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posted on 20 February 2017

February 20, 2017 Weather and Climate Report - Transition to Spring can be Cruel

Written by Sig Silber

NOAA has a "much above average" level of confidence in their 6 - 10 Day Outlook and I do not believe that such a high level of confidence is justified. The pattern in the Eastern Pacific that controls teleconnections is in transition which to me means that there are too many moving parts to be maximally confident. Further out, there are AO/NAO uncertainties. The Northeast U.S. may be the area with the most uncertainty.

 weather.caption

First some housekeeping information. For those who want the forecasts beyond three months, we recently reported on the February 16 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 March 16, 2017.

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.

Water Vapor.

This view of the past 24 hours provides a lot of insight as to what is happening.

Eastern Pacific Animation

Below is the same graphic as above but without the animation to show the current situation with respect to water vapor imagery for North America. It also covers more of CONUS.

 Water Vapor Imagery

Tonight, Monday evening  February 20, 2017, as I am looking at the above graphic, we see a cloud-free Florida and pretty much a cloud-free Southwest.

Looking at the current activity of the Jet Stream.

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 especially in the winter 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 with the cutoff lows being further south than the Jet Stream.

Current Jet Stream

One sees the current jet stream above. Notice it is meridional leaving to a slow movement of weather from west to east. Also the Jet Stream is not very strong.

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

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

Image credit:  Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, Scripps/UCSD.  More explanation can be found at Atmospheric Rivers (Click to read full Weather Underground Dr. Bob Henson article). For a more technical discussion this might be a good reference. The idea is that we have now concluded that moisture moves via narrow but deep channels in the atmosphere rather than being very spread out. This raises the potential for extreme precipitation events.

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

Notice that right now we see moisture moving up from the Gulf of Mexico and the remnants of a Pacific Trough that has moved to the East and a new flow from the Pacific into California but probably sufficiently south to not be a major problem for the Oroville Dam. This graphic is about Atmospheric Rivers i.e. thick concentrated movements of water moisture.

60 Hour Forecast.

Here is a national animation of weather fronts and precipitation forecasts with four 6-hour projections of the conditions that will apply covering the next 24 hours and a second day of two 12-hour projections the second of which is the forecast for 48 hours out and to the extent it applies for 12 hours, this animation is intended to provide coverage out to 60 hours. Beyond 60 hours, additional maps are available at links provided below.

current highs and lows

The explanation for the coding used in these maps, i.e. the full legend, can be found here although it includes some symbols that are no longer shown in the graphic because they are implemented by color coding.

U.S.  3 Day to  7 Day Forecasts

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

Day 3 Weather Forecast

The Aleutian Low is as I look at this Day  3 forecast a single Low with central air pressure so low that I can not read it but my best guess yesterday was that it was 960 hPa which is a very low central air pressure. Today, Monday it looks like it may not be quite as Low (intense) but it is still quite low for this time of the year. It is way over by Kamchatka.  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.
The High Pressure off of the West Coast, the familiar RRR, on Day 3 is back with a fairly high surface air pressure of 1036 hPa but the isobars are not tightly packed so the pressure gradient is low and this is not a powerful blocking ridge. But it does make it more difficult than recently for storms to reach the Western Coast of 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.

The situation is forecast to change rapidly so I am also showing the Day 6 forecast which you can see is quite different.

Day 6 WPC Eastern Pacific Forecast.

This rapid change is one of many reasons that I have concluded that it is not realistic to assign a 5 out of 5 level of confidence to forecasts right now.

Now looking at the 5 Day Jet Stream Forecast

Jet Stream Five Days Out .

You can see the Jet Stream wide with not very high wind speeds impacting Northern California down to La Paz Mexico. Remember this is a H3 view meaning a view at 30,000 feet which is about six miles high.

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

To see how the pattern is projected to evolve,  please click here. In addition to the shaded areas which show an interpretation of the Jet Stream, one can also see the wind vectors (arrows) at the 300 Mb level.

This longer animation shows how the jet stream is crossing the Pacific and when it reaches the U.S. West Coast is going every which way.

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

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

Click here to gain access to a very flexible computer graphic. You can adjust what is being displayed by clicking on "earth" adjusting the parameters and then clicking again on "earth" to remove the menu. Right now it is set up to show the 500 hPa wind patterns which is the main way of looking at synoptic weather patterns. This amazing graphic covers North and South America. It could be included in the Worldwide weather forecast section of this report but it is useful here re understanding the wind circulation patterns.

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

Short term forecasts

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

Seven Day WPC Quantitative precipitation forecast

We still see the heavy forecasted precipitation for Northern California but much less and less widespread than recently. The Gulf Coast looks to be wet also as does the Great Lakes Region. The graphic shows the cumulative precipitation over a seven day period.

The map below is the mid-atmosphere 7-Day chart rather than the surface highs and lows and weather features. In some cases it provides a clearer less confusing picture as it shows only the major pressure gradients. This graphic auto-updates so when you look at it you will see NOAA's latest thinking. The speed at which these troughs and ridges travel across the nation will determine the timing of weather impacts. This graphic auto-updates I think every six hours and it changes a lot. Because "Thickness Lines" are shown by those green lines on this graphic, it is a good place to define "Thickness" and its uses. The 540 Level general signifies equal chances for snow at sea level locations. Remember that 540 relates to sea level.

7 Day 500 MB Geopotential Forecast

Thinking about clockwise movements around High Pressure Systems and counter- clockwise movements around Low Pressure Systems provides a lot of information.
What you can see in the above graphic is a Western Trough and Ridging on both Coasts. This graphic has shifted to the west both Sunday and today from the prior forecast which is another reason I am less confident in the short-term forecasts than NOAA.
Remember this is a forecast for Day 7. Note the 540 Thickness Line re the above discussion of thickness and snow likelihood.
This week it looks like the 540 line will impact the Northern Tier. How far south Arctic Air will manage to intrude into CONUS remains an area of uncertainty for the next few weeks.  .

 Four- Week Outlook

I am going to show the three-month FMA Outlook (for reference purposes), the Early Outlook for the single month of March,  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 FMA Temperature Outlook issued on February 16, 2017:

MAM 2017  Temperature Outlook Issued on February 13, 2017

Here is the Temperature Early Outlook for March issued on February 16, 2017

March Temperature Early Outlook Issued on February 16, 2017

6 - 10 Day Temperature Outlook issued today (Note the NOAA Level of Confidence in the Forecast Released on February 20 was 5 out of 5)

6 - 10 Day Temperature Outlook

8 - 14 Day Temperature Outlook issued today (Note the NOAA Level of Confidence in the Forecast Released on February 20 was 4 out of 5) 

8-14 Day Temperature Outlook

Looking further out.

Experimental Week 3-4 Temperature Outlook

Consolidation of 6 - 10, 8 - 14 and Experimental Week 3-4 Forecasts (interpreted on February 20, 2017

February 26 to March 6 March 4 to March 17

Alaska will start warm and become mixed. CONUS is warm in the Western half of CONUS and cool in the Eastern Half of CONUS and EC in between. The Eastern Half in particular has a SW to NE orientation.

Alaska will be mostly warm. There are three anomalies shown for CONUS. the Northeast Quadrant will be cool. Florida will be warm and an area from California northeast through Utah will be warm. In between these anomalies the forecast is EC. The transition to the pattern shown in the Week 3 - 4 Forecast from the pattern shown in the 8-14 Day forecast seems to be improbable..
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 temperature pattern seems to be consistent with ENSO Neutral

Now - Precipitation

Here is the three-month MAM Precipitation Outlook issued on February 16, 2017

MAM 2017 Precipitation Outlook Issued on February 16, 2016

And here is the Early Precipitation Outlook for March issued on February 16, 2017

February  2017  Precipitation Early Outlook Issued on February 16, 2017

6 - 10 Day Precipitation Outlook Issued Today (Note the NOAA Level of Confidence in the Forecast Released on February 20 was 5 out of 5)

6 - 10 Day Precipitation Outlook

8 - 14 Day Precipitation Outlook Issued Today (Note the NOAA Level of Confidence in the Forecast Released on February 20 was 4 out of 5)

Current 8 - 14 Day Precipitation Outlook

Looking further out.

Weeks 3 and 4 Experimental Forecast..

Consolidation of 6 - 10, 8 - 14, and Week 3-4 Forecasts as of February 20, 2017
February 26 to March 6  March 4 to March 17, 2017
Alaska is mostly wet except for the Panhandle which is dry. CONUS is wet with the Eastern part of the Southwest generally dry. It looks like this pattern slowly drifts east with the West Coast becoming part of the EC area that separates the warm and cool anomalies and itself gradually becomes cool..

Alaska is mostly EC with a small western Alaska dry anomaly. CONUS has four anomalies .The Southeast is wet as is Montana. There is a small Great Lakes dry anomaly and a California dry anomaly. Between the wet and dry anomalies it will be EC. The transition to the pattern shown in the Week 3 - 4 Forecast from the pattern shown in the 8-14 Day forecast seems to be feasible.

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 consistent with ENSO Neutral.

Here is the NOAA discussion released today February 20, 2017.

6-10 DAY OUTLOOK FOR FEB 26 - MAR 02, 2017

TODAY'S MODEL SOLUTIONS ARE IN GOOD AGREEMENT ON A HIGHLY AMPLIFIED FORECAST PATTERN OVER NORTH AMERICA. THE OFFICIAL 500-HPA MANUAL HEIGHT BLEND DEPICTS A BLOCKING PATTERN OVER THE NORTHEAST PACIFIC WITH DOWNSTREAM TROUGHING OVER WEST-CENTRAL NORTH AMERICA. ANOMALOUS RIDGING IS FORECAST OVER THE EASTERN SEABOARD EXTENDING INTO THE WESTERN ATLANTIC. THIS WELL-TELECONNECTED PATTERN IS FURTHER SUPPORTED BY VARIOUS STATISTICAL TOOLS, INCREASING FORECAST CONFIDENCE.

A DISTINCT COLD NORTHWEST/WARM SOUTHEAST PATTERN IS FORECAST, WITH MAXIMUM PROBABILITIES EXCEEDING 80 PERCENT IN PARTS OF THE INTERIOR NORTHWEST AND SOUTHEAST, RESPECTIVELY. UNCERTAINTY IS THE GREATEST FROM THE MIDWEST TO THE NORTHEAST DURING THIS PERIOD, SINCE THERE IS SOME RUN-TO-RUN VARIABILITY ON THE POSITION OF THE MEAN FRONTAL BOUNDARY. THE 12Z DETERMINISTIC GFS, FOR EXAMPLE, KEEPS THE MEAN FRONTAL ZONE THROUGH THE NORTHEAST, WHICH WOULD RESULT IN A COLDER SOLUTION FOR THE GREAT LAKES.

THE PRECIPITATION OUTLOOK IS EASILY INFERRED FROM THE FORECAST HEIGHT PATTERN OVER THE EASTERN CONUS, DOWNSTREAM OF ANOMALOUS FORECAST TROUGHING CENTERED NEAR THE ROCKIES. SUCH A PATTERN IS CONDUCIVE TO AN ACTIVE STORM TRACK FROM THE LEE OF THE ROCKIES NORTHEASTWARD. GIVEN THE TIME OF YEAR, ONE OR TWO CLASSIC  LATE WINTER/SPRING CYCLONES ARE POSSIBLE, WITH ATTENDANT HEAVY SNOW, HEAVY RAIN, HIGH WINDS, AND SEVERE WEATHER, ALL IN THE TYPICAL REGIONS RELATIVE TO THE STORM TRACK. THE PRECIPITATION OUTLOOK IS MORE UNCERTAIN OVER THE WESTERN CONUS, WHERE A TRANSITION IS LIKELY EARLY IN THE PERIOD. WHILE THE PERIOD-AVERAGE HEIGHT PATTERN DEPICT ANOMALOUS NORTHERLY MID-LEVEL FLOW, A FAIRLY DRY PATTERN, TRANSIENT TROUGHING AT THE BEGINNING OF THE PERIOD RESULTS IN NEAR-TO-ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION BEING FAVORED.

THE FORECAST BLOCKING PATTERN OVER THE NORTHEAST PACIFIC IS EXPECTED TO LEAD TO ANOMALOUS NORTHWESTERLY MID-LEVEL FLOW OVER ALASKA. ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION  IS STRONGLY FAVORED OVER MUCH OF MAINLAND ALASKA, WHILE BELOW-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION  IS FAVORED OVER THE CLIMATOLOGICALLY ACTIVE SOUTH COAST OF ALASKA.

FORECAST CONFIDENCE FOR THE 6-10 DAY PERIOD: MUCH ABOVE AVERAGE, 5 OUT OF 5, DUE TO GOOD MODEL AGREEMENT ON AN AMPLIFIED PATTERN AND AGREEMENT AMONG THE DYNAMICAL AND STATISTICAL GUIDANCE.  

8-14 DAY OUTLOOK FOR FEB 28 - MAR 06, 2017 

THE WEEK-2 OUTLOOK IS BROADLY SIMILAR TO THE 6-10 DAY OUTLOOK, BUT WITH SOME DIFFERENCES. THERE IS A NOTABLE RETROGRESSION OF THE STRONG POSITIVE HEIGHT ANOMALY FORECAST OVER THE NORTHEAST PACIFIC DURING THE 6-10 DAY PERIOD TO THE BERING SEA DURING THE WEEK-2 PERIOD. TELECONNECTIONS UPON THIS CENTER OF ACTION REVEAL A PATTERN ONLY IN FAIR AGREEMENT WITH THE OFFICIAL 500-HPA HEIGHT MANUAL BLEND. ADDITIONALLY, RECENT RUNS OF THE GEFS SHOW A TRANSITION TO A MORE NEGATIVE AO/NAO PHASE BY THE END OF WEEK-2, THOUGH THAT HAS BEEN A NOTABLE BIAS THIS WINTER.

THE RESULTING TEMPERATURE OUTLOOK IS VERY SIMILAR TO THAT FOR THE 6-10 DAY PERIOD, BUT WITH SOME COOLING TREND NOTED FROM THE UPPER MIDWEST TO THE NORTHEAST, AS WELL AS OVER SOUTHEASTERN ALASKA. FOR A WEEK-2 OUTLOOK, THE MAGNITUDE OF THESE TEMPERATURE PROBABILITIES REFLECT A HIGH CONFIDENCE OUTLOOK. 

THE PRECIPITATION OUTLOOK IS ALMOST UNCHANGED FROM THE 6-10 DAY PERIOD, FURTHER HIGHLIGHTING THE APPARENT STABILITY OF THIS PATTERN. THERE IS, HOWEVER,  A  TENDENCY TOWARD DRIER-THAN-AVERAGE CONDITIONS OVER PARTS OF THE WEST COAST  DURING WEEK-2. THIS IS CONSISTENT WITH THE POSITION OF THE UPSTREAM FORECAST RIDGE AXIS. TELECONNECTIONS UPON THE FORECAST POSITIVE HEIGHT ANOMALY OVER THE BERING SEA SUGGEST THAT SOME UNDERCUTTING OF THE RIDGE IS POSSIBLE, WHICH WOULD RESULT IN A WETTER SOLUTION FOR THE WEST COAST. THIS IS SOMETHING THAT WILL BE MONITORED CLOSELY THROUGHOUT THE WEEK.

 FORECAST CONFIDENCE FOR THE 8-14 DAY PERIOD IS: ABOVE AVERAGE, 4 OUT OF 5, DUE TO FAIRLY GOOD MODEL AGREEMENT OFFSET BY SOME UNCERTAINTY IN THE EVOLUTION OF THE CIRCULATION PATTERN OVER EASTERN NORTH AMERICA.

THE NEXT SET OF LONG-LEAD MONTHLY AND SEASONAL OUTLOOKS WILL BE RELEASED ON  MARCH 16

Some might find this analysis click to read interesting as the organization which prepares it focuses on the Pacific Ocean and looks at things from a very detailed perspective and their analysis provides a lot of information on the history and evolution of ENSO events.

Analogs to the Outlook.

Now let us take a detailed look at the "Analogs" which NOAA provides related to the 5 day period centered on 3 days ago and the 7 day period centered on 4 days ago. "Analog" means that the weather pattern then resembles the recent weather pattern and was used in some way to predict the 6 - 14 day Outlook.

Here are today's analogs in chronological order although this information is also available with the analog dates listed by the level of correlation. I find the chronological order easier for me to work with. There is a second set of analogs associated with the Outlook but I have not been regularly analyzing this second set of information. The first set which is what I am using today applies to the 5 and 7 day observed pattern prior to today. The second set, which I am not using, relates to the correlation of the forecasted outlook 6 - 10 days out with similar patterns that have occurred in the past during the dates covered by the 6 - 10 Day Outlook. The second set of analogs may also be useful information but they put the first set of analogs in the discussion with the second set available by a link so I am assuming that the first set of analogs is the most meaningful and I find it so.

Day

ENSO

Phase

PDO AMO

Other Comments

Feb 12, 1969 El Nino - +(t) Modoki Type II
Feb 7, 1978 El Nino + - Tail End
Feb 9, 1978 El Nino + - Tail End
Feb 14, 1987 El Nino + - Modoki
Jan 31, 1992 El Nino + - Modoki Type I or II
Feb 14, 1998 El Nino + +  
Feb 15, 1998 El Nino + +  
Feb 24, 2004 Neutral + +  

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

One thing that jumped out at me right away was the spread among the analogs from January 31 to February 24 which is 25 days which is a bit tighter than last week. I have not calculated the centroid of this distribution which would be the better way to look at things but the midpoint, which is a lot easier to calculate, is about February 12. These analogs are centered on 3 days and 4 days ago (February 15 or February 16). 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 for this time of the year a two or three days earlier. That may be due to the cold Northern Tier which is influencing the selection of the analogs. 

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

There are nine El Nino Analogs and one ENSO Neutral Analog. Looks like the analogs are suggesting that El Nino Conditions now apply. The phases of the ocean cycles of the analogs point to McCabe A and C which are opposites. Although these analogs are not highly reliable for making forecasts, when they are so opposite to the forecast its raises questions in my mind as to the appropriate level of confidence to have in the 6 to 14 day forecast but not necessarily the Experimental Week 3-4 Precipitation Outlook.

The seminal work on the impact of the PDO and AMO on U.S. climate can be found here. Water Planners might usefully pay attention to the low-frequency cycles such as the AMO and the PDO as the media tends to focus on the current and short-term forecasts to the exclusion of what we can reasonably anticipate over multi-decadal periods of time. One of the major reasons that I write this weather and climate column is to encourage a more long-term and World view of weather.

McCabe Maps modified to include the subtitles

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

 

You may have to squint but the drought probabilities are shown on the map and also indicated by the color coding with shades of red indicating higher than 25% of the years are drought years (25% or less of average precipitation for that area) and shades of blue indicating less than 25% of the years are drought years. Thus drought is defined as the condition that occurs 25% of the time and this ties in nicely with each of the four pairs of two phases of the AMO and PDO.

Historical Anomaly Analysis

When I see the same dates showing up often I find it interesting to consult this list.

Recent CONUS Weather

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

Here is the 30 Days ending February 11, 2017

February 11, 2017  30 Day temperature and precipitation departures.

Both precipitation and temperature is a bit muted except for temperature in the Mississippi and Tennessee Valleys which may explain recent tornadic activity. Remember this is a 30 day average with seven recent days added and seven distant days removed.

And the 30 Days ending February 18, 2017

February 20, 2017 30 Day Temperature and Precipitation Departures

The temperature pattern has not changed much but the precipitation pattern is now very distinct with the wet area shrinking (tell that to California) and the dry area expanding. Remember this is a 30 day average with seven recent days added and seven more distant days removed.

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

Todays Forecast

Temperature at 2 Meters

Notice that below the map there is a tabulation of magnitude of the anomalies by region. The Northern Hemisphere looks warm.The Southern Hemisphere has few deviations from Climatology.

Maine Reanalyer

This graphic is actuals not anomalies. Notice the demarcation areas between wet and dry areas.  The Southern Hemisphere is quite wet and the Northern Hemisphere is quite dry. North Africa and Asia are particularly uniformly dry except for the U.S. West Coast. .

Additional Maps showing different weather variables can be found here.

Near Term (Currently Set for Day 3 but the reader can change that)

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

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

Precipitation

BOM World Preciptation  Wednesday

Notice how it looks pretty stormy over by Kamchatka. Central South America is quite wet.

Temperature

BOM Current Temperature Wedensday

It is projected to be hot in Australia and parts of Africa.

Looking Out a Few Months

Here is the new precipitation forecast from Queensland Australia:

Stable near zero SOI  forecast for Mar - Apr 2017.

It is kind of amazing that you can make a worldwide forecast based on just one parameter the SOI and changes in the SOI. Notice the wet Northern Tier of CONUS and the overall slightly dry orientation of the forecast.

JAMSTEC Forecasts

JAMSTEC issued their ENSO forecasts and climate maps on February 14. We published a special Update Report on Saturday Night February 18 which can be accessed 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. One can always find the latest JAMSTEC maps at this link. You will find additional maps that I do not general cover in my monthly Update Report.

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. I have switched over to the weekly analysis. It is less visually interesting but probably more meaningful and the Daily has have some update issues. . .

Weekly SST Anomalyi

Remember this discussion is all about anomalies not absolute temperatures so it is deviation from seasonal norms.
The Tropical Pacific is NEUTRAL with a WARM BIAS in the Nino 3.4 Measurement area. The only cool area is in the western end of the Nino 3.4 Measurement Area. The waters off of South America are warm and expanding. This looks like how an El Nino Modoki originates.
The waters south of Japan have become warm but the waters east of Japan are cool.. The Central Indian Ocean is now mostly cool but west of the cool anomaly is a warm anomaly. The water west of Africa is neutral. The waters off the Southwest Coast of Australia are cool but the Southeast Coast has a small warm anomaly which now shows up south of Australia also. Water north of Australia is close to neutral or even cool. The overall Northern Pacific cool anomaly continues to shift south with a very modest warm anomaly in and south of the Bering Straits. The warm water south of the cool anomaly is not very impressive but right now crosses 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 -0.68, 2016- November +0.84, 2016- December +0.54 and now January 0.21. The above reading for January is PDO Positive but not by much.  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.  The Gulf of California is cool. The Gulf of Mexico is warm especially to the west. The waters off of North American are warm. The list of Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) values can be found here.
The Black Sea is cool. The Caspian Sea and Mediterranean are neutral.
The waters north of Antarctica East of South America are now Neutral.
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 four weeks 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.  

February 20, four week change in SST departures

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 continued warming along the Equator in the Eastern Pacific but at a slower pace except further east. We are in full ENSO Neutral headed towards a Warm Event but it is not yet clear that this will be an El Nino i.e. meet all the necessary criteria which NOAA may pay attention to but which they have not for the last three or four years (loss of discipline). The Atlantic equivalent to ENSO which gets very little attention is cooling along the Equator and south to perhaps 40S.The Western Pacific at low latitudes is cooling which is strange and at higher Northern latitudes the warming is moderating. I do not see a PDO pattern. At the southern end of South America the anomalies continue. The anomaly off of Baja California is stable. The anomaly impacting the U.S. Gulf of Mexico continues cooling but more slowly. West of Africa the cooling trend continues but south of Africa the anomaly has stabilized except to the east in the Indian Ocean where it continues to warm. The entire Western Indian Ocean is warming consistent with IOD Positive but the BOM is only reporting a slight increase in the IOD index. Remember this graphic only shows the change in anomalies not the absolute value of the anomalies. The waters surrounding Australia are not showing a lot of change except in the Southeast where cooling is moderating  Again, 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.

Tropical Hazards

This graphic updates on Tuesdays and I post on Monday which is almost a week later than when this graphic was last updated. So Week Two applies at the time I write this article on Monday but by the time you read it on Tuesday the Week Two that I am looking at is updated and becomes Week One. Mostly I see as I look at this on February 20 for what is shown as Week Two, the period February 22, 2017 to February 28, 2017, is a wet anomaly* impacting East Africa, another wet anomaly* impacting the Maritime Continent with a dry area* to the south impacting Northern Australia. 
* Moderate Confidence that the indicated anomaly will be in the upper or lower third of the historical range as indicated in the Legend. 
** High Confidence that the indicated anomaly will be in the upper or lower third of the historical range as indicated in the Legend.

Now let us look at the Western Pacific in Motion.

Western Pacific Tropical Activity

The above graphic which I believe covers the area from the Dateline west to 100E and from the Equator north to 45N normally shows the movement of tropical storms towards Asia in the lower latitudes (Trade Winds) and the return of storms towards CONUS in the mid-latitudes (Prevailing Westerlies). This is recent data not a forecast. But, it ties in with the Week 1 forecast in the graphic just above this graphic.Also you can see the break in the action of Pacific Storms headed east.  Information on Western Pacific storms can be found by clicking here. This (click here to read) is an unofficial private source but one that is easy to read.

C. Progress of ENSO

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.

And here is the current version of the TAO/TRITON Graphic. The top part shows the actual temperatures, the bottom part shows the anomalies i.e. the deviation from normal.

Current SST and wind anomalies

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

 

Notice that part of what is left of the the cool anomaly is west of 170W and does not get counted as being in the Nino 3.4 Measurement Area and may be why some of the recent Analogs have been associated with El Nino Modoki Events. But the warm water to the east is an even stronger reason to conclude that an El Nino Modoki is developing. 

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. NOW i AM PUTTING THEM BACK IN. 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. I probably have more to do but one step at a time.

Comparing Now to May 23, 2016

Subareas of the Anomaly

Westward Extension Eastward Extension Degrees of Coverage

As of Today

May 23, 2016

As of Today

May 23 2016

As of Today

In Nino 3.4

Dec 12, 2016

May 23, 2016

These Rows below show the Extent of El Nino Impact on the Equator
+0.5C to +1C

125W

?

LAND

?

30

5

0

0

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

170E

155E

LAND

155W

95

50

95

50

0C or cooler Anomaly

DATELINE

155W

140W

Land

40

30

85

60

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

LAND

145W

LAND

Land

0

0

65

50

-1C or cooler Anomaly

LAND

140W

LAND

105W

0

0

40

35

 

It is useful to compare the current longitudinal extent of the water temperature anomalies with the situation on May 23, 2016 and the second checkpoint of December 12, 2016. What is new is that the part of the anomaly along the Equator which is cool enough to be ENSO Neutral or cooler has two components both ENSO neutral but one having a warm bias and one having a cool bias and the cool bias now for the first time only has 30 degrees of coverage.  This means there is 50 - 30 or 20 degrees of ENSO Neutral Warm Bias water from 140W to 120W.
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 0 degrees of water anomalies cool enough to be a La Nina. Subtracting 0 degrees from the 50 degrees you end up with 50 degrees of ENSO Neutral and 0 degrees of water cool enough to qualify as La Nina i.e. temperature anomalies more negative than -0.5C. A new factor is we now begin to see water that is warmer (anomaly) than +0.5C which is El Nino 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 150W to 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. The pattern has cycled a bit with some cooler water further East than was the case last week.

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 February 20, in the afternoon working from the February 19 TAO/TRITON report, this is what I calculated. [Although the TAO/TRITON Graphic appears to update once a day, in reality it updates more frequently.]

Calculation of ONI from TAO/TRITON Graphic
Anomaly Segment Estimated Anomaly
  Last Week This Week
A. 170W to 160W -0.4 +0.1
B. 160W to 150W -0.1 +0.1
C. 150W to 140W 0 0
D. 140W to 130W +0.1 +0.2
E. 130W to 120W +0.2 +0.5
Total -0.2 +0.9
Total divided by five subregions i.e. the ONI (-0.2)5 = 0.0 (+0.9)/5 = +0.2

 

My estimate of the daily Nino 3.4 SST anomaly is warmer at +0.2 which is an ENSO Neutral value. NOAA has also reported the weekly Nino 3.4 to be an ENSO Neutral value at +0.2 which is an ENSO Neutral value but now with an El Nino bias.
Nino 4.0 is reported as being a bit warmer this week at 0.0. Nino 3 is reported with no change at 0.7. Nino 1 + 2 which extends from the Equator south rather than being centered on the Equator is reported slightly warmer at 1.6 which is an astoundingly high value. If it extended into Nino 3.4 it would represent a strong El Nino. It is worth mentioning that many Asian Meteorological Agencies work with Nino 3.0 rather than Nino 3.4 in which case we would already be having El Nino Conditions with respect to Ocean Temperatures.
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. 

February 20, 2017 Nino Readings

This is probably the best place to express the thought that 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. 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 has been a bit over eager. And I wonder why.

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.

February 20, 2017 Equatorial Pacific SST Anomalies

A major advantage of the Hovmoeller method of displaying information is that it shows the history so I do not need to show a sequence of snapshots of the conditions at different points in time. This Hovmoeller provides a good way to visually see the evolution of this ENSO event. I have decided to use the prettied-up version that comes out on Mondays rather that the version that auto-updates daily because the SST Departures on the Equator do not change rapidly and the prettied-up version is so much easier to read.
You can see that the cool anomaly (bottom of the Hovmoeller is vanishing right before our eyes with no blue in the Nino 3.4 Measurement Area), some white and now quite a bit of light yellow (still ENSO Neutral but on the warm side) and El Nino-ish dark yellows off and on from 155W east and browns tending towards reds from 100W east. 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. This is possibly the beginning of an El Nino Modoki pattern.

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 recently there has been sufficient change to warrant including this graphic. And now that we are back tracking a possible El Nino it is the graphic of choice.

February 20, 2017 Upper Ocean Heat Anoma

The bottom of the Hovmoeller shows the current situation. The Cool Event is long gone. But what might be a Kevin wave initiating an El Nino is still not very impressive. But there are westerlies so that might change real fast. If you look from the bottom of the graphic up you can see that any La Nina conditions ended in December but NOAA for reasons known only to themselves persisted with the false claim that we were in a La Nina.

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 February 12, 2017) that the lag in getting this information posted so the current situation may be a bit different than shown. 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.

Subsurface Heat Anomalies

Re the top graphic, let us first look at surface temperature anomalies. The -1C water no longer shows anywhere. We only see -0.5 C water now from 180W to 155W so only 15 degrees of this is within the Nino 3.4 Measurement Area. On the other hand warm water now extends from the Coast of Ecuador to 110W and in pockets to 140W. Subsurface Temperature Anomalies: The cool water is almost all gone. Notice the warm water at depth from 160E to 160W and near the coast of Ecuador.

The bottom half of the graphic (Absolute Values which highlights the Thermocline) is now more useful as we track the transition to and ENSO Cool Event which may possibly become and El Nino.

It shows the thermocline between warm and cool water. The 28C Isotherm is now located at the 175E. 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 the 175W so we do not yet have ideal conditions for significant convection along the Equator east of the Dateline which is a characteristic of a Cool Event and also ENSO Neutral but it appears to be slowly changing. The 25C isotherm is perhaps at 120W and the 24C isotherm is no longer at the surface all to the way to Ecuador. The 20C Isotherm is being significantly depressed by warm water all the way to Ecuador. We are seeing the great swap where neutral and even warm 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. At this point we have gone to ENSO Neutral but not El Nino although the trend is towards an El Nino..

Here are the above graphics as a time sequence animation. You may have to click on them to get the animation going.

Equatorial Temperature Simulation

Isotherm Simulation

The graphic which used to appear hear seems unnecessary now and was always redundant so I have dropped it for the time being.

And now Let us look at the Atmosphere.

Low-Level Wind Anomalies near the Equator

Here are the low-level wind anomalies.

Low Level Wlind Anomalies

February 20, 2017 Low Level Wind Anomalies

Here is the prettied up version. I usually do not use this because the version above auto-updates and I do not have to extract it from Mondays to get it into my article. But the prettied up version is more informative and you can see the sea change that has taken place in the Pacific as La Nina Conditions have changed rapidly to ENSO Neutral perhaps headed for El Nino. 850 hPa means just above the boundary level. So these are the lowest level winds not impacted by waves and islands and other ocean surface factors. The NOAA commentary might also have mentioned the stronger Easterlies in the Eastern Indian Ocean.

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

OLR Anomalies Along the Equator

 

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. At this point there seems to be no need to show the daily preliminary values of the SOI but we can work with the weekly values.

Current SOI Readings
The 30 Day Average on February 20 was reported as -2.20 which is ENSO Neutral. The 90 Day Average was reported at +0.60 which is up a bit from last Monday but again as Neutral as an SOI reading can be. Looking at both the 30 and 90 day averages is useful and both are in agreement that we are in ENSO Neutral. 

 

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 from October through January the SOI has stabilized in the Neutral Range.

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. January accelerated the decline of this near La Nina development and most likely February will also be unkind in the opposite way in terms of the MJO as it does not deplete the cool pool but stimulates Kelvin Waves. .

This Table is a first attempt at trying to related the MJO to ENSO

  El Nino La Nina MJO Active Phase MJO Inactive Phase  
Relationship of MJO and ENSO
Eastern Pacific Easterlies
  • Weaker
  • Stronger
  • Part of Decay Process
  • Counteracts Easterlies
  • Enhances Easterlies
 
Western Pacific Westerlies
  • Stronger
  • May Create or Stimulate the Onset of El Nino via Kelvin Waves
  • Weaker
  • Part of Decay Process
  • Strengthens Westerlies
  • Weakens Westerlies
 
MJO Active Phase
  • More  likely
  • Stimulates
  • Less likely and weak
  • Retards development of a new La Nina
  • Stimulates the Jet Stream
   
MJO Inactive Phase
  • Less Likely
  • Suppresses
  • More likely but weak
  • Accelerates development of a new La Nina and the Decline of a mature La Nina
 
  • Slows the Jet Stream and can induce a Split Stream especially during a La Nina
 

 

Table needs more work. Is intended to show the interactions. What is more difficult is determining cause and effect. This is a Work in Progress. 

Forecasting the Evolution of ENSO

We now have both the February early-month report and the mid-month model-based report from CPC/IRI  There is  really no need to show both but I will for the time being do so simply to avoid having to explain the differences in the early versus mid-month report. But showing both the reader will hopefully become familiar with the differences between the two reports.

Here is the report from mid February.

Februaryi 16, 2017, 2016 Model Based ENSO Forecast

Here is the discussion that was released with the IRI/CPC Report.

Note: The SST anomalies cited below refer to the OISSTv2 SST data set, and not ERSSTv4. OISSTv2 is often used for real-time analysis and model initialization, while ERSSTv4 is used for retrospective official ENSO diagnosis because it is more homogeneous over time, allowing for more accurate comparisons among ENSO events that are years apart. During ENSO events, OISSTv2 often shows stronger anomalies than ERSSTv4, and during very strong events the two datasets may differ by as much as 0.5 C. Additionally, the ERSSTv4 may tend to be cooler than OISSTv2, because ERSSTv4 is expressed relative to a base period that is updated every 5 years, while the base period of OISSTv2 is based on a slightly older period and does not account as much for the slow warming trend in the tropical Pacific SST.

Recent and Current Conditions

In January 2017, the NINO3.4 SST anomaly, which had been near or slightly cooler than -0.5 C since the middle of 2016 (making for a borderline or weak La Niña SST condition), warmed back to neutral. For January the SST anomaly was -0.32 C, and for Nov-Jan it was -0.43 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 0.1, at an ENSO-neutral level. The SST farther east has increased to above-average levels. Most of the pertinent atmospheric variables also returned to neutral patterns, with the exception of the convection anomalies in the central and western tropical Pacific, which continued to suggest a weak La Niña. The lower-level trade winds and upper level westerly winds have been largely near-average, and the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has been near-average during January and early February. Subsurface temperature anomalies across the eastern equatorial Pacific have increased to near-average. Overall, given the SST and the atmospheric conditions, the diagnosis of ENSO-neutral is clearly most appropriate.

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 stated that the ENSO conditions have returned to neutral during January, and that ENSO-neutral is the most likely condition through May 2017. The latest set of model ENSO predictions, from mid-February, 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 February-Apr season forward through most of the first half of 2017, but with increased uncertainty from around May onward, when El Niño development becomes a possibility.

As of mid-February, 96% of the dynamical or statistical models predicts neutral ENSO conditions for the initial Feb-Apr 2017 season, while 4% predicts El Niño conditions. 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 May-Jul 2017 season, among models that do use subsurface temperature information, no model predicts La Niña conditions, 61% predicts El Niño conditions, while 39% predicts neutral ENSO. For all model types, the probabilities for La Niña are 6% or less for for all predicted seasons from Feb-Apr through Oct-Dec 2017. The probability for El Niño conditions is near 5% for Feb-Apr and Mar-May, then rises to near 25% for Apr-Jun, and approximately 50% from May-Jul through the final season of Oct-Dec. Chances for neutral ENSO conditions exceeds 90% for Feb-Apr and Mar-May, is near 75% for Apr-Jun, and between approximately 40 to 55% from May-Jul through Oct-Dec.

Caution is advised in interpreting the distribution of model predictions as the actual probabilities. At longer leads, the skill of the models degrades, and skill uncertainty must be convolved with the uncertainties from initial conditions and differing model physics, leading to more climatological probabilities in the long-lead ENSO Outlook than might be suggested by the suite of models. Furthermore, the expected skill of one model versus another has not been established using uniform validation procedures, which may cause a difference in the true probability distribution from that taken verbatim from the raw model predictions.

An alternative way to assess the probabilities of the three possible ENSO conditions is more quantitatively precise and less vulnerable to sampling errors than the categorical tallying method used above. This alternative method uses the mean of the predictions of all models on the plume, equally weighted, and constructs a standard error function centered on that mean. The standard error is Gaussian in shape, and has its width determined by an estimate of overall expected model skill for the season of the year and the lead time. Higher skill results in a relatively narrower error distribution, while low skill results in an error distribution with width approaching that of the historical observed distribution. This method shows probabilities for La Niña at less than 10% from Feb-Apr through Jul-Sep 2017, increasing slightly thereafter, reaching nearly 20% by Oct-Dec. Probabilities for ENSO-neutral are near 95% for Feb-Apr 2017, falling steadily to 55% by May-Jul, and down to near 35% by the final Oct-Dec season. Probabilities for El Niño are less than 5% for Feb-Apr, rise to about 25% by Apr-Jun and to approximately 45-50% for Jun-Aug through the final season of Oct-Dec. A plot of the probabilities generated from this most recent IRI/CPC ENSO prediction plume using the multi-model mean and the Gaussian standard error method summarizes the model consensus out to about 10 months into the future. The same cautions mentioned above for the distributional count of model predictions apply to this Gaussian standard error method of inferring probabilities, due to differing model biases and skills. In particular, this approach considers only the mean of the predictions, and not the total range across the models, nor the ensemble range within individual models.

In summary, the probabilities derived from the models on the IRI/CPC plume describe, on average, a very high likelihood for neutral ENSO conditions for Feb-Apr. ENSO-neutral is predicted to remain the most likely of the three possibilities throughout around Jun-Aug, after which El Niño becomes more likely than neutral through the final season of Oct-Dec. Although most likely, the chances for El Niño only reaches near 50% during Jul-Sep through Oct-Dec. Chances for La Niña are below 10% through the first half of 2017, and only increase slightly later in the year, remaining less than 20% throughout. A caution regarding this latest set of model-based ENSO plume predictions, is that factors such as known specific model biases and recent changes that the models may have missed will be taken into account in the next official outlook to be generated and issued in early March by CPC and IRI, which will include some human judgment in combination with the model guidance.

I thought this was an interesting graphic.

February 2017 NMME ENSO Forecast.

Here is the earlier in the month February 9 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.

 February 9, 2017 CPC/IRI Tea Leaves Report.

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.

 

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

CFSv2 spread and bias correct ENSO forecast

The estimated current value of the Nino 3.4 Temperature Anomaly after the adjustments have been applied is an ENSO Neutral Value now with a warm bias and shooting higher rapidly this month. Looking ahead to next summer you see El Nino readings being the mean of the forecast ensemble but it is before the Spring Prediction Barrier which means we need to wait a few months until May [click here to understand why] before getting excited about that. But we clearly are forecast to be in ENSO Neutral for the rest of this Winter.

The full list of weekly values can be found here.

From Tropical Tidbits.com

CDAS Legacy System

The above is from a legacy "frozen" NOAA system meaning the software is maintained but not updated. It seems to show a cycle in the Nino 3.4 Index Values. I see that as I monitor the TAO/TRITON graphic. My best guess is that it is related to the MJO but it certainly is intriguing. I do not need to draw in the lines for you to see that the Nino 3.4 Index as reported by CDAS has moved above the 0C line and is now reporting a warm anomaly.

Forecasts from Other Meteorological Agencies.

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

Australia POAMA ENSO model run

Discussion (notice their threshold criteria are different from NOAA).

Here is the discussion.

El Niño or ENSO-neutral for 2017

The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) remains neutral, with virtually all indicators close to their average values. In recent weeks, the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean has shown surface warming, and climate models suggest this warming is likely to continue during the southern autumn. In marked contrast to last year, western Pacific sub-surface temperatures are up to 5 °C warmer than at the same time last year, indicating La Niña-like conditions are unlikely in 2017.

As this is the time of year when ENSO and climate models have greatest variability, some caution must be taken when using recent conditions, such as central Pacific warming, to determine likely conditions in winter. Hence either neutral or El Niño are considered the most likely ENSO state for the southern winter and spring.

El Niño is often associated with below-average rainfall during the second half of the year across large parts of southern and inland eastern Australia. Daytime temperatures also tend to be above average over southern Australia.

Here is the recently released JAMSTEC Nino 3.4 Forecast.

JAMSTEC February 1, 2017 ENSO Forecast.

Based on the Nino 3.4 projection, JAMSTEC is saying the Cool Event did not meet the criteria to have been declared a La Nina as was done by NOAA: 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.

You can clearly see that the Nino 3.4 reading did not get down to -0.5C until July and by sometime in November was warmer than -0.5C. So there were less than five months of water cool enough to quality as meeting the surface water temperature criteria. The NOAA criteria for calling a La Nina involves two parts one of which is the Nino 3.4 reading which must be -0.5C or cooler for five consecutive three month averages. In theory five months might make that happen if the first month spiked down and the last month was also way down but usually one needs six or seven months to meet that criteria. You do not see that in the JAMSTEC data but NOAA has reported five consecutive three month averages that are -0.5C or lower. How is that explained? I  really wonder about that.

JAMSTEC is raising the possibility of an El Nino for the following winter. But it is too soon to make that prediction and the prior forecast last month suggested that such a warm event would be too short to qualify as an El Nino. That is not the case with the current forecast but forecasts in February are unreliable.

The Discussion that goes with their Nino 3.4 forecast has just been released. Notice the suggestion that we might be having a Pacific Climate Shift to PDO Positive.

Feb. 18, 2017
Prediction from 1st Feb., 2017

ENSO forecast:
The SINTEX-F now clearly predicts an El Niño event from this coming summer. This 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. If this happens, such natural climate variability may double the global warming impact as we observed during the period from 1976 through 1998.

Indian Ocean forecast:
Occurrence of a positive Indian Ocean Dipole is also clearly predicted; almost all ensemble members are suggesting the evolution in summer and the height in fall. We may observe co-occurrence of a positive Indian Ocean Dipole and an El Niño in the latter half of 2017; this is just as in 1997 and 2015.

Regional forecast:
On a seasonal scale, most part of the globe will experience a warmer-than-normal condition, while some parts of western Canada and northern Brazil will experience a colder-than-normal condition in the boreal spring. In the boreal summer, most parts of the globe will experience a hotter-than-normal condition. On the other hand, some parts of central Russia, northern China, and northern Australia will experience a cooler-than-normal condition.

According to the seasonally averaged rainfall prediction, a wetter-than-normal condition is predicted for eastern part of Brazil, northeastern part of China, and eastern part of southern Africa during the boreal spring, whereas most parts of southeastern China, Indonesia, and Europe will experience a drier condition during the boreal spring. In the boreal summer, most parts of Indonesia, western India, and Australia will experience a drier-than-normal condition, due to the El Niño and the positive Indian Ocean Dipole. Most parts of Japan will be in a warmer and wetter-than-normal condition in the boreal spring (except for less rain expected in March). In boreal summer, we expect a cooler (hotter)-than-normal condition in the northern (western) part. Since the Bonin high may not be matured in summer due to expected El Niño, we expect rather abnormal summer conditions particularly in the northern part. However, we also expect that the El Niño influences may be partly canceled mostly in the western part due to development of the positive Indian Ocean Dipole.

Indian Ocean IOD (It updates every two weeks)

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

IOD POAMA Model Run

Discussion

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is neutral. The weekly index value to 29 January is +0.05 °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.

This Cool Event is over and NOAA using the "toe in the water test" has recognized and acknowledged that on February 9, 2017. At this time there is now some interest as to whether or not next Summer and Fall will be El Nino situations. The models are suggesting this as a possibility. But it is too soon to tell due to the Spring Predictability Barrier or SPB which was explained earlier.

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.

JAMSTEC has raised the possibility of a Climate Shift in the Pacific and the implications of this are discussed in a prior GEI Weather and Climate Report which you can access by clicking here.

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.  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

Southern California to get its Heavy Precipitation

More Precipitation for Northern California

Weather Research in the News

Nothing to report.

Global Warming in the News

There was a Climate Conference sponsored by Los Alamos National Laboratories (LANL) February 5 - 10 in Santa Fe, New Mexico and I gave a presentation on the Climate of the Southwest on Southwest Climate on February 10 and we will publish my presentation converted into an article soon probably early this week. Many of the presentations are available to be viewed at this link. It is a work in progress so all the presentations where the authors have agreed to make them public are not yet uploaded to that website. That includes mine which I am converting into an article so that my comments will also be there not  just the slides. .

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

The links below may take you directly to the set of information that you have selected but in some Internet Browsers it may first take you to the top of Page II where there is a TABLE OF CONTENTS and take a few extra seconds to get you to the specific section selected. If you do not feel like waiting, you can click a second time within the TABLE OF CONTENTS to get to the specific part of the webpage that interests you.

1. Very High Frequency (short-term) Cycles PNA, AO,NAO (but the AO and NAO may also have a low frequency component.)

2. Medium Frequency Cycles such as ENSO and IOD

3. Low Frequency Cycles such as PDO, AMO, IOBD, EATS.

4. Computer Models and Methodologies

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

G. Table of Contents of Contents for Page III of this Report  - Global Warming Which Some Call Climate Change.  

The links below may take you directly to the set of information that you have selected but in some Internet Browsers it may first take you to the top of Page III where there is a TABLE OF CONTENTS and take a few extra seconds to get you to the specific section selected. If you do not feel like waiting, you can click a second time within the TABLE OF CONTENTS to get to the specific part of the webpage that interests you.

1. Introduction

2. Climate Impacts of Global Warming

3. Economic Impacts of Global Warming

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

Useful Background Information

With respect to relating analog dates to ENSO Events, the following table might be useful. In most cases this table will allow the reader to draw appropriate conclusions from NOAA supplied analogs. If the analogs are not associated with an El Nino or La Nina they probably are not as easily interpreted. Remember, an analog is indicating a similarity to a weather pattern in the past. So if the analogs are not associated with a prior El Nino or prior La Nina the computer models are not likely to generate a forecast that is consistent with an El Nino or a La Nina.

  El Ninos La Ninas
  Start Finish Max ONI PDO AMO Start Finish Max ONI PDO AMO
            DJF 1950 J FM 1951 -1.4 - N
T   JJA 1951  DJF     1952 0.9 - +          
   DJF 1953  DJF     1954 0.8 - + AMJ 1954  AMJ 1956 -1.6 - +
M MAM 1957  JJA     1958 1.7 + -          
M SON 1958 JFM     1959 0.6 + -          
M   JJA 1963 JFM     1964 1.2 - - AMJ 1964  DJF 1965 -0.8 - -
M  MJJ 1965 MAM    1966 1.8 - - NDJ 1967 MAM 1968 -0.8 - -
M OND 1968 MJJ      1969 1.0 - -          
T  JAS 1969  DJF     1970 0.8 N -  JJA 1970  DJF 1972 -1.3 - -
T AMJ 1972 FMA     1973 2.0 - - MJJ 1973 JJA 1974 -1.9 - -
            SON 1974 FMA 1976 -1.6 - -
T ASO 1976 JFM     1977 0.8 + -          
M ASO 1977 DJF      1978 0.8 N            
M SON 1979 JFM     1980 0.6 + -          
T MAM 1982  MJJ     1983 2.1 + - SON 1984 MJJ 1985 -1.1 + -
M ASO 1986  JFM    1988 1.6 + - AMJ 1988 AMJ 1989 -1.8 - -
M MJJ 1991  JJA     1992 1.6 + -          
M SON 1994  FMA    1995 1.0 - - JAS\ 1995 FMA 1996 -1.0 + +
T AMJ 1997  AMJ    1998 2.3 + + JJA  1998 FMA 2001 -1.6 - +
M MJJ 2002  JFM    2003 1.3 + N          
M  JJA 2004 MAM    2005 0.7 + +          
T ASO 2006 DJF      2007 0.9 - + JAS  2007  MJJ 2008 -1.4 - +
M JJA 2009 MAM     2010 1.3 N + JJA  2010 MAM 2011 -1.3 + +
            JAS  2011

JFM  2012

-0.9 - +
T MAM 2015 AMJ 2016 2.3 + N          

 

ONI Recent History

ONI History Updated on February 6, 2017

The Nov/Dec/Jan preliminary has just come out as -0.7 making this Cool Event for the moment officially a La Nina. I think it is a National Disgrace. it may be worse than that as there can be nefarious motives for reporting false information on things that might impact commodity prices. It is time for NOAA to be audited. 

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

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

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