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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Quoting hydrus:
End-caster.?...Getting a lot of rain in the Carolina,s...:)


...nah....it's quite nice...please come...and spend money...
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Quoting hydrus:
From 1900 to 1998 there were 63 major hurricanes striking the U.S.- 5- during El-Nino...37-during neutral, and 22- during La-Nina.. It is my belief that more storms develop during the cold phase, but there are more U.S. landfalls during the neutral phase.


I don't know where you're getting the 5 major landfalls during El Ninos during a 98-year period. How are they defining what the ENSO phase was before 1950? By my data, between 1950 and 2010, 35 major hurricanes made landfall on the United States coastline. 7 in El Nino years, 14 in neutral, and 14 in La Nina.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Last year we had Upper Level Low's and high SAL content that at least crippled waves coming off Africa to the point where they had to treck half way accross or all the way into the Carribean before they could rid themselves of their hinderences. Now we did have several fish storms, but I really think those two factors held down the numbers somewhat. I think we had the high number last year just because the of the ridiculous expanse of THCP which I believe was at or above 20 degrees north latitude for most of the season. (80 degree line)

That looks to be the biggest difference this season. The Atlantic MDR will not touch the temperatures of last season compared to this upcoming season IMO, just looking at where it stands now. If the SAL and ULL's stay scarce this season, which would promote more & stronger storms to occur, I don't think we will see the ridiculous bath water right off the Cape Verde Islands. So at least we are not getting a 3 for 3fer there. Now, last year we were coiming high in to a La Nina, this season looks to be nuetral which generally correlates to stroms curving further west than they did last year. Depends where that ridge sets up camp this summer.

Even with all that said, I don't like how the Gulf of Mexico and Northwest Carribean is shaping up, which is HOT. If any of those storms where to go further west this season, with the LARGE eddie currently forming in the GULF combined with already above average waters in those areas would spell bad news for someone. The U.S. will be very lucky to miss a landfalling hurricane this season.
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Quoting hydrus:
End-caster.?...Getting a lot of rain in the Carolina,s...:)


not here :(
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Quoting presslord:
The end is near...Link
End-caster.?...Getting a lot of rain in the Carolina,s...:)
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22685
Quoting llcoolsteve:
Not really a 'global' value.

The Temperature Anomalies map biases toward temperature anomalies near the poles. You chose a projection which "stretches" the map the further you go from the equator. I understand you want a map which shows the whole earth, but you then overlay a uniform grid of sample points. You are including more samples the further you go from the equator. Therefore, variations closer to the poles are weighted more heavily (quantitatively and visually)
Welcome to da blog.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22685
Quoting cyclonekid:


Not sure because if you search it, neutral conditions tend to produce more storms than La Niña.

2007 - La Niña - 15 named storms
2008 - Neutral - 16 named storms

2005 was neutral, but that's an anomaly.
From 1900 to 1998 there were 63 major hurricanes striking the U.S.- 5- during El-Nino...37-during neutral, and 22- during La-Nina.. It is my belief that more storms develop during the cold phase, but there are more U.S. landfalls during the neutral phase.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22685
Quoting gordydunnot:
I was only kidding as usual, but Brain did have that tendency.I pointed it out to friends who found it kind of funny Pottery. But all said Brain will go down in the history books and was a fine weatherman. I still see a tremendous TUTT in place it is probably normal for this time of year but has been our saving grace the last several years in North America, excluding the southern Caribbean and Central America which at this point probably want things back to the normal pattern.

I am not sure we will ever see "normal patterns" again.
For whatever the reasons, it sure looks like Climate is Changing and affecting weather of all kinds.
Historically, we have never been here before, in terms of drivers and influences.
Going to be fun to see the overall effects in the coming years.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24906
Not really a 'global' value.

The Temperature Anomalies map biases toward temperature anomalies near the poles. You chose a projection which "stretches" the map the further you go from the equator. I understand you want a map which shows the whole earth, but you then overlay a uniform grid of sample points. You are including more samples the further you go from the equator. Therefore, variations closer to the poles are weighted more heavily (quantitatively and visually)
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I have a question....SST's are already near what they were last year, TCHP is building at a fairly good clip because of the clear skies in the Caribbean, wind shear is expected to be lower than last year, not as much dry air/SAL as last year....So why is this year predicted lower than last year?


TCHP is still lower than what it was last year. 2nd-year La Nina seasons always have less heat content in the tropical oceans. That said, we have more TCHP than we normally do in such years due to the abnormal winter we had over North America.



Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
The end is near...Link
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I was only kidding as usual, but Brain did have that tendency.I pointed it out to friends who found it kind of funny Pottery. But all said Brain will go down in the history books and was a fine weatherman. I still see a tremendous TUTT in place it is probably normal for this time of year but has been our saving grace the last several years in North America, excluding the southern Caribbean and Central America which at this point probably want things back to the normal pattern.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Not by much though.

True. A degree here and there.
Plenty hot enough for Mischief of a Tropical kind.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24906
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I have a question....SST's are already near what they were last year, TCHP is building at a fairly good clip because of the clear skies in the Caribbean, wind shear is expected to be lower than last year, not as much dry air/SAL as last year....So why is this year predicted lower than last year?


Not sure because if you search it, neutral conditions tend to produce more storms than La Niña.

2007 - La Niña - 15 named storms
2008 - Neutral - 16 named storms

2005 was neutral, but that's an anomaly.
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Quoting pottery:
Post 220.
Interesting, that.
Cooler (generally) now than last year.


Not by much though.
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Post 220.
Interesting, that.
Cooler (generally) now than last year.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24906
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Was out in the gulf stream this weekend. Nice toasty 80 degrees :)
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I have a question....SST's are already near what they were last year, TCHP is building at a fairly good clip because of the clear skies in the Caribbean, wind shear is expected to be lower than last year, not as much dry air/SAL as last year....So why is this year predicted lower than last year?

Good question...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24906
Quoting USAprimeCreditPeggy:
How about a bottle of really bad vodka? That's all we have at the call center for USA Prime Credit.

Send it!
I have some chairs that need stripping....
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24906
Quoting gordydunnot:
Sorry Pottery but a little home town favorite was our very own Brain Norcross. There was always three scenarios on his forecast map one just to the left of JVF house, one just to the right, and needless to say the last one filled JVF every fantasy. So now you know all of the story.

Complex stuff, this Forecasting lark.
Especially when the rule-book says that the Customer is always right. Meaning, in this case that each 'customer' needs to have a potential Hurricane over his/her house in 24 hours or so.
I think the Forecasters do OK, all things considered.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24906
Quoting USAprimeCreditPeggy:
How about a bottle of really bad vodka? That's all we have at the call center for USA Prime Credit.
A bad bottle there is probably regarded as decent here.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22685
I have a question....SST's are already near what they were last year, TCHP is building at a fairly good clip because of the clear skies in the Caribbean, wind shear is expected to be lower than last year, not as much dry air/SAL as last year....So why is this year predicted lower than last year?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting USAprimeCreditPeggy:
pottery,

You can claim your second place prize; either a trucker cap or a key chain.
Which one do the chicks prefer?
Frankly, I hate caps, and keychains need keys which I dont have.
Can I trade-in for a bottle of wine or something?
Life is filled with unpleasant decisions, man.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24906
Quoting snotly:
And thus end the greatest era in storm chasing. The retirement of Cyclone Oz.


(you forgot "sarcasm flag ON")
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Sorry Pottery but a little home town favorite was our very own Brain Norcross. There was always three scenarios on his forecast map one just to the left of JVF house, one just to the right, and needless to say the last one filled JVF every fantasy. So now you know all of the story.
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Quoting USAprimeCreditPeggy:
72. IKE 12:53 PM EDT on May 17, 2011

Quoting aquak9:


still unacceptable


I'm wishcasting an invest. The GFS is in my corner. WOOHOO!




Well, he only beat me by a few hours...
Close call!
But I concede defeat in this instance.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24906
Quoting pottery:

True. I have been looking at them.
Going to be fun tracking the waves this season, and hoping they all come to nothing...
Wishfull thinking that.

(Do I get a prize for the first wishcast of the year??)
I thought Reed was the undisputed wishcasting champion....:)
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22685
One mans apocalypse is another mans ticket to heaven. Or something like that. I digress I think.
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And thus end the greatest era in storm chasing. The retirement of Cyclone Oz.
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...there's only 4 shopping days left until the apocalypse­.
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Quoting USAprimeCreditPeggy:
(Do I get a prize for the first wishcast of the year??)


No, IKE beat you.


Shukks!
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24906
Complete Update





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Quoting hydrus:
Yes indeed..And there has been a lot of activity coming off the African Continent for a month or so. If this were to continue, it might spell trouble for the Caribbean region later on down the road.

True. I have been looking at them.
Going to be fun tracking the waves this season, and hoping they all come to nothing...
Wishfull thinking that.

(Do I get a prize for the first wishcast of the year??)
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24906
Quoting jeffs713:

And Texas.


Surely yes.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14906
Coast Guard closes Miss. River at Natchez
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Quoting pottery:

Yep.
I made a post on that earlier today.
Unusual to see so little Dust heading into June.
Low dust levels tend to allow/encourage T-Waves coming off Africa to become better defined.
Just another factor in the Potential set-up.
Yes indeed..And there has been a lot of activity coming off the African Continent for a month or so. If this were to continue, it might spell trouble for the Caribbean region later on down the road.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22685
Is "20% chance of rain" just a default that means, Florida might have afternoon thunderstorms but we have no way of knowing for sure since it isn't frontal?
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Quoting USAprimeCreditPeggy:
In the squadron we had a motto: "Go ugly early - it saves time and money."

Bumper sticker classic for sure.

Saw a B. Sticker the other day that said
"Beauty is in the eye of the CardHolder"
sums it all up, that one...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24906
Quoting pottery:

That looks pretty Dread...
I took that pic on Sunday...not to bad now that the front went through.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


Hey guys.This trough that is hanging around the Eastern Caribbean has to move because PR is going thru a bad situation with many rivers over their banks,dams with open gates,between 5-8 inches since last Saturday,hail falling,mini tornadoes,waterspouts. We have been thru all.I can send some to the Caymans and to Florida right?

And Texas.
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Quoting Levi32:


Hey Kman good to see ya :)

Indeed, would be nice to get some rain up there. The GFS keeps hinting at it before the month ends. These deep troughs have been keeping the monsoon trough out of the western Caribbean so far.


Hey guys.This trough that is hanging around the Eastern Caribbean has to move because Puerto Rico is going thru a bad situation with many rivers over their banks,dams with open gates,between 5-8 inches since last Saturday,hail falling,mini tornadoes,waterspouts. We have been thru all.I can send some to the Caymans and to Florida right?
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14906

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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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