El Niño intensifies from weak to moderate; Phillippines under the gun again

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:57 PM GMT on October 27, 2009

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El Niño conditions have strengthened in recent weeks, crossing the threshold from "weak" to "moderate", according to data compiled by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. NOAA defines "moderate" El Niño conditions as existing when sea surface temperature (SST) departure from average in the equatorial Eastern Pacific (the area 5°N - 5°S, 120°W - 170°W, also called the "Niña 3.4 region") warms above 1.0°C. According to the latest time-series plot of "Niña 3.4 region" SSTs (Figure 1), we crossed that threshold last week. Monthly average SSTs will have to remain above 1.0°C for five consecutive months in order for this to be considered a "moderate" El Niño event. The ongoing intensification of El Niño could have major impacts on this winter's weather.


Figure 1. Departure of sea surface temperature (SST) from average for the past two years along the equatorial Eastern Pacific (the area 5°N - 5°S, 120°W - 170°W, also called the "Niña 3.4 region"). Moderate strength El Niño conditions occur when the Niña 3.4 anomaly exceeds 1.0°C, which occurred last week (red arrow). Weak El Niño conditions (Niña 3.4 anomaly between 0.5 - 1.0°C) were present from early June to mid-October. Image credit: NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

The intensification of El Niño is due to a combination of events in the ocean and the atmosphere. In the ocean, a slow-moving wave of water more than 5°C (9°F) warmer than average is progressing from west to east along the Equator (Figure 2). This wave, known as a "Kelvin" wave, is focused at a depth of 150 meters, but also affects surface waters. The Kelvin wave was at 175W on October 1, and is now near 140W, so it is traveling east at about 4 mph (100 miles/day). At the ocean surface, a burst of west-to-east winds near the Date Line has weakened the trade winds (Figure 3), which blow the opposite direction--east to west. The trade winds have weakened by 1 - 2 m/s over the past few weeks, allowing the Kelvin wave to push warm water eastward towards South America. The result of this interplay between ocean and air is an intensification of El Niño conditions from weak to moderate.


Figure 2. Animation of the ocean temperatures (top) and departure of ocean temperatures from average (bottom) as a function of depth along the Equator in the equatorial Eastern Pacific. The left side of the image is near Australia, and the right side is near the coast of South America. At the beginning frame in the bottom image on October 5, an ocean Kelvin wave is apparent at a depth of 150 meters, where the ocean temperature is up to 3°C above average (yellow colors). The wave travels eastwards at about 100 miles/day. By the final frame (October 25), the Kelvin wave has warmed to a temperature 5°C above average (orange colors). The Kelvin wave is helping to push the warm water at the surface to the east, as seen in the progression of the red and orange colors eastwards in the top image. I constructed the animation using the free ImageMagick package on a Linux machine, using data plotted up from the NOAA's Tropical Atmospheric Ocean (TAO) project web page.


Figure 3. Top: Sea Surface temperatures (colors) along the Equator between New Guinea and South America, with surface wind vectors overlaid. Note that there is a burst of westerly winds near the Date Line, 180W. This westerly wind burst is weakening the trade winds, which blow the opposite direction, east-to-west, over the ocean between the Date Line and the coast of South America. Bottom: Departure of wind speed from average along the Equator shows the effect of the westerly wind burst, which has weakened the trade winds at the surface by 1 - 2 m/s along a large swath of ocean near the Equator. The reduction in trade winds allows the warm water to the west to slosh eastwards, intensifying El Niño. Image credit: NOAA's Tropical Atmospheric Ocean (TAO) project web page.

Quiet in the Atlantic
There are no threat areas in the Atlantic to discuss, and none of the computer models is calling for tropical storm formation over the next seven days. This should be a quiet week in the region we need to be most concerned about for a late-season hurricane, the Western Caribbean. Wind shear is forecast to be marginal for tropical storm development this week, and most of the Caribbean is very dry at present. One possible area of concern early next week may be near Bermuda, where the models indicate a large non-tropical low may cut off from the jet stream 6 - 7 days from now. This low could potentially remain over warm waters long enough to acquire tropical characteristics and become Subtropical Storm Ida. Such a storm would only be a threat to Bermuda.

Philippines under the gun yet again
The typhoon-weary Philippine Islands have a new worry--Tropical Storm Mirinae is strengthening quickly east of the islands, and could be a typhoon later today. Latest infrared satellite loops show a large and expanding region of intense thunderstorms with very cold cloud tops, with well-developed spiral banding and excellent upper-level outflow developing. Wind shear is a moderate 15 knots, and the ocean temperatures are very warm, 29°C. These warm waters extend to great depth, and the Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential (TCHP) is 80 - 100 kJ/cm^2 along Mirinae's entire path to the Philippines. Values of TCHP in excess of 90 kJ/cm^2 are frequently associated with rapid intensification, and I expect Mirinae will be a major Category 3 or higher typhoon by Thursday. Mirinae is expected to track westward and hit the Philippines' Luzon Island on Saturday. With wind shear expected to remain in the low to moderate range, the models fairly united about a westward track over the Philippines, and plenty of ocean heat to feed off, the odds certainly favor a strike by Mirinae at Category 1 or higher strength on hard-hit Luzon.


Figure 2. Tropical Storm Mirinae, as it passed north of the Guam radar station last night.

Statisticians reject global cooling
An interesting exercise was conducted by the Associated Press (AP), who gave global average temperature data for the past 130 years to a group of independent statisticians, and told them to analyze the data without telling them what the data represented. These experts concluded that the data showed a distinct decades-long upward trend in the numbers, and no significant drop in the past ten years. This is not too surprising, since no scientific studies in peer-reviewed scientific journals have supported the idea that the globe is cooling. The AP exercise was the lead story in this morning's on-line version of the MSNBC news. Dr. Ricky Rood's climate change blog has an interest analysis of global warming and cooling trends, and how natural variability over years or decades can mask long-term trends. With El Niño cranking up to moderate levels heading into 2010, there's at least a 50/50 chance that year will end up beating 2005/1998 as the warmest year on record, putting the "global cooling" hype to rest for a few years.

Second Annual Portlight Honor Walk
When:
Saturday, December 5, 2009 or Sunday, December 6, 2009

What:
A nationwide grassroots event to raise funds for and awareness of Portlight's ongoing efforts specifically aimed at providing Christmas presents for kids and families devastated by the recent Atlanta floods, South Carolina wildfires, American Samoa tsunami, and other disasters that may occur.

Why:
Un-served, underserved and forgotten people are depending on us.

How:
We need one hundred people across the country to commit to walking one mile on this day, and to raise at least $300.00 in sponsorship from friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, etc. Participants can choose where to walk--it can be the park, the mall the neighborhood--anywhere you choose. The first 100 participants to raise at least $300 will receive a commemorative T-Shirt.

To register, simply e-mail your intention to participate at paul@portlight.org

Check the Portlight featured Weather Underground Blog regularly for updates!

The Honor Walk Sponsor Form available here will help you keep track of funds and pledges:
http://www.portlight.org/images/walkerform.pdf

Portlight's Paul Timmons on the Barometer Bob Show Thursday night
Portlight's Paul Timmons will be appearing live this Thursday at 8pm EDT on the Barometer Bob Show, an Internet radio show that I have appeared on several times in the past. Be sure to catch his discussion of how Portlight got started, where they're going, and what's new!

Next post
I'll have a new post on Wednesday, when I'll discuss how the recent intensification of El Niño may affect winter in the U.S.

Jeff Masters

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zulu is Coordinated Universal Time is a time standard based on International Atomic Time
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
I knew he was a fast typer! Patrap eather has a cray supercomputer or total recall for a never ending stream of facts. I also have a photographic memory, but unfortunately nothing ever develops...
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
Quoting AussieStorm:

zulu means what?

This will be that last launch window for today. If no launch then that's it for today.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
UTC time..= Zulu Time



There is no rush for today..as Tomorrow presents a better shot for Launch weather wise..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127636
The launch team is now planning to come out of the current T-4 minute hold at 11:15 a.m. EDT, aiming for a liftoff at 11:19 a.m.
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Quoting Bonedog:
zulu Aussie thats what they are saying

zulu means what?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
zulu Aussie thats what they are saying
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
not really an expert here but have the nasa channel live on satalight. just a fast typer and simulcasting the chatter
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
Quoting Bonedog:
if you listened to the last weather report when control said toggle to 15:15 launch 15:19 she said that would mean a sc... then control said toggle t to 15:15


is 15:15 GMT????
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pearlandaggie:
75. i wasn't really trying to correct you! LOL..i was clearing up my misinterpretation of the situation :) it's obvious that you knew what was going on and i didn't!

(sorry...really behind on this stuff...just haven't had the time to keep up with it)


Boondog and Patrap are the experts here from what I see. I'm just a fan who talks before he thinks sometimes!
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
wind just went red

15:20 T 15:24 launch
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
Quoting Bonedog:
if you listened to the last weather report when control said toggle to 15:15 launch 15:19 she said that would mean a sc... then control said toggle t to 15:15


I just heard restart at 11:15. thats in like 2 mins
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OH S&^%

she says green now but not at T zero

they dont want to say the S word LOL

But you can here it in here voice that its not looking good
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
if you listened to the last weather report when control said toggle to 15:15 launch 15:19 she said that would mean a sc... then control said toggle t to 15:15

Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
S C R U B
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127636
Quoting Bonedog:
all systems go

weather NO GO

waiting on weather. Come on keep our fingers crossed

#
New Launch Time: 11:14 a.m. EDT
Wed, 28 Oct 2009 02:05:45 AM EDT

Launch has been targeted for 11:14 a.m. to give the weather a little more time to clear. The T-4 minute hold would resume at 11:10 a.m. with launch scheduled four minutes later, weather permitting.

Prelaunch polls are beginning as the end of the T-4 hold approaches.

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green on wind constraints

red on tropo.. with improving conditions
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
all systems go

weather NO GO

waiting on weather. Come on keep our fingers crossed
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
so it looks like this is a test of one of the SRBs for the Ares V...or am i wrong on that, too? LOL
Member Since: September 14, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 3963
launch status check
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
75. i wasn't really trying to correct you! LOL..i was clearing up my misinterpretation of the situation :) it's obvious that you knew what was going on and i didn't!

(sorry...really behind on this stuff...just haven't had the time to keep up with it)
Member Since: September 14, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 3963
KSC Live Video Feeds



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127636
SPECIAL MARINE WARNING
GMZ675-271600-
/O.NEW.KMOB.MA.W.0208.091027T1458Z-091027T1600Z/

BULLETIN - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
SPECIAL MARINE WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MOBILE AL
958 AM CDT TUE OCT 27 2009

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MOBILE HAS ISSUED A

* SPECIAL MARINE WARNING FOR...
WATERS FROM DESTIN TO PENSACOLA FL FROM 20 TO 60 NM...

* UNTIL 1100 AM CDT

* AT 957 AM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE RADAR INDICATED A
THUNDERSTORM...CAPABLE OF PRODUCING WINDS OF 34 TO 50 KNOTS AND
POSSIBLY A WATERSPOUT...6 NM SOUTHWEST OF OKALOOSA DEEP WATER
REEF...MOVING NORTHEAST AT 15 KNOTS.

* THIS STRONG THUNDERSTORM WILL BE...
2 NM NORTHWEST OF OKALOOSA DEEP WATER REEF BY 1020 AM CDT

IF CAUGHT ON THE OPEN WATERS...ENSURE LIFE JACKETS ARE SECURELY
FASTENED BY YOU AND YOUR CREW. SECURE ANY LOOSE CARGO...AND MAKE SURE
ALL SAFETY GEAR IS READILY AVAILABLE. MAKE SURE ALL OVERBOARD DRAINS
ARE FREE OF OBSTRUCTIONS. PREPARE FOR SUDDEN SQUALLS AND BREAKING
WAVES...AND TAKE EVASIVE ACTION TO PREVENT CAPSIZING.

TO REPORT HAZARDOUS MARINE WEATHER TO YOUR NATIONAL WEATHER
SERVICE...CALL TOLL FREE AT 1 8 7 7 6 3 3 6 7 7 2.

A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 500 PM CDT TUESDAY AFTERNOON
FOR NORTHWEST FLORIDA.

LAT...LON 2977 8645 2968 8671 3004 8668 3005 8644
TIME...MOT...LOC 1458Z 217DEG 15KT 2992 8661

$$
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#74 - I stand (as usual) corrected.
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
71. LOL...i didn't misinterpret the graphic. the Ares V will be the biggest rocket, but the Ares 1 that will be launched shortly certainly is not the tallest! LOL...i think the information on the radio was misleading or i didn't pick up the "V" portion when they were talking about the Ares V! thanks :)
Member Since: September 14, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 3963
lets hope they pull the trigger not looking good though =(

Best projection with weather is a 11:15 launch with a 20 minute window
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
New Launch Time: 11:04 a.m. EDT
Wed, 28 Oct 2009 01:50:21 AM EDT

Launch Test Director Jeff Spaulding and the rest of the launch team now are planning to resume the countdown at T-4 minutes at 11 a.m. with a new liftoff time of 11:04 a.m. There are no issues with the rocket; the extended hold is due to weather.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pearlandaggie:
44. then what was the stuff about this being the biggest rocket NASA has ever launched?

(i admit it's possible i misunderstood the radio blurb about the launch)


Actually, I think you misinterpreted the graphic...lol
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
weather recon not good

cumulonibus developing nw and se of the pad
overcast over the pad

gap is in the area to launch 15 miles away. range weather officer is giving 15 to 25 minutes for launch

bumping launch another 15 minutes =(

recon says after 1530z is limit after that weather has deteriorated beyond limits
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
Quoting Grothar:


Not a good direction for the Phillipines, eh, Aussie?









Looking at all these, it's not going to be nice on the Philippines. Looking at the track its going to go practically over my wife and I's house in Central Luzon.
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hurricane season is overe hurricane season is overe yay yay yay i dont see any more name storms this year
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Quoting mikatnight:


I sure have to hope that politics wasn't the reason for a GO FLIGHT. NASA is my hero...


Since the admin appointed the Rogers commission to investigate the Challenger accident,..NASA mgt was Blamed for not listening to The Thiokol Engineers that led to the Go decision that resulted in the Loss of the crew and vehicle.
One can google and read the "Rogers comission" report on the accident
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127636


Seismic Monitor

AOI

AOI

Humor in Comments
BUSTED FORECAST
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting SQUAWK:


Or, they could push the limits like they did for Challenger because POTUS was there and you know what that caused. I do not think they will ever do that again.

Quoting Patrap:


Thats wrong..Reagen was in DC awaiting his State of the Union Address that evening,,,which was cancelled due to the Challenger accident. But many said,,..as you may have heard,well that The admin wanted the Teacher in Orbit for that speech.

I sure have to hope that politics wasn't the reason for a GO FLIGHT. NASA is my hero...
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
winds trending down =)
18knts
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
talking with range weather now
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
Quoting IKE:
So much for El Nino not being as strong as some thought it would get. I hope it continues into the 2010 tropical season and produces another "season bust" like 2009 was in the Atlantic.


Some nino effects may linger through 2010 even if the nino 3.4 SSTs come down. It's early but right now I wouldn't be forecasting an active hurricane season next year either... maybe better than this year though

adrian
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44. then what was the stuff about this being the biggest rocket NASA has ever launched?

(i admit it's possible i misunderstood the radio blurb about the launch)
Member Since: September 14, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 3963
squawk for the test launch one or two knots of wind might get a fudge with everything else holding nominal but who knows.

From what I am hearing from radio chater between the coms seems like they want a fudge factor. Just my impression though so take it with a grain of salt
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
Quoting SQUAWK:


Or, they could push the limits like they did for Challenger because POTUS was there and you know what that caused. I do not think they will ever do that again.


Thats wrong..Reagen was in DC awaiting his State of the Union Address that evening,,,which was cancelled due to the Challenger accident. But many said,,..as you may have heard,well that The admin wanted the Teacher in Orbit for that speech.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127636
Quoting AussieStorm:



Not a good direction for the Phillipines, eh, Aussie?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25421
winds and cloud cover are the biggest problem

10 min sustained is 20knt gusting 22knt cloud window keeps decreasing but without recon there are in the dark. recon is currently refueling.

so is range choppers and also cloud cover/haze is preventing a video review of the range box.

lets keep our fingers crossed
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
Quoting mikatnight:
The thing is, if you buy a ticket to view a launch, it's only good for that mission, no matter when it actually takes off. Makes it tough on people who travel far and have a limited time to spend away. But that's the breaks, and we continue to go anyway. It's still a great tour.


Or, they could push the limits like they did for Challenger because POTUS was there and you know what that caused. I do not think they will ever do that again.
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Quoting Patrap:


For ARES 1=X Nasa Held a Lottery for the Causeway viewing..Blogger Skyepony won a ticket and is there and will cover the Launch with photos.


I did not know that. That's awesome!
BTW - congrats on ya'lls win...
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
Quoting Grothar:


Look at Mirinae now! Lucky we didn't get one of these in the Atlantic this season.

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The Tornado Warning I put on here earlier has been canceled due to weakening.
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bumped to 15z with 15:04 launch

waiting on weather now
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
Quoting mikatnight:
The thing is, if you buy a ticket to view a launch, it's only good for that mission, no matter when it actually takes off. Makes it tough on people who travel far and have a limited time to spend away. But that's the breaks, and we continue to go anyway. It's still a great tour.


For ARES 1=X Nasa Held a Lottery for the Causeway viewing..Blogger Skyepony won a ticket and is there and will cover the Launch with photos.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127636
Thanks for the info on El Nino.
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yup I was their for one launch amazing sight and sound!!
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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