El Niño is done; Haiti at risk of heavy rains next week; oil spill update

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:09 PM GMT on May 19, 2010

Share this Blog
3
+

El Niño rapidly weakened during late April and early May, with sea surface temperatures over the tropical Eastern Pacific in the area 5°N - 5°S, 120°W - 170°W, also called the "Niña 3.4 region", falling a significant 0.65°C in just one month. Temperatures in the region are now in the "neutral" range, just 0.18°C above average, and well below the 0.5°C threshold to be considered an El Niño, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The speed of the collapse of El Niño makes it likely that a La Niña event is on its way this summer. This is what happened during the last strong El Niño event, in 1998--El Niño collapsed dramatically in May, and a strong La Niña event developed by hurricane season. Six of the sixteen El Niño models (updated as of April 15) are predicting La Niña conditions for hurricane season, and I expect more models will jump on the La Niña bandwagon when the May data updates later this week. The demise of El Niño, coupled with sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic that are currently at record levels, have prompted two major hurricane forecasting groups (tropicalstormrisk.com and Colorado State University) to predict a significantly above average 2010 Atlantic hurricane season. Over the full 160-year period we have records of Atlantic hurricanes, La Niña years have typically had more hurricanes, and more strong hurricanes, compared to neutral years. However, since 1995, there hasn't been any difference between neutral and La Niña years in terms of hurricane activity. La Niña conditions typically cause cool and wet conditions over the Caribbean in summer, but do not have much of an impact on U.S. temperatures or precipitation.


Figure 1. Oil spill edge over the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, May 19, as seen from NASA's M ODIS instrument. Note that a band of cumulus clouds formed along the edge of the oil spill. I theorize this is because the low level wind flow out of the southeast moves faster over the oil, since the oil suppresses wave action. As the winds cross the spill boundary into rougher, clean water, they slow down, forcing the air to pile up and create updrafts that then spawn cumulus clouds. See my post on what oil might do to a hurricane for more information on how oil reduces wave action.

Oil spill update
Clouds over the Gulf of Mexico have again foiled satellite imaging of the extent of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, though through breaks in the clouds it appears that a significant amount of the oil that was pulled southwards towards the Loop Current is now caught in a counter-clockwise rotating eddy just to the north of the Loop Current. However, some oil has escaped this eddy and is on its way south towards the Florida Keys. According to the latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA, the tongue of oil flowing southwards has at most "light" concentrations. The oil will grow more dilute as it travels the 500 miles to the Florida Keys. My present expectation is that the oil entering the Loop Current this week will cause only minor problems in the Keys next week. However, there is a lot of uncertainty about what the oil may do to the fragile Keys ecosystem. See my post yesterday for answers to many of the common questions I get about the spill.

Oil spill resources
My post on the Southwest Florida "Forbidden Zone" where surface oil will rarely go
My post on what oil might do to a hurricane
NOAA trajectory forecasts
Deepwater Horizon Unified Command web site
Oil Spill Academic Task Force
University of South Florida Ocean Circulation Group oil spill forecasts
ROFFS Deepwater Horizon page
Surface current forecasts from NOAA's HYCOM model
HYCOM ocean current forecasts from LSU


Figure 2. Precipitation forecast from today's 8am EDT run of the NAVY NOGAPS model, valid 7 days from now. Precipitation amounts in excess of 70 mm (2.8") in 12 hours are predicted over Haiti, due to a tropical disturbance in the Western Caribbean. Image credit: U.S. Navy.

Potential serious rainfall threat to Haiti next week
Long-range forecasts from the GFS and NOGAPS models over the past few days have consistently been predicting an increase in moisture and decrease in wind shear over the Western Caribbean 5 - 7 days from now, and I expect that a tropical disturbance with heavy rains will develop in the Western Caribbean early next week. A strong subtropical jet stream over the southern Gulf of Mexico will steer the disturbance to the north and east, and the NOGAPS model shows heavy rains in excess of six inches impacting Haiti Wednesday through Thursday of next week. Rains of this magnitude are capable of causing a serious emergency with high loss of life in earthquake-shattered Haiti, and all interests in that nation should closely monitor the situation over the coming week. It is too early to speculate on the possibility of the disturbance becoming a tropical depression. The wunderblogs of StormW and Weather456, who are now featured bloggers for the coming hurricane season, have more information on this potential development, plus the possible development of a subtropical storm between Florida and Bermuda next week.

Major severe weather outbreak over Oklahoma expected tonight
NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has put much of Oklahoma in its High Risk region for severe weather today, warning that "The setup appears most favorable for large, relatively slow moving intense storms with large hail. A couple strong tornadoes also may occur."

I'll be back with a new post Thursday morning.

Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 311 - 261

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18Blog Index

Quoting CybrTeddy:
News stream of news in Oklahoma..

Link


Incredible! Thanks for the link
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8185
doesnt look like hes broadcasting... though he said he'd be live at 6 CST?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Link

Nice link for OK weather...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Unfriendly:
anyone got cyclone OZ's feed link? lookin to see where hes at.
http://www.xtremehurricanes.com/
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I do not trust any of the models during transition season. They are going to be all over the place. I really have a hard time watching something over 96 hours.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
anyone got cyclone OZ's feed link? lookin to see where hes at.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Usually the ECMWF is the most accurate. However, no so much today. It transitions the hybrid low into a fully warm-cored system which is almost impossible since there will be continental dry air wrapping around on it's east side.

All in all, this is shaping up to be identical to Subtropical Storm Andrea next week! First bringing a cold front through the Florida Peninsula. Then finally getting detached from that front.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting winter123:
Seems our TD2 in the indian is trying to thread a needle. If I recall correctly, no storms have made it much further west than this will. Why is that?




Massive amounts of dry air entrainment from the Arabian Peninsula to the north and Somalia to the south as the system travels up the Red Sea.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hurricanejunky:


Bingo...we go to Key West once or twice a year for the last 12 years. Ne'er a tar ball. Just so happens that one of the biggest oil spills on the planet happens and all of a sudden tar balls start showing up? You gotta be a gulla-bull if you believe that crapola.


Sorry Junky, I was sure the TBs were from BP (yesterday), but after reading the pb post this morning, I realized I was wrong. The KW locals know that because the beaches are groomed everyday, tourists don't realize that tar washes up there frequently. Also a boat sank there last week leaving a 1 and a half mile slick. Then there's the usual cleaning of the bilges off shore...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
299. xcool
NOAA delays issuing hurricane season outlook


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric won’t be issuing its outlook for hurricane season this Thursday, as had been scheduled.

A press conference, which was to be held on Thursday morning at NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division on Virginia Key in Miami, has been delayed.

Why? Susan Buchanan, NOAA spokeswoman in Washington, D.C., couldn’t say. It was a decision made far up the ladder for reasons unknown.

Some possibilities:

-- NOAA doesn't want to hold the press conference in South Florida, when the region is preoccupied with the threat of the oil spill coming this way.

-- NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco got tied up and couldn't make it on Thursday.

-- NOAA is waiting for more data before finalizing its forecast.

I'm sure the agency will tell us the real reason in days upcoming.

Meanwhile, Buchanan said the outlook likely will be released next week, which will be cutting it close, considering the season starts on June 1.

There also is a chance that the outlook will be issued in Washington, she said
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
way above 0.05 in
Log on to www.weatherincayman.com and there is a list on the left you can click on for the different districts weather, rain,temp, pressure etc.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
News stream of news in Oklahoma..

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormTop5000:
Texas will have its Meso Convection Scale event tomorrow.


Its Mesoscale Convective System...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Storm 1 now looks like it's going to skim land and trash the entire coastline.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:


It's a fairly safe bet that it's closed. Westerly low-level winds are quite evident over Belize on high-res visible satellite.


Using that satellite imagery, I do agree that there indeed is a closed low over Belize with the surface trough across the NW Caribbean. It appears to be getting better defined over the Yucatan as, as you stated Levi, westerly winds have become quite evident on satellite imagery and now with surface observations that I just checked.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Seems our TD2 in the indian is trying to thread a needle. If I recall correctly, no storms have made it much further west than this will. Why is that?


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
way above 0.05 in
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 11251
Texas will have its Meso Convection Scale event tomorrow.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
X0 is at 43k and B0 is at 35k with each showing 1.5" hail and a nado.. IF there is a good side, they are not showing 4" hail like the earlier storms. Unfortunately there is a growing storm heading right at OK city:(

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8185
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


That isn't the same cell that caused the tornado in northern texas last night at this time, is it? That would be amazing.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:


It's a fairly safe bet that it's closed. Westerly low-level winds are quite evident over Belize on high-res visiblesatellite.


Its closed on visible satellite winds too

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
blog1469 post971 presslord "new estimate: 5000 barrels per day"
post1043 aspectre "Thanks for the heads-up. Certainly closer to other US-affecting offshore blowouts: 8,000to10,000barrels per day averaged over 10days at Santa Barbara; and 11,000to12,000barrels per day averaged over 295days at Ixtoc I, Gulf of Mexico.
The ExxonValdiz wreck spilled ~11million gallons. At 5,000barrels/210,000gallons per day, the DeepwaterHorizon spill will reach that level by June11th.
In 2005, TropicalStorm Arlene reached near-hurricane strength in the Gulf of Mexico on June10th."

Comparisons with the day before TropicalStorm Arlene began spinning on 8June2005

18May2010

7Jun2005

18May2010

7Jun2005

18May2010
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The major severe weather outbreak is now really beginning to take off across Central Oklahoma as the dry line has collided with the very unstable airmass with CAPE over 3500 and shear profiles above 100 kts. You can see this clearly on the visible imagery below as thunderstorms have begun to build rapidly.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting mikatnight:


Don't know if ya'll saw this. My wife just showed it to me. whoa

WOW!!
I had NO IDEA how violent that could be>
So what happens if you get caught outside in that??
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting cchsweatherman:


I'm not sure there's a closed low over the Yucatan. Seeing converging winds more than circulation over the Yucatan on satellite from the surface trough over the region. But, one could definitely be developing as the latest CIMSS 850mb Vorticity product does show improving lower level vorticity in the region as shown below with a more defined center.



It's a fairly safe bet that it's closed. Westerly low-level winds are quite evident over Belize on high-res visible satellite.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:
18z NOGAPS 144 hours.....Caribbean low starts crankin.

Not good, seems to be aiming at Haiti.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormW:
RGB satellite loop imagery indicates a closed low over the Yucatan Peninsula.

RGB LOOP


I'm not sure there's a closed low over the Yucatan. Seeing converging winds more than circulation over the Yucatan on satellite from the surface trough over the region. But, one could definitely be developing as the latest CIMSS 850mb Vorticity product does show improving lower level vorticity in the region as shown below with a more defined center.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
GUYS WE HAVE RAIN AND CAYMAN IS WET
How much did you get in WB ?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
18z NOGAPS 144 hours.....Caribbean low starts crankin.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53308
All of the models agree that vertical shear will moderate the SW Caribbean low and prevent it from becoming too strong. I would say a 45-50 mph TS at best if it does develop. Lots of rain though.

As for the hybrid low, winds may exceed 50 mph during any stage of its life cycle.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
GUYS WE HAVE RAIN AND CAYMAN IS WET
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 11251
Quoting superpete:
I think our drought is finally on the way to being broken.Will probably see more like today, as we get more towards June?
I hope so but with the way it looks outside I think we have a good chance for more.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Weather456:
From the 12Z EURO it sling shots the SW Caribbean low out to sea as the hybrid low retrogrades back west.

Interesting to see the ECMWF curve the hybrid system before approaching Florida.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53308
Quoting hurricanejunky:


Bingo...we go to Key West once or twice a year for the last 12 years. Ne'er a tar ball. Just so happens that one of the biggest oil spills on the planet happens and all of a sudden tar balls start showing up? You gotta be a gulla-bull if you believe that crapola.


wait wait so you go there for at the most 1 month out of the year and that is your basis for saying you dont buy that story?

I thought you lived there lol
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7407
Quoting stormwatcherCI:
.25" but still very overcast. Thanks 456. We definitely need the rain.
I think our drought is finally on the way to being broken.Will probably see more like today, as we get more towards June?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Jeff9641:


I agree! I've to Key West god knows how many times and never seen one Tar Ball at the beach.


Bingo...we go to Key West once or twice a year for the last 12 years. Ne'er a tar ball. Just so happens that one of the biggest oil spills on the planet happens and all of a sudden tar balls start showing up? You gotta be a gulla-bull if you believe that crapola.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Jeff9641:


I agree! I've to Key West god knows how many times and never seen one Tar Ball at the beach.


Because you are not looking for it!! I have cleaned tar off my feet many a times with mineral spirits after stepping in it!! Just because these tar balls are not from the BP spill does not take away from the story of the spill. Jeff I read your post on here a lot and you are good but it is okay to be wrong every once in awhile!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting superpete:
Thanks W456..moderate & scattered showers here in Cayman now.Much rain out East End today Stormwatcher?


Didn't know it was raining there already, lol.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting superpete:
Thanks W456..moderate & scattered showers here in Cayman now.Much rain out East End today Stormwatcher?
.25" but still very overcast. Thanks 456. We definitely need the rain.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
263. Ighuc


My goodness, poor Oklahoma, gonna be a looong summer...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
From the 12Z EURO it sling shots the SW Caribbean low out to sea as the hybrid low retrogrades back west.

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Can you post the link for the 18z?


Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 311 - 261

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18Blog Index

Top of Page

About

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