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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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


Convection looks like it might be shear-induced.


Just into 20-30 knots, 40-50 knots shortly thereafter. Adios amigo
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1739. NRAamy
hey code!

:)
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Quoting code1:


Nope, to the lovely TX coast. Waiting on a call for a meeting first. Was supposed to have been early this morn, but put off for a bit. Gotta love attorney's! Damn sure wish I had gone into that field, rather than healthcare young man. Think about it. You have the Purdue background to name your future! Good luck, and I'll see yas all on the flip side! MARCO POLO Amy. Get you coming and going that way. haha


haha yeah, should be good, have fun!
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


Convection looks like it might be shear-induced.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


It's getting its act together, fast.
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1733. code1
Quoting tornadodude:


Making a trip to the shower curtain region of south Florida?


Nope, to the lovely TX coast. Waiting on a call for a meeting first. Was supposed to have been early this morn, but put off for a bit. Gotta love attorney's! Damn sure wish I had gone into that field, rather than healthcare young man. Think about it. You have the Purdue background to name your future! Good luck, and I'll see yas all on the flip side! MARCO POLO Amy. Get you coming and going that way. haha
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Quoting Canealum03:
Why is the Eastern Caribbean a so-called "dead zone" for tropical development?


This abstract lists several possible reasons, seems its mostly due to the Carribean Low-level Jet.
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 13 Comments: 10459
Quoting Baltimorebirds:

Yeah just like 2008.After june all hell broke loose.The atlantic is just fixing the last finishing touches.


Good to know that we've got past the first finishing touches.
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Quoting NRAamy:



hahahahahahahahahahaha!

:)


I laughed out loud when I saw it this morning!
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The GFS did have some glory days...

Pre-Bertha's first Discussion:


THE STRONG TROPICAL WAVE AND SURFACE LOW OVER THE EASTERN ATLANTIC
OCEAN HAS ACQUIRED ENOUGH ORGANIZED CONVECTION TO NOW BE CONSIDERED
A TROPICAL DEPRESSION. SATELLITE IMAGES INDICATE THAT A STRONG
BURST OF CONVECTION HAS PERSISTED FOR OVER 12 HOURS NEAR OR JUST
WEST OF THE APPARENT CENTER OF THE SYSTEM. BANDING FEATURES ARE
ALSO BECOMING MORE PRONOUNCED IN THE NORTHWESTERN PART OF THE
CIRCULATION. THE INITIAL INTENSITY OF 30 KT IS BASED ON A QUIKSCAT
PASS FROM LATE YESTERDAY THAT SHOWED SOME RELIABLE 25-30 KT WINDS.
IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT MOST GLOBAL MODELS...ESPECIALLY THE
GFS
...SUGGESTED THE POSSIBILITY OF GENESIS IN THIS AREA OVER A WEEK
AGO...A REMARKABLE ACHIEVEMENT.


Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15718
hey guys talk to me what the hell is going on
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Quoting code1:
Of course I know! Hope your feathers do not get tarred and oiled. It's a minefield in here you know. ;-) Hi to other friends known and others to become. Procrastination is my name today. DestinJeff, take care of our beloved home town. I'm outta here for 3 weeks.


Making a trip to the shower curtain region of south Florida?
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1725. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 163 Comments: 52216
1724. code1
Of course I know! Hope your feathers do not get tarred and oiled. It's a minefield in here you know. ;-) Hi to other friends known, and others to become. Procrastination is my name today. DestinJeff, take care of our beloved home town. I'm outta here for 3 weeks.
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Quoting StormW:


Sarah,
The TUTT (Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trough) has been over the Central and Eastern Caribbean for about 3 days or so. It is producing too much wind shear near and west of the Windward Islands. Once this wave enters the Caribbean, the chances for its development diminish rapidly.


I agree, tropics are pretty much closed for business right now, as expected this time of year. However, it is showing you that these waves are ready to fire once shear lets up. That being said, the GFS maintains high sheer for the most part through 7 days. Glancing at the longer range to two weeks seems not much changes with that either. Could be July before we see our first named storm unless something develops in one of the small pockets of low shear in the SW Caribbean or East Coast.
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Quoting TampaTom:


As long as no one has to sleep with da fishes...


i love james caan theif is my favorite
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1720. NRAamy
don't forget the canolis!!!
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1718. SQUAWK
Quoting code1:


You do realize it's all your fault don't you squawk? LOL


Wow!!!! Been a long time lady!! How the heck are you? Great to see you here. Of course we know it is my fault - that is the way I planned it. I am not gonna take the blame for that oil thing however. That is just nasty.
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Quoting Baltimorebirds:
Who wants to be the first to swim with the fishes.Don't worry they won't bite.LoL


NOT IT!!! Lol
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Quoting NRAamy:



hahahahahahahahahahaha!

:)


Such a manly shower curtain...
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Quoting Baltimorebirds:
Who wants to be the first to swim with the fishes.Don't worry they won't bite.LoL


As long as no one has to sleep with da fishes...

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1712. NRAamy
POLO!!!!!

:)
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1710. srada
are there special instructions in posting animated images?

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1709. code1
Quoting SQUAWK:
It is a shame that there are so many people on here that have 0% sense of humor and cannot identify humor when it hits them in the face.


You do realize it's all your fault don't you squawk? LOL
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1708. SQUAWK
MARCO!!!!
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1707. SQUAWK
Quoting Grothar:


Come on SWAWK, most of us have at least 1% of humor. How you doing? We do have to watch that blob.


I am doing just fine, loving life and having fun. You?? Hope all is well. Must admit that I really enjoy the entertainment value of this blog, in addition to the weather knowledge that is here.
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1705. IKE
Quoting wxmobilejim:


I would say BOC but I'm no expert.


You may be right.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1704. NRAamy
SQUAWK!!!!!
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Quoting SQUAWK:


You just had to do the shower curtain. Poke the bear. LOL
its better than the bear poking you. :)
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Quoting Caribbeanislands101:

not really

i respectfully disagree. this wave looks a hell of a lot better than yesterday. and there is a 2% chance for it to develop. :)
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1701. SQUAWK
Quoting DestinJeff:
Quoting SQUAWK:
It is a shame that there are so many people on here that have 0% sense of humor and cannot identify humor when it hits them in the face.


I think what he means is so many people here have a low chance (NEAR 0% chance) of developing a sense of humor IN THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

that doesn't mean they won't develop a sense of humor as conditions become more favorable, just not within the next 48 hours.


You just had to do the shower curtain. Poke the bear. LOL
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Quoting 7544:


im a blob watcher lol but u cant say it dosent look like its trying to get better organized and blobs do turn in to something bigger . thats how the storms are born . so imo blob watching is ok on my end


I'd have to disagree, it looks like a sheared mass of convection. It will probably start to weaken later today.
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1698. Grothar
Quoting SQUAWK:
It is a shame that there are so many people on here that have 0% sense of humor and cannot identify humor when it hits them in the face.


Come on SWAWK, most of us have at least 1% of humor. How you doing? We do have to watch that blob.
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Quoting DestinJeff:


I can't believe you would make such an observation when it is obvious that this is clearly a case of a 1% - 1.5% chance of development! What kind of basis do you have for your argument anyway, hmmm? You know people will read your entry and make life decisions based on it, so I find it reprehensible for you to make such a claim of 2% chance of development.


.....sir :P
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1696. SQUAWK
Quoting Ossqss:



LOL

ROTFLMAO!
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1694. SQUAWK
Quoting CapeVerdeCanes:
Does anyone know when hurricane season ends?

After the last hurricane.
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Quoting IKE:


Yeah...but what part of the GOM...BOC?


I would say BOC but I'm no expert.
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1692. srada


Ha..I posted my first image!!Yeah!
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About JeffMasters

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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