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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whhmmm, hey levi, does our potent wave over africa already has a low evel circulation or its hard to tell, as of now?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ElConando:
I would say more but i'll just drop it and move on.



???, it was peaceful in here until your untimely arrival, i'll have you know. anyways, what has to be done, has to be done. moving on........
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Quoting sflawavedude:
nothing much to thta wave now. to much windshear for it to do much now. next!
i agree
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting sflawavedude:
nothing much to thta wave now. to much windshear for it to do much now. next!

bye
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:


I can't prove it but from my experience with photography I think it is some sort of refraction of the light from a RoV off to the side of one we're viewing. Something similar to a rainbow or lens flair.


Must be...very strange to look at.
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nothing much to thta wave now. to much windshear for it to do much now. next!
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Quoting 850Realtor:
Did anyone ever determine what the weird reflection/fire/lava was on the ROV cams? Have multiple sites to the cam open...some show, some don't.

PS-I know it's not fire or lava, LOL :)


I can't prove it but from my experience with photography I think it is some sort of refraction of the light from a RoV off to the side of one we're viewing. Something similar to a rainbow or lens flair.
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
Quoting Levi32:


Not really. The eastern Caribbean is a graveyard for tropical waves, as the strong trade winds in that area de-amplify the wave axis and ruin surface convergence. It is hard for a tropical wave to survive the gauntlet. That's another reason why this wave may end up being nothing in the western Caribbean if it is too weak after passing through this hostile area.


Thanks Levi.
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
Janiel, what are your predictions for this season? And what are your predictions for how long that handle will last?
Member Since: August 27, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1497
I smell shower curtains, that is all...

How are the Antilles fairing?
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2982. Levi32
Quoting SevereHurricane:


I thought it was more amplified than what the model shows.


Not really. The eastern Caribbean is a graveyard for tropical waves, as the strong trade winds in that area de-amplify the wave axis and ruin surface convergence. It is hard for a tropical wave to survive the gauntlet. That's another reason why this wave may end up being nothing in the western Caribbean if it is too weak after passing through this hostile area.
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Quoting Levi32:


It did initialize the wave. It just doesn't have much wind shift at the surface, and the wave will be getting weaker over the next 48 hours anyway.

GFS 0z 850mb winds/vorticity initialization:

Well my bad thanks levi i thought i didnt see the wave well i was wrong.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
2980. xcool





Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting Levi32:


It did initialize the wave. It just doesn't have much wind shift at the surface, and the wave will be getting weaker over the next 48 hours anyway.

GFS 0z 850mb winds/vorticity initialization:



I thought it was more amplified than what the model shows.
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
2978. Levi32
Quoting SevereHurricane:
Levi, do you agree with my observation on post 2961?


It did initialize the wave. It just doesn't have much wind shift at the surface, and the wave will be getting weaker over the next 48 hours anyway.

GFS 0z 850mb winds/vorticity initialization:

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I would say more but i'll just drop it and move on.
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Quoting SevereHurricane:
Levi, do you agree with my observation on post 2961?
Im not levi but just posting my thoughts i agree i looked at the run and noticed the same thing good catch!
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
2975. xcool
btwntx08 haha
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
?????
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Levi, do you agree with my observation on post 2961?
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
hey scott lol
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you're right, levi.
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Quoting ElConando:
2956.

Here we go again???


I loled. There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old-bold pilots.
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
:)
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Quoting alexhurricane1991:
Alright rob im in northwest san antonio very close to leon valley.

cool im in the ne side in terrell hills area...my uncle lives here
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2956.

Here we go again???
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Quoting caneswatch:


Damn lol, well thanks anyways. Is it the one still over Africa now?
Sorry man i wish i was on the computer but anyways yes its the one over africa.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
2965. Levi32
GFS still thinks the low in the western Caribbean will get a chance to strengthen in the Bay of Campeche:

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2964. xcool
alex get off phone j/k
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
2963. xcool
oh man look who is rob hi
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting alexhurricane1991:
No im on my cellphone sorry.


Damn lol, well thanks anyways. Is it the one still over Africa now?
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Looks to me like the GFS didn't even initialize the wave in the Eastern Caribbean. That really has me wondering how credible this run might be as far as development down the road in the western Caribbean goes.
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
hey who sretched the blog
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Quoting btwntx08:
hey im in san antonio :)
Alright rob im in northwest san antonio very close to leon valley.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
2958. Levi32
Quoting CapeVerdeCanes:
hey levi, if its still around on teh 2am run, it'll warrent major concern.


Wouldn't call it major. It's really hard to get that kind of development in June, despite such warm SSTs. For now it's just interesting.
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Quoting caneswatch:


Can you link it Alex?
No im on my cellphone sorry.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
hey levi, if its still around on teh 2am run, it'll warrent major concern.
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hey im in san antonio :)
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Quoting alexhurricane1991:
Woah just got on whats this about an african wave developing on the 12z ecmwf.


Can you link it Alex?
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Quoting Hurricanes101:
GFS has the system too at 66 hours, kind of drops it at 72 which it does at times

we will see what it does as it goes further


It does need to be be monitored for sure.
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2952. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting 850Realtor:
Did anyone ever determine what the weird reflection/fire/lava was on the ROV cams? Have multiple sites to the cam open...some show, some don't.

PS-I know it's not fire or lava, LOL :)
i seen that as well it was a plastic bag maybe we will see duct tape next
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
Quoting Levi32:
0z GFS drops the eastern Atlantic low. 120 hours shows some mischief going on in the western Caribbean, but interacting with central America.

Lets see what the euro has to say
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
2950. Levi32
Quoting SouthALWX:

so far, I concur. Each year is different and it seems every year has the go-to model has changed. ( except the cmc, it's always been on crack, but that may change with the upgrade) .... I just think it's important that we remember the history here ,, and the fact is that last year the ECM forecasted Katrina MKII when the other models called BS ( they were wrong too but not as bad ) .... just trying to toss in the grain of salt thats needed here


Certainly. However, the ECMWF has been consistently on top in the tropics for the past 3 seasons in a row according to the NHC, and I'm not surprised. It usually has a better handle on most situations. I'm definitely not sold on development east of the islands yet. Far more likely is for these waves to cause mischief farther west in the Caribbean down the road.
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2949. xcool
gfs hmm
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
2948. Levi32
0z GFS drops the eastern Atlantic low. 120 hours shows some mischief going on in the western Caribbean, but interacting with central America.

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Quoting Levi32:


The ECMWF is conservative relative to the other models. Count how many developments have been shown this year by the GFS, CMC, and NOGAPS. More than I can count already....and the ECMWF has now shown two, with this being the 2nd. It's the more accurate model which is why it's more conservative.

I agree that if it continues to agree with the GFS on this possibility, it will be worth even more attention.

so far, I concur. Each year is different and it seems every year has the go-to model has changed. ( except the cmc, it's always been on crack, but that may change with the upgrade) .... I just think it's important that we remember the history here ,, and the fact is that last year the ECM forecasted Katrina MKII when the other models called BS ( they were wrong too but not as bad ) .... just trying to toss in the grain of salt thats needed here
Member Since: August 27, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1497
ok well GFS isn't all too into the wave, develops it at 66 hours but drops it after that

again tons of energy in the Western Caribbean but it doesnt appear to show anything organized
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Did anyone ever determine what the weird reflection/fire/lava was on the ROV cams? Have multiple sites to the cam open...some show, some don't.

PS-I know it's not fire or lava, LOL :)
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Quoting THUNDERPR:
66 hrs 00 gfs.
Its still showing development im not buying it yet if the 0z euro shows it i will be interested.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
2943. xcool
HEY ALEX
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
GFS has the system too at 66 hours, kind of drops it at 72 which it does at times

we will see what it does as it goes further
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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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