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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1242. SLU
Quoting JLPR2:


Ah no, I meant, its the only hurricane I have experienced and have memory of it :P


o ok .. now i understand
Member Since: July 13, 2006 Posts: 12 Comments: 4859
I remember going to sleep with Wilma only a tropical storm. Woke up the next morning to a category 5, the strongest storm on record, with 882 mb heading right towards South Florida. When I woke up, I wasn't expecting anything higher than a cat 3. I was definitely surprised.

Wilma brings back a lot of memories. The hurricane was fun to ride out (I find them exciting) and I remember everyone being out of power for at least a week or two. It was an interesting experience and my first time being in a strong hurricane. Afterwards, I remember helping clean up my neighborhood and playing card games in the dark. Good times...
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1240. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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1239. ryang
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Still too early for any development in the Atlantic. Could happen but dont expect it.
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1237. pottery
Quoting CaribBoy:
1995 hurricane season was really crazy. Instead of having a "waves train" we had a "hurricanes train" between africa and the antilles.

I was blissfully unaware.........
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1995 hurricane season was really crazy. Instead of having a "waves train" we had a "hurricanes train" between africa and the antilles.
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hey guys I need updates on tropics any updated between 12 and now and I need rain
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 11047
1234. Greyelf
hehe..me too. I pay more attention to photos here than anything else.
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1233. Levi32
Well, I don't remember Karen....I was only 3 lol.

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1232. JLPR2
Quoting Greyelf:
Btw, JLPR2, you've posted some really nice photos lately. :)


ah, thank you :) I do my best
at first WU was all about this blog for me and then I found Wunderphotos ^^
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Quoting SevereHurricane:


I disagree. 96L in 2007; the little invest that could.


lol I don't remember it :)
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1230. JLPR2
Quoting SLU:


The other 3 hurricanes basically stayed out over the ocean. Jeanne sort of hit the Cape Verde Islands as a strengthening tropical storm though.


Ah no, I meant, its the only hurricane I have experienced and have memory of it :P
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1229. Greyelf
Btw, JLPR2, you've posted some really nice photos lately. :)
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1228. pottery
Quoting AllStar17:
I feel the wave near 50 W needs to be watched as it progresses toward the W. Caribbean.

50 west?
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Quoting kmanislander:
Well, I'm out for tonight. Will be back tomorrow.

Have a great evening folks.


Back at ya Kman!
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1226. SLU
Quoting hydrus:



Those are some great images SLU. Thanx for posting them.


thanks .. anytime
Member Since: July 13, 2006 Posts: 12 Comments: 4859
Quoting CaribBoy:
Karen is the best fighter ever.


I disagree. 96L in 2007; the little invest that could.
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Well, I'm out for tonight. Will be back tomorrow.

Have a great evening folks.
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1222. SLU
Quoting JLPR2:


Well 98 gave me chills XD
Georges is the only Hurricane I remember


The other 3 hurricanes basically stayed out over the ocean. Jeanne sort of hit the Cape Verde Islands as a strengthening tropical storm though.
Member Since: July 13, 2006 Posts: 12 Comments: 4859
Quoting SevereHurricane:
I remember sitting at home that morning and watching this exact clip. Brings back lots of memories. We got the hell out of NOLA shortly after.


That storm scared me even before it did all the destruction. (Didn't see that exact broadcast but I remember those few days clearly).. I don't think we've seen any storm quite that big and perfect since, in the world even.
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I feel the wave near 50 W needs to be watched as it progresses toward the W. Caribbean.
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Karen is the best fighter ever.
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Quoting JLPR2:


Sure its emerging off Africa as a TW later this week XD
When will Karen give up?


Probably never.
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1217. hydrus


Those are some great images SLU. Thanx for posting them.
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1216. JLPR2
Quoting Greyelf:

Karen's still out there... :)


Sure its emerging off Africa as a TW later this week XD
When will Karen give up?
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1215. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Chicklit:
I would be surprised if all the key imgredients we see out there lining up remained in place for months on end. I've seen conditions swing too quickly from one end of the spectrum to another to believe that all the stars will remain aligned come what may. -- KmanIslander
That's what Dr. Masters said today; nature has a way of balancing itself. The extreme will not go on forever.
problem is what is nature going to do to balance it out thats the unknown
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1214. JLPR2
Quoting SLU:
Since things are still quiet, let us take a look at a few "parades of storms"




Humberto, Iris, Jerry and pre-Karen to be followed by pre-Luis (still over Africa) .. that was the scariest hurricane season i've ever experienced. I don't think we've seen anything like this since.






Edouard, Fran & Gustav






Four simultaneous hurricanes. Georges, Ivan, Jeanne & Karl. The 1st and only time since August 22nd, 1893 this has happened.






Frances & Ivan






Maria, Nate & Ophelia. Look at the SAL and the lack to activity in the deep tropics during the peak week of the season.






Gustav, Hanna, Ike & pre-Josephine


Well 98 gave me chills XD
Georges is the only Hurricane I remember
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1213. SLU
Quoting Greyelf:

Karen's still out there... :)


lol
Member Since: July 13, 2006 Posts: 12 Comments: 4859
1212. Ossqss
This years wild cards?

- solar activity

- cloud formation as part there of

- Volcanic activity as history dictates

- The SAL and cooling of the Gulf of Guinea

All of these could play a role in this seasons end result.

We pretty much have a handle on the other stuff. Just my take, L8R :)
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8185
1211. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Greyelf:

Thanks for the answer. I knew I could check through a personal blog (such as CycloneOz today), but wasn't sure if just the username could be searched for that.
oz turned psyco had to be put on ice guess you can say
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1210. SLU
Quoting pottery:
SLU, post 1199.
Good one, Man!


lol .. thanks
Member Since: July 13, 2006 Posts: 12 Comments: 4859
Quoting Levi32:


Oh, he sounds like an AGW denier...lol.


LOL!
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1208. Levi32
Quoting Chicklit:
I would be surprised if all the key imgredients we see out there lining up remained in place for months on end. I've seen conditions swing too quickly from one end of the spectrum to another to believe that all the stars will remain aligned come what may. -- KmanIslander
That's what Dr. Masters said today; nature has a way of balancing itself. The extreme will not go on forever.


Oh, he sounds like an AGW denier...lol.
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1207. Greyelf
Quoting SLU:
Humberto, Iris, Jerry and pre-Karen to be followed by pre-Luis (still over Africa) ..

Karen's still out there... :)
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I remember sitting at home that morning and watching this exact clip. Brings back lots of memories. We got the hell out of NOLA shortly after.

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I would be surprised if all the key imgredients we see out there lining up remained in place for months on end. I've seen conditions swing too quickly from one end of the spectrum to another to believe that all the stars will remain aligned come what may. -- KmanIslander
That's what Dr. Masters said today; nature has a way of balancing itself. The extreme will not go on forever.
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1204. pottery
SLU, post 1199.
Good one, Man!
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1203. pottery
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
ay the tree's must be happy

The weeds in the lawn too....they have taken over. At least it's Green.
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1202. Grothar
Quoting Grothar:


There can be more than one anomaly for different reasons. If something is deemed out of the norm based upon certain criteria, that does not preclude another anomaly based upon different criteria.
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:


I think you are both saying the same thing only differently.


We are not far apart for sure. The difference is that Levi sees an active year near the upper end of the range excluding 2005. I lean more to the middle of the active years.
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Quoting Levi32:


2005 was a warm PDO year. The PDO tried to go cold in 1998 but flattened out. This year looks to be the year it starts going cold for good for the next 3 decades for the next phase of its multidecadal cycle. This winter will be brutal.

The horseshoe-shaped area of cold SST anomalies along the west coast of North America is a signature of a cold PDO in the north pacific.



And the tripole is well established.
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1199. SLU
Since things are still quiet, let us take a look at a few "parades of storms"




Humberto, Iris, Jerry and pre-Karen to be followed by pre-Luis (still over Africa) .. that was the scariest hurricane season i've ever experienced. I don't think we've seen anything like this since.






Edouard, Fran & Gustav






Four simultaneous hurricanes. Georges, Ivan, Jeanne & Karl. The 1st and only time since August 22nd, 1893 this has happened.






Frances & Ivan






Maria, Nate & Ophelia. Look at the SAL and the lack to activity in the deep tropics during the peak week of the season.






Gustav, Hanna, Ike & pre-Josephine
Member Since: July 13, 2006 Posts: 12 Comments: 4859
1198. Greyelf
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:

Thanks for the answer. I knew I could check through a personal blog (such as CycloneOz today), but wasn't sure if just the username could be searched for that.
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1197. Ossqss

Don't forget our ability to determine the strength and existence of a storm has significantly been enhanced over the last X (every) year :)
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8185
1196. pottery
Quoting kmanislander:


Maybe its what I am not seeing that leads me to lean towards an average and that is that so far all the right ingredients seem to be falling in place for a very active season. It reminds me of preparing for exams. You reach a peak and if you don't sit the paper then you start to lose the optimum state of preparation.

I would be surprised if all the key imgredients we see out there lining up remained in place for months on end. I've seen conditions swing too quickly from one end of the spectrum to another to believe that all the stars will remain aligned come what may.

Very good point.
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1195. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting pottery:
Good Evening all
Just had another nice shower. 1.3" for the day...so far.
ay the tree's must be happy
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1194. Levi32
Quoting kmanislander:


Maybe its what I am not seeing that leads me to lean towards an average and that is that so far all the right ingredients seem to be falling in place for a very active season. It reminds me of preparing for exams. You reach a peak and if you don't sit the paper then you start to lose the optimum state of preparation.

I would be surprised if all the key imgredients we see out there lining up remained in place for months on end. I've seen conditions swing too quickly from one end of the spectrum to another to believe that all the stars will remain aligned come what may.


That's where computer models help, and if you have looked at the ECMWF's performance record for the last several years, you would be shocked at how accurate it has been. Last year's seasonal forecast maps were polar opposite of this year's, indicating an opposite season.
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1076 Orcasystems "Another Gulf oil spill: Well near Deepwater Horizon has leaked since at least April 30
This one was only found because they were looking at the BP pics. Almost makes you wonder how many others there really are??"

They've found at least one more directly through the investigation of BP's oil spill, though not the exact where.
"University of South Florida research ship performed the testing of the water, taking samples from sites 40, 42 and 142 miles from the well. Surface oil found at the closest site...[and]..the next closest site...were inconclusive. In both cases, subsea oil was found in too small a quantity to determine if it came from the BP well. But 142 miles southeast of the well, samples collected at 100-meter and 300-meter depths were determined not to be from the BP well."

ie Given that the crude was too diluted at 40miles from the BP well to be "fingerprint"ed as having come from the BP spill, there is another leak from another source within a ~40mile radius of 142miles southeast away from the BP well.
And yes, the origin of crude oil can be identified to a high degree of accuracy through analyses of isomers, isotopes, and trace elements contained within the crude. That's how international oil embargos are enforced.

The same article mentions that "Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen reported that BP's collection from the ruptured well...had kept 14,800 barrels (621,000 gallons) of oil from flowing into the Gulf in the past 24 hours, and...BP said it collected 42,500 barrels (1.8 million gallons) of oil...in the past four days."

That BritishPetroleum is collecting 14,800barrels per day AND that there is still more oil leaking proves that the well had been spilling more than the minimum of 14,400barrels per day (the agreed-upon USGS estimates of 12000barrels per day plus a 20% increase from cutting the riser above the BlowOutPreventer).
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Quoting Levi32:


I'd like to know what you are seeing as a limiting factor though to bring the number all the way down to "average" (that's what 14 is during a warm AMO cycle).


Maybe its what I am not seeing that leads me to lean towards an average and that is that so far all the right ingredients seem to be falling in place for a very active season. It reminds me of preparing for exams. You reach a peak and if you don't sit the paper then you start to lose the optimum state of preparation.

I would be surprised if all the key imgredients we see out there lining up remained in place for months on end. I've seen conditions swing too quickly from one end of the spectrum to another to believe that all the stars will remain aligned come what may.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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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