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 Drakoen:


Maybe be best to rely soley on the ECMWF and UKMET at this point with genesis.
I agree. I think you could also use the NOGAPS but not really "rely" on it.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting Levi32:


It can....when a La Nina gets "too" strong, say moderate to strong episode, it starts taking heat out of the tropical atmosphere worldwide, which can result in less energy in the Atlantic to fuel storms, despite favorable upper conditions such as low wind shear that come with La Nina.

However, this is usually found with the normal gradual reversal to La Nina that we normally see during the course of the latter part of the winter. Instead, this year we had El Nino hold on and spike global temperatures through March before coming down, and it's now crashing through the floor. This is likely to be one of the fastest reversals to La Nina on record, and the result is all this heat left up in the atmosphere over the Atlantic which has nowhere to go. With the floor coming out from underneath the El Nino, the atmosphere now has a way to deal with this excess heat and get rid of it, and tropical cyclones are the mechanism by which the atmosphere does that.

In this case, even a fairly strong La Nina episode shouldn't have too much of an adverse effect on storm numbers. The effect it could have though is directing tracks farther west, as stronger Ninas tend to do.

Thank you, I guess we should be prepared no matter what. It is so interesting on here and I am learning so much. Thanks again.
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Quoting Levi32:


It can....when a La Nina gets "too" strong, say moderate to strong episode, it starts taking heat out of the tropical atmosphere worldwide, which can result in less energy in the Atlantic to fuel storms, despite favorable upper conditions such as low wind shear that come with La Nina.

However, this is usually found with the normal gradual reversal to La Nina that we normally see during the course of the latter part of the winter. Instead, this year we had El Nino hold on and spike global temperatures through March before coming down, and it's now crashing through the floor. This is likely to be one of the fastest reversals to La Nina on record, and the result is all this heat left up in the atmosphere over the Atlantic which has nowhere to go. With the floor coming out from underneath the El Nino, the atmosphere now has a way to deal with this excess heat and get rid of it, and tropical cyclones are the mechanism by which the atmosphere does that.

In this case, even a fairly strong La Nina episode shouldn't have too much of an adverse effect on storm numbers. The effect it could have though is directing tracks farther west, as stronger Ninas tend to do.
Well said.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
rofl The GFS is insane today.

GFS=Great at Faking Systems?
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Quoting extreme236:


I know its early in the season, but the GFS's consistency isn't very good...lol


Maybe be best to rely soley on the ECMWF and UKMET at this point with genesis.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30577
Quoting extreme236:


I know its early in the season, but the GFS's consistency isn't very good...lol
Agreed.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting txsweetpea:
This might be an "out there" question for some of you that are so educated on hurricanes BUT, Does La Nina coming in to play LESSEN our chances of having a hurricane or lessen the predictions for this season?


It can....when a La Nina gets "too" strong, say moderate to strong episode, it starts taking heat out of the tropical atmosphere worldwide, which can result in less energy in the Atlantic to fuel storms, despite favorable upper conditions such as low wind shear that come with La Nina.

However, this is usually found with the normal gradual reversal to La Nina that we normally see during the course of the latter part of the winter. Instead, this year we had El Nino hold on and spike global temperatures through March before coming down, and it's now crashing through the floor. This is likely to be one of the fastest reversals to La Nina on record, and the result is all this heat left up in the atmosphere over the Atlantic which has nowhere to go. With the floor coming out from underneath the El Nino, the atmosphere now has a way to deal with this excess heat and get rid of it, and tropical cyclones are the mechanism by which the atmosphere does that.

In this case, even a fairly strong La Nina episode shouldn't have too much of an adverse effect on storm numbers. The effect it could have though is directing tracks farther west, as stronger Ninas tend to do.

Weak La Ninas are very favorable for Atlantic hurricane activity. Moderate-strong ones are too, but strong ones average less storms than weak La Nina or neutral conditions.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Did you hear that it was delayed until July. Pretty sad if you ask me.


Yes I heard about that
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30577
Quoting Drakoen:
GFS needs that upgrade... lol


I know its early in the season, but the GFS's consistency isn't very good...lol
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Quoting Drakoen:
GFS needs that upgrade... lol
Did you hear that it was delayed until July. Pretty sad if you ask me.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting DDR:
Levi
The precip. model forecasts from april were right,last month i picked up 18 inches of rain in a two week time frame,June promises alot more.


That's great news for the drought conditions. The Caribbean was expected to see a rapid turn-around from a severe dry season to a wetter-than-normal rainy season.
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out for now I will be lurking but I will be on again when things ramp up
Member Since: August 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2182
Quoting Hurricanes101:


Just because it shows an "L" somewhere does not mean it is forecasting a system to develop there

The 18Z doesn't really develop anything at all on the run
Yes. Understand that, but when it shows convection around it and lower than usual pressures it's considered "developing" a system, IMO.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
This might be an "out there" question for some of you that are so educated on hurricanes BUT, Does La Nina coming in to play LESSEN our chances of having a hurricane or lessen the predictions for this season?
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917
I was just about to say that. First day in a long time that I havent heard rumbles of thunder outside by now (5:30) ... This will do nothing but cause the GOM anomalies to jump. Atleast the weather will cooperate better with oil cleanup operations.
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GFS needs that upgrade... lol
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30577
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:


Scholastically or athletically?


they still have a mule.
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924. DDR
Levi
The precip. model forecasts from april were right,last month i picked up 18 inches of rain in a two week time frame,June promises alot more.
Member Since: April 27, 2007 Posts: 14 Comments: 1703
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
2? There has been 3 in the Atlantic and 2 in the EPAC, that makes 5.


Where's the third one in the Atlantic? I see the African wave, and the SW Caribbean system.

And yeah, maybe I was off by one in the EPAC, wasn't paying attention to that side much, I'll check.

EDIT: Hmm, nope, I still only see 1 on the Epac side.. I saw a couple of 1012 and 1013 L's without any convection tho.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
2? There has been 3 in the Atlantic and 2 in the EPAC, that makes 5.


Just because it shows an "L" somewhere does not mean it is forecasting a system to develop there

The 18Z doesn't really develop anything at all on the run
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7831
Quoting Levi32:
The Gulf is just gonna keep boiling under this pattern.


Wow! That's scary, but you don't have to worry, you're in Alaska. Lol.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting photomunkey:
Is a "mettle can" made from an honorary alloy? Heh! Bad pun, LOL!


what is a stabilizer??
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


0Z run is generally considered more reliable just like the 12Z is

the 12Z run showed a development out of the wave that will come off Africa Friday, being it was the 12Z run, that is why it is garnering much attention
Im interested in that wave the conditions off africa will be favorable for development so lets see what happens.
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The Gulf is just gonna keep boiling under this pattern.


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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:
I don't think either of these systems will come true, but, come on, how is 2 systems too much? 3 if you count the EPAC.
2? There has been 3 in the Atlantic and 2 in the EPAC, that makes 5.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
915. DDR
gfs @18z shows plenty rain for us(Trinidad) and the windward islands,nice!
Member Since: April 27, 2007 Posts: 14 Comments: 1703
Quoting Levi32:


Well, the next couple of weeks at least are going to be quite hot.

Ouch! Look at south Florida.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting MrstormX:
Im pretty sure that if we are to believe the GFS at this point, we will need verification from another model.


Agreed.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
oh "UNIVERSITIES" ...
That makes sense since if they had colleges they might participate in NCAA athletics right?
national COLLEGIATE athletic association?? ;)
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Quoting alexhurricane1991:
Thats true lets wait until the 0z run but i have a feeling the 0z wont show as many systems as the 18z.


0Z run is generally considered more reliable just like the 12Z is

the 12Z run showed a development out of the wave that will come off Africa Friday, being it was the 12Z run, that is why it is garnering much attention
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7831
I don't think either of these systems will come true, but, come on, how is 2 systems too much? 3 if you count the EPAC.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Im pretty sure that if we are to believe the GFS at this point, we will need verification from another model.
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Quoting atmoaggie:

I hope that high doesn't sit here and give us record highs and no rain for an entire month like last year...


Well, the next couple of weeks at least are going to be quite hot.

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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Lets keep in mind its the 18z.

Im out...
Thats true lets wait until the 0z run but i have a feeling the 0z wont show as many systems as the 18z.
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Quoting atmoaggie:

It is the 18Z run...famously bad after 4 days.
True.
Quoting MrstormX:


Agreed, I notice literally everyone on here is finding some storm the GFS is developing. Literally it is developing like 6-7 different storms in this time frame, thats really unreasonable.
Yeah, it began to get funny after about the third system.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Lets keep in mind its the 18z.

Im out...

Hey, good idea...
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Now I think that GFS is off. It's developing too many systems to have confidence in it's other systems. If that makes any sense. Lol.
I agree developing ghost storms once again
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


What an odd color scheme.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Lets keep in mind its the 18z.

Im out...
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15921


162 hours in 18Z GFS. TS/TD in East Pacific, 1011 mb low in SW Caribbean, moisture in BOC.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Quoting Levi32:
A big deep-layer high over Louisiana at this timeframe appears to direct this low westward into central America before it has a chance to really wind up.


I hope that high doesn't sit here and give us record highs and no rain for an entire month like last year...
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Now I think that GFS is off. It's developing too many systems to have confidence in it's other systems. If that makes any sense. Lol.


Agreed, I notice literally everyone on here is finding some storm the GFS is developing. Literally it is developing like 6-7 different storms in this time frame, thats really unreasonable. *Notice, im exaggerating*
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Now I think that GFS is off. It's developing too many systems to have confidence in it's other systems. If that makes any sense. Lol.

It is the 18Z run...famously bad after 4 days.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Now I think that GFS is off. It's developing too many systems to have confidence in it's other systems. If that makes any sense. Lol.


It only developed 2 systems so far.. At 162 hours all there is in the BOC is some moisture from an EPAC system. We'll have to wait and see later in the run if the GFS picks it up.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15921
A big deep-layer high over Louisiana at this timeframe appears to direct this low westward into central America before it has a chance to really wind up.

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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
GFS may want to develop something in the BOC as well at 162 hours.
Now I think that GFS is off. It's developing too many systems to have confidence in it's other systems. If that makes any sense. Lol.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
SW Caribbean low makes a reappearance 162-168 hrs (i dont think it ever disappeared, but the mb next to it got taken off for some reason at 150 hrs)

Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237

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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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