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 TampaSpin:


I don't see anything really developing.....ONLY 1 model the NGP is showing something developing and that is 144hrs out in the SW Caribbean.
The gfs shows a broad low pressure area in the caribbean but yes your right only nogaps has a system but we still need to watch it because you never know.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
1341. Drakoen
Quoting Levi32:


Oh I have a fondness for the CMC outside of the tropics. For instance it's beem kicking the GFS's butt the last couple weeks on the US temperature forecasts.

Even in the tropics it's ok, a little jumpy but I enjoy seeing what the worst-case scenario may be lol. The low you're showing at 48 hours does look a little benign, but we'll need more than 48 hours to formulate more than that anyway. The models are jumping to development sooner in the timeline than they were a couple days ago.


I appreciate the CMC forecast for winter storms as well...
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Quoting TampaSpin:


I don't see anything really developing.....ONLY 1 model the NGP is showing something developing and that is 144hrs out in the SW Caribbean.


GFS clearly shows something of concern in the SW Caribbean in just a few days.
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Quoting Levi32:


Oh I have a fondness for the CMC outside of the tropics. For instance it's beem kicking the GFS's butt the last couple weeks on the US temperature forecasts.

Even in the tropics it's ok, a little jumpy but I enjoy seeing what the worst-case scenario may be lol. The low you're showing at 48 hours does look a little benign, but we'll need more than 48 hours to formulate more than that anyway. The models are jumping to development sooner in the timeline than they were a couple days ago.


Okay for some reason I thought you hated the CMC, haha. But it seems like this is jumping the gun a little.
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1338. Levi32
Quoting MrstormX:
I know you hate the CMC Levi, but it also shows the same broad area of low pressure at plus 48, 12z forecast. Im not seeing much in the way of rainfall, which leads me to think it might be pretty connectionless.



Oh I have a fondness for the CMC outside of the tropics. For instance it's beem kicking the GFS's butt the last couple weeks on the US temperature forecasts.

Even in the tropics it's ok, a little jumpy but I enjoy seeing what the worst-case scenario may be lol. The low you're showing at 48 hours does look a little benign, but we'll need more than 48 hours to formulate more than that anyway. The models are jumping to development sooner in the timeline than they were a couple days ago.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
1337. Drakoen
NOGAPS= terrible model
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I think we will have 30 storms 17 hitting the use causing in excess of 3 trillion in damage

Too bad i'm sane.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3718
Quoting extreme236:
Looks like later this week and weekend will be interesting in the Atlantic.


I don't see anything really developing.....ONLY 1 model the NGP is showing something developing and that is 144hrs out in the SW Caribbean.
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1334. Levi32
Quoting beell:


Maybe so. 15-20 knots of easterly flow across the Caribbean-"sitting" may be dificult.

FWIW, I do share your reasoning for watching every wave that moves into this area.


Yeah "sitting" wasn't the right word lol.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
I know you hate the CMC Levi, but it also shows the same broad area of low pressure at plus 48, 12z forecast. Im not seeing much in the way of rainfall, which leads me to think it might be pretty convectionless. Any idea what the GFS vorticity model is saying?

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1332. Levi32
Quoting Drakoen:
I agree we may have something to watch in the Caribbean but whether or not it consolidates into a tropical cyclone is anyone's guess...


Pretty much...and now we have the GFS jumping on the front-running wave already entering the Caribbean instead of waiting for the next wave behind it like it was a couple days ago. It's a hard pattern to resolve.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
1330. beell
Quoting Levi32:


True. That's why having it back away to the west is a good thing if a disturbance is sitting in the western Caribbean.


Maybe so. 15-20 knots of easterly flow across the Caribbean-"sitting" may be difficult.

FWIW, I do share your reasoning for watching every wave that moves into this area.
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1329. Drakoen
I agree we may have something to watch in the Caribbean but whether or not it consolidates into a tropical cyclone is anyone's guess...
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1328. Drakoen
Quoting Levi32:


Well *cough* NOGAPS lol.


lol
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1327. Levi32
Quoting beell:


And it could very well be an ULL containing dry subsident air.


True. That's why having it back away to the west is a good thing if a disturbance is sitting in the western Caribbean.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
Quoting Levi32:


Well *cough* NOGAPS lol.


lol
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1325. Levi32
Quoting MrstormX:


Is there any verification of that area, from other models.


Well *cough* NOGAPS lol.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
Looks like later this week and weekend will be interesting in the Atlantic.
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Quoting Levi32:
0z GFS 54 hours has a broad low north of Panama.



and a 1012mb low off the coast of Africa lol
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1322. beell
Quoting Levi32:


Yes, the upper pattern has been changing with every run, but the ULL has been one of the consistent features somewhere over the Gulf of Mexico in 5 days or so on the last 3 runs.


And it could very well be an ULL containing dry subsident air.
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Quoting Levi32:
0z GFS 54 hours has a broad low north of Panama.



Is there any verification of that area, from other models.
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1320. Levi32
0z GFS 54 hours has a broad low north of Panama.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
1319. Levi32
Quoting pottery:
It's late.
I have to fly to Tobago early'
I am out.
You all have a good one......


Night Pottery.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
Quoting Chicklit:
'Night all... another happy little wave trundling off the Cape Verde shore...


Technically that is the Sierra Leone shore, I get your message though... lol
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Quoting pottery:

Yeah. I had seen that before. I think that a constant flow, in relatively small volumes is expected and not too harmful.
But a Valdez or BP is a baddy for everything.


That sounds like it could be true, in a small isolated oil leak (such as that from a boat) the oil would dissipate much quicker. I would imagine the marine life eventually builds up a resistance to it as well.
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1316. pottery
It's late.
I have to fly to Tobago early'
I am out.
You all have a good one......
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1315. Levi32
Quoting beell:


Possibly. One of the reasons the GFS has some value to me. Resolution. We're a week away. It may go away, It may get stronger. But it is noted.


Yes, the upper pattern has been changing with every run, but the ULL has been one of the consistent features somewhere over the Gulf of Mexico in 5 days or so on the last 3 runs.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
'Night all... another happy little wave trundling off the Cape Verde shore...
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1313. beell
Quoting Levi32:


Oh don't you just love that? Look at it sitting right there to babysit and ventilate the western Caribbean.


Possibly. One of the reasons the GFS has some value to me. Resolution. We're a week away. It may go away, It may get stronger. But it is noted.
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1312. pottery
Quoting Grothar:


Link

Yeah. I had seen that before. I think that a constant flow, in relatively small volumes is expected and not too harmful.
But a Valdez or BP is a baddy for everything.
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1311. Levi32
Quoting atmoaggie:

?
maybe I am just too sleepy...


It's a TUTT cell that backs westward from the Caribbean into the BOC as the upper anticyclone builds in over top of whatever's underneath. That's a very excellent outflow (ventilation) pattern as the ULL continues to back westward in advance of the disturbance that the GFS has sitting under the upper high.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
#1 a webpage LOL!!
#2 A broad area of low pressure north of Panama, and the northernmost Caribbean tropical wave yet this year moving south of Puerto Rico. Potential concerns by this weekend and into next week. very good
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Quoting Levi32:


Oh don't you just love that? Look at it sitting right there to babysit and ventilate the western Caribbean.

?
maybe I am just too sleepy...
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1308. Grothar
Quoting pottery:

I think that there is little doubt that thousands of barrels of oil leak into the GOM every year (and in all other places with offshore oil installations).
They go mostly un-noticed.
Except by the marine life, and people that eat a lot of sea food.


Link
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1307. Levi32
Quoting beell:
Don't forget the ULL over the BOC...


Oh don't you just love that? Look at it sitting right there to babysit and ventilate the western Caribbean.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
1306. Levi32
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
all of you take a look tell me what you see

24H


48H


72H


A broad area of low pressure north of Panama, and the northernmost Caribbean tropical wave yet this year moving south of Puerto Rico. Potential concerns by this weekend and into next week.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
all of you take a look tell me what you see

24H


48H


72H

a webpage
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1304. beell
Don't forget the ULL over the BOC...
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1303. pottery
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:


You let that cat out of the bag to quickly. That has the makings of a great scam or cult!

Well, we could go with the 10:10/10/10/10 one. As a warm-up.
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Quoting Levi32:


"Subtropical jet" in the image could have given you a clue as to the level ;)

Yep.
yawn, stretch.

That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
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all of you take a look tell me what you see

24H


48H


72H
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1300. Levi32
Quoting atmoaggie:

Oh, 200mb. Was wondering WTH all of that wind in the GoM was about. Should have guessed.


"Subtropical jet" in the image could have given you a clue as to the level ;)
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
Quoting pottery:
I checked the time a few minutes ago. It was 11:11 pm.
So what happens at 11:11, on the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year of this century??
We may not make it to 2012, is what I'm thinking.
I mean, that line-up of ominous digits is BOUND to cause something or other.
11:11/11/11/11


You let that cat out of the bag to quickly. That has the makings of a great scam or cult!
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Quoting Levi32:


Sorry...it's a repost from earlier.

18z GFS 108-hour 200mb winds and isotachs. Shows an upper anticyclone over the western Caribbean providing low wind shear and good ventilation, with the subtropical jet off to the east.

Oh, 200mb. Was wondering WTH all of that wind in the GoM was about. Should have guessed.
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1297. pottery
Quoting Grothar:


Don't you remember pot, you said the same thing in November 11, 1911?

Did I ??
Perhaps you are right. The memory skips you know. Like well-played Vinyl 78's.
Oh well...
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1296. Levi32
Quoting atmoaggie:

1: What is this plot of? Winds for when?
2: Why are the barbs of the southern hemisphere style? With the flags pointed opposite of the usual?
nevermind...they are normal...


Sorry...it's a repost from earlier.

18z GFS 108-hour 200mb winds and isotachs. Shows an upper anticyclone over the western Caribbean providing low wind shear and good ventilation, with the subtropical jet off to the east.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
Quoting Grothar:


Don't you remember pot, you said the same thing in November 11, 1911?

Im glad you were around to remember it to tell the rest of us so we can make fun of old BOTH of you are .. thanks!
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1294. pottery
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:


beats the alternative

Thanks! I had not thought about that.
How true!
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1293. beell
I'll be watching!
:-)
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1292. SLU
Quoting Grothar:


Don't you remember pot, you said the same thing in November 11, 1911?


lol
Member Since: July 13, 2006 Posts: 12 Comments: 5110

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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.