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 Greyelf:


Well I'd like to give my overwhelming thanks to those here right now who knows the answer to my question but just can't take the time to post it. (Yes, that is sarcasm in case you can't tell it.)


You've been banned. No one can see your post.
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1140. Grothar
Quoting stormwatcherCI:
My daughter is planning a trip to Canada the end of July. Can someone tell we what the weather is like that time of year up there ?


Which part? Lot of territory there.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26471
Levi, if the anomalies warm again in the Gulf of Guinea,what are the implications for the tropical waves that emerge Africa?
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My daughter is planning a trip to Canada the end of July. Can someone tell we what the weather is like that time of year up there ?
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If we look at the ten Neutral and La Nina years highlighted by the Doc in his post above, we see one interesting feature and that is that with the exception of 2005, which I consider to be an anomalous outlier year, all the remaining nine years are remarkably close together on the numbers. Is there a message there ?.

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Quoting SevereHurricane:


Shows serious cooling.

Not good.
Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Its just the shifting of heat.
Oh! I see.
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Quoting Levi32:


Oh missed the anomaly one lol. Thanks.


Anytime Levi.
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
1134. Grothar
Quoting Greyelf:


Beuller? Beuller? (Maybe I've been and just don't realize it?)


I think he is in Chicago in a parade at the moment. Just look for a red sports car.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26471
1133. Levi32
Quoting SevereHurricane:


Shows serious cooling.



Oh missed the anomaly one lol. Thanks.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I'm surprised they're calling for slight cooling of the northern GOM.


Its just the shifting of heat.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Can you post one of the Gulf of Guinea.


Shows serious cooling.

Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
1130. Greyelf
Quoting Greyelf:


Beuller? Beuller? (Maybe I've been and just don't realize it?)


Well I'd like to give my overwhelming thanks to those here right now who knows the answer to my question but just can't take the time to post it. (Yes, that is sarcasm in case you can't tell it.)
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1129. Levi32
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Can you post one of the Gulf of Guinea.


Well this is a bit deceiving because it's cooling rapidly down there because of the oncoming winter anyway. Anomalies are actually recovering from their previous decline. The far northern Gulf of Guinea does appear to cool though, and that is at 5N.



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Quoting DestinJeff:
any new model developments worth anything?


Nahh. Same ole same ole.
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
1126. Grothar
Quoting Levi32:


Yes, anomalies indicate the deviation of the sea surface temperature from its climatological normal for this time of year. High anomalies above-normal indicate hotter SSTs than average, which increases the likelyhood of storm formation and strengthening of storms that do form.



Gabriel A. Vecchi1 & Brian J. Soden

1.Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, NOAA, Princeton, New Jersey

It is often assumed that warmer sea surface temperatures provide a more favourable environment for the development and intensification of tropical cyclones, but cyclone genesis and intensity are also affected by the vertical thermodynamic properties of the atmosphere. Here we use climate models and observational reconstructions to explore the relationship between changes in sea surface temperature and tropical cyclone ‘potential intensity’—a measure that provides an upper bound on cyclone intensity and can also reflect the likelihood of cyclone development. We find that changes in local sea surface temperature are inadequate for characterizing even the sign of changes in potential intensity, but that long-term changes in potential intensity are closely related to the regional structure of warming; regions that warm more than the tropical average are characterized by increased potential intensity, and vice versa.


For further explanation of vertical thermodynamic properties, please ask Levi or Drak, or anyone you want. I post em, I don't explain them. I just thought this was interesting.
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Quoting Levi32:
NLOM Gulf of Mexico SST forecast for the rest of the month:

Can you post one of the Gulf of Guinea.
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1124. Levi32
The Loop Current is behaving oddly compared to what I am used to seeing. The cut-off eddy seems to be drifting farther south than it has been the last few years.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
The IASNFS has been excellent for the past 2 months I've been using it.

Its predicting the Caribbean to cool a bit:

ANALYSIS



AVHRR 7 day SST changes:
I'm surprised they're calling for slight cooling of the northern GOM.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


The most recent run of the NLOM 1/32 is much too cool in the Caribbean.


I noticed it too.
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
Quoting Levi32:
NLOM Gulf of Mexico SST forecast for the rest of the month:



Its initialized too cold in the Caribbean; but still shows significant warming of the Gulf.
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
Quoting KoritheMan:


This is true, but with a developing La Nina, it is likely that we will see a lot of powerful hurricanes, because the upper-level winds will be more favorable.


There are certain conditions that suggest a particular result downstream and you have just mentioned one. That said, my point is that we have seen many instances where conditions have been either just perfect for a limited window in time or always just short of optimal.

For instance, 2004 seemed like the season would never begin and then all of a sudden all the right ingredients for high levels of activity came together in one 8 week window of time.

In a nutshell, my point is that the fixation with 2005 and how this year meets or exceeds the same parameters is, IMO, a red herring for what this season will be. Every season has its own particular fingerprint.
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1118. BtnTx
Quoting Orcasystems:


AOI

AOI

AOI

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI

ALIBI TECHNIQUE

I blew my forecast because the integrated stratospheric thermal vorticity eguilibrium correlation was miscalculated or overlooked.
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Quoting Levi32:
NLOM Gulf of Mexico SST forecast for the rest of the month:



The most recent run of the NLOM 1/32 is much too cool in the Caribbean.
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1116. Levi32
NLOM Gulf of Mexico SST forecast for the rest of the month:

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1115. Dakster
Quoting aspectre:
Chicklet "...Dr. Masters' podcast today...He doesn't expect another 2005 this year either..."

Nobody expects... the Spanish Inquisition!



Yep - 2010 is going to make 2005 look pale in comparison... Although I hope not.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
The best hurricane tracking program is coming out with its 2010 build later this month.

Global Tracks


ohhh that's nice. I'm getting that.
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1101. KoritheMan 8:26 PM EST on June 08, 2010

thanks
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1112. BtnTx
Quoting Orcasystems:


AOI

AOI

AOI

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI
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Just my two cents the Caribbean is ready for development, waters are warm shear is Moderate to light and dry air is low. If the ITCZ can get a wave far enough north Alex will form I think it will do so between June 15-25. Good Night Everyone
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Wind Shear is below normal in all areas where there are above normal SSTA's.

Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
The best hurricane tracking program is coming out with its 2010 build later this month.

Global Tracks
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1108. Greyelf
Quoting Greyelf:


Actually, I've been curious about that...how does one check a name to see if they've been banned? (Assuming they don't have their own member blog to view, that is.)


Beuller? Beuller? (Maybe I've been and just don't realize it?)
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Check out Nino regions 1 and 2:



Massive cooling.
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
Quoting kmanislander:
Comparing one year to another in seeking to foretell the future is futile at best. In any given year the number of variables at work in the atmosphere and the oceans at any one time run into the millions. One year may have similar SST to another but the upper level winds don't match up. The permutations are endless.

Certainly on a large scale we can see similarities and differences between years but whether systems develop or not depends on what is happening out there in real time on a micro and localised basis.

In the final analysis, it is always a waiting game.


This is true, but with a developing La Nina, it is likely that we will see a lot of powerful hurricanes, because the upper-level winds will be more favorable.
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Quoting Levi32:


TPW (Total Precipitable Water) anomalies are predominantly above normal in the SW Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean:



I'm not surprised one bit. Thanks for verifying.
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Thanks Levi32
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Just click on "4km Hurricane Fcst" and select a date.


Thank You so much.
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
Check out Nino regions 1 and 2:

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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
ok Correct me if I am wrong. Anomalies are a variation from normal (average) correct? Then if a normal temp would support a tropical storm a higher anomaly would mean the storm would intensify more quickly not necessarily that the storm would be more likely to form? If one has higher anomalies then the area where a storm could form would be larger thus increasing the probability of storms forming?


Generally speaking, only areas north of 30N will not have sufficiently warm SSTs to assist in tropical cyclogenesis, and so anomalies would matter then.

During the actual hurricane season, though, the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and western Atlantic off the southeast United States coast are almost always more than adequately warm to support the formation of a tropical cyclone, and so anomalies don't really play a part in determining the likelihood of tropical cyclogenesis in those areas at any given time.

It is as you said, actually (save for in the aforementioned high latitude regions): positive anomalies support intensification, not cyclogenesis.
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1100. Levi32
Quoting SevereHurricane:


You can tell there is a lot more heat and moisture in our part of the world this year. Its been a long time since our dew point has hit 80F.


TPW (Total Precipitable Water) anomalies are predominantly above normal in the SW Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean:

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1099. Drakoen
Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Cant wait until this variation of the WRF if run again.

Predictive cloud temps for Hurricane Bill:


Pretty cool stuff:


That's awesome. Shows the capability of a high resolution model
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The IASNFS has been excellent for the past 2 months I've been using it.

Its predicting the Caribbean to cool a bit:

ANALYSIS



AVHRR 7 day SST changes:
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Quoting jazzygal:
Breaking News on CNN now. Could be over 100,000
barrels of oil leaking into the Gulf.


That's old news that everyone has been ignoring for at least a couple of weeks now. Glad CNN is finally catching on. BP is now trying to "buy another month" on the PR front by saying they will put on a new, improved containment device in July.

It remains bad, very bad.
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1096. Levi32
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
ok Correct me if I am wrong. Anomalies are a variation from normal (average) correct? Then if a normal temp would support a tropical storm a higher anomaly would mean the storm would intensify more quickly not necessarily that the storm would be more likely to form? If one has higher anomalies then the area where a storm could form would be larger thus increasing the probability of storms forming?


Yes, anomalies indicate the deviation of the sea surface temperature from its climatological normal for this time of year. High anomalies above-normal indicate hotter SSTs than average, which increases the likelyhood of storm formation and strengthening of storms that do form.
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


Where can I find other model predictions of the NAO?


Just go on their site and they have the NAO predictions under each model run.
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
Comparing one year to another in seeking to foretell the future is futile at best. In any given year the number of variables at work in the atmosphere and the oceans at any one time run into the millions. One year may have similar SST to another but the upper level winds don't match up. The permutations are endless.

Certainly on a large scale we can see similarities and differences between years but whether systems develop or not depends on what is happening out there in real time on a micro and localised basis.

In the final analysis, it is always a waiting game.
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Quoting SevereHurricane:


12Z ECMWF is forecasting a predominate -NAO through the forecasting period and becoming big time negative after the 12th.



Where can I find other model predictions of the NAO?
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Quoting Levi32:


Certainly not....scary to think what the gulf will look like by the end of this month.


You can tell there is a lot more heat and moisture in our part of the world this year. Its been a long time since our dew point has hit 80F.
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604

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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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