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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741. xcool
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormW:
Folks, it'll start soon enough...be careful what you wish for!


hey i have been sneaking over to storms blog and learning about the nao and the equator and the mjo and you guys are gonna be stunned at what all i might know soon. or maybe not. but i could start shouting it in my wizard voice like "HURRICANES CANNOT FORM TOO CLOSE TO THE EQUATOR BECAUSE OF IT BEING A RULE AND DO NOT DEFY MY AUTHORI_TYE
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Quoting Levi32:
704. SouthALWX 12:53 PM AKDT on June 08, 2010
Quoting pottery:
Not sure if this has been adressed--
Why is 2001 featured in La nino AND Neutral columns?

Oh, Good Afternoon all.

and why does it have different numbers 0.o LOL
Action: Quote | Ignore User
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The 2001 in the El Nino column should be 2002.

Thanks!!
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24906
thank you stormtopstradamas


hahahahahahahahahaha!

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Quoting StormW:
Folks, it'll start soon enough...be careful what you wish for!


I agree!! When it starts, it won't be fun any more, we should be getting supplies now, speaking of which i need to get storm shutters for parts of my home
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Quoting pottery:

Which one???


The 2001 in the El Nino column.
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Quoting StormW:
Folks, it'll start soon enough...be careful what you wish for!


Indeed. Good to see you Storm :)
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Quoting StormW:


It should read 2002.

Which one???
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24906
Quoting Weather456:


I agree...maybe watching something as early as next week.


The EATL wave looks very impressive! will see how that plays out
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Quoting twhcracker:


are you talking in your wizard of oz voice?

ignore the man behind the curtain
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Rains all over the Island today and set to continue.
1" so far at my house, but I was in the Mountains for most of the day and at times it was Torrential.
Several small landslides on the roadsides through the mountains, and two fallen trees being worked on by the Chain-Saw gangs.
ALL the landslips I saw were in areas that fire had burned the forest on the up-side of the road during March and April. One had blocked most of the road. Most were minor.
But it is a very clear example of how important healthy vegetation (trees in this instance) are to the protection of roadsides and road-cuts in hilly areas.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24906
Quoting Levi32:


Lol, not bad. We've been enjoying temps in the 50s for the last week so summer is in full swing here.

add another nearly 50 to that and you have what it's like in south alabama =P Its hot =(
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Quoting STORMTOP2:


I WILL SAY THIS AGAIN. I HAVE NO INTEREST IN BEING COMPARED TO JFV. I AM MUCH MORE VALUABLE THAN HIM.


are you talking in your wizard of oz voice?
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Quoting twhcracker:


thank you stormtopstradamas

Zing!
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
any news on EATL wave? possible invest ?
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Quoting SevereHurricane:


Good Afternoon Levi. Hows it kicking up in the tundra?


Lol, not bad. We've been enjoying temps in the 50s for the last week so summer is in full swing here.
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Quoting twhcracker:


thank you stormtopstradamas


Please don't feed the STORMTOP...LOL

He's liable to start signing his posts that way
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hmmm is there possibly a negative correlation between early starting seasons then, perhaps? Im sure the research guys will have me an answer in under 5 minutes .. ready .... go!
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Quoting Weather456:


I agree...maybe watching something as early as next week.


Im pretty interested in the African wave that's supposed to emerge later this week. Doubt it'll develop, but it should be fairly strong for this time of the year.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15950
Quoting STORMTOP2:
I WOULD LIKE TO POINT OUT TO EVERYONE THAT I AM STICKING TO MY GUNS AS MY FORECAST CONTINUES TO VERIFY WITH NO TROPICAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE ATLANTIC BASIN UNTIL AT LEAST THE LAST FEW DAYS OF JUNE. THE MODELS, ESPECIALLY THE GFS AND NOGAPS ARE HAVE SERIOUS ISSUES DEVELOPING GHOST STORMS. MARK MY WORDS, THE WAVE THE GFS DEVELOPS IN THE EASTERN ATLANTIC WILL NOT DEVELOP. GIVE THE ATLANTIC A LITTLE TIME TO FINISH GETTING READY. ONCE THIS SEASON STARTS IT WILL BE NON STOP HELL FOR MANY OF YOU. TAKE THESE NEXT 2 WEEKS TO PREPARE.

-STORMTOP


thank you stormtopstradamas
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Quoting atmoaggie:
When are the TCs going to start!?!
...


You need to run down to Grand Isle and do the Atmo Hurricane/Booty dance...that ought to do it!
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Quoting Weather456:
I knew it wasn't long till we start seeing impatience, lol.


haha
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Quoting SevereHurricane:


Also, the season with the most active June only ended up with 8 named storms.


Exactly.

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15950
Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Its pretty possible that our first storm will form towards the later part of the month.


I agree...maybe watching something as early as next week.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting Levi32:
Good afternoon everyone.


Good Afternoon Levi. Hows it kicking up in the tundra?
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Quoting Weather456:
I knew it wasn't long till we start seeing impatience, lol.


It's all about instant gratification...LOL
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Well 2005 had 2 June storms and we wound up with 31 tropical cyclones. 1995 had one June storm and wound up with 19 storms. 2004 didnt have any June storms and 1969 didnt have any June tropical storms. 69 wound up with 18 storms and 2004 had 15.

Conclusion: There is no correlation between the amount of June tropical storms and overall seasonal activity.


Also, the season with the most active June only ended up with 8 named storms.
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704. SouthALWX 12:53 PM AKDT on June 08, 2010
Quoting pottery:
Not sure if this has been adressed--
Why is 2001 featured in La nino AND Neutral columns?

Oh, Good Afternoon all.

and why does it have different numbers 0.o LOL
Action: Quote | Ignore User
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The 2001 in the El Nino column should be 2002.
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Quoting hurricanejunky:


Yeah, personally I would have gone with STORMTOPII

How's it going man? Your back still improving?


Onward and upward! Yes, actually, though we're about to have some weather here so I'm feeling it a little...and you? How are you doing?
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Quoting pottery:
Not sure if this has been adressed--
Why is 2001 featured in La nino AND Neutral columns?

Oh, Good Afternoon all.

and why does it have different numbers 0.o LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good afternoon everyone.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Its pretty possible that our first storm will form towards the later part of the month.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15950
Quoting cyclonekid:
It's called a Modoki El Niño right?


yea
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Hey StormW, thanks for your tropical updates, just hoping no hurricane enters the GOM.
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Not sure if this has been adressed--
Why is 2001 featured in La nino AND Neutral columns?

Oh, Good Afternoon all.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24906
When are the TCs going to start!?!
...
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
Quoting waverunner:
Listen folks, how can you all predict up to 20 storms for this season when its already June 8 and we haven't had a storm yet. Just wondering outloud.


Because look back to 2005. Even though they had their first storm on June 8th (5 years ago), they only had two in June and saw record activity. We still have plenty of June left. It's only June 8th.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


2004 was an El Nino year
Quoting Weather456:
2004 is considered a warm episode. It's easier to understand that way.
It's called a Modoki El Niño right?
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I knew it wasn't long till we start seeing impatience, lol.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting waverunner:
Listen folks, how can you all predict up to 20 storms for this season when its already June 8 and we haven't had a storm yet. Just wondering outloud.


Well 2005 had 2 June storms and we wound up with 31 tropical cyclones. 1995 had one June storm and wound up with 19 storms. 2004 didnt have any June storms and 1969 didnt have any June tropical storms. 69 wound up with 18 storms and 2004 had 15.

Conclusion: There is no correlation between the amount of June tropical storms and overall seasonal activity.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15950
Quoting waverunner:
Listen folks, how can you all predict up to 20 storms for this season when its already June 8 and we haven't had a storm yet. Just wondering outloud.

Because of the conditions being seen at present ;-)
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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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