La Niña fades to neutral; April the globe's 4th - 7th warmest on record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:12 PM GMT on May 17, 2011

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April 2011 was the globe's 7th warmest April on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies rated April the 4th warmest on record, tied with April 2005. April 2011 global ocean temperatures were the 11th warmest on record, and land temperatures were the 6th warmest on record. The UK had its hottest April on record, with rainfall only 21% of average. Huge fires burned through Scotland, England, and Northern Ireland, fanned by strong spring winds.


Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for April, 2011. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).

La Niña fades to neutral
The La Niña that began in June 2010 is now transitioning to neutral conditions, according to the Climate Prediction Center. Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the equatorial Pacific off the coast of South America are now just 0.4°C below average, the first time since June 2010 that these temperatures have not been 0.5°C or more cooler than average, the threshold for a La Niña. However, it is possible that these water could cool a bit again over the next few weeks, so NOAA has not yet declared an official end to this La Niña episode. Equatorial SSTs were 0.5°C below average in the central Pacific, and average to above-average temperatures have emerged in the eastern Pacific. While this signals the end to La Niña, the CPC cautions that the atmosphere is still behaving like La Niña is continuing. An animation of SSTs since February shows the weakening La Niña nicely. Springtime is the most common time for a La Niña event to end; since 1950, half of all La Niñas ended in March, April, or May.

Arctic sea ice 5th lowest on record
Arctic sea ice declined slowly through most of April, and had the 5th lowest extent since satellite record began in 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. However, sea ice extent began declining more quickly toward the end of the month, and as of May 16 was the second lowest on record.

I'll have more on the Mississippi River flood next post. If you haven't seen it, read my post, America's Achilles' heel: the Mississippi River Old River Control Structure.

Jeff Masters and Angela Fritz

Angela is a new wunderground hire, with a Masters degree in Meteorology, who will be helping out with my blog and the site's weather education and climate change content.

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SST trend over last 21 days





gives you an idea of what's warming fastest
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting melwerle:


I'm sure I'll be there...I think my chance of being "raptured" are next to nothing. Pass me a wine glass...I'll bring the rum. Someone needs to brianng fruit for sangria and mixers for the rum.

heheheh
Long time no see, Mel.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25392
Quoting Gearsts:
Whats that ?explain!


estancamiento. LOL It is an area north of the equator with no wind or light winds in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans usually near the trade winds.
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Quoting Skyepony:


The world did okay today. They got a big fire out that was burning China & some nearby countries. The flood is looking hopeful at the moment. The LA drought is paying off. Okay, yeah there's an Olympic size pool of radioactive water under 1 & they found some plague carrying fleas on a rapidly dying colony of maybe Prairie Dogs in Arizona..


I got to disagree about ENSO. Becoming more sure we may see El Niño conditions at least briefly. ESPI measures the amount of Precip across certain areas of the Pacific. When it goes neg, less rain than usual, waters warm & ENSO goes positive. When ESPI gets below -1 ENSO usually gets above 0.5 (ESPI is blue El Nino Black in that link). ESPI was down to -1.05 week before last. Last week it hovered in the mid -.90s, shot up to -.85. Dropping again to -.92 today. Not a sure bet yet but brings a bit of doubt to neutral all summer.
Thanks for the update Skye!

just curious, where do you get all these global updates?
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Quoting pottery:

Great!
And there's a zillion gallons a minute coming down the Mississippi.
Should be a fantastic Party.


I'm sure I'll be there...I think my chance of being "raptured" are next to nothing. Pass me a wine glass...I'll bring the rum. Someone needs to bring rum for the for sangria and mixers for the rum.
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434. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting spathy:


Hiya Sky:O)

Ouch
Are you hinting that a coming calm weather pattern will allow for further warming of our seas?


Yep..

Quoting KoritheMan:


Even if it does, do not forget that there is an inherent lag time regarding the atmospheric response to the observed oceanic conditions.


2004 is a good example of that.
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Quoting Skyepony:
We've got Doldrums..expect warming.
Whats that ?explain!
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432. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting pottery:

Any good news? :)


The world did okay today. They got a big fire out that was burning China & some nearby countries. The flood is looking hopeful at the moment. The LA drought is paying off. Okay, yeah there's an Olympic size pool of radioactive water under 1 & they found some plague carrying fleas on a rapidly dying colony of maybe Prairie Dogs in Arizona..


I got to disagree about ENSO. Becoming more sure we may see El Niño conditions at least briefly. ESPI measures the amount of Precip across certain areas of the Pacific. When it goes neg, less rain than usual, waters warm & ENSO goes positive. When ESPI gets below -1 ENSO usually gets above 0.5 (ESPI is blue El Nino Black in that link). ESPI was down to -1.05 week before last. Last week it hovered in the mid -.90s, shot up to -.85. Dropping again to -.92 today. Not a sure bet yet but brings a bit of doubt to neutral all summer.
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Quoting pottery:

Great!
And there's a zillion gallons a minute coming down the Mississippi.
Should be a fantastic Party.
Hallelujah....!..:)
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 23797
Quoting TheWeatherMan504:


Maybe a weak El Nino will develop and surprise some people. ;)


Even if it does, do not forget that there is an inherent lag time regarding the atmospheric response to the observed oceanic conditions.
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My bet is that we won't see our first named storm until Mid-June when the MJO returns to our part of the basin and wind shear is a little more conducive. But you never know if we will see something from mid-latitude origin before then.
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Quoting Skyepony:
We've got Doldrums..expect warming.

Calm winds and warming waters and low pressures and June 1st is looming...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25392
Quoting hydrus:
Yes....According to billboards around this country, on the 21st Jesus is back and turns every bit of warm water into wine...Come on over and pull up a glass.

Great!
And there's a zillion gallons a minute coming down the Mississippi.
Should be a fantastic Party.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25392
423. Skyepony (Mod)
We've got Doldrums..expect warming.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pottery:

Any good news? :)
Yes....According to billboards around this country, on the 21st, Jesus is back and turns every bit of warm water into wine...Come on over and pull up a glass.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 23797
Quoting pottery:

Any good news? :)


The heart of hurricane season is still 2-3 months away so there is time to prepare. Maybe a weak El Nino will develop and surprise some people. ;)
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Quoting TheWeatherMan504:
The NAO looks to be negative for the next several days which should allow for some nice continued warming in the MDR and Caribbean. Meanwhile, a ridging pattern looks to develop over the Gulf Coast states in the next week which should aid in significant warming of the Gulf of Mexico.


Any good news? :)
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25392
The NAO looks to be negative for the next several days which should allow for some nice continued warming in the MDR and Caribbean. Meanwhile, a ridging pattern looks to develop over the Gulf Coast states in the next week which should aid in significant warming of the Gulf of Mexico.

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Quoting TheWeatherMan504:


Nope, just one of the numerous signals that the Atlantic Basin will have another active Hurricane Season. The lower than normal pressure anomalies are a direct result of the focus of heat in the tropical Atlantic once again this season; although not to such an extreme extent as last year. It could also be the Euro hinting that MJO will be hanging around our basin a lot this year which isn't a surprise considering anomaly-wise we are overall the warmest basin in the Northern Hemisphere.

Nice. Or not nice, depending on where you sit.
Someone earlier was talking about 'normal weather returning' to the region.
My own feeling is, we have had 'normal', and seem to be going into a protracted phase of something else....
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25392
Quoting kmanislander:
Well, food for thought, the local weather. One other odd thing is that the SW Caribbean usuall develops fairly deep convection from the middle of May onwards which tends to lift to the N into our area. Early seaon systems tend to come from down near Panama.

This year has been extremely dry to our South which would suggest a slow start with the odds being against a June storm. The models show very little if any rain in our area before the end of May which is most unusual.
Here is a cool image of intense African thunderstorms. Which have been crankin for over a month...Link
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 23797
I'm out for the night folks. Been a great visit.

Have a nice evening.
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Well, food for thought, the local weather. One other odd thing is that the SW Caribbean usuall develops fairly deep convection from the middle of May onwards which tends to lift to the N into our area. Early seaon systems tend to come from down near Panama.

This year has been extremely dry to our South which would suggest a slow start with the odds being against a June storm. The models show very little if any rain in our area before the end of May which is most unusual.
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Quoting WaterWitch11:
taco2me61, i got to go to gulfport, ms a couple of months ago and it is so beautiful. its nothing like our beaches. i really can't wait to go back.
WHERE DO YOU LIVE? IF YOU THINK GULPORT IS BEAUTIFUL YOU NEED TO COME SEE PENSACOLA BEACH!!!
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Quoting pottery:
But a large area of anom. low pressure, especially THERE, cannot be a good thing as we approach Hurricane Season ???


Nope, just one of the numerous signals that the Atlantic Basin will have another active Hurricane Season. The lower than normal pressure anomalies are a direct result of the focus of heat in the tropical Atlantic once again this season; although not to such an extreme extent as last year. It could also be the Euro hinting that MJO will be hanging around our basin a lot this year which isn't a surprise considering anomaly-wise we are overall the warmest basin in the Northern Hemisphere.
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Quoting kmanislander:


Here is the airport weather station

Humidity about 69%, 1010.5 mb pressure reading and no wind. Been like this for weeks now.


Yeah, the last week of anomalies, if representative of the month of May at all, is rather ominous.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26731
Quoting TheWeatherMan504:


That doesn't look to change either, Kman. The EURO keeps surface pressures well below normal throughout your region for the next several months. The good news is that you should see more rain soon as the Pacific monsoonal trough lifts northward over the next 2 weeks.
But a large area of anom. low pressure, especially THERE, cannot be a good thing as we approach Hurricane Season ???

EDIT--KMan beat me to it.....
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25392
Quoting TheWeatherMan504:


That doesn't look to change either, Kman. The EURO keeps surface pressures well below normal throughout your region for the next several months. The good news is that you should see more rain soon as the Pacific monsoonal trough lifts northward over the next 2 weeks.


Low pressures for that length of time would not be a good thing. We shall see.
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Quoting Levi32:


I would guess that's from the anomalous upward motion that is present over the Caribbean due to the strong MJO pulse that's currently coming across. There are no clouds in your area though, because the air being lifted is very dry.



Here is the airport weather station

Humidity about 69%, 1010.5 mb pressure reading and no wind. Been like this for weeks now.
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Quoting kmanislander:
One other thing of note. Surface pressures have been quite low for a while, bouncing between 1008.5 and 1011 mb. Very odd with no weather around


That doesn't look to change either, Kman. The EURO keeps surface pressures well below normal throughout your region for the next several months. The good news is that you should see more rain soon as the Pacific monsoonal trough lifts northward over the next 2 weeks.
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<
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Quoting kmanislander:


I guess being that far South gives you an edge. Closer to the ITCZ


True, but this has been a particularly wet dryseason.
The ITCZ never dropped too far south to leave us dry.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25392
Quoting kmanislander:
One other thing of note. Surface pressures have been quite low for a while, bouncing between 1008.5 and 1011 mb. Very odd with no weather around


I would guess that's from the anomalous upward motion that is present over the Caribbean due to the strong MJO pulse that's currently coming across. There are no clouds in your area though, because the air being lifted is very dry.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26731
Quoting pottery:

I did not realise that...
That's a strange one, surely.


1010 mb right now. Perhaps a harbinger of things to come.
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Quoting kmanislander:


Nice Freudian slip, all hail

LOL
Freud was a strange cat. He saw everybody as an impurrrrrfect being...:0
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 23797
Quoting pottery:

We have been lucky this year and have seldom had to water.
Got 1/2" yesterday, and enough regularly all dry season long.
Actually mowed some lawns last week.
First time in 23 years in this house we mowed in April/May.


I guess being that far South gives you an edge. Closer to the ITCZ

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Quoting kmanislander:
One other thing of note. Surface pressures have been quite low for a while, bouncing between 1008.5 and 1011 mb. Very odd with no weather around

I did not realise that...
That's a strange one, surely.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25392
Quoting kmanislander:


Nice Freudian slip, all hail

LOL
We have been gettin pounded with bad weather here. It has been unsettled since the terrible tornado outbreak. The models are showing a lot more rain for the eastern half at least two weeks out. We do not need any rain either.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 23797
Quoting kmanislander:


Actually that is what I do because the city pressure of 40 PSI can't push up the sprinkler heads. I have a pressure pump for irrigation that runs close to 50 PSI.
The plants like the rain with the nitrogen content :-)

We have been lucky this year and have seldom had to water.
Got 1/2" yesterday, and enough regularly all dry season long.
Actually mowed some lawns last week.
First time in 23 years in this house we mowed in April/May.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25392
One other thing of note. Surface pressures have been quite low for a while, bouncing between 1008.5 and 1011 mb. Very odd with no weather around
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Quoting hydrus:
Scary. Like that weird calm and then all hail breaks loose.


Nice Freudian slip, all hail

LOL
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Levi,the SOI index has tumbled bigtime since mid April when it was at 30,now down to 4.2. Do you think this may be a sign that El Nino may appear or the index will flutuate from now on in Neutral status?



Nah. I still feel it will be neutral all summer, but of course that's not guaranteed. The SOI won't tumble straight into deep El nino-like negative 30-day averages. It tends to rise and fall in spikes and steps. This great dive will likely rebound back up again for a while before taking another step down, but likely averaging in neutral territory for the next few months.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26731
Quoting kmanislander:


All is well. No clouds, no wind, just serious heat. 90 just about every day. TCHP rising quickly. Yesterday was like a mill pond.
Scary. Like that weird calm and then all hail breaks loose.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 23797
Quoting pottery:

Yeah. I agree with that, re the Neutral.

Why not run some of the de-sal water into your cistern and let it lose some of it's Chlorine before you water?
A week would make a difference.

Of course, the minute you do that, it will rain plenty....


Actually that is what I do because the city pressure of 40 PSI can't push up the sprinkler heads. I have a pressure pump for irrigation that runs close to 50 PSI.
The plants like the rain with the nitrogen content :-)
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280 belizeit "I think Mitch actually only hit Honduras as a TD or TS but they got 5 feet of rain in 48 hrs"
290 HurricaneSwirl "...Mitch rapidly weakened from a category 5 to a category 1 right before landfall. But anyway Honduras was the landfall location in central america for Mitch."

Only in the most trivial meaning of 'hit': ie (center of the eye) landfall&after.

10/28 00GMT 16.6n85.6w - 160mph 933mb Cat.5
10/28 06GMT 16.3n85.6w - 150mph 938mb upperCat.4
Note that Guanaja(GJA)Honduras was ~21miles of the center or less, probably in the eyewall, probably experienced those Cat.5 winds decreasing down to Cat.4
10/28 12GMT 16.3n85.6w - 135mph 948mb lowerCat.4
Movement stalled for the next 6hours as Mitch's winds decreased from Cat.4 to Cat.3
Coastal mainlandHonduras was close enough (~25miles) to the eyewall to have possibly experienced some Cat.4winds, certainly experienced some Cat.3 winds
10/28 18GMT 16.3n85.7w - 110mph 959mb Cat.2
Moved closer to Guanaja for the next 6hours, which probably experienced Cat.2 winds during this period.
Coastal mainlandHonduras probably experienced high Cat.1 winds
10/29 00GMT 16.2n85.8w - 100mph 970mb Cat.2
Guanaja probably far enough away to be experiencing Cat.1 winds, and coastal mainlandHonduras only slightly milder Cat.1 winds
10/29 06GMT 16.1n85.8w -- 85mph 979mb Cat.1
Winds at Guanaja probably dropped to TropicalStorm strength, while coastal mainland Honduras still experiencing Cat.1 winds
10/29 12GMT 15.9n85.7w -- 80mph 987mb Cat.1
After landfall.

36hours of Mitch smacking Honduras with hurricane-force winds can't be described with "rapidly weakened". Nor can Mitch be properly portrayed as having "...only hit Honduras as a TD or TS"
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392. JLPR2
Africa is doing some practice for the months ahead.
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Quoting kmanislander:


I do have a 17,000 gallon cistern under my garage for irrigation but it has been empty now for months as there has been no rain to fill it. Twice a week I water with desal to keep things alive but the chlorine content is a growth stunter.

As for the season, neutral conditions will probably prevail. This in turn will likely lead to more systems traversing the central Caribbean. Overall I am expecting higher than average overall numbers but not excessively so, mayber 14 total.

Yeah. I agree with that, re the Neutral.

Why not run some of the de-sal water into your cistern and let it lose some of it's Chlorine before you water?
A week would make a difference.

Of course, the minute you do that, it will rain plenty....
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25392
Quoting TomTaylor:
Had my first encounter today, wasn't too impressed.

I can troll better than that...not that I'm going to.


Good for a chuckle though :-)
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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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