La Niña is here

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:34 PM GMT on January 16, 2006

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La Niña is back. In their January 12 dicussion, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center declared that the cooler waters and increased easterly winds off of the western coast of South America that have developed the past two months have met the official criteria to be called a weak La Niña event. As seen in Figure 1 below, sea surface temperatures along the equator between the South American coast and the Date Line (180 degrees longitude) are about .5 C cooler than normal, which is the threshold for a La Niña event. The last La Niña occurred in 2000-2001 and was a weak event.



La Niña events can have a strong effect on the climate across the Pacifc, North and South America, and the Atlantic. In particular, La Niña winters see a more northerly jet stream over the U.S., which leads to drier weather over southern half of the country. Major droughts have accompanied two recent major La Niñas in the Midwest (1988-89) and Southern Plains (1995-96). The Pacific Northwest tends to be wetter and colder during La Niña. The Northeastern U.S. sees little change in precipitation and slightly increased maximum temperatures. Tornado and severe storm activity tends to shift more to the north in Spring due to the more northerly location of the jet stream.

Up until 1975, La Niña events and El Niño events used to alternate fairly regularly with a period of 2-7 years. Between 1950 and 1976 there were seven El Niño events and seven La Niña events. Since 1976, El Niño events have been approximately twice as frequent as La Niña events, with ten El Niño events and only six La Niñas. Some researchers have speculated that this is due to the effects of global warming causing a new "resonance" in the climate system. If so, this is one way in which global warming may end up causing a decrease in Atlantic hurricane activity over the coming decades, since the increased wind shear over the Atlantic during EL Niño events greatly reduces the number and intensity of these storms.

Effect of La Niña on hurricane season
It is well known that La Niña conditions enhance tropical storm formation in the Atlantic. The winds associated with La Niña tend to decrease the amount of wind shear in the tropical Atlantic, allowing more storms to form, and more major hurricane to occur. During La Niña more hurricanes form in the deep Tropics from African easterly waves, and these systems have a much greater likelihood of becoming major hurricanes that threaten the U.S. and Caribbean islands. However, the current La Niña is a weak one, and about 80% of the computer models used to forecast La Niña predict that it will no longer be around this Fall. Neutral El Niño/La Niña are expected for the coming hurricane season--which is what we had during the record-breaking Hurricane Season of 2005.

Jeff Masters

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86. TampaSteve
7:10 PM GMT on January 19, 2006
Trying to stop climate change is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic...
85. HurricaneMyles
3:26 PM GMT on January 18, 2006
restores the natural flow of the gulfstream

How do you know what the natural current of the gulf stream is? What we have perceived for the last 100 years? For all we know it could be returning to it’s “natural” flow right now and it has been at an accelerated rate since we began studying it. Or more likely, just like the Earth, it goes through “natural” fluctuations from time to time. Cyclonebuster, you act like the Earth has some magical equilibrium that you can help it reach with these tunnels (which still lack the properties to even work) and once their installed in the ocean we will revel in global prosperity without heat waves or ice ages. It doesn’t work like that. The Earth constantly changes. Currents change, climate changes, continents move and change, all of that plays a DIRECT role in global climate. Instead of trying to stop the Earth from changing (which is impossible) we should try and adapt to these changes and make the best out of it.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
84. Pensacola21
2:51 PM GMT on January 18, 2006
Just popped in to say hello! Hope everyone is doing well..

:-)
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912
82. dcw
11:10 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
150 in Mexico seems right, and I'd buy 100mph in SEFL.
Member Since: August 2, 2001 Posts: 2 Comments: 3
81. Trouper415
9:55 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
I couldnt agree with you more Inyo. When I saw the posts a couple hours ago I couldnt believe they were going to try this weather altering tactics. They supposedly tried it on hurricanes in the 1960s but due to the fact that they didnt know if it would strengthen or weaken the hurricane they stopped hehe. Humans altering the weather is a pretty scary, and I believe too it will only cause big problems down the road if this actually works. I just hope this is a bust as it was in the 1960s and we dont start this nonsense. We need to adjust to the Earths climate and respect it, and not adjust IT.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 637
80. Inyo
7:03 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
oh man, weather modification attempts of any type seem like a really bad idea to me. i mean, if you could somehow weaken a major hurricane on landfall, fine, but most things are just going to present huge liabilities and unknown 'downstream' affect
Member Since: September 3, 2002 Posts: 42 Comments: 897
79. ProgressivePulse
5:49 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
A little research for Cyclone and his tunnels.

The Role of the Gulf Stream

The North Atlantic is a particularly sensitive area of the global climate system. Every second, approximately 17 million cubic metres of water sink to the depths of the North Atlantic - about 20 times the water flowing through all the rivers on earth. In the deep ocean the water then drifts southwards at a sluggish pace of a few kilometres per month. The deep current is balance by a return flow of warm water northward from the Caribbean. This warm current, the Gulf Stream, is responsible for Europe's mild climate. Relaltively small changes in the atmospheric forcing can reduce the deep water formation in the North Atlantic sufficiently to cause a breakdown of the Gulf Stream and a drop in the temperatures in Europe by several degrees.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
78. Skyepony (Mod)
5:08 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
There was a 98mph wind at KSC with Wilma. 70+ in Melbourne. Nothing compared to the se coast.

Found the Wyoming project~
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 225 Comments: 39388
77. ProgressivePulse
4:53 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
I tried the roads to nowhere also Skye, does not surprise me.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
76. Skyepony (Mod)
4:50 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
I looked around for the 47 NOAA weather modification programs that are going on now. All on goverment sites. Found out that 23 states have different laws conserning this but no link to the laws. NOAA's Environmental Modification Office is incharge of keeping to these laws & reporting info to the NWS. There the trail grew cold. Can't find a link to the Environmental Modification Office.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 225 Comments: 39388
75. ProgressivePulse
4:44 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
I have a feeling that the gusts with Wilma were the difference. 75 to 100 sustained means 120 plus wind gusts, and giving the situation with the cold front, I think some went higher. The potential of this storm was expressed a couple of days before the storm hit Florida which most disreguarded.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
74. billsfaninsofla
4:18 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
Atmos....but they are trying to say only 75-100 in Ft Laud... no way a storm could hit Naples, going as fast as it was, over warm water de-intensify from 120 to 75-100....not to mention the damage (widespread) we incurred here....
Member Since: September 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5800
73. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
3:56 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
atmosweather i no you did not say 120mph for fl did you her go one more time this time with the W storm

and by the way atmosweather mail for you
72. ProgressivePulse
3:53 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
I look for some experiments in next years Hurricane season, this bill will pass faster than Luinski.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
71. ProgressivePulse
3:50 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
The Bill must pass The Senate, The House and be signed by the President.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
70. ProgressivePulse
3:48 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
Senate meeting tomorrow on a bill to fund Experimental Weather Modification.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
69. atmosweather
3:47 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
150 mph for Cozumel landfall??????? What is wrong with these people?!?!? And 120 mph in Floirda??????? Wow.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
68. ForecasterColby
3:41 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
Wilma officially 185mph at peak intensity O_O
67. ProgressivePulse
3:09 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
Amazing what happens when people try to control the weather, great research skye.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
66. Skyepony (Mod)
2:32 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
Was out looking around & came across this conserning the weather modification bill~

This experimental weather modification bill will impact residents across the United States, not just in California. Many current and ongoing weather modification programs (47 listed by NOAA in 2005), including the one in Wyoming that is designed to increase the snowpack, may be diverting rainwater away from Oklahoma and Texas, two states that are currently fighting fires caused by a lack of rainfall. We have no idea what the unintended consequences of the Wyoming action or other experimental weather modification programs might be now or in the future.

I gotta get off here for now, so if anyone wants to search for those 47 NOAA programs listed for 2005, be my guest, I'd be interested in what you find.

Also it was mentioned the bill was fast tracked to pass~ checked that out~ indeed, out of the committee & on to the senate. ~ I updated my blog with the rest.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 225 Comments: 39388
65. ProgressivePulse
2:19 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
Locals in West Palm say Warming trend for quite a while. After this front on Wedensday, they see nothing coming along in the future with temps back into the 80's. I think we could use a little break to go to the beach and relax, especially in the winter.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
64. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
1:41 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
the updat for Hurricane Wilma is now out by the nhc want all thake a look this one sold be fun to see
63. taco2me61
1:10 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
TPaul,

I think you are right about Spring and it coming early... Here in south alabama we have had temps running from low 70's to low 80's for high temps and as for the lows they have been from 38 to low 50's. Last year for the first 16 days in January our average high was 60 and this year it has been 55... So on that note I fill the same way Spring will be early...
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 3261
62. ForecasterColby
12:07 AM GMT on January 18, 2006
Definetly not looking good for Alberto.
61. F5
10:57 PM GMT on January 17, 2006
rwdobson,

that would only be true if the warm air was at the surface with colder air above it. Otherwise, you are capped. I surmise that the air pushed over us is warmer higher up and thus makes the cap stronger over us than it should be. That would weaken storms until they reached an area with less capping.
60. rwdobson
10:47 PM GMT on January 17, 2006
F5--actually, warm air would cause the storms to re-intensify, not dissipate.

There would be a simple way to discover how "real" this phenomenon is. Just compare precip records from various stations. If there is a real effect, the precip will be consistently higher in some places and lower in others. It's possible, however, that this effect is partly due to selective memory; i.e. storms that mysteriously dissipate as they approach tend to stick in your memory.

I live in KC and we have something called the Tonganoxie Split, named after a town about 25 miles west. It seems very common that lines of storms split around KC, part going north, part going south...I've seen it happen, but there are also a lot of times where KC gets rain and Tong misses out.
Member Since: June 12, 2002 Posts: 0 Comments: 1589
59. TPaul
9:56 PM GMT on January 17, 2006
It certainly has been a slow day on here, not many posts at all. I think I am about to write winter off as our weather is a lot more like what we see in March then in January. If this pattern keeps up through February 16 then there will be no question that winter will have run its course and we will see spring come early, probably the earliest in my short 30+ years.
Member Since: May 2, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 111
58. F5
8:54 PM GMT on January 17, 2006
observer12,

I've been in the D/FW area for 8 1/2 years, and I'll never understand what happens here. In fact, my blog is titled Mysterious weather in the I-35 Triangle (I don't update it much). I thought that was a very appropriate name for what I see happen over and over again. Not to say that from time to time we don't get storms, but they are nothing like W of 35W and E of central Collin/Dallas county. That area from central Denton county to central Collin county is a huge mystery, how storms seemingly disappear when they hit 35 W only to magically reappear over in central Collin county.

If I had to guess, I'd say the prevailing SE wind pushes extra heat/smog/whatever up from Dallas and parts S and when the storms hit that warmer air, they tend to dissipate some. When they reach the other side, they start to regenerate. Maybe that's totally wrong, but it's patently observable. The worst part is I've posted queries to several meteorologists, including some from this area, who claim that doesn't happen. I compare that to the pediatrician who tells you that toddlers don't get fevers when new teeth break through the gums. All my kids did, as did pretty much every other child I know, yet it was called an old wives tale.

Oh well, here's to hoping for some relief on Friday now.
57. Skyepony (Mod)
8:04 PM GMT on January 17, 2006
The Ukmet & GFS has been pointing more toward something developing in the far east Atlantic, like Zeta. The models had been showing it getting shreaded (shear is forcast to raise shortly after developement). Today though models are calling for the shear to reorganize the storm more to the north, with chance of more developement at the end of the 144hr forecast time.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 225 Comments: 39388
56. Skyepony (Mod)
7:58 PM GMT on January 17, 2006
Hensacolasc~ not looking as likly with todays report

EXTENDED FORECAST DISCUSSION
NWS HYDROMETEOROLOGICAL PREDICTION CENTER CAMP SPRINGS MD
157 PM EST TUE JAN 17 2006

CARIBBEAN SEA...
THE CANADIAN MDL NO LONGER HAS THE POTENTIAL SUBTROP/TROP CYC MOVG
THRU THE LEEWARD ISLANDS AND ERN GREATER ANTILLES ON ITS 00Z RUN.
HOWEVER...THERE IS STILL A CLOSED CYC FORMED BY ENERGY FROM THE
TAIL END OF AN UPR TROUGH IN THE WESTERLIES RETROGRADING THRU THE
CARIBBEAN THIS PD...AND WITH DIFFLUENCE EAST OF THIS FEATURE...THE
DVLPMT OF A SFC LOW CANNOT BE RULED OUT. WILL SEE WHAT THE 12Z
RUNS GIVE US HERE EARLY THIS PM.

ROTH/CLARK
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 225 Comments: 39388
55. HENSCOLASC
7:23 PM GMT on January 17, 2006
HEY GUYS is ALBERTO on the way?!!!
"EXTENDED FORECAST DISCUSSION NWS HYDROMETEOROLOGICAL PREDICTION CENTER CAMP SPRINGS MD 145 PM EST MON JAN 16 2006

CARIBBEAN SEA... THE LAST THREE RUNS OF THE CANADIAN MDL FORM A SUBTROPICAL/ TROPICAL LOW NR THE GREATER ANTILLES EARLY TO MID PD AS A CLOSED CYCLONE DVLPS AT THE BASE OF A DEPARTING UPR TROUGH. THE UKMET AND GFS LOWER PRESSURES IN THE ERN CARIBBEAN... BUT ARE NOT AS ENTHUSIASTIC. THE POSITION AND STRENGTH OF THE WARM-CORE SUBTROPICAL RIDGE IN THE ATL IS QUITE SUMMERLIKE... CLOSER TO JUNE THAN JAN. WHILE THE CAN HAS HAD A HISTORY OF DVLPG TOO MANY TROP CYCS...ANALOGS FOR THE END OF THE MEDIUM RANGE PD ARE INTRIGUING. THERE HAS BEEN A HIGH CORRELATION IN THE ANTICIPATED D+8 UPR PATTERN TO MID JAN 1951...MID-LATE JAN 1989...AND EARLY FEB 1999 FOR THE LAST COUPLE DAYS. A TROP CYC HAS BEEN SUBMITTED TO THE HRCN REANALYSIS PROJECT FOR INCLUSION INTO THE DATABASE WHICH DVLPD NE OF PUERTO RICO IN EARLY JAN 1951 WHILE A COUPLE FEEBLER ATTEMPTS AT SUBTROP CYCGNS OCCURRED IN LATE JAN AND FEB THAT YEAR. MORE RECENTLY IN MID-FEB 1989...THERE WAS A STRONG ATTEMPT AT SUBTROPICAL CYCGNS NR THE VIRGIN ISLANDS BEFORE THE SYS SHEARED OUT AND MOVED SOUTH OF THE BAHAMAS. CONSIDERING HOW THE ATL SUBTROPICS HAVE BEEN BEHAVING SINCE NOVEMBER...THIS PSBL DVLPMT IS WORTH KEEPING AN EYE ON. FOR NOW...AM HANDLING THIS WITH A SFC TROUGH AND A SPOT LOW EARLY IN THE PD...WHICH RETROGRADES INTO THE WRN CARIBBEAN BY NEXT WEEK. "

Only time will tell
Member Since: August 27, 2005 Posts: 12 Comments: 146
54. gippgig
6:47 PM GMT on January 17, 2006
Wilma's ACE is now 38.9, up from 38.4.
Member Since: December 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 71
53. CrazyC83
5:53 PM GMT on January 17, 2006
The Hurricane Wilma report is out.

Winds officially increased to 185 mph at peak intensity (rightfully so), 150 mph (not 140) when it hit Cozumel (good to increase it, although I still think it was a Category 5 when it touched the island) and reduced to 120 mph at Florida landfall (makes sense to me, the damage was consistent with a fast-moving Category 3 storm and the pressure justifies a lower intensity).

I would have increased the Mexican landfalls a bit more though, to 160 mph at Cozumel and 145 mph at the Yucatan mainland landfall.
Member Since: September 19, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 142
52. lightning10
4:27 PM GMT on January 17, 2006
Hi again everyone hope you all are having a good day. If this message is posted and its not compleate its because I am in photoshop class its a very hard class I have no clue what I am doing.

Anyways I feal that La Nina hurts more people then El Niño. In the US the only people who get any real benefit is the North West. They get more rain and snow. Aslo South Florida gets cooler then average winter temps. Besides that I feal that everyone els comes out a loser. Weather it be durning winter or durning spring to summer time.

The Mid West gets very dry conditions like the dust bowl in the 1930's. The South west gets drought conditions an area of the US where there isnt a lot of water to start off with. Southern California is ok cause they get most of there water from the North but places like Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico the ones who often have the most problems.

Durning Spring time the jet stream is more north so the cold air is pushed north. Areas that dont often get tornadoes get them. Around Illinois and Wisconsin.

The Alantic sees more Hurricanes durning the season. Not all of them make land only a few handful do but with the chance of there beying more and the verticle shear less and slightly warmer temps in the Alantic it sounbs like a worst case senerio like last year.

I am going to cut this short cause I need to get back to work.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 41 Comments: 630
51. TPaul
3:22 PM GMT on January 17, 2006
Yea, La Nina is bad for farmers. I would say that even though they are saying it won't have an impact on the fall hurricane season it might get the season started early because the shear across the Caribbean and Gulf might drop off early.
Member Since: May 2, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 111
50. michalp
3:09 PM GMT on January 17, 2006
I wonder if the 2005-2015 is gonna be like the thirties and we're gonna see a dustbowl in the plains. Hopefully they've kept more of their sod this time. La Nina = less rain on OK.
49. dcw
11:14 AM GMT on January 17, 2006
Before someone asks - Virga is rain that evaporates on the way down.
Member Since: August 2, 2001 Posts: 2 Comments: 3
48. observer12
5:22 AM GMT on January 17, 2006
F5, like I said, I feel your pain. From my time in D/FW, as today, it seems as though the approaching savior of a rain always fizzled out, slid to the south, split over the metroplex, ur turned into virga! Maybe they're doing some local weather manipulation at the airport :).
47. F5
5:04 AM GMT on January 17, 2006
atmosweather,

Where are you getting that prognistication? NWS has us pegged at only 20% chance of precip right now. Discussion states "After this trough moves through...zonal flow will prevail in the upper levels of the atmosphere through Thursday night. The next frontal passage is expected Friday night...warranting slight chance/chance probability of precipitation...although adequate moisture return is a concern. "

I would love it to happen, but I'm concerned that once again, the moisture will be scoured away by strong SW winds prior to frontal energy entering the area.
46. ForecasterColby
4:39 AM GMT on January 17, 2006
Though I think the US will probably be safer...we'll have to wait for 'cane season.
45. ForecasterColby
4:31 AM GMT on January 17, 2006
12-15? Not a chance. I'd say off the top of my head 19-23.
44. taco2me61
4:21 AM GMT on January 17, 2006
Hi all I hope everybody is well. I also see we are in a La-Nina pattern and that ussally means we will have more storms... I was hoping for the 1914 year where we only had 1 for the hole year. We will have to wait and see... I'm sure we will have 12 to 15 storms this year but I hope they don't hit the US, we have had enough... Well I just wanted to check in and let everybody know I was still here...

Yall have a great night and will chat with you all later...

Taco :-)
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 3261
43. HurricaneMyles
3:35 AM GMT on January 17, 2006
Looking through all the shear forecasts it appears to a lot upper level shear throughout the Caribbean all the way over to Africa. Doesn't appear that the upper lvl shear will relax anytime soon either. Shear below 200mb is lighter, but still spotty. According to different models the places of light lower lvl shear are in different places around the Caribbean. The GFS even shows almost the whole Caribbean to be a low shear environment in the 850-500mb range from now through the end of its forecast. If this system could maintain shallow convection and avoid the high level shearm it could develope, but it all depends on the circumstances when cyclone genesis tries to occur.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
42. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
3:30 AM GMT on January 17, 2006
atmosweather mail for you get back to me thanks
41. atmosweather
3:29 AM GMT on January 17, 2006
Dallas/Ft. Worth will receive 0.5+ on Friday and Saturday.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
40. observer12
3:25 AM GMT on January 17, 2006
In central Tx had some good showers today, maybe a couple tenths of an inch - better than nothing. Houston looks to be getting a pretty solid line now. I feel for you folks up the road in D/FW. Yours will come....eventually. You just may have to get it when all the severe weather starts to break out in March.
39. observer12
3:22 AM GMT on January 17, 2006
Well, at least we're not lacking for any cold fronts to block any early season renegade tropical systems from coming into the Gulf!
38. HurricaneMyles
3:20 AM GMT on January 17, 2006
Wow, they sound surprising confident in the forcast. I can only find the CMC showing any hint of development. The rest of the models I can find (GFS, UKMET, NOGAPS) are more bullish on some kind of lower pressure(dont know if its extra, sub, or fully tropical) developing inbetween the Azores and the Canaries. The new 72 hour forcast CMC shows no development in the Carribean now either. I dunno, it's looking more and more unlikely.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
37. ForecasterColby
12:42 AM GMT on January 17, 2006
Wheeeee!!

Tropical Weather Discussion
Amateur Hurricane Center
www.theahc.webhop.net
Tropical Weather Discussion - 8:00PM January 16, 2006

Apparently, 2005 has no respect for such things as calender years. Several computer models are now showing the development of a tropical or subtropical system at the tail of a front now moving through the Virgin Islands. The patterns across the atlantic are much more like summer than midwinter...and this system could well develop into Tropical Storm [or even Hurricane] Alberto. The front is expected to continue east, then retrograde back to the Virgin Islands before dissipation
36. FtWaltonBch2Tucson
12:15 AM GMT on January 17, 2006
Been nothing here in Tucson, either. Had a trace on 16 Dec, but before that it's been nothing clear back til October. We've had a high pressure ridge literally parked over us. We get half our rain from the winter rains, and with the Monsoon having been rather sporadic in the first place, I would not be surprised to find water rationing in place before summer.
Member Since: January 9, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 21

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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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