La Niña by July?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:42 PM GMT on June 08, 2010

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El Niño rapidly dissipated in May, and we are now very close to entering into a La Niña event, according to the latest sea surface temperature (SST) data over the tropical Eastern Pacific. The weekly SST readings in the area 5°N - 5°S, 120°W - 170°W, also called the "Niña 3.4 region", fell to 0.4°C below average on June 7, a full 1°C drop in just one and a half months. This puts us very close to the -0.5°C threshold needed to be considered a La Niña event, according to NOAA's latest El Niño Discussion. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology showed conditions in the Niña 3.4 region were not quite that cool--0.2°C below average for the week ending June 6. Nevertheless, the speed of the collapse of El Niño makes it likely that a La Niña event is on its way this summer, and NOAA's Climate Prediction Center has issued a La Niña watch. Ten of the 23 El Niño models (updated as of May 19) are predicting La Niña conditions for hurricane season. However, as NOAA's Climate Prediction Center commented in their June 3 advisory, a number of the more reliable models are now calling for La Niña to develop this summer. They comment, "there is an increasing confidence in these colder model forecasts, which is supported by recent observations that show cooling trends in the Pacific Ocean and signs of coupling with the atmospheric circulation." Historically, about 35 - 40% of El Niño events are followed by a La Niña within the same year.


Figure 1. Atlantic named storm, hurricane, and intense hurricane activity since the active hurricane period we are in began in 1995. Both La Niña and neutral years have shown similar levels of Atlantic hurricane activity, though the figures are somewhat skewed by the record-setting year of 2005. Background photo: Hurricane Dean, taken from the Space Shuttle.

It is interesting to note that the last time we had a strong El Niño event, in 1998, El Niño collapsed dramatically in May, and a strong La Niña event developed by hurricane season. History appears to be repeating itself, and I predict the emergence of La Niña by July. Since La Niña events tend to bring lower amounts of wind shear to the tropical Atlantic, we can expect a much more active Atlantic hurricane season than usual in 2010. Since 2010 is similar to 1998 in the behavior of the El Niño/La Niña cycle, it is possible that this year's hurricane season could resemble the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season. That year had about 40% above-average activity, with 14 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and 3 intense hurricanes. The season was relatively late-starting, with only one named storm occurring before August 20. Once the season got going, six named storms affected the Gulf of Mexico, including two hurricanes, Earl and Georges, that passed directly over the location of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.


Figure 2. Tracks of all named storms for the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season.


Figure 3. Typical regional weather anomalies observed during June - August when La Niña conditions are present. The Caribbean tends to be cloudier and wetter than average, but there is typically little change to temperature and precipitations patterns over North America. Image credit: NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Oil spill update
Light east, southeast, or south winds of 5 - 15 knots will blow today through Saturday, according to the latest marine forecast from NOAA. These winds will keep oil near the beaches of Alabama, Mississippi, and the extreme western Florida Panhandle, according to the latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA and the State of Louisiana. The latest ocean current forecasts from the NOAA HYCOM model are not predicting eastward-moving ocean currents along the Florida Panhandle coast this week, and it is unlikely that surface oil will affect areas of Florida east of Fort Walton Beach. Long range surface wind forecasts from the GFS model for the period 8 - 14 days from now show a southeasterly wind regime, which would prevent any further progress of the oil eastwards along the Florida Panhandle, and would tend to bring significant amounts of oil back to the shores of eastern Louisiana next week. If you spot oil, send in your report to http://www.gulfcoastspill.com/, whose mission is to help the Gulf Coast recovery by creating a daily record of the oil spill.


Figure 4. The oil spill on June 6, 2010 at 8:32pm EDT, as seen by Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery from the Italian Cosmo-SkyMed (COnstellation of small Satellites for Mediterranean basin Observation) satellite. A large region of oil was a few miles offshore of Pensacola, Florida. Image credit: University of Miami Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Oil spill resources
My post, What a hurricane would do the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
NOAA's fact sheet on Hurricanes and the Oil Spill
My post on the Southwest Florida "Forbidden Zone" where surface oil will rarely go
My post on what oil might do to a hurricane
Oil trajectory forecasts from NOAA
Gulf Oil Blog from the UGA Department of Marine Sciences
Oil Spill Academic Task Force
University of South Florida Ocean Circulation Group oil spill forecasts
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery from the University of Miami

"Hurricane Haven" airing again this afternoon
The tropical Atlantic is quiet right now, with no models predicting tropical cyclone development over the next seven days. I'll talk about all this nothingness on my live Internet radio show, "Hurricane Haven", at 4pm EDT today. Listeners will be able to call in and ask questions. The call in number is 415-983-2634, or you can post a question in the comments area on Shaun Tanner's blog. Some topics I'll cover on the show:

1) What's going on in the tropics right now--is this typical?
2) New advancements in hurricane science presented at this month's AMS Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology last month

Today's show, which will probably be just 1/2 hour, will be at http://www.wunderground.com/wxradio/wubroadcast.h tml. The show will be recorded and stored as a podcast, as last week's show was.

I may take a break from blogging Wednesday, as I've got some catching up to do on other duties.

Jeff Masters

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2292. Levi32
Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


I'm confused. Does the top tilt forward into the flow or does the bottom tilt forward into the flow?


Sorry should have clarified, the top part, the northern end. For a longwave trough over the US it would be the southern end, but tropical waves are inverted troughs. It is whichever end of the trough is pointing towards high pressure, which for a tropical wave is the north end (Bermuda High to the north)
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26556
Quoting weatherwatcher12:
According to this chart, the wind shear in the Caribbean will be dropping pretty soon.




WU WIND SHEAR MAP IS CRAP
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


Yep, you missed a crazy debate earlier today when they put up a near 0% chance for it haha

You also missed JFV make a comeback under a new handle, CapeVerdeCanes



Oh my. Lol.
Quoting Hurricanes101:


Only if it forms out near the CV Islands

Oh I see.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
2288. JRRP
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Ok. So if a wave from Africa makes it towards the Antilles and develops and becomes Alex will it be considered a Cape Verde storm?

if get the hurricane status
i think
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2287. Grothar
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Looks very vigorous.






You found my globe, did ya? How do you like it 09????
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Quoting weatherwatcher12:
According to this chart, the wind shear in the Caribbean will be dropping pretty soon.

Looks like favorable conditions to me right now over the system.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
2285. JRRP
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Wow, very interesting. This is from that wave that should be emerging on Friday or this weekend, correct?

yeah
Link
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Quoting Baltimorebirds:
Some guy I heard you don't want to know.He is the other infamous blogger besides JFV.He has be sited by other bloggers as a troll/know it all.


be sited?
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Ok. So if a wave from Africa makes it towards the Antilles and develops and becomes Alex will it be considered a Cape Verde storm?


Only if it forms out near the CV Islands

Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7395
2282. pottery
Quoting Hurricanes101:


I was wondering where I put that yellow circle, I thought I had lost it lol

Good! Well now that you found it, come and move it from here! LOL
Reading back, I see there were TS force winds in Barbados from this system.
No reports of wind here...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24059
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I see we have yellow with this area of showers and thunderstorms over the Antilles.



Yep, you missed a crazy debate earlier today when they put up a near 0% chance for it haha

You also missed JFV make a comeback under a new handle, CapeVerdeCanes



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Quoting Levi32:


Wow, I hadn't looked at the 12z Euro yet...didn't really expect anything on it. The ECMWF forecasting a TD east of the islands at this time of year? Amazing.
Ok. So if a wave from Africa makes it towards the Antilles and develops and becomes Alex will it be considered a Cape Verde storm?
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
According to this chart, the wind shear in the Caribbean will be dropping pretty soon.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:


A negatively-tilted wave, which StormW just described in case you need clarification, results in more surface convergence because the wave axis is pointing forwards into the flow, instead of backwards. This is like a trough digging in over the eastern United States in the winter. When they become negatively tilted, they are stronger and usually result in a bad winter storm for the eastern seaboard. This doesn't mean a negatively-tilted tropical wave will develop, but it usually means that the wave is vigorous and there is good convergence going on along the axis.


I'm confused. Does the top tilt forward into the flow or does the bottom tilt forward into the flow?
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2276. NRAamy
Pott! How's my favorite non-husband?

:)

I missed you dearly!
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I see we have yellow with this area of showers and thunderstorms over the Antilles.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
2274. Levi32
Quoting Hurricanes101:


Thanks, what do you think about what the ECMWF is showing?


Wow, I hadn't looked at the 12z Euro yet...didn't really expect anything on it. The ECMWF forecasting a TD east of the islands at this time of year? Amazing.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26556
Quoting pottery:
Greetings.
Someone put a yellow circle over my house this morning!
Kindly come and remove it. Now!

3.2" rain with threats of more to the east. (Airport measured .75" so far)
Spent the day in Tobago, and the flight back went a long way around some high and heavy cloud over the mountains. Was obvious there were heavy rains falling there.

Took an extra hour to drive home, as there is 2' of water over a section of road near here. I have a 4WD Diesel Pickup. Massive traffic jam, with cars turning around and causing confusion....


I was wondering where I put that yellow circle, I thought I had lost it lol
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7395
2271. pottery
Greetings.
Someone put a yellow circle over my house this morning!
Kindly come and remove it. Now!

3.2" rain with threats of more to the east. (Airport measured .75" so far)
Spent the day in Tobago, and the flight back went a long way around some high and heavy cloud over the mountains. Was obvious there were heavy rains falling there.

Took an extra hour to drive home, as there is 2' of water over a section of road near here. I have a 4WD Diesel Pickup. Massive traffic jam, with cars turning around and causing confusion....
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24059
2270. Levi32
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Levi or StormW, does how a wave is tilted is important for any future development?


A negatively-tilted wave, which StormW just described in case you need clarification, results in more surface convergence because the wave axis is pointing forwards into the flow, instead of backwards. This is like a trough digging in over the eastern United States in the winter. When they become negatively tilted, they are stronger and usually result in a bad winter storm for the eastern seaboard. This doesn't mean a negatively-tilted tropical wave will develop, but it usually means that the wave is vigorous and there is good convergence going on along the axis.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26556
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Wow, very interesting. This is from that wave that should be emerging on Friday or this weekend, correct?


The time frame would make me say yes it is
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7395
Quoting Baltimorebirds:
Yes he works for stormtop.He's one of his agents.LoL.


stormtop, who's stormtop?
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
Quoting JRRP:
2257
144 hours
168 hours
Looks very vigorous.



Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Afternoon.......On vacation this week and caught (and just ate) my first Redfish this morning in the coatal Gulf/Big Bend region of Florida; no oil or any tarballs in sight out of St. Marks south of Tallahassee and let's hope it stays that way....Headed down to Ft. Lauderdale tommorow for the rest of the weekend......Tropics coming to life slowly but surely...See everyone next week.......WW
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2264. NRAamy
Yes he works for stormtop.


that's STORMTOP....get it right, bud...


:)
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Quoting JRRP:
wow

Wow, very interesting. This is from that wave that should be emerging on Friday or this weekend, correct?
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
2262. JRRP
2257
144 hours
168 hours
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Quoting Levi32:


All kinda depends. The GFS as of the new 18z run coming out right now is still forming a broad low north of Panama and moving it WNW into Nicaragua/Honduras in 3 days or so. This is before the wave gets there, and the last few runs have had the GFS trying to move the Panama low up north of Honduras, and then from there across central America and into the extreme southern Bay of Campeche. It has the wave sort of catching up and phasing with the system at some point. If this solution comes to pass then we likely won't see any significant development due to land interaction, but if the Panama low isn't as fast to move inland and waits a little longer for the wave, then we might have a chance at some more mischief as the two interact. The wave could also try to be a trouble-maker on its own after the Panama low has already left. It's hard to make a call on it yet.


Thanks, what do you think about what the ECMWF is showing?
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7395
2259. Levi32
Quoting Hurricanes101:


What do you think about the chances of this wave interacting with all of that convection in and around Panama and causing some trouble in a few days?


All kinda depends. The GFS as of the new 18z run coming out right now is still forming a broad low north of Panama and moving it WNW into Nicaragua/Honduras in 3 days or so. This is before the wave gets there, and the last few runs have had the GFS trying to move the Panama low up north of Honduras, and then from there across central America and into the extreme southern Bay of Campeche. It has the wave sort of catching up and phasing with the system at some point. If this solution comes to pass then we likely won't see any significant development due to land interaction, but if the Panama low isn't as fast to move inland and waits a little longer for the wave, then we might have a chance at some more mischief as the two interact. The wave could also try to be a trouble-maker on its own after the Panama low has already left. It's hard to make a call on it yet.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26556
We are talking 6-7 days what the ECMWF is showing
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7395
Quoting Baltimorebirds:
He's going to be hiding under his office desk in his basement.


office desk?
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
2251. Baltimorebirds

Out houses stick don't they.Ewwww.



Only if the pasta is done lol
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7395
2253. JRRP
Quoting Hurricanes101:


Wow honestly never noticed that when I looked today lol

jejejejeje
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Levi or StormW, does how a wave is tilted is important for any future development?
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Quoting JRRP:
wow



Wow honestly never noticed that when I looked today lol
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7395
Quoting Levi32:


I've seen a couple of 'em on the NHC surface maps so far this year, but I was never really sold on them actually being tilted that way, and they were all weak. This one looks to be a classic though, and is easily confirmed by satellite and dense surface obs from the islands, which is how I plotted the axis on the image.


What do you think about the chances of this wave interacting with all of that convection in and around Panama and causing some trouble in a few days?
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7395
2247. JRRP
wow

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2246. EricSFL
Storm, I was about to say you were infected with teh JFVitis. LOL
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Quoting StormW:


Great job, Levi! Ya know, I think this is the first time I've seen a negative tilted wave.


What is a "a negative tilted wave".
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2244. Levi32
Quoting StormW:


Great job, Levi! Ya know, I think this is teh first time I've seen a negative tilted wave.


I've seen a couple of 'em on the NHC surface maps so far this year, but I was never really sold on them actually being tilted that way, and they were all weak. This one looks to be a classic though, and is easily confirmed by satellite and dense surface obs from the islands, which is how I plotted the axis on the image.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26556
2231. Great Job Levi! Let us see if it can make something of it self if it can survive the shear.
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2242. NRAamy
It's going to go right over JFV's house.


you mean his outhouse....
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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.