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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1442. scott39
Quoting Levi32:


It's got some latitude with it yeah, though it's closer to the meridian now, not 5E.
I thought it might be one to watch because of its latitude.
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1441. Levi32
Quoting scott39:
Well im impressed with what you know. Keep up the good work. Is that a wave about 5 E over Africa that is farther N than the other ones this season?


It's got some latitude with it yeah, though it's closer to the meridian now, not 5E.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26654
Levi32,

It is so difficult for me to really pay attention to mid-latitude weather. I do not know how you do it. I experienced my first hurricane at 3 months so I breath, drink and live tropics.
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1438. Walshy
Prayers for the family of this tragic accident.


A 25-year-old woman was struck by lightning while hiking in the North Carolina mountains with her boyfriend, who was about to propose to her.

Link
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1437. Grothar
Quoting Levi32:


Also my mom didn't let me use the internet until 2002, when I first discovered what surface maps were. I was so excited lol....like finally mom! Thank you!


I know how you feel, Levi my Mom wouldn't let me watch television until 1949.
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Good NITE ALL......enjoyed busting everyone chops as well as my own....good conversation tonite!
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1435. scott39
Quoting Levi32:


Good question....earliest hurricane I can remember looking at a sat pic of was Isabel in 2003. Ever since then I've been hooked I guess. I had seen Lili and Claudette on the news the 2 years before that, but didn't really care at the time.
Well im impressed with what you know. Keep up the good work. Is that a wave about 5 E over Africa that is farther N than the other ones this season?
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Quoting Levi32:


Ya I'm not surprised it dropped the wave on this run. The development mechanism was pretty fragile.


The wave that emerges will be vigorous nonetheless.
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1433. Levi32
Quoting Levi32:


Good question....earliest hurricane I can remember looking at a sat pic of was Isabel in 2003. Ever since then I've been hooked I guess. I had seen Lili and Claudette on the news the 2 years before that, but didn't really care at the time.


Also my mom didn't let me use the internet until 2002, when I first discovered what surface maps were. I was so excited lol....like finally mom! Thank you!
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26654
Quoting Weather456:
If I was looking for an invest over the next two weeks I would look in the Caribbean. I will have to favor climo over the wave the GFS was developing.
I agree hey weather456!
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
1431. Levi32
Quoting Weather456:
If I was looking for an invest over the next two weeks I would look in the Caribbean. I will have to favor climo over the wave the GFS was developing.


Ya I'm not surprised it dropped the wave on this run. The development mechanism was pretty fragile.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26654
1430. xcool



not tooo bad!!!!
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1429. Levi32
Quoting scott39:
levi, How did you get interested in hurricanes when you live in Alaska?


Good question....earliest hurricane I can remember looking at a sat pic of was Isabel in 2003. Ever since then I've been hooked I guess. I had seen Lili and Claudette on the news the 2 years before that, but didn't really care at the time.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26654
1428. xcool
hmmm canday
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1427. Grothar
Looking better all the time Levi.


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1426. scott39
levi, How did you get interested in hurricanes when you live in Alaska?
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1425. Grothar
Quoting Levi32:


Oh ya I know lol. I have no idea what I'm going to be feeling if I ever have to travel to Florida or anywhere in the central-eastern US where dewpoints are high. I might be able to handle dry 90s, but I don't know what my real melting point is lol.


I have lived back and forth between Norway, Germany, Florida and New York, all my life. I like the heat. South Florida is not as hot as Northern Florida or Louisiana in the summer though. It is milder. Central Florida is brutal in the summer. the further South you go the milder the climate. I mean it is hot, but not always oppresive.
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If I was looking for an invest over the next two weeks I would look in the Caribbean. I will have to favor climo over the wave the GFS was developing.
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1423. Levi32
In a rather odd scenario the 0z NOGAPS combines energy from the east Pacific and Caribbean into one storm north of Honduras.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26654
Quoting Levi32:


Oh ya I know lol. I have no idea what I'm going to be feeling if I ever have to travel to Florida or anywhere in the central-eastern US where dewpoints are high. I might be able to handle dry 90s, but I don't know what my melting point is lol.


lol :P
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1420. Levi32
Quoting KoritheMan:


Levi, you don't know heat. I'm in southeastern Louisiana, and the heat here is always oppressive every summer, even during some of the cooler ones. And our "winters" (if you can even call it that; last year was really the only exception for as long as I can remember, and I've lived here all my life, a9 years) are usually very short, featuring only about 5-15 nights with temperatures at or below freezing. The rest of the time, overnight lows are in the mid 30s to mid 40s, and can even reach as high as the low 60s ahead of cold fronts, as warm moist air flows in from the Gulf of Mexico.

We reach 90F practically everyday from June to the middle of September. Currently, it feels around 85F here at midnight. I'm under a Heat Advisory until sometime on Thursday.

So yeah, you have no idea what heat actually is. No offense. lol :P


Oh ya I know lol. I have no idea what I'm going to be feeling if I ever have to travel to Florida or anywhere in the central-eastern US where dewpoints are high. I might be able to handle dry 90s, but I don't know what my real melting point is lol.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26654
Quoting scott39:
Thanks, so this is normal now, even with a possible "hyperactive hurricane season" Forecasted?


Yeah, our current lack of activity is quite normal. June is typically the quietest month on record in the Atlantic. Even 2005 only had two June storms, and one might not have even been named (Bret) were it not for our currently advanced technology.
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Quoting Levi32:


They weren't naming subtropical systems anytime in the 20th century. Those were post-analysis subtropical storms given Greek designations years after the fact.


I wasn't sold on the process. I was going by memory. Thanks Levi.
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1417. scott39
In 1979 Fredric destroyed Mobile county and baldwin county of Al. If im correct there were only 9 named storms that season. It doesnt take 20 named storms to have a destructive season! I was 10 years old and i will never forget that night, and the days that followed.
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Quoting 7544:
hey xcool tampa and all anyone have a link for the nam tia


NAM LINK
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Quoting Levi32:


LOL...well 60 is our average max in July and August. When it breaks 70 is when I'll be begging you to switch places with me just so I can have air conditioning...lol. Anything above 65 here without a stiff breeze is too hot for me. I dunno what I'm gonna do up in Fairbanks when I'm in college. It's up near the arctic circle but can hit 90 in the summer, and regular 70s-80s.



Levi, you don't know heat. I'm in southeastern Louisiana, and the heat here is always oppressive every summer, even during some of the cooler ones. And our "winters" (if you can even call it that; last year was really the only exception for as long as I can remember, and I've lived here all my life, 19 years) are usually very short, featuring only about 5-15 nights with temperatures at or below freezing. The rest of the time, overnight lows are in the mid 30s to mid 40s, and can even reach as high as the low 60s ahead of cold fronts, as warm moist air flows in from the Gulf of Mexico.

We reach 90F practically everyday from June to the middle of September. Currently, it feels around 85F here at midnight. I'm under a Heat Advisory until sometime on Thursday.

So yeah, you have no idea what heat actually is. No offense. lol :P
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1414. Levi32
Quoting SevereHurricane:


Agreed. I believe that if it can't ever become a Hurricane then it should not be named. Maybe they should use the Greek alphabet for sub-tropical cyclones; but wasn't that done in the 70's?


They weren't naming subtropical systems anytime in the 20th century. Those were post-analysis subtropical storms given Greek designations years after the fact.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26654
Quoting TampaSpin:


Honestly i love the NAM when forecasting an already developed system and to show the potential of the developed system 24hours out....beyond 24hrs i don't like it then...


I remember a few years ago the NAM forecasted a Category 5 out of nothing in the Gulf of Mexico; it never happened. lol
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1412. Levi32
Quoting KoritheMan:


I believe 1936 and 1968 had three storms. This is the record.


1936...another weird year. 16 storms....likely many more than that. Look at the void in the Caribbean. That didn't really happen.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26654
Quoting TampaSpin:


A Blogger was seeing things then, that i never seen....that simply was not there. WAY OVER ANALYZIED that area of Low pressure and its potiential that truly never existed.


Agreed. I believe that if it can't ever become a Hurricane then it should not be named. Maybe they should use the Greek alphabet for sub-tropical cyclones; but wasn't that done in the 70's?
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
I know that NAM is bad at this but just thought I would post it because it is weird and funny at the same time


Honestly i love the NAM when forecasting an already developed system and to show the potential of the developed system 24hours out....beyond 24hrs i don't like it then...
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1409. xcool
Levi32 lmao
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1408. scott39
Quoting KoritheMan:


I believe 1936 and 1968 had three storms. This is the record.
Thanks, so this is normal now, even with a possible "hyperactive hurricane season" Forecasted?
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1407. Levi32
Quoting Grothar:


Thanks xcool. I hope Levi sees this. LOL


If that develops, I will be shamed lol.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26654
Quoting Hurricanes101:


and even then we cant always trust them as we learned with the infamous 90L a few weeks back lol

but in general getting a few models to agree certainly does help


A Blogger was seeing things then, that i never seen....that simply was not there. WAY OVER ANALYZIED that area of Low pressure and its potiential that truly never existed.
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I know that NAM is bad at this but just thought I would post it because it is weird and funny at the same time
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Quoting scott39:
What year had the most TC in June?


1968 had 3 named storms

Season only ended up with 8 though, clearly June activity is not an indication of overall season activity
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Quoting scott39:
What year had the most TC in June?


I believe 1936 and 1968 had three storms. This is the record.
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1402. xcool
i need aaa beer nowww
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Quoting weathersp:


I may have had one too many cola's tonight... sorry :(


Hahaha, it's quite alright. I actually managed to get a laugh out of that, so it's all good.
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1399. xcool
Link

here
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1398. scott39
What year had the most TC in June?
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1397. Levi32
Quoting Hurricanes101:


I think it is the record heat you are getting up there in Alaska

Should we be wary of when it breaks 60 up there? lol


LOL...well 60 is our average max in July and August. When it breaks 70 is when I'll be begging you to switch places with me just so I can have air conditioning...lol. Anything above 65 here without a stiff breeze is too hot for me. I dunno what I'm gonna do up in Fairbanks when I'm in college. It's up near the arctic circle but can hit 90 in the summer, and regular 70s-80s.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26654
Quoting TampaSpin:


Still 2 models that are not good at forecasting development....but, when you start seeing concensus of models even the bad ones start agreeing with the good ones like the GFS, CMC, NGP, UKMET.......then we should take them serious as we all know. I don't really take things very serius until i see at least 2 of those 4 agreeing with something when looking out beyond 7 days!


mhmm
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Quoting KoritheMan:


lol wtf


I may have had one too many cola's tonight... sorry :(
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1394. 7544
hey xcool tampa and all anyone have a link for the nam tia
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Quoting TampaSpin:


Still 2 models that are not good at forecasting development....but, when you start seeing concensus of models even the bad ones start agreeing with the good ones like the GFS, CMC, NGP, UKMET.......then we should take them serious as we all know. I don't really take things very serius until i see at least 2 of those 4 agreeing with something when looking out beyond 7 days!


and even then we cant always trust them as we learned with the infamous 90L a few weeks back lol

but in general getting a few models to agree certainly does help
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1392. xcool
Grothar anytime.lol
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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.

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