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 shauntanner:
Post questions for Jeff in this blog.

Dr. Masters, how do you feel about the possibility of TC development of the wave off of Africa?
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Were kind of reaching for things here. I'll be back & posting once we have a invest out there. Until then take care everyone.
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639. MTWX
How is everyone today?? Just in and out today (busy at work)
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638. shauntanner (Admin)
Post questions for Jeff in this blog.
Quoting StormW:


No...in 1998 we transitioned to a La Nina rather quickly...had 14 named that year.


Well I meant in terms of lowering the numbers from say 20-22 if we had stayed neutral to about 14-17 if we go to La Nina?

Could the quick transition to La Nina give us a few less storms than if it stays Neutral?
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7683
636. xcool



xcool
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Quoting BayouBorn1965:
Why does the Atlantic Hurricane Season begin June 1 and not later?
Because -most- of the time the first storm of a season occurs June 1st or later.
Member Since: December 1, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 3620
Quoting StormW:
To further touch on the question as to whether or not transition to La Nina so quickly will impact numbers...here are SST anomalies for June 09, 1998...still not fully transitioned



And SST Anomalies as of June 07, 2010



Here is the 1998 season:



Notice how all the heat wasn't focused in the tropics in 1998 as it is this year.
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Quoting bystander:
Edit Failed!
Photo that was e-mailed to me today.


Sorry. Still can't figure out how to post image.
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Quoting BayouBorn1965:
Why does the Atlantic Hurricane Season begin June 1 and not later?


In the Atlantic, June 1 is when you typically see sea surface temperatures warm enough, wind shear start to die down and other conditions prime for the season.

This doesn't mean that storms won't happen before June 1, or they won't wait a few months until they start... it's just a convenient date to alert people to start expecting storms.

In the Eastern Pacific, the season starts May 15... a few weeks earlier.
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I dont think the GFS is totally out to lunch on this one

The conditions are like what we would see in late-July or early August, at a time where we definitely could see CV development

I do think whatever does form if anything would stay weak and largely would have more of an impact down the road in adding energy to the Caribbean

I would not be shocked if we got an invest out of the area the GFS is looking at considering the conditions
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7683


Photo that was e-mailed to me today.
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well well well
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53825
Quoting Minnemike:
i see it's cleaning up a little in here... :D
think i'll start reading the blog again.


It's safe to come out for at least the next 24 hours! :)
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Was down at Navarre's new fishing pier this morning, water was clear, fish were biting and beach goers were out. Only said part was the 20-30 orange vested workers walking around looking for tar balls. They did not appear to have much in the bags that they were carrying
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i see it's cleaning up a little in here... :D
think i'll start reading the blog again.
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Quoting StormW:


Good!
Thats great to hear im concerned about the early part of july i thinhk thats when we will get alex
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621. xcool


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Quoting STORMTOP2:


Good to see you Flood.


The pleasure is all yours, I can assure you...I have to tell you, STORMTOP2 is pretty imaginative...LOL
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It is still amazing to me that a Cape Verde wave is attracting the models' attention at all in the first half of June. This is going to be a wild year.
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Manatees and sea turtles are at high risk due to the oil.

Link
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The radio program is on now! Dramatic intro! He's on Skype.
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Quoting StormW:


Yes...thanks Admin!
Hey storm hows it going.
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Quoting reedzone:
EURO has the weak low that the GFS forms in the Atlantic, but much further south and more realistic as it hits SA in 180 hours..
Yep i would bileive the euro before i bilieve the gfs any day but dont discount the gfs.
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Quoting StormW:


Yes...The NAO is based on the strength of the Icelandic Low, and Azores high. A negative NAO is attributed to a weaker Icelandic Low, and weaker Azores High. As far as the potential threat to the east coast, that largely depends on the fluctuation in the NAO, and how and where the Azores High is situated at any given moment. I've been looking at some things, and I haven't completed yet, but looking at NAO mean values, it appears when it is transitioning toward or to positive from a negative, during that phase, seems like we see more U.S. landfalls.

Storm, thanks. See I actually did learn a little something last semester!
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can you post images?

Wave off South America looks interesting
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The Sahara isn't like Death Valley or the Atacama Desert in Chile. They do have rain... on occasion. I haven't studied the dynamics of that, though, and I couldn't say if this current convection is normal for the desert or not. The most recent rainy season for the African Sahel was quite wet, though, so this is probably connected in some way.
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Is there an iPhone app for the Hurricane Haven broadcasts?
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Quoting IKE:


In 12 hours? That's close to a record on here.
Quoting IKE:


In 12 hours? That's close to a record on here.


Lol, well, he is the one who set those records after all.
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Quoting Chicklit:
Dr. Masters is about to go on the air:
Today's show, which will probably be just 1/2 hour, will be at http://www.wunderground.com/wxradio/wubroadcast.html. The show will be recorded and stored as a podcast, as last week's show was.


Beat me to it! Hurricane Haven
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


Actually, his handle "TropicalWave" was already banned earlier in the week, and we enjoyed a nice 48 hours without him. He was actually patient enough to wait and come back under the same handle, only to be banned again some 12 hours later XD


Admin is getting better about getting rid of him. I applaud them. :)
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EURO has the weak low that the GFS forms in the Atlantic, but much further south and more realistic as it hits SA in 180 hours..
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Why does the Atlantic Hurricane Season begin June 1 and not later?
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Based on Dr Master's charts... 1998 was a La Nina year?
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Dr. Masters is about to go on the air:
Today's show, which will probably be just 1/2 hour, will be at The show will be recorded and stored as a podcast, as last week's show was.
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I love the smell of the ban-stick in the afternoon.

On a side note, it will be interesting to see how similar this year ends up to 1998, which is an eerily close analogue in terms of ENSO.
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:
Even if we don't have a named storm until July, it doesn't mean the season will be any less than what it appeared to be a month ago. Things have to go just right for a named storm to appear before the average of July 9th... Actually during this active period I'd say around June 25th.
Exactly
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596. IKE
Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


Actually, his handle "TropicalWave" was already banned earlier in the week, and we enjoyed a nice 48 hours without him. He was actually patient enough to wait and come back under the same handle, only to be banned again some 12 hours later XD


In 12 hours? That's close to a record on here.
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Quoting CycloneUK:
WTF is convection doing in the sahara?




Yeah man, something is up!

you know what that might mean, ACTIVE hurricane activity in the atlantic.

In this case though I'm glad. The drought got so incredible bad over africa the last 10 years, that it put us Floridians into a drought too, that might sound far fetched, but huge clouds of dust from Sahara Desert were getting thrown all the way over Florida. This cause extremely dry upper levels of the atmosphere, so dry that are steamy low levels were just not enough. Many times as these clouds of dust travel over the state, it cuts off the towering convection that give us are common afternoon downpours! These african dust clouds have robbed us of rain far too many times. As much is I DON'T want more hurricanees, if it means the end of dust drying out Florida rain storms, I'll be happy.
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Quoting alexhurricane1991:
I know i wonder what the next handle is going to be.


Actually, his handle "TropicalWave" was already banned earlier in the week, and we enjoyed a nice 48 hours without him. He was actually patient enough to wait and come back under the same handle, only to be banned again some 12 hours later XD
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Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:


I'm going to pretend you didn't say that, because I dont feel like getting banned because of you. I made a mistake ok? No need to get offensive!


It's STORMTOP, offensive is his stock-in-trade...
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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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