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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St. Petersburg / Clea

Humidity: 72 %
Wind Speed: S 18 G 28 MPH
Barometer: 29.90" (1012.5 mb)
Dewpoint: 73 °F (23 °C)
Heat Index: 89 °F (32 °C)
Visibility: 10.00 mi.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting beell:


Think about it, futuremet-a front will always break the cap. Mechanical/forced Lift from the front is hard to ignore if you're a cap.
)


lol I know

I was being really general. I meant: I hope it breaks the cap enough to cause for rain to fall.
Member Since: July 19, 2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 4051
Quoting NEwxguy:
Winter of 1998 saw a very stormy pattern for Florida with a lot of tornadoes that year.


I remember October of 1997 all the way through December there was tons of rain in Bradenton. It would rain for a week straight. One notable occasion the Desoto Square mall was underwater for halloween
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Quoting BioChemist:
IS that a derecho heading for florida


No. The line is too weak and there were no severe wind reports.
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1998 was also the year of the devastating ice storm for northern new england and canada
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It will be truly amazing if we don't get any rain here in South Florida from this massive front coming from the GOM.
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IS that a derecho heading for florida
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Whether El Nino was a contributing factor to the weather in 1998 or not, preliminary data indicates there were 1,254 tornado occurrences in the 48 contiguous United States. This is the highest number of tornado reports since 1992 (1,297). Normally, tornadoes occur in an area from Texas northward through Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska into western areas of Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas, better known as "tornado alley." But, in 1998 the maximum frequency of tornadoes occurred across parts of the Missouri and Mississippi Valleys as well as Florida



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Winter of 1998 saw a very stormy pattern for Florida with a lot of tornadoes that year.
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237
We sure don't need another year of fires.
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238. Inyo
Yeah, my complaint isn't that people disagree on what is causing the earth to warm. My complaint is that we have scientists who perceive a problem and are trying to help, and they get attacked by politicians and accused of being involved with a 'hoax' or intentionally falsifying data. Yes, this definitely happens to scientists on both 'sides' of this debate, and it is ridiculous and stupid politics, there is no excuse for it.
Member Since: September 3, 2002 Posts: 42 Comments: 873
Quoting Marlinzfan:
Does El Niño mean that here in Florida we can expect a colder & stormier Winter ? Because last year was warm with a couple of cold spells, but so darn dry. Hopefully El Niño means more rain ? Anyone help ?
This winter should be very similar to the winter of 1998 for Florida. Comparable conditions.
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So close you can taste it :-/
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I don't see how S. FL is not going to get some of this rain.

Link
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234. beell
Quoting futuremet:


I hope the front will have sufficient instability to break the cap.


Think about it, futuremet-a front will always break the cap. Mechanical/forced Lift from the front is hard to ignore if you're a cap.
)
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Quoting Skyepony:
Made it back from my early morning at the NASA CAuseway. Put together a WUphoto series of the morning out there, including the cloud that stopped one of the several ARES I-X attempts.


Glad you had a nice time. Sorry for the scrub. Will you be going back on Wednesday?
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El Nino,does often mean an active southern storm track.
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Quoting StormChaser81:


Man these storms look nasty, its getting very windy here in St. Petersburg.

Humidity: 63 %
Wind Speed: S 13 G 24 MPH
Barometer: 29.91" (1012.8 mb)
Dewpoint: 72 °F (22 °C)
Heat Index: 92 °F (33 °C)
Visibility: 10.00 mi.


I hope the front will have sufficient instability to break the cap.
Member Since: July 19, 2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 4051
Does El Niño mean that here in Florida we can expect a colder & stormier Winter ? Because last year was warm with a couple of cold spells, but so darn dry. Hopefully El Niño means more rain ? Anyone help ?
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Quoting Magicchaos:
My thoughts on the Atlantic:

Wave near 25W south of 15N a LOW(10-25%) chance of development into a tropical cyclone in the next 24 hours.

Wave near 45W south of 15N a VERY LOW(<10%) chance of development into a tropical cyclone in the next 24 hours.

Wave near 60W south of 15N a VERY LOW(<10%) chance of development into a tropical cyclone in the next 24 hours.

Yes, 75% to 90% none of them will not develop.
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227. beell
Quoting reedzone:
Hmm might need a tornado watch here in the Florida Peninsula, those storms form the GOM look severe, a squall line.. You don't normally see this type of squall line till winter.


They may be strong, but with less than 30 knots of shear-ya'll should be ok.
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Quoting Inyo:
the whole 'hoax' thing is ridiculous. Are you trying to say that all these scientists are somehow in on some grand conspiracy to control the government, that it has been going on since the 80s when human global warming was first recognized, and that somehow all of these scientists have coordinated this leading up to somehow knowing Obama would be president and they could pass a carbon tax or something? This doesn't even make sense, THINK about what you are saying, don't just troll Fox News and Republican websites... do you also believe in chemtrails and lizard men? Scientists are the most contentious people ever, they are not just going to adopt a theory because other scientists are doing so. AGW is a valid scientific theory, and most evidence points to it being a major cause for the warming we are having now... sorry if you don't like this science, but that's how it is!
Couldn't agree with you more, people that have the tendency of been fanatics on their extremist position end up destroying their credibility. Hello Fox news !
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225. Skyepony (Mod)
El Niño makes for nasty squall lines through FL this time of year through spring..

The test instruments on top ARES I-X got uncovered in launch preps near the last moment before a cargo ship slipped into a splash down area & stopped the launch clock. Those will ruin in a rain.. Not liking the look of that front at all.
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i found this timely, although your opinion may differ....

Ubuntu is still rubbish

i found the comments pretty funny :)
Member Since: September 14, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 3963
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Hmm might need a tornado watch here in the Florida Peninsula, those storms form the GOM look severe, a squall line.. You don't normally see this type of squall line till winter.
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221. Skyepony (Mod)
Made it back from my early morning at the NASA CAuseway. Put together a WUphoto series of the morning out there, including the cloud that stopped one of the several ARES I-X attempts.
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218. by the way, did you ever see my response to your Pepsi comment the other day? LOL
Member Since: September 14, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 3963
218. alright, Floodman...flour and water is taking it a little far :)

LOL...i know a person of your intellect can produce a better analogy that that :)
Member Since: September 14, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 3963
Quoting quasigeostropic:
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.


The debate is not whether there is global warming or not, but of how much of global warming is caused by humans. The IPCC have proven to know nothing about the climate with their failed computer projections. AGW is a hoax......And many understand it to be so!


Okay...take a cup of water, clean, pure, no impurities...now start adding flour to it, a little at a time...is the atmosphere any different? Two closed systems, the only difference is the scale. Denying that people have some hand in the increase in greenhouse gases is crap science. Reasonable people try to be reasonable and try to find out for themselves. Where is your science?
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216. no problem...i'm probably nitpicking that a bit :) most people don't make the distinction...
Member Since: September 14, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 3963
216. Inyo
yeah, the word 'theory' does get abused a lot and I guess I am doing so here as well.
Member Since: September 3, 2002 Posts: 42 Comments: 873
Quoting Inyo:
if you don't believe the theory is correct, present evidence that backs up your point, that is fine... but accusing the other side of perpetuating a 'hoax' just because you don't agree with the science is juvenile and ridiculous!


i actually agree with this statement, except for the "theory" part...it's more of a hypothesis than a theory :)
Member Since: September 14, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 3963
My thoughts on the Atlantic:

Wave near 25W south of 15N a LOW(10-25%) chance of development into a tropical cyclone in the next 24 hours.

Wave near 45W south of 15N a VERY LOW(<10%) chance of development into a tropical cyclone in the next 24 hours.

Wave near 60W south of 15N a VERY LOW(<10%) chance of development into a tropical cyclone in the next 24 hours.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
213. Inyo
if you don't believe the theory is correct, present evidence that backs up your point, that is fine... but accusing the other side of perpetuating a 'hoax' just because you don't agree with the science is juvenile and ridiculous!
Member Since: September 3, 2002 Posts: 42 Comments: 873
212. Inyo
the whole 'hoax' thing is ridiculous. Are you trying to say that all these scientists are somehow in on some grand conspiracy to control the government, that it has been going on since the 80s when human global warming was first recognized, and that somehow all of these scientists have coordinated this leading up to somehow knowing Obama would be president and they could pass a carbon tax or something? This doesn't even make sense, THINK about what you are saying, don't just troll Fox News and Republican websites... do you also believe in chemtrails and lizard men? Scientists are the most contentious people ever, they are not just going to adopt a theory because other scientists are doing so. AGW is a valid scientific theory, and most evidence points to it being a major cause for the warming we are having now... sorry if you don't like this science, but that's how it is!
Member Since: September 3, 2002 Posts: 42 Comments: 873
Quoting Marlinzfan:


So not expected for SE Fla ? My lawn is brown LOL



20% TODAY
10% THRU FRIDAY
0% THRU SUNDAY
HOT, HUMID, CHANCE TO BREAK RECORD EVERYDAY!

Not looking good, that's for sure. This is a typical September pattern for us in SEFL.
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Man these storms look nasty, its getting very windy here in St. Petersburg.

Humidity: 63 %
Wind Speed: S 13 G 24 MPH
Barometer: 29.91" (1012.8 mb)
Dewpoint: 72 °F (22 °C)
Heat Index: 92 °F (33 °C)
Visibility: 10.00 mi.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
there was a tornado sighted off santa rosa beach in the panhandle. Its quiet now, maybe the front has passed?
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I could give statisticians thousands of independent data sets that showed long term "rising levels" of anything and everything....That proves NOTHING.

AGW is poison and junk science! There is no proof whatsoever but pure theories that have been proven wrong many times in the past! It only takes ONE experiment to disprove something in science!
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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.


The debate is not whether there is global warming or not, but of how much of global warming is caused by humans. The IPCC have proven to know nothing about the climate with their failed computer projections. AGW is a hoax......And many understand it to be so!
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alright im out, but check out this blog heading to Florida:
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Well guys, it's been real, and it's been fun.... eh, it's been real fun, I'll catch y'all later, have to run to my "office" (;
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Quoting tornadodude:
Photo removed in an attempt to avoid a ban (:

Bummer. I thought that was great, and definitely blog related.
But I'm a member of the Ignoble Hall of Shame.

Gosh it's hard to get off this blog.
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NRA Amy, greetings,

Yea! The purple hippo's back!
But you would not get banned for your own pic., it was very nice.

(Just a silly/dumb joke...I know that's not what you meant.)

Oh, how's your weather (blog related).
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Quoting AwakeInMaryland:

Thnx. I really did not know that cyclones have occurred in every month, even outside the season. Oh, wait, that includes the Pacific, too, right?

Have there been cyclones in every month in the Atlantic? I'm still such a Newb. :(

Matt, will snow reach you?

Off for awhile, lost time napping, lol. It's stopped raining, has gone north.



well, probably wont snow here for a couple of weeks still, we usually dont see it until the middle of November :(
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Quoting tornadodude:
187.

very interesting, expect the unexpected

Thnx. I really did not know that cyclones have occurred in every month, even outside the season. Oh, wait, that includes the Pacific, too, right?

Have there been cyclones in every month in the Atlantic? I'm still such a Newb. :(

Matt, will snow reach you?

Off for awhile, lost time napping, lol. It's stopped raining, has gone north.

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damn, Jerry....

:(

maybe we can get a two for one discount with the docs/meds....

;)
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Quoting NRAamy:
184. tornadodude 10:48 AM PDT on October 27, 2009
Photo removed in an attempt to avoid a ban (:


Smart boy...learn from me....

;)


(;
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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.