Over 500 Killed in India's Monsoon Floods

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:25 PM GMT on June 21, 2013

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Earth's deadliest natural disaster so far in 2013 is the deadly flooding in India's Himalayan Uttarakhand region, where torrential monsoon rains have killed at least 556 people, with hundreds more feared dead. At least 5,000 people are missing. According to the Indian Meteorological Department, Uttarakhand received more than three times (329%) of its normal June rainfall from June 1 - 21, and rainfall was 847% of normal during the week June 13 - 19. Satellite estimates indicate that more than 20" (508 mm) or rain fell in a 7-day period from June 11 - 17 over some regions of Uttarakhand, which lies just to the west of Nepal in the Himalayas. Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand, received 14.57" (370 mm) of rain in 24 hours on June 16 - 17. This was the highest 24-hour rainfall in city history, according to an official from the India Meteorological Department. Dr. Dave Petley's Landslide Blog details that the torrential rains triggered a massive landslide that hit Uttarakhand's Hindu shrine in Kedarnath, which lies just a short distance from the snout of two mountain glaciers. The shrine is an important pilgrimage destination this time of year, and was packed with visitors celebrating the char-dham yatra: a pilgrimage to the four holy sites of Gangotri, Kedarnath, Yamnotri and Badrinath. Apparently, heavy rainfall triggered a collapse event on the mountain above Kedarnath, which turned into a debris flow downstream that struck the town. The main temple was heavily damaged, and numerous buildings in the town were demolished. It was Earth's deadliest landslide since the August 2010 Zhouqu landslide in China.

According to Aon Benfield's May Catastrophe Report, Earth's deadliest natural disasters of 2013 so far:

Winter weather, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, 1/1 - 1/20, 329 deaths
Earthquake, China, 4/20, 196 deaths
Flooding, Southern Africa, 1/10 - 2/28, 175 deaths
Flooding, Argentina, 4/2 - 4/4, 70 deaths
Flooding, Kenya, 3/10 - 4/30, 66 deaths


Figure 1. Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) arrive to rescue stranded Sikh devotees from Hemkunt Sahib Gurudwara, a religious Sikh temple, to a safe place in Chamoli district, in northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, India, Monday, June 17, 2013. AP photo.


Figure 2. Satellite-estimated rainfall for the 7-day period June 11 - 17, 2013, from NASA's TRMM satellite exceeded 20 inches (508 mm) over portions of India's Uttarakhand province, leading to catastrophic floods. Image credit: NASA.

A record early arrival of the monsoon
The June 2013 monsoon rains in Uttarakhand were highly unusual, as the monsoon came to the region two weeks earlier than normal. The monsoon started in South India near the normal June 1 arrival date, but then advanced across India in unusually rapid fashion, arriving in Pakistan along the western border of India on June 16, a full month earlier than normal. This was the fastest progression of the monsoon on record. The previous record for fastest monsoon progression occurred in 1961, when all of India was under monsoon conditions by June 21. Reliable monsoon records go back to 1961, and are patchy before then. Fortunately, no more heavy rain is expected in Uttarakhand over the next few days, as the monsoon will be active only in eastern India. Heavy rains are expected again in the region beginning on June 24. Wunderblogger Lee Grenci's post, Summer Monsoon Advances Rapidly across India: Massive Flooding Ensues, has more detail on the meteorology of this year's monsoon. There is criticism from some that the devastating floods were not entirely a natural disaster--human-caused deforestation, dam building, and mining may have contributed. "Large-scale construction of dams and absence of environmental regulations has led to the floods," said Sunita Narian, director general of Delhi based advocacy group Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).


Figure 3. The summer monsoon arrived in southwest India right on schedule (June 1) in South India, but it spread northward much faster than usual, reaching Pakistan a full month earlier than normal. Solid green contours indicate the progress of the 2013 summer monsoon (each contour is labeled with a date). You can compare this year's rapid advance to a "normal" progression, which is represented by the dashed, red contours (also labeled with dates).

Monsoons in India: a primer
Disastrous monsoon floods are common in India and surrounding nations, and 60,000 people--an average of 500 people per year--died in India due to monsoon floods between 1900 - 2012, according to EM-DAT, the International Disaster Database. EM-DAT lists sixteen flood disasters which killed 1,000 or more people in India since records began in 1950. Here are the number of people killed in these events, along with the month and year of occurrence and locales affected:

4892, Jul 1968, Rajasthan, Gujara
3800, Jul 1978, North, Northeast
2001, May - Oct, 1994, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh
2000, Jul 1961, North
1811, Aug 1998, Assam, Arunachal, Bihar
1600, Aug 1980, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar
1591, Jul 28, 1989, Maharashtra, Andhra Prade
1479, Sep 1995, Bihar, Haryana, Punjab
1442, Aug 1997, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal
1200, Jul 24 - Aug 5, 2005 Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh
1200, Aug 1987, Assam, Bihar, West Bengal
1103, Jul 3 - Sep 22, 2007, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh
1063, Jun 11 - Jul 21, 2008 West Bengal, Orissa
1023, Jun 1971, North
1000, Sep 22 - Oct 9, 1988, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh
1000, Oct 1961

The monsoon occurs in summer, when the sun warms up land areas more strongly than ocean areas. This happens because wind and ocean turbulence mix the ocean's absorbed heat into a "mixed layer" approximately 50 meters deep, whereas on land, the sun's heat penetrates at a slow rate to a limited depth. Furthermore, due to its molecular properties, water has the ability to absorb more heat than the solid materials that make up land. As a result of this summertime differential heating of land and ocean, a low pressure region featuring rising air develops over land areas. Moisture-laden ocean winds blow towards the low pressure region and are drawn upwards once over land. The rising air expands and cools, condensing its moisture into some of the heaviest rains on Earth--the monsoon. Monsoons operate via the same principle as the familiar summer afternoon sea breeze, but on a grand scale. Each summer, monsoons affect every continent on Earth except Antarctica, and are responsible for life-giving rains that sustain the lives of billions of people. In India, home for over 1.1 billion people, the monsoon provides 80% of the annual rainfall. The most deadly flooding events usually come from monsoon depressions (also known as monsoon lows.) A monsoon depression is similar to (but larger than) a tropical depression. Both are spinning storms hundreds of kilometers in diameter with sustained winds of 50 - 55 kph (30 - 35 mph), nearly calm winds at their center, and generate very heavy rains. Typically, 6 - 7 monsoon depressions form each summer over the Bay of Bengal and track westwards across India.

The future of monsoons in India
A warming climate loads the dice in favor of heavier extreme precipitation events. This occurs because more water vapor can evaporate into a warmer atmosphere, increasing the chances of record heavy downpours. In a study published in Science in 2006, Goswami et al. found that the level of heavy rainfall activity in the monsoon over India had more than doubled in the 50 years since the 1950s, leading to an increased disaster potential from heavy flooding. Moderate and weak rain events decreased during those 50 years, leaving the total amount of rain deposited by the monsoon roughly constant. The authors commented, "These findings are in tune with model projections and some observations that indicate an increase in heavy rain events and a decrease in weak events under global warming scenarios." We should expect to see an increased number of disastrous monsoon floods in coming decades if the climate continues to warm as expected. Since the population continues to increase at a rapid rate in the region, death tolls from monsoon flooding disasters are likely to climb dramatically in coming decades. However, my greater concern for India is drought. The monsoon rains often fail during El Niño years, and more than 4.2 million people died in India due to droughts between 1900 - 2012. Up until the late 1960s, it was common for the failure of the monsoon rains to kill millions of people in India. The drought of 1965 - 1967 killed at least 1.5 million people. However, since the Green Revolution of the late 1960s--a government initiative to improve food self-sufficiency using new technology and high-yield grains--failure of the monsoon rains has not led to mass starvation in India. It is uncertain whether of not the Green Revolution can keep up with India's booming population, and the potential that climate change might bring more severe droughts. Climate models show a wide range of possibilities for the future of the Indian monsoon, and it is unclear at present what the future might hold. However, the fact that one of the worst droughts in India's history occurred in 2009 shows that serious droughts have to be a major concern for the future. The five worst Indian monsoons along with the rainfall deficits for the nation:

1) 1877, -33%
2) 1899, -29%
3) 1918, -25%
4) 1972, -24%
5) 2009, -22%

References
Goswami, et al., 2006, " Increasing Trend of Extreme Rain Events Over India in a Warming Environment", Science, 1 December 2006:Vol. 314. no. 5804, pp. 1442 - 1445 DOI: 10.1126/science.1132027

Wunderground's climate change blogger Dr. Ricky Rood wrote a nice 3-part series about the challenges India faces due to climate change after he completed a 2009 trip there.


Video 1. Flood waters claim a multi-story apartment building in Uttarakhand province, India, on June 17, 2013.

Historic flooding in Calgary, Alberta
Torrential rainfall on Wednesday night and Thursday has resulted in the most extensive flooding in Alberta Province, Canada in at least 8 years, with some 100,000 people facing evacuations in the city of Calgary. Wunderblogger Christopher C. Burt has a look at the disaster in his latest post. The floods are due, in part to the "stuck" jet stream pattern that brought record heat to Alaska this week.

Jeff Masters

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1308. ncstorm
Quoting Xulonn:

******************************************
I'll let Dr. Masters do the bashing...


I'm pretty sure that post was before Andrea formed which the Almanac got EXACTLY correct..its okay even Dr. Masters gets it wrong as anyone in meterology..
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1307. Dakster
Quoting PedleyCA:


That doesn't work here. I tried.... 69.5F (10:50)


Paint the outside of your house then.
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1306. pottery
Quoting yonzabam:


Erm . . . I think Xulon is being ironic/sarcastic - call it what you will. From Wiki -

Henry Watson Fowler, in The King's English, says "any definition of irony—though hundreds might be given, and very few of them would be accepted—must include this, that the surface meaning and the underlying meaning of what is said are not the same." Also, Eric Partridge, in Usage and Abusage, writes that "Irony consists in stating the contrary of what is meant."


That's how I read it as well.
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Quoting daddyjames:


Hey Xulon, this is a long standing problem that has been documented in India for a while now. The articles referenced are India's own newspaper reporting on the problems. I have no idea what problem you have with honest reporting of a significant cause of food shortage problems in India.

I could provide further links if you want, but there really is no need to get personal about this.


Erm . . . I think Xulon is being ironic/sarcastic - call it what you will. From Wiki -

Henry Watson Fowler, in The King's English, says "any definition of irony—though hundreds might be given, and very few of them would be accepted—must include this, that the surface meaning and the underlying meaning of what is said are not the same." Also, Eric Partridge, in Usage and Abusage, writes that "Irony consists in stating the contrary of what is meant."
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Quoting txjac:
sar, if you are in the west Houston area please wash you car ...it increases my changes of rain.

I'll be washing mine soon.


That doesn't work here. I tried.... 69.5F (10:50)
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Quoting Tazmanian:
this is sure looking like El nino out there in tell wind shear dies down dont look for any thing too fourm any time soon



Not a long term deal, just a spike in shear. Remember, this is still typical of June.
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1302. pottery
Quoting Thrawst:
.

Point taken.
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Quoting Xulonn:
There you go again, DaddyJames. Don't you know that everything in the world is black and white and there are no shades of gray? Please stop with the nuance and detail - it makes my over-simplified conclusions look bad! Next thing you know, you'll be quoting scientific evidence when everyone knows that opinions are more accurate.

/snark

[Edit] Even though I almost always try to look behind the obvious and stick to science, I sometimes take a quick look and jump to a conclusion - many of do that when we are in a hurry, but some people do it most of the time.)


So, it doesn't matter how much they plant, a significant amount of the food ends up going to waste because of lack of infrastructure.

India Hopes Private Warehouses Will Reduce Food Grain Storage Problem
"the country needs an additional 50 million tons of storage space to prevent grains from rotting in rains once again in 2013"

India’s Food Security Rots in Storage

As Grain Piles Up, India’s Poor Still Go Hungry
Problem of plenty: Food grains left to rot in the open as godowns overflow
India’s mountains of shame
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1300. Thrawst
.
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1299. pottery
Hydrus, posts 1290 & 1294.
Thanks for those.
Interesting to be able to look into the past like that.

You got this info. from Grothar, right ?

:):))
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1298. VR46L
Quoting hydrus:
1893..


That was Quite a few storms that year all things considered . I wonder was there a reason for it !
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1297. yoboi
Quoting Neapolitan:
Alaska is set to be baking with an even more widespread heat wave this coming week than the one it experienced just last week. For now, Thursday appears as though it will be the hottest day, with much of the state's vast midsection well into the 80s and even 90s. Of special note is the normally very chilly North Slope, which is predicted to see several consecutive days in the 80s beginning on Thursday...

alaska



Thanks for posting your multiple a day summertime alaska weather report....maybe you can post at 10 & 50 after the hr like TWC does with the tropics???? keep up the great work.....
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Already 95E is being attracted by much larger TD Three-E.

AN AREA OF LOW PRESSURE CENTERED ABOUT 700 MILES SOUTH-SOUTHWEST OF
THE SOUTHERN TIP OF BAJA CALIFORNIA CONTINUES TO PRODUCE
DISORGANIZED SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS. UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE
FORECAST TO BECOME UNFAVORABLE FOR DEVELOPMENT BY MONDAY. THIS
SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...20 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL
CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS WHILE IT MOVES TOWARD THE
SOUTHEAST AT 5 TO 10 MPH.
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Quoting Xulonn:
There you go again, DaddyJames. Don't you know that everything in the world is black and white and there are no shades of gray? Please stop with the nuance and detail - it makes my over-simplified conclusions look bad! Next thing you know, you'll be quoting scientific evidence when everyone knows that opinions are more accurate.

/snark

[Edit] Even though I almost always try to look behind the obvious and stick to science, I sometimes take a quick look and jump to a conclusion - many of do that when we are in a hurry, but some people do it most of the time.)


Hey Xulon, this is a long standing problem that has been documented in India for a while now. The articles referenced are India's own newspaper reporting on the problems. I have no idea what problem you have with honest reporting of a significant cause of food shortage problems in India.
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1294. hydrus
1893..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21734
1293. pottery
Quoting SLU:
The Cape Verde season could be off to a very early start. The large high will keep this system west-bound.

Yeah, that's pretty impressive. Massive.
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1292. pottery
Quoting moonlightcowboy:



Aaahh, the point man, the man at the gate way down there! :) Good to see you, Pottery. Hope all is well with you, friend. Appreciate the heads-up, and so what's the story on the calabash tree this year?

Hey MLC, good to see you again.
Calabash tree was/is pretty confused, and sent conflicting messages at peculiar times.
Sort of like the rest of us..... :):))
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1291. pottery
Quoting SLU:


The CFS does a poor job at handling the tracks over such a long range. It's best to only look at the pattern it indicates and it shows an active July.

Yeah, I realise that.
I was just wondering why the models would do this, despite some pretty obvious (to me, anyway) road-blocks in the way.

Hot and steamy here today, very still.
Looks like rain tomorrow....
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1290. hydrus
1886 was very busy in the Gulf of Mexico....WIKI..The Atlantic hurricane database (HURDAT)[4] recognizes twelve tropical cyclones for 1886 in the Atlantic basin; two were tropical storms and ten were hurricanes. The most notable hurricane of the 1886 Atlantic season was Hurricane Five or the 1886 Indianola Hurricane which led to the abandonment of that town. The 1886 Atlantic hurricane season began with three U.S. landfalling hurricanes in June. Of the four years that have had three June tropical storms (1968, 1936, 1909 and this), 1886 was the only season to have three June hurricanes. The first of these was Hurricane One that formed in the Gulf of Mexico on June 13 and made landfall in Louisiana the next day. It brought a storm surge and flooding to parts of both the Texas and Louisiana coast. A week later, Hurricane Two also made a landfall along the US Gulf Coast, at St Marks Florida. At the end of June, a second Category 1 hurricane hit the Florida coast. Before its Florida landfall, at Apalachicola, Hurricane Three had caused fatalities in Jamaica and some damage in Cuba. Moving north from Florida it brought flooding to Virginia. In mid-July Hurricane Four brought heavy rain to both Cuba and Florida before moving into the Atlantic. Hurricane Five struck Hispaniola as a Category 1 hurricane on August 15, then Cuba as a Category 2 storm on August 16 after which it strengthened still further to Category 4 intensity while crossing the Gulf of Mexico. It impacted the Texas coast at that strength on August 20 with fatal results for the town of Indianola and other settlements. Five days after Hurricane Five hit Cuba, Hurricane Six struck the centre of the island. The hurricane originated east of Barbados on August 15 and had already caused some damage at Curacao and, possibly some fatalities at Saint Vincent and on Jamaica. The hurricane also struck the Bahamas before dissipating off Newfoundland. Hurricane Seven was a strong Category 3 hurricane that was active in the Western Atlantic between August 20 and 25th, and which struck several vessels in the Georges Bank and Grand Banks areas. Five weeks after been struck by Hurricane Five the Texas town of Indianola was again flooded when Hurricane Eight hit the Texas coast between Brownsville and Corpus Christi on September 23. The town was abandoned shortly afterwards. Hurricane Nine was a Category 2 hurricane active in the Western Atlantic between September 22 and 30th, that never made a landfall. Hurricane Ten did make a landfall on the Gulf Coast at the border of Texas and Louisiana. It wrecked the town of Sabine Pass, Texas, flooded parts of both New Orleans and Port Eads and destroyed the settlement at Johnson Bayou. After ten hurricanes, the 1886 season ended with two tropical storms. Tropical Storm Eleven was active in the Atlantic between October 10 and 15th. Tropical Storm Twelve formed in the Caribbean Sea, south of Haiti on October 22. It crossed Haiti the same day and dissipated in the Atlantic on October 26.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21734
Quoting hydrus:
It is a big system for the Eastern Pacific.


Indeed..only hendrence i see is eventual cooler sst's. dont see any reason why it cant strenghthen to moderate cane.

edit: mex could see some 10-15 foot swells if the gfs is correct.
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Quoting pottery:

Yeah, thanks for that.

In the meantime, the wave approaching 60W is looking very wet.....
Should be here this evening.
Very still and humid here, pressure 1015 hPa steady.



Aaahh, the point man, the man at the gate way down there! :) Good to see you, Pottery. Hope all is well with you, friend. Appreciate the heads-up, and so what's the story on the calabash tree this year?
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Regarding the forecast warm ENSO phase:



The cold pool near Ecuador is going to have to contend with the growing subsurface warm pool.
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1286. Dakster
GO for it Tyler...
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1285. hydrus
Quoting hurricane23:


That outflow is awsome
It is a big system for the Eastern Pacific.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21734
Alright, Time for me to make a new blog. :)
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Quoting Patrap:




That Gulf inflow into the Coast is a tell-tale sign that the steering will be favorable for Hurricanes to come into the Gulf. Unless something significantly changes, were in for a ride this season.
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Quoting SLU:
The Cape Verde season could be off to a very early start. The large high will keep this system west-bound.


With lowering pressures over North America, expect that Wave to be getting into the Western Caribbean.
Though the GFS hasn't been consistent with anything forming in the Western Atlantic, it has continuously been showing a strong tropical wave emerging from Africa 15 days from now. At least 1 thing to keep an eye on this coming July.
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Quoting Patrap:





I know there's not much on Radar. It could just be a bunch of sea breeze skud. Did you check the close-up sat loop?
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Quoting hydrus:
You took the words out of me keyboard...:)
You better look quick to see if he didn't snatch your keyboard :-P
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Tropical Depression Three-E looks very much like a West Pacific tropical cyclone. Because of its large size, we should expect only steady intensification initially. If it builds a well-defined core, we may be talking about rapid intensification on Monday or Tuesday. Conditions are favorable for such.



That outflow is awsome
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Quoting SLU:
The Cape Verde season could be off to a very early start. The large high will keep this system west-bound.



Beautiful! Some will recurve but WESTBOUND will be the theme this season
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1276. hydrus
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Tropical Depression Three-E looks very much like a West Pacific tropical cyclone. Because of its large size, we should expect only steady intensification initially. If it builds a well-defined core, we may be talking about rapid intensification on Monday or Tuesday. Conditions are favorable for such.

You took the words out of me keyboard...:)
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21734
Quoting hurricanes2018:
wow the El Nino is coming soon


Nope..
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Tropical Depression Three-E looks very much like a West Pacific tropical cyclone. Because of its large size, we should expect only steady intensification initially. If it builds a well-defined core, we may be talking about rapid intensification on Monday or Tuesday. Conditions are favorable for such.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32505
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1272. Patrap



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Grothar,

Is this the potential GOM Blobster of which you hinted?

Post frontal and home grown would not be out of the question for this time of the season. I've read here before that post-frontals are a bit tricky for the models sometimes.

Link

If the link doesn't work please check any zoom-able sat loop just south and east of 30/90. -Thanks!
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1270. SLU
The Cape Verde season could be off to a very early start. The large high will keep this system west-bound.

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Man you guys are going to love this. I want to understand ENSO more. '09-'10 I believe was also Modoki.

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Quoting GTcooliebai:
If it is Modoki wouldn't it be considered a Central Pacific El Nino and maybe a Eastern Pacific La Nina? Is that possible to have the 2 at the same time?


The phase of the ENSO is considered in based Nino 3.4 Region..
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this is sure looking like El nino out there in tell wind shear dies down dont look for any thing too fourm any time soon

Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115347
Quoting stormchaser19:


Where is El Nino?

If it is Modoki wouldn't it be considered a Central Pacific El Nino and maybe a Eastern Pacific La Nina? Is that possible to have the 2 at the same time?
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I see some parallels with the 2007 season and this season up to this point in regards to the SST anomolies. There is a cool patch north of PR then it gets warm around Bermuda, whereas in 2007 the cool patch is over Bermuda and the warm patch is north of PR. The similarities lie in the EPAC where just off the coast of Ecuador there is a warm patch and to the west of that a very cool patch. I have to feel that SST are a telling sign of the pressure patterns I would think anywhere there is troughiness would be cooler waters and ridges there would be warmer waters, but I know there is more to that such as if a storm was just there it would tend to lead a trail of cooler water.

2007:



2013:

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1264. SLU
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Here is the EURSIP June ENSO forecast.



B-U-S-T!
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Quoting sar2401:

Still looks like a nice view in St. Martin compared to staring out my back door and watching the kudzu take over the woods again. :-)


The view is actually from the neighboring island of St Barths (10miles to the SE of St Maarten). This is a very nice view for watching the weather.
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Quoting hurricanes2018:
wow the El Nino is coming soon


Where is El Nino?

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Quoting Levi32:


The CFS has backed off ever so slightly on the strength of the El Nino, but it is still forecasting one, evident in July:



Looks like it has some Modoki characteristics.
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Here is the EURSIP June ENSO forecast.

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Quoting sar2401:

Yes, I did notice you were standing over the models with a sledgehammer in that last video. :-) It's always amusing to see how people like you treat long range models compared to some other folks, who post a 384 hour model run and yell "Wow!!! Looks like Miami is going to be flattened!!!". As usual, when it's slow in the Atlantic, some people seem to feel the need to prognosticate out into the deep mists of time so there's something to get excited about. I'd be happy to get an accurate forecast if there's going to be rain at my house today, so I know if it's worth washing the car or not.


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1258. SLU
Quoting pottery:

Re. those forecasts..

I find it strange that the system shown in the tropical atlantic is forecast to take such a northerly route after the Carib Islands.
The high is still forecast to be strong, and I would have thought a more westerly track would have been probable.

I realise these are forecasts are a long way out and not particularly worthy of attention.
But can anyone explain ???


The CFS does a poor job at handling the tracks over such a long range. It's best to only look at the pattern it indicates and it shows an active July.
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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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