Winter Olympics forecast: near-record warmth

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:28 PM GMT on February 15, 2010

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Under sunny skies and warm southwest winds the temperature in Vancouver, British Columbia climbed to 54°F (12.4°C) yesterday, just missing the record of 12.9°C (55°F) for the date, set in 1991 (records in Vancouver go back to 1937). That was marvelous weather for all the joggers that were out in t-shirts and shorts in Vancouver yesterday, but is lousy weather if you're trying to hold a Winter Olympics. The men's downhill was postponed yesterday and rescheduled for today, because of rain and bad snow. The women's combined, originally scheduled to run Saturday, has been postponed until Thursday. The mountain has been getting snow at the top, a mix of snow and rain along the middle section, and rain at the bottom, making for very difficult skiing conditions. Practice runs have been mostly been canceled. In West Vancouver, where the moguls competition was held yesterday, snow had to be trucked and helicoptered in because there wasn't enough on the ground. The snow-making machines weren't any help, because it was too warm to make snow. Too bad Philadelphia or Washington D.C. didn't make a bid for the Winter Olympics! It's an upside-down winter when Canada has trouble getting snow, and Washington D.C. gets five feet.

As we can see from a plot of the temperature departure from average for the month of January (Figure 1), most of Canada has seen very unusual warmth, with temperatures over 5°C (9°F) covering large swathes of the country.


Figure 1. Departure of January temperature from average for the strong to moderate strength El Niño year of 2010 (left), and a composite of the last five years that had a moderate to strong El Niño (right). Note that typically, an El Niño event brings much warmer than average temperatures to Vancouver, and cooler than average conditions to Florida. This year has seen an extreme amplification of this pattern. The impact of the Arctic Oscillation (AO) is evident over eastern Canada and Greenland, where exceptionally warm temperatures were recorded. Image credit: NOAA/ESRL.

Why all the warmth in Vancouver? El Niño partly to blame
So, what's going on? The average high temperature in Vancouver this time of year is typically 8°C (46°F). Vancouver has seen above-average temperatures every day this month, and tied one daily record so far. This unusual February warmth follows a record warm month of January, which averaged 3°C (5.4°F) above average, beating the previous record set in 2006 by a pretty significant margin, 0.9°C (1.6°F). Nearby Seattle, Washington had its warmest January in 120 years of record keeping, and both Oregon and Washington recorded their 4th warmest January. As we can see from a plot of the temperature departure from average for the month of January (Figure 1), most of Canada saw very unusual warmth, with temperature anomalies over 5°C (9°F) covering large swathes of the country. Record warm January temperatures were observed not only over British Columbia, but also over Manitoba and over much of Quebec, where half of the province's twelve largest cities experienced their warmest or second warmest January on record. Unusual Canadian warmth is to be expected during a moderate to strong El Niño episode, which is what we've had this winter in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The pattern we've seen during the previous five moderate to strong El Niños dating back to 1987 (Figure 1, right) shows this trend, and also the trend towards colder than average conditions in Florida. However, the pattern for January 2010 shows an extreme amplification of this El Niño pattern. We had record warmth over much of Canada, and Florida got socked with its 10th coldest January on record. The extreme amplification of the January temperature pattern was due in part to the influence of the Arctic Oscillation/North Atlantic Oscillation, a natural wind pattern over the North Atlantic measured by the difference in pressure between Iceland and ocean areas to the south. That difference in pressure was remarkably small in the first half of January, leading to the weakest Arctic Oscillation pattern in 60 years of record keeping. This allowed cold air to spill southwards into Florida, and helped bring very warm temperatures to Greenland and Eastern Canada. El Niño, combined with the Arctic Oscillation, all superimposed upon exceptionally warm global temperatures, is probably the best explanation for the record January warmth in Canada. Globally, January 2010 was the 4th warmest January on record, with global ocean temperatures the 2nd warmest on record, according to NOAA.

The forecast: near-record warmth for Vancouver
The forecast for Vancouver for the remainder of the week calls for temperatures above 10°C (50°F) each day. Today's forecast high of 10°C (50°F) will approach the record high for the date of 12.6°C (55°F). The long range forecast through the remainder of the Winter Olympics promises continued near-record warmth, as the jet stream is projected to stay in its current El Niño-type pattern. In this configuration, a strong ridge of high pressure stays anchored over the Pacific coast, allowing plenty of warm air from the southwest into British Columbia. Unfortunately for the winter games, I expect that Vancouver will end up experiencing its 1st or 2nd warmest February on record.

No major snowstorms in sight
Today's snowstorm for the mid-Atlantic has shifted northwards, meaning the that the maximum 4 - 8 inches of snow from this storm will pass north of snow-weary Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Baltimore. The computer models are showing that this will be the last significant snow storm to affect the eastern half of the U.S. for at least a week, and residents of the Mid-Atlantic can look forward to a slow but steady melting of their huge piles of snow. This is exactly what is needed to avoid a serious flooding situation--a rapid thaw or large rainstorm would have been a major problem.

Next post
I'll have a new post on Wednesday at the latest. I did an interview with the Washington Post weather blog by the "Capital Weather Gang", for those interested.

Jeff Masters

2010 Winter Olympic Torch Relay (galeao)
The Olympic Torch Relay departing Mackin Park in Coquitlam, BC. Crowds lined the streets and braved the Vancouver rain to cheer on the torchbearers as they continued on to the city of Burnaby. Just one more day before the Olympic Cauldron will be lit in Vancouver on February 12, 2010.
2010 Winter Olympic Torch Relay
Ballet Of Light (galeao)
The 'Ballet Of Light', formally known as artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's art project Vectorial Elevation, consists of 20 robotically controlled, 10,000-watt Zenon lights that have been installed at Vanier Park and Sunset Beach in Vancouver. Beginning on February 5, they will be lighting the sky over English Bay every night until dawn, right up to the last day of the 2010 Winter Olympics on February 28. The pattern of the lights changes every 10 seconds in response to geometric designs submitted from the public via the Internet. It is quite a sight but works best with low clouds like this evening. View with the Inukshuk at the southern end of English Bay Beach.
Ballet Of Light

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Quoting AussieStorm:

Pardon???

Sorry for being rude but the track map shows cat 4 status and the timeline shows cat 5 what's your stance?
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:




1110 AM HST TUE FEB 16 2010

FOR THE CENTRAL NORTH PACIFIC...BETWEEN 140W AND 180

1. An area of thunderstorms is located 1215 nm SSW of Honolulu and is nearly stationary. Thunderstorm coverage in this area has maintained persistent strength of the past couple of days. Slow development of this system is possible over the next two days.

Elsewhere, no tropical cyclones are expected through Thursday afternoon.


Ekeka formed in January 1992 earliest formation of a cyclone on record in that basin. So it is possible.
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Quoting all4hurricanes:

What's your point you have contradicting evidence on whether Laurence is a cat 5 or not.

Pardon???
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Quoting AussieStorm:




Season so far

What's your point you have contradicting evidence on whether Laurence is a cat 5 or not.
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is this a sign of how the 2010 atlantic hurricane season
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Still the NHC.. It's co- located with TAFB and the Miami WFO.
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is it north or south hem.
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hey guys is it true the first invest for the cent. Pac.
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1110 AM HST TUE FEB 16 2010

FOR THE CENTRAL NORTH PACIFIC...BETWEEN 140W AND 180

1. An area of thunderstorms is located 1215 nm SSW of Honolulu and is nearly stationary. Thunderstorm coverage in this area has maintained persistent strength of the past couple of days. Slow development of this system is possible over the next two days.

Elsewhere, no tropical cyclones are expected through Thursday afternoon.
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Thank you astro that was interesting reading. But it seems to me that the real warming is occurring from just west of Africa to the mid Pacific as concerning the oceans. A very large part of the earth, I think we maybe in uncharted waters so to speak, no pun intended.
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Hi Senior Chief!
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Quoting gordydunnot:
I guess only the professionals could make a good guess about next year, or should I say educated guess any way. But as for me I don't see even a slight decrease in the sw to ne wind shear that's been in place for the last year or so. So until that happens I see a hostel environment upstairs.


I think that the warm anomaly in the south and east North Atlantic formed by the slowing of the North Atlantic Gyre will drift into the Caribbean, as shown by some models into June and July. However, the warmth is drifting into the Caribbean already, and some places are up to 1.5C above normal. I see some Caribbean and Cape Verde storms popping up very early in the season, and Gulf Stream storms should be watched out for especially as well. Link
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Quoting charlottefl:
The NHC specialist there also said they were updating their hurricane model (this season), to look for storm surge warnings, extended lead times on watches (48 hrs) and warnings (36 hours), and a 7 day forecast in the next couple of seasons.


They're also issuing a new public advisory format this season. I think they're onto something!Link
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I guess only the professionals could make a good guess about next year, or should I say educated guess any way. But as for me I don't see even a slight decrease in the sw to ne wind shear that's been in place for the last year or so. So until that happens I see a hostel environment upstairs.
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Quoting all4hurricanes:

I'm pretty sure Laurence was only a cat 5 on the Australian scale it's a cat 4 on the saffir simpson. Still an impresive cyclone though. Edzani in the SW Idian ocean did reach cat 5 strength though earlier this year




Season so far
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Is anybody out there starting to think about predictions for the 2010 ATL / EPac seasons? I'd be interested to see what analog years ppl would be likely to pick based on our current wx trends.....


Might do that in a future blog post, but right now I'm thinking of 2004 for an analog year. El Nino Modoki weakening throughout the season. Hyperactive tornado season, and many storms hitting Florida, although for this year I'm thinking that the Carolinas and the lower Northeast will be in trouble as well.
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The NHC specialist there also said they were updating their hurricane model (this season), to look for storm surge warnings, extended lead times on watches (48 hrs) and warnings (36 hours), and a 7 day forecast in the next couple of seasons.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Bord, I was thinking mainly about the SIndian storms, which currently number 16. Aside from Laurence, I don't remember much severe activity there.

The SPac storms I am not surprised by, given the warm pool of water near the equator for them to tap into.....


Actually, considering only the Southwest Indian Ocean this has been only the twelvth storm this season, and Edzani hit 905 mbar back in January.Link The southeast Pacific storms this season have tapped into the ENSO warm pool, and the storms in turn weakened and expanded it while some of its water was pulled southeast to choke the Humboldt Current. Cyclone Oli reached the farthest east that any category four storm in the South Pacific has done so since at least 1945 and its remnants crossed southern Chile to east of the Falklands and is bringing warm water toward the Ronne Ice Shelf.
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


I once had a post deleted for it bring longer than the blog entry (and admitting it), as well as including five images and soliciting traffic to my blog. I wasn't thoroughly aware of the rules, but I still haven't remembered to ask the admin why it was deleted.


Hmmm, a couple-few of the bloggers do that all the time -- have mercy on us all!!! :)
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Quoting BahaHurican:
And made landfall.... and made landfall.....

I didnt' realize it had gotten to cat 5.



I don't remember anything else getting much above 100 mph winds, though.

And I thought it might be a eucalyptus, but wasn't sure since the picture wasn't that clear.

I'm pretty sure Laurence was only a cat 5 on the Australian scale it's a cat 4 on the saffir simpson. Still an impresive cyclone though. Edzani in the SW Idian ocean did reach cat 5 strength though earlier this year
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Hi. Looks relatively slow here, more like normal winter traffic.... lol....

Anybody else notice we're up to cyclone #16 in the Indian Ocean for the season??? I don't remember all those invests. Latest one looks like it might impact Mauritius / Reunion, which I haven't seen for a while.

Also, anybody else notice that while this season's storms have been numerous, they have also not been severe? Typical el nino impact? ?????


The Indian Ocean temperatures are currently above normal and although El Nino has weakened its warm pool has expanded and its ocean current-stalling effects continue. Below are the current global SSTs and anomalies, and I have also saved a collection of almost daily images for SSTs since early December:



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Quoting AwakeInMaryland:
Interesting -- I've never seen a single post entirely deleted (#309) without the poster getting banned for at least the day.

Of course, I haven't been around all that long.

Oz, how'd you do that, or get away with that? :)

I despise the nasty AGW/CC debates...and yet...I can't help it, I wonder what I missed...


I once had a post deleted for it bring longer than the blog entry (and admitting it), as well as including five images and soliciting traffic to my blog. I wasn't thoroughly aware of the rules, but I still haven't remembered to ask the admin why it was deleted.
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Quoting Bordonaro:


You mean this mean Upper Level Low and trough digging down towards Hawaii??


Notice the blob to the south-southwest of Hawaii. Looks like a tropical disturbance trying to form, and it's north of Rene's surrounding tropical moisture.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Bord, I was thinking mainly about the SIndian storms, which currently number 16. Aside from Laurence, I don't remember much severe activity there.

The SPac storms I am not surprised by, given the warm pool of water near the equator for them to tap into.....


Link below is the current list of TC to affect the S Indian Ocean so far this season:

Link
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Oh, and as a final riposte before I go out, would u believe it's already down to 66 at 6:33 p.m.? And our low is supposed to hit 55.... dunno if that will happen, since it's still overcast (usually more likely to get a lower overnight temp w/ clear skies), but will be interesting to see just how cold it is when I get up tomorrow a.m...... I think I'll stick my thermometer out tonight.

Later, all!
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Is anybody out there starting to think about predictions for the 2010 ATL / EPac seasons? I'd be interested to see what analog years ppl would be likely to pick based on our current wx trends.....
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Quoting charlottefl:


I live about an hour and a half from there. Heard about them doing tours in the off season, and I had to go on one. Weather fascinates me, especially hurricanes. Did that, then went and ate lunch on Biscayne Bay. I'm back home now.
This tour idea sounds interesting. Maybe I'll do that next winter.
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Quoting doabarrelroll:


very cool where did u eat


Bayside mall
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#339 charlottefl...excellent pics...thanks
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Quoting Bordonaro:


There have been several TC in the S Pac that have approached or exceeded CAT 3 or greater in strength. A matter of fact Tonga was just hit last night by a CAT 4 Cyclone. TC Laurence was a CAT 5, several others were CAT 3 or greater, creating flooding problems in the Outback, which is a desert, all the way to near Sydney.

Bord, I was thinking mainly about the SIndian storms, which currently number 16. Aside from Laurence, I don't remember much severe activity there.

The SPac storms I am not surprised by, given the warm pool of water near the equator for them to tap into.....
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Quoting doabarrelroll:

what brought you to Miami? How do you like our fair city?


I live about an hour and a half from there. Heard about them doing tours in the off season, and I had to go on one. Weather fascinates me, especially hurricanes. Did that, then went and ate lunch on Biscayne Bay. I'm back home now.
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Quoting AussieStorm:


Have you forgotten Severe Tropical Cyclone Laurence that made land fall NW Australia. 285km/h Cat 5 Cyclone. That was a Indian Ocean Cyclone.
And made landfall.... and made landfall.....

I didnt' realize it had gotten to cat 5.



I don't remember anything else getting much above 100 mph winds, though.

And I thought it might be a eucalyptus, but wasn't sure since the picture wasn't that clear.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Aussie, what's the tree in the webcam view?

Eucalyptus Tree or more commonly known as a Gum Tree.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Hi. Looks relatively slow here, more like normal winter traffic.... lol....

Anybody else notice we're up to cyclone #16 in the Indian Ocean for the season??? I don't remember all those invests. Latest one looks like it might impact Mauritius / Reunion, which I haven't seen for a while.

Also, anybody else notice that while this season's storms have been numerous, they have also not been severe? Typical el nino impact? ?????


There have been several TC in the S Pac that have approached or exceeded CAT 3 or greater in strength. A matter of fact Tonga was just hit last night by a CAT 4 Cyclone. TC Laurence was a CAT 5, several others were CAT 3 or greater, creating flooding problems in the Outback, which is a desert, all the way to near Sydney.

So far, as the US goes, we have been blessed, concerning Winter Severe Weather outbreaks. We have had scattered areas of severe weather, tornadoes, hail and wind damage, from time to time, but no widespread severe weather outbreaks.

However, as Spring quickly approaches, I fear we will have a very active Spring severe weather season in the SE US, S Plains (where I live) and the Midwest!

I live at the southern end of Tornado Alley, here in North Central Texas. Although I have not seen a tornado up close and personal,
I have seen several funnel clouds, many hailstorms, from golf ball to grapefruit size, straight-line winds over 115MPH and torrential rainfalls that approached near world records!

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Quoting BahaHurican:
Hi. Looks relatively slow here, more like normal winter traffic.... lol....

Anybody else notice we're up to cyclone #16 in the Indian Ocean for the season??? I don't remember all those invests. Latest one looks like it might impact Mauritius / Reunion, which I haven't seen for a while.

Also, anybody else notice that while this season's storms have been numerous, they have also not been severe? Typical el nino impact? ?????


Have you forgotten Severe Tropical Cyclone Laurence that made land fall NW Australia. 285km/h Cat 5 Cyclone. That was a Indian Ocean Cyclone.
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Aussie, what's the tree in the webcam view?
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Quoting OrchidGrower:
My stars, but I am so over the cold in South Florida!! I moved here last summer to get AWAY from the cold. My new landscape is devastated. I keep wondering, is this anything like a normal winter here? I don't want to see this much cold again for many a year!
Welcome Orchid!

As Bon has said, this is pretty unusual weather for FL, esp. S FL. A normal winter might feature one or two snaps as cold as we have been seeing, but rarely a long stretch of colder temps as we have been seeing. (Of course December isn't usually that warm, either...)

Hopefully we'll get a bit of a break after this weekend...
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Another beautiful day here in Sydney, Just back from my morning walk with my 4y.o daughter.
The Sky is a beautiful blue, as seen on my web-cam.

Video clips at Ustream

The Video below my LIVE cam is me waving to everyone here. That's at about the 13th minute mark.
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Quoting OrchidGrower:
My stars, but I am so over the cold in South Florida!! I moved here last summer to get AWAY from the cold. My new landscape is devastated. I keep wondering, is this anything like a normal winter here? I don't want to see this much cold again for many a year!

What you have experienced in South Florida is extremely rare. Cold snaps like you have experienced usually happen once every 30 yrs or so!
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Hi. Looks relatively slow here, more like normal winter traffic.... lol....

Anybody else notice we're up to cyclone #16 in the Indian Ocean for the season??? I don't remember all those invests. Latest one looks like it might impact Mauritius / Reunion, which I haven't seen for a while.

Also, anybody else notice that while this season's storms have been numerous, they have also not been severe? Typical el nino impact? ?????
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My stars, but I am so over the cold in South Florida!! I moved here last summer to get AWAY from the cold. My new landscape is devastated. I keep wondering, is this anything like a normal winter here? I don't want to see this much cold again for many a year!
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Ok here's pics from today: (The last one has a computer monitor in RED, this is the invest south of Hawaii I was talking about)

ME OUT IN FRONT OF THE NHC

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JR HURRICANE SPECIALIST (RIGHT) AND MEDIA LIAISON FOR NHC

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LAST YEAR'S TROPICAL ACTIVITY

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GUY WHO DEALS WITH DROPSONDE DATA AND NOAA AND AIR FORCE HH MISSION TASKING

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TAFB OFFICE

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TAFB FORECAST CHARTS

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PACIFIC INVEST

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Quoting Skyepony:
OZ that is the same as my Tycon. Really like, looks way more durable then my old La Crosse. I got mine even cheaper here.


That looks like a good weather station... hrm...
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5881
I love this song

I dont make it rain....I think thats global warming! suey! suey! Now watch me shut this thing... down!
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Evening everyone. I actually visited the National Hurricane Center today. Very, very cool. And actually that system in the central pacific you were talking about. The hurricane specialist giving us the tour showed it to us, and said the CPHC had called and asked their opinion on starting an invest on the system. I'll post some pics here in a few mins.
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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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