GULF COAST TO THE SOUTHEAST AND THE MID-ATLANTIC.  

THE FMA 2017 PRECIPITATION OUTLOOK REFLECTS THE WEAK LA NINA WITH A GENERALLY DRY PATTERN ACROSS THE SOUTHERN TIER AND AN ACTIVE STORM TRACK OVER THE NORTHERN CONUS. MODEL OUTPUTS REFLECTED THAT SAME PATTERN, ALTHOUGH SIGNALS IN THE MODEL OUTLOOKS WERE VERY WEAK, WITH MANY SMALL SCALE ANOMALIES AND LOW PROBABILITIES. COMPARED TO THE FMA OUTLOOK FROM LAST MONTH, THE NEW OUTLOOK REFLECTS A WEAKER LA NINA SIGNAL WHILE INCORPORATING THE LATEST MODEL GUIDANCE AND STATISTICAL TOOLS. THE RESULTING OUTLOOK FAVORS BELOW-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION OVER THE MID-ATLANTIC, SOUTHEAST, AND SOUTHWEST, WHILE SLIGHTLY INCREASING ODDS FOR ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION OVER THE NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS. THROUGH MAM 2017, ABOVE- (BELOW-) MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED OVER THE NORTHERN (SOUTHERN) CONUS.

PROGNOSTIC DISCUSSION OF OUTLOOKS - FMA 2017 TO FMA 2018 (with Emphasis on Months Beyond FMA) 

TEMPERATURE

THROUGH THE SPRING AND SUMMER, THE OUTLOOK TOOLS INDICATE THAT ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE MOST FAVORED FOR MOST OF THE CONUS AND ALASKA. THE CPC CONSOLIDATION INDICATES A WEAKNESS IN THE SIGNAL FOR ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES OVER THE CENTRAL PORTIONS OF THE CONUS, WHICH IS REFLECTED IN THE OUTLOOKS. BY AUTUMN, ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE FAVORED FOR THE ENTIRE FORECAST DOMAIN.

PRECIPITATION

BUT THAT [Editor's Note: To  NOAA a weak La Nina signal, to me a Near La Nina signal] SIGNAL FADES THROUGH THE SPRING. BY NEXT SUMMER, ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS MORE LIKELY OVER THE SOUTHWEST CONUS, CONSISTENT WITH MODEL OUTPUTS, AND THE NORTHEAST, CONSISTENT WITH TRENDS AS INTEGRATED INTO THE CPC CON. BY AUTUMN OF 2017, NO SIGNIFICANT SIGNALS ARE EVIDENT. TRENDS FAVOR BELOW-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION OVER THE SOUTHEAST AND PORTIONS OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA, SO THOSE SIGNALS ARE INDICATED IN THE OUTLOOKS FOR LATER IN 2017 AND EARLY 2018.

Forecasting the Evolution of ENSO

Here is the latest NOAA forecast of Nino 3.4 temperature anomalies.  You can see the "blue" newer model runs and the "red" older model runs. The Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) which is the three-month rolling average of the Nino 3.4 values is NOAA's primary indicator for monitoring El Niño and La Niña. The secondary indicator is the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) which is based on the extent that the air pressure anomaly in Tahiti exceeds the air pressure anomaly in Darwin Australia.  It is a complicated formula and is intended to assess the response of the atmosphere to the changes in the pattern of warm and cool anomalies measured by the Nino 3.4 Index. It confirms rather than predicts the phases of ENSO. We will present the SOI data following the NOAA Nino 3.4 forecast this discussion.

 CFS.V2 SST Forecast January 21, 2017

At this point in time, the forecast by the NOAA model is that Nino 3.4 no longer is sufficiently cool (-0.5C or cooler) to be considered a La Nina (but NOAA does not say this) and is expected to continue to be less cool. Looking at this graphic you can see that the Nino 3.4 reading is about -0.2 not -0.5 or cooler. -0.2 means -0.2C compared to what one would expect in the area measured this time of the year. NOAA claims the atmosphere has recently confirmed that borderline La Nina Conditions apply but the SOI does not support that conclusion as shown below. The ultimate recording of this as a La Nina event depends on the duration requirements being met and that may or may not occur and at this point it seems that will not occur. It will be close but we wonder why NOAA insists on promoting the idea that we are having a La Nina when it is clear that this Cool Event does not fully meet the criteria to be recorded as a La Nina. In reality, fully meeting the criteria or just barely missing may have little impact on the weather that occurs.

Re The SOI

SOI values as of January 20, 2017

Normally La Nina Conditions are confirmed by SOI 30 day values that are greater than or equal to +7.0. As you can see, that was not the case in October, November or December. It was the case in September. So any claims that the atmosphere is showing La Nina is questionable at the very least. NOAA seems to think that the Warm Pool being shifted to the west of the Dateline is adequate to conclude that La Nina conditions exist. It is significant but not sufficient to conclude that La Nina Conditions exist.

And now we have the IRI/CPC January 19, 2017 fully model-based report.

January 19, 2017 Model Based ENSO Forecast

Here is the discussion released with the January 19 Graphic

Recent and Current Conditions

Since August 2016, the NINO3.4 SST anomaly has been near or slightly cooler than -0.5C, indicative of a weak La Niña SST condition. For December the SST anomaly was -0.42C, and for Sep-Nov it was -0.57 C. [Editor's Note: those who present information without attempting to influence how it is interpreted would probably reverse the sequence and say that for Sep--Nov it was -0.57C  and for December the SST anomaly was -0.42C which is an ENSO Neutral Value. I hate to be the one to inform  you but NOAA is not IMO always maximally professional about how they conduct themselves]. The IRI’s definition of El Niño, like NOAA/Climate Prediction Center’s, requires that the SST anomaly in the Nino3.4 region (5S-5N; 170W-120W) exceed 0.5 C. Similarly, for La Niña, the anomaly must be -0.5 C or less. The climatological probabilities for La Niña, neutral, and El Niño conditions vary seasonally, and are shown in a table at the bottom of this page for each 3-month season. The most recent weekly anomaly in the Nino3.4 region was -0.3, in the ENSO-neutral level. However, accompanying this ocean condition are atmospheric variables that mainly continue to indicate borderline or weak La Niña. The lower-level trade winds have been enhanced only weakly, while the upper level has shown slightly more convincing westerly anomalies. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) had been positive but has averaged just weakly so since November. On the other hand, convection anomalies across the equatorial Pacific have been suggestive of La Niña. Subsurface temperature anomalies across the eastern equatorial Pacific have essentially returned to average. Overall, given the SST and the atmospheric conditions, the diagnosis of weak La Niña remains appropriate but the event is thought likely to be in the process of dissipation.

Expected Conditions

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 but called for the weak La Niña to return to neutral by February. The latest set of model ENSO predictions, from mid-January, now available in the IRI/CPC ENSO prediction plume, is discussed below. Those predictions suggest that the SST is most likely to be in the ENSO-neutral range from January-March season forward through most of 2017, but with increased uncertainty from around May onward.

As of mid-January, 12% of the dynamical or statistical models predicts La Niña conditions for the initial Jan-Mar 2017 season, while 88% 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 Apr-Jun 2017 season, among models that do use subsurface temperature information, no model predicts La Niña conditions, 90% predicts ENSO-neutral conditions, and 10% predicts El Niño conditions. For all model types, the probabilities for La Niña are below 10% for from Feb-Apr through Sep-Nov 2017. The probability for neutral conditions is near or above 90% from Jan-Mar through Apr-Jun 2017, dropping to between 60 and 65% from Jun-Aug through Sep-Nov. Probabilities for El Niño are near zero initially, rise to 25% by May-Jul 2017, and to near 35% from Jun-Aug to Sep-Nov. Recent and Current Conditions

Since August 2016, the NINO3.4 SST anomaly has been near or slightly cooler than -0.5 C, indicative of a weak La Niña SST condition. For December the SST anomaly was -0.42, and for Sep-Nov it was -0.57 C. The IRI’s definition of El Niño, like NOAA/Climate Prediction Center’s, requires that the SST anomaly in the Nino3.4 region (5S-5N; 170W-120W) exceed 0.5 C. Similarly, for La Niña, the anomaly must be -0.5 C or less. The climatological probabilities for La Niña, neutral, and El Niño conditions vary seasonally, and are shown in a table at the bottom of this page for each 3-month season. The most recent weekly anomaly in the Nino3.4 region was -0.3, in the ENSO-neutral level. However, accompanying this ocean condition are atmospheric variables that mainly continue to indicate borderline or weak La Niña. The lower-level trade winds have been enhanced only weakly, while the upper level has shown slightly more convincing westerly anomalies. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) had been positive but has averaged just weakly so since November. On the other hand, convection anomalies across the equatorial Pacific have been suggestive of La Niña. Subsurface temperature anomalies across the eastern equatorial Pacific have essentially returned to average. Overall, given the SST and the atmospheric conditions, the diagnosis of weak La Niña remains appropriate but the event is thought likely to be in the process of dissipation.

Expected Conditions

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 but called for the weak La Niña to return to neutral by February. The latest set of model ENSO predictions, from mid-January, now available in the IRI/CPC ENSO prediction plume, is discussed below. Those predictions suggest that the SST is most likely to be in the ENSO-neutral range from January-March season forward through most of 2017, but with increased uncertainty from around May onward.

As of mid-January, 12% of the dynamical or statistical models predicts La Niña conditions for the initial Jan-Mar 2017 season, while 88% 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 Apr-Jun 2017 season, among models that do use subsurface temperature information, no model predicts La Niña conditions, 90% predicts ENSO-neutral conditions, and 10% predicts El Niño conditions. For all model types, the probabilities for La Niña are below 10% for from Feb-Apr through Sep-Nov 2017. The probability for neutral conditions is near or above 90% from Jan-Mar through Apr-Jun 2017, dropping to between 60 and 65% from Jun-Aug through Sep-Nov. Probabilities for El Niño are near zero initially, rise to 25% by May-Jul 2017, and to near 35% from Jun-Aug to Sep-Nov.

Here is the recently released JAMSTEC Nino 3.4 Forecast.

JAMSTEC January 1, 2017 ENSO Forecast.

Based on the Nino 3.4 projection, JAMSTEC is saying the Cool Event no longer meets the criteria of Nino 3.4 being colder than -0.5 and the duration of being under -0.5 was not sufficient  to qualify as a La Nina. JAMSTEC is raising the possibility of an El Nino for the following winter. But it is too soon to make that prediction and the forecast also suggests that such a warm event would be too short to qualify as an El Nino.

The Discussion that goes with their Nino 3.4 forecast has just been released.

Jan. 16, 2017 Prediction from 1st Jan., 20170

ENSO forecast:

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.

Regional forecast:

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.

Here is the most recent Nino 3.4 report from the Australian BOM.

Australia POAMA ENSO model run January 15, 2017

This is basically the same forecast as other agencies but with a different threshold for considering a SSTA to be either La Nina or El Nino and slightly higher values than NOAA through November so BOM does not show anything other than ENSO Neutral. If BOM is not incorrect and if JAMSTEC is not incorrect then NOAA has been reporting questionable values for Nino 3.4. The BOM values do not agree with the JAMSTEC values so there is a margin for error. It is really hard to know who is correct. What we do know is they are all measuring the exact same part of the Equatorial Pacific. And as shown earlier the SOI has not confirmed that this was a possible La Nina. So to me NOAA  has been hyping a phantom La Nina. Now it is clear that the difference between a cool event that does not meet the criteria to be considered a La Nina and a weak La Nina may not be very great. But scientists should try to be precise. NOAA is not precise. They have problems keeping up with changes. They get locked into a certain interpretation of what is going on and do not react quickly to new information. It may have to do with being a very large organization.

Now the Comparison of the NOAA and JAMSTEC Forecasts. I am only discussing the differences for CONUS since NOAA does not cover the World in this set of forecasts. But the JAMSTEC World forecast is here for you to see and I comment on the highlights of that forecast also.

JAMSTEC works in three-month intervals and does not change the selection of months each time they update. So we have  MAM, JJA, and SON to work with from JAMSTEC. This creates a small problem as I have a JFM and FMA from NOAA but no corresponding maps from JAMSTEC. So we are starting our comparison a month out  i.e.  we are not comparing the February JAMSTEC and NOAA forecasts. 

In the past I showed the JAMSTEC forecast map first and commented on it and then I showed the NOAA map and commented on it and compared it to the JAMSTEC map that was above the NOAA map. This time I have changed the sequence and I am showing the NOAA maps first.

MAM 2017

Temperature

NOAA

MAM 2017 NOAA Temperature Issued on Januaryi 19, 2017

JAMSTEC WORLD MAP

MAM 2017.2017 Temperature JAMSTEC From Jan 1, 2017

For the World It is mostly warm but with notable cool areas in Northern Brazil, Western Australia, North Africa, Extreme Southeast Asia and Northeast Canada.

For CONUS, NOAA shows two thirds of CONUS warm with a divide that is a SW to NE division. They show the third that is north and west of the warm anomaly to be EC. JAMSTEC has more of a north to south divide but the end result is not that different. Overall JAMSTEC has a view that is warmer than NOAA for CONUS. It is also warmer for Alaska.

Precipitation

NOAA

NOAA MAM 2017 Precipitation Issued January 19, 2017

JAMSTEC WORLD MAP

MAM 2017 Jamstec Precipitation Forecast kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkFrom Jan 1, 2017

Of interest is the mostly wet South America and dry Maritime Continent and Japan. There is really somewhat of a Northern Hemisphere/Southern Hemisphere divide with the Southern Hemisphere being wetter than the Northern Hemisphere.

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

  MAM CONUS precipitation Extract from JAMSTEC   MAM Europe Precipitation Extracted from JAMSTEC

For CONUS. NOAA shows a La Nina North South divide while JAMSTEC shows a west/east divide. Both show Alaska as EC. For Europe, JAMSTEC is showing a dry west and a wetter southeast. . 

JJA 2017

Temperature

NOAA

JJA 2017 Temperature NOAA Issued on january 19, 2017

JAMSTEC WORLD MAP

JJA 2017 JAMSTEC Temp from Jan 1

For JAMSTEC we see cool areas only in small parts of South America, very Southeast Europe: Eastern Siberia and Southeast Central Siberia bordering on Mongolia, Part of Alaska and Eastern Canada.

JAMSTEC and NOAA pretty much agree that CONUS will be warm. They disagree on Alaska as mentioned above

Precipitation

NOAA

NOAA JJA 2017 Precipitation Issued on January 17, 2017

JAMSTEC CONUS (Extracted from the the JAMSTEC  World Map)

 

 

JJA Extracted from JAMSTEC World

 

The most notable difference is that JAMSTEC shows the Southeast wet and is not showing a strong Southwest Monsoon.

 

JAMSTEC WORLD MAP

JJA 2017 JAMSTEC Precipitation Forecast from Jan 1, 2017

The UK and Scandinavia are dry. Korea is dry. Australia is a bit dry. Central  America is dry. West Africa is wet.

SON 2017

Temperature

NOAA

NOAA SON 2017 Temperature Issued January 19, 2017

JAMSTEC WORLD MAP

SON 2017 JAMSTEC Temperature from Jan 1, 2017

JAMSTEC (unlike NOAA) has Alaska cool , Canada cool, North Africa and South Africa cool, and an area that includes but extends beyond Kazakhstan cool, Southeast China cool and even Venezuela cool. 

NOAA has CONUS warm and JAMSTEC has a west/east split with the larger portion being cool. The larger portion is the West other than New Mexico and Arizona which are shown as warm. 

Precipitation

NOAA

SON 2017 Precipitation Issued January 19, 2017

JAMSTEC CONUS (Extracted from the JAMSTEC World Map)

 

SON Precipitation Extracted from JAMSTEC World

 

JAMSTEC is not shy about making a precipitation forecast for CONUS for SON 2017. NOAA shows it EC while JAMSTEC shows it mostly wet other than the Southeast.

JAMSTEC WORLD MAP

SON 2017 JAMSTEC Precipitation Forecas from Jan 1, 2017t

Europe is dry, South Africa is wet. Australia is dry and areas to the north of Australia also are dry.  Eastern Siberia and Alaska are wet. North Korea is dry.

Conclusion

Most of the differences with respect to CONUS can be explained by the differing forecasts for ENSO with JAMSTEC shutting down the Cool Event faster than NOAA and factoring in something close to an El Nino for the second and third periods in their forecast. Given the uncertainty about the Phase of ENSO that we might have for this Summer and next Fall, neither of the forecasts is very reliable for the second half of 2017.  I believe that NOAA with the help of IRI/CPC will soon begin to address the Spring Prediction Barrier. Thus within a month or two, these two forecasts should converge as confidence is gained in the Phase of ENSO that will apply to Summer, Fall, and the 2017/2018 Winter.

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

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