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NOAA's Winter Forecast: Drought and Warmth in the South

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 4:49 PM GMT on November 21, 2013

Expect increased chances of a warmer than average winter across much of the Southern U.S. and New England, and a cooler than average winter across portions of the Northern Plains near the Canadian border, said NOAA in their annual Winter Outlook, released on November 21. The forecast also calls for drought to persist and intensify over much of the Southwest U.S., and to develop over the Southeast U.S. This year's forecast was more difficult than usual to make, said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, due to the lack of an El Niño or La Niña event. When these patterns of above average or below average ocean temperatures in the Eastern Pacific are present, they strongly impact winter weather patterns by altering the path of the jet stream and the associated winter storms that travel along the axis of the jet stream. We currently have neutral El Niño conditions over the tropical Pacific Ocean, which means that ocean temperatures are near average along the Equator from the coast of South America to the Date Line, putting more subtle, harder-to-predict factors in control of this year's winter weather. NOAA relied heavily on climate trends over the past fifteen years and long-range computer models such as their CFS forecast model to predict this year's winter weather.


Figure 1. Forecast temperature and precipitation for the U.S. for the upcoming winter, as predicted in the NOAA Winter Outlook, released on November 21, 2013.


Figure 2. NOAA's seasonal drought outlook, issued on November 21, 2013, calls for drought to persist and intensify over much of the Southwest U.S. this winter, and to develop over the Southeast U.S.

What will the Arctic Oscillation and North Atlantic Oscillation do?
While El Niño is usually a key factor controlling winter weather patterns, it is often overshadowed by the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)--a climate pattern in the North Atlantic Ocean of fluctuations in the difference of sea-level pressure between the Icelandic Low and the Azores High. The NAO controls the strength and direction of westerly winds and storm tracks across the North Atlantic. A large difference in the pressure between Iceland and the Azores (positive NAO) leads to increased westerly winds and mild and wet winters in Europe. Positive NAO conditions also cause the Icelandic Low to draw a stronger south-westerly flow of air over eastern North America, preventing Arctic air from plunging southward. In contrast, if the difference in sea-level pressure between Iceland and the Azores is small (negative NAO), westerly winds are suppressed, allowing Arctic air to spill southwards into eastern North America and Europe more readily. This pattern is kind of like leaving the refrigerator door ajar--the Arctic refrigerator warms up, but all the cold air spills out into the house where people live. The NAO is a close cousin of the Arctic Oscillation (AO), and can be thought of as the North Atlantic component of the larger-scale Arctic Oscillation. Since the AO is a larger-scale pattern, scientists refer to the AO instead of the NAO when discussing large-scale winter circulation patterns. The winter of 2009 - 2010 had the most extremely negative NAO pattern (and AO pattern) since record keeping began in 1950. Vicious "Snowmageddon" winter storms occurred in both the U.K. and the United States that winter, as both Europe and North America suffered though an unusually cold and snowy winter. Thus, the phase and strength of the AO/NAO pattern is a key factor controlling winter weather. Unfortunately, this pattern is not predictable more than about two weeks in advance, and thus was not considered by NOAA in their forecast for the upcoming winter.

In my April 2, 2012 blog post, Arctic sea ice loss tied to unusual jet stream patterns, I discuss research that argues that Arctic sea ice loss may cause an increase in the probability of cold, negative-AO winters in the U.S. and Northern Europe. The warm phase of the decades-long pattern of warming and cooling of Atlantic Ocean waters known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), which we've been stuck in since 1995, may also increase the odds of negative-AO winters. Both of these factors may act to increase the odds of a cold winter this year. Climate change wunderblogger Ricky Rood notes in the just-posted final installment of his 7-part series on Climate Change and the Arctic Ocsillation that the AO has shown an increasing trend since 1960 towards getting stuck in the same phase for multiple years in row. Since last year was dominated by negative AO conditions, we might expect increased chances of another predominantly negative-AO winter this year, with increased odds of colder than average conditions in the Eastern U.S. and Northern Europe. Note, though, that last winter was a bit of an oddball. The AO was predominately negative, and we saw cold and snowy weather in Northern Europe, as expected. However, the AO and NAO were out of phase, which only happens about 10% of the time, and the U.S. had a much warmer than average winter (19th warmest on record.)


Figure 3. Last year's NOAA forecast for the winter of 2012 - 2013 (top two panels), made in October 2012, called for increased chances of warm weather over the Western U.S. and cool weather over Florida. The contiguous U.S. ended up having its 19th warmest winter in the 118-year record. Florida recorded a top-ten warmest winter, and most of the Western U.S. ended up near average or cooler than average (bottom left panel.) Last year's winter precipitation forecast fared well for the Southeast U.S., which had a top-ten wettest winter on record (see bottom right panel for what actually happened.) The predicted dry winter for the Pacific Northwest also materialized. However, the Upper Midwest was unusually wet, in contradiction to predictions for above-average chances of a dry winter.

Winter weather and the sunspot cycle
Another major influence on the AO and winter circulation patterns may be the 11-year solar cycle. Recent satellite measurements of ultraviolet light changes due to the 11-year sunspot cycle show that these variations are larger than previously thought, and may have major impacts on winter circulation patterns. A climate model study published in Nature Geosciences by Ineson et al. (2011) concluded that during the minimum of the 11-year sunspot cycle, the sharp drop in UV light can drive a strongly negative AO pattern, resulting in "cold winters in northern Europe and the United States, and mild winters over southern Europe and Canada, with little direct change in globally averaged temperature." The winters of 2009 - 2010 and 2010 - 2011 both occurred during a minimum in the 11-year sunspot cycle and fit this pattern, with strongly negative AO conditions leading to cold and snowy weather in the Eastern U.S. (15th coldest and 37th coldest winters in U.S. history, respectively.) There was more solar activity during the winters of 2011 - 2012 and 2012 - 2013, which had more positive AO conditions than the previous two winters. The coming winter of 2013 - 2014 will have about the same level of solar activity as last winter (Figure 3).


Figure 4. The number of sunspots from 2000 - 2013 shows that solar minimum occurred during the winter of 2008 - 2009, and that solar activity is now near a peak. Image credit: NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center.

Summary: flip a coin or catch a woolly worm
I'm often asked by friends and neighbors what my forecast for the coming winter is, but I tell them to flip a coin, or catch some woolly bear caterpillars for me so I can count their stripes and make a woolly bear winter forecast. I never make seasonal winter forecasts for the same reason I never make seasonal hurricane forecasts--why make a forecast that will be wrong nearly half of the time? Seasonal forecasts have some skill, and you'll come out ahead if you bet on their accuracy year after year. But forecast busts are common, and you'll often be remembered for your most recent terrible seasonal forecast. Making an accurate winter forecast is very difficult, as the interplay between El Niño, the AO/NAO, the AMO, Arctic sea ice loss, and the 11-year sunspot cycle is complex and poorly understood. I've learned to expect the unexpected and unprecedented from our weather over the past few winters; perhaps the most unexpected thing would be a very average winter during 2013 - 2014. Note that this year's Woolley Worm Festival held in October in Banner Elk, North Carolina crowned as champion a woolley bear caterpillar named "Fuzz" with no black bands on it. Local folklore has it that the woolly worm’s 13 body segments, which are brown or black in color, represent the 13 weeks of winter. More black segments mean a harsher winter; a majority of brown segments represent a milder winter. Fuzz's lack of black bands implies an unusually warm winter for U.S. East Coast, and this winter's official woolly worm forecast, beginning December 21, looks like this:

Week 1: Average Cold Wet Snow and Rain
Week 2: Average Cold Wet Snow and Rain
Week 3: Average Cold Wet Snow and Rain
Week 4: Above Average Temperatures
Week 5: Above Average Temperatures
Week 6: Above Average Temperatures
Week 7: Above Average Temperatures
Week 8: Above Average Temperatures
Week 9: Warm Weather
Week 10: Warm Weather
Week 11: Warm Weather
Week 12: Warm Weather
Week 13: Warm Weather

Jeff Masters
Wooley Bear!
Wooley Bear!
A catepillar... what else?

Winter Weather

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

Quoting 493. ricderr:
it's finally over.




but what about my cat 5 widowmaker that's gonna hit tampa?
ya got to wait till 2015
India Meteorological Department
14:30 PM IST November 22 2013
===================================

The low pressure area over Sumatra and adjoining areas of south Andaman sea would concentrate into a depression during next 24 hours and further intensify thereafter
Wow, that was doozy - thankfully the shaking did not last long:

M3.7 - 10km NE of Stillwater, Oklahoma
2013-11-22 14:33:59
ya got to wait till 2015




next year....all storms will be wishcasted to tampa


IMD's GFS prediction model for 92W
Quoting 488. AussieStorm:

And we have Tropical Cyclone Alessia



TROPICAL CYCLONE ADVICE NUMBER 8
Issued at 8:55 pm WST on Friday 22 November 2013

A Cyclone WARNING is current for coastal areas from Cockatoo Island to Wyndham.
A Cyclone WATCH is current for coastal areas from Wyndham to Cape Hotham
including Darwin and the Tiwi Islands.

At 8:00 pm WST Tropical Cyclone Alessia, Category 1 was estimated to be
390 kilometres north of Broome and
325 kilometres west northwest of Kuri Bay and
moving east at 22 kilometres per hour towards the northern Kimberley coast.

Tropical Cyclone Alessia has developed northwest of the Kimberley coast. Gales
may develop along the northern Kimberley coast on Saturday as the system
approaches. Overnight Saturday into Sunday it is likely to brush the northern
Kimberley coast. During Sunday it is likely to weaken as it approaches the west
coast of the Top End.

Rainfall from this system is likely to be confined to coastal areas. Even in
coastal areas, rainfall totals are expected to be less than is typical with a
tropical low or cyclone.

DFES-State Emergency Service advises that there are no community alerts at
present.
Communities between Cockatoo Island and WA/NT Border should listen for the next
advice.

The Northern Territory Controller advises residents of Darwin and Rural Areas
that if you DO NOT have accommodation constructed to the Building Code or are
unsure of your present accommodation you should determine which public
emergency shelter to use. This advice is issued to allow you sufficient time in
which to take the necessary precautions before winds reach a dangerous level.

Other NT communities under Watch are advised that now is the time to put
together your emergency kit, clear your yards and balconies, and commence home
shelter preparations.

Details of Tropical Cyclone Alessia at 8:00 pm WST:
.Centre located near...... 14.5 degrees South 121.7 degrees East
.Location accuracy........ within 55 kilometres
.Recent movement.......... towards the east at 22 kilometres per hour
.Wind gusts near centre... 95 kilometres per hour
.Severity category........ 1
.Central pressure......... 998 hectoPascals


The next advice will be issued by 12:00 am WST Saturday 23 November.



cool
Link
Wy new blog on Newly Named Winter Storm Boreas!
Well, further research shows that we have been a center of seismic activity lately - that sucks, these buildings here are not made for earthquakes


4 days ago 3.0 magnitude, 5 km depth
Stillwater, Oklahoma, United States
4 days ago 2.8 magnitude, 5 km depth
Stillwater, Oklahoma, United States
4 days ago 2.4 magnitude, 5 km depth
Stillwater, Oklahoma, United States

Have not felt any of these though.

Sigh, this was not in the brochure before I moved here.
Quoting 510. Andrebrooks:
Link
Wy new blog on Newly Named Winter Storm Boreas!


Morning Andre.. :)
I checked your blog and it has only one sentence..
Did I miss something?
Helen is downgraded to a deep depression overland Andhra Pradesh, India

India Meteorological Department
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #27
DEEP DEPRESSION, FORMER HELEN (BOB06-2013)
17:30 PM IST November 22 2013
=====================================

At 12:00 PM UTC, the cyclonic storm HELEN over coastal Andhra Pradesh moved west southwestward, weakened into a deep depression and now lays center near 15.9N 80.7E over coastal Andhra Pradesh around 60 km southwest of Machillipatnam.

It would move west-southwestwards and weaken into a depression during next six hours.
Lightning strike caught on camera.

Pre-strike



Strike



Post-strike



Video
Well, Who'd a thunk it?

Oklahoma Scientist to Test if Fracking Causes Earthquakes

By John Daly | Tue, 05 November 2013 23:01 | 0


Oklahoma is a leading U.S. energy producer with an economy increasingly concentrated on the oil and gas industry. Economist and Dean of the University of Central Oklahoma’s College of Business Administration, Dr. Mickey Hepner, notes that roughly 25 percent of all employment in Oklahoma is either directly or indirectly connected to the energy industry.

The good news is that much of Oklahoma’s output increasingly comes from releasing subterranean hydrocarbons via hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a controversial technique that involves injecting liquids containing a variety of substances deep underground to break up geological formations to release trapped deposits of natural gas.

The bad news in Tulsa is that since fracking began, the state has experienced a rise in seismic events. In a report entitled “Earthquake Swarm Continues in Central Oklahoma,” released on 22 October in partnership with the Oklahoma Geological Survey, the U.S. Geological Survey noted, “Since January 2009, more than 200 magnitude 3.0 or greater earthquakes have rattled Central Oklahoma, marking a significant rise in the frequency of these seismic events… Studies show one to three magnitude 3.0 earthquakes or larger occurred yearly from 1975 to 2008, while the average grew to around 40 earthquakes per year from 2009 to mid-2013. ‘We've statistically analyzed the recent earthquake rate changes and found that they do not seem to be due to typical, random fluctuations in natural seismicity rates. Bill Leith, USGS seismologist noted, ‘These results suggest that significant changes in both the background rate of events and earthquake triggering properties needed to have occurred in order to explain the increases in seismicity. This is in contrast to what is typically observed when modeling natural earthquake swarms.’"

Oklahoma’s largest recorded earthquake, measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale, occurred on 5 November 2011, injured two people, damaged more than a dozen homes, and was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Oklahoma. More than 10,000 underground injection wells were active in Oklahoma as of January 2013, according to data from the state Corporation Commission.

Understating the obvious, determining whether or not fracking causes increased seismic activity is a question of immense importance for both proponents and those opposed to the practice. On the financial side, potentially billions of dollars are involved, from profits to class action lawsuits.

Enter into the fray Oklahoma Geological Survey research seismologist Austin Holland, who has spent the last four years looking into central Oklahoma's ongoing swarm of earthquakes, who proposes a study that could actually trigger more earthquakes.

Holland is hoping to establish with scientific backing as to whether testing a lone disposal well in south central Oklahoma, on the land of Dick Pieper’s ranch north of Marietta in Love County, where seismic monitoring equipment recorded 142 regional earthquakes occurred between 13 September and 3 October, can resolve the question. Holland hope to convince the operator of the well on Pieper’s ranch to begin operating the well at a minimal level of about 1,000 barrels a day to see if increased seismic activity occurs.

Related article: When will the Shale Bubble Burst?


Penrith Weir, Nepean River(Far Western Sydney) last night during the storm / Picture: Tom Walsh


Mammatus clouds over the News Corp building in Surry Hills as a storm passes overhead(Eastern Sydney)
I'm glad to see the western drought areas in the US getting some rain.

Farmers are adjusting crops to changes in climate and growing season regardless of who believes in what. I guess they care about their wallet too. Even oil and gas companies have adjusted their trucking schedules and capacity to account for the longer Alaskan thaw.

It is too bad Florida is looking dry in the forecast, we were finally working almost to nearly average water conditions.
LOL - Patrap, given the politics here and business interests, I have my doubts that that study will ever see the light of day. And even if it does, the only result will be passage of legislation that will protect business interests. If it doesn't already exist (it most likely does).


Earthquake Swarm Continues in Central Oklahoma
Released: 10/22/2013 1:07:59 PM

Since January 2009, more than 200 magnitude 3.0 or greater earthquakes have rattled Central Oklahoma, marking a significant rise in the frequency of these seismic events.

The U.S. Geological Survey and Oklahoma Geological Survey are conducting collaborative research quantifying the changes in earthquake rate in the Oklahoma City region, assessing the implications of this swarm for large-earthquake hazard, and evaluating possible links between these earthquakes and wastewater disposal related to oil and gas production activities in the region.

Studies show one to three magnitude 3.0 earthquakes or larger occurred yearly from 1975 to 2008, while the average grew to around 40 earthquakes per year from 2009 to mid-2013.

"We've statistically analyzed the recent earthquake rate changes and found that they do not seem to be due to typical, random fluctuations in natural seismicity rates," said Bill Leith, USGS seismologist. "These results suggest that significant changes in both the background rate of events and earthquake triggering properties needed to have occurred in order to explain the increases in seismicity. This is in contrast to what is typically observed when modeling natural earthquake swarms."

The analysis suggests that a contributing factor to the increase in earthquakes triggers may be from activities such as wastewater disposal--a phenomenon known as injection-induced seismicity.


two for the weekend coming about
Looks like the weather is going to be nasty for Thanksgiving along the East Coast. A Gulf Low forms and tracks up the East Coast, bringing with it showers and thunderstorms ahead of the front and snow behind it.





Bottoms out at 976 mb.

Aussie,

Hope you are safe from the typhoon.

that lightning strike was impressive. Looks like it started from one of the rebar tie rods holding down the parking stops, then jumped pretty far horizontally to the car or something near it.
Keep, why no context or Event numbers when you post the EVE X-Ray image?

Its kinda worthless without them.

www.solarham.net




Updated 11/22/2013 @ 12:20 UTC
Solar Update
Good morning. Attached is an updated image of the visible solar disk on Friday. Solar activity is at very low levels this morning. Sunspot 1899 is currently the largest visible Earth facing region and poses a small chance for an isolated moderate solar flare. All other regions are stable. Old region 1885 rotated back into view off the east limb and only a couple of tiny spots remain visible. Stay tuned to SolarHam.com for the latest information.

Expert weighs in on likelihood of massive Oklahoma earthquake

Perhaps the most realistic evaluation of the situation here - which is why no one will be "responsible" for anything.

Lewchuck said there are differing perspectives on what is causing the new phenomenon.

If you want the conservative view, fracking has no effect on earthquakes at all. If you want the liberal view, every earthquake and it's brother is caused by fracking.

Fracking -- or hydraulic fracturing -- is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep below the surface by injecting highly-pressurized fluid into the rock.

"The reality is, statistically it looks like a small percentage of earthquakes might be related to fracking, but it's very difficult to prove.”


The truth lies somewhere in the middle - well, maybe leaning more to one direction than the other.
I have to go - you guys have a fantastic day. And everyone, stay warm. Well, except for Aussie, of course.
Go LOW Temperature Records!!!
What are our chances for an Average Global MONTH???!
Fracking is a necessary evil. Not trying to start an argument, just stating a fact. It has to be a worldwide effort to save the world, we can't do it by ourselves. We won't be here in the end and neither will our great great great grandchildren.

Frack away!!!!!!
528. ARiot
Quoting 526. biff4ugo:
Go LOW Temperature Records!!!
What are our chances for an Average Global MONTH???!


probably close to zero

I was thinking about this today in context.

Yesterday, people were talking about how cold it was. (We were actually slightly above average for the daytime high and nighttime low). A few days ago, our daytime high was 20 degrees above average. No one even mentioned it. Last month was plus 7 average. The month before plus 6. This month may break around the same, plus 4 or 5.

During the 5-day, we have some below average lows (and one or two below average highs) forecast and folks are hyping it up, talking about how cold it will be.

It's amazing. It really is flat-out amazing.

Hyberbolic discounting.

We're goldfish!
Quoting 504. ricderr:
ya got to wait till 2015




next year....all storms will be wishcasted to tampa
lol thats funny because its true... ha ha
Quoting 157. barbamz:
Just breathtaking!,br>ISON, THE DAWN COMET: Comet ISON is plunging toward the sun and brightening as it heads for a perilous close encounter on Nov. 28th. This morning, with the "final countdown" clock at T-7 days, Juan Carlos Casado photographed the sundiver over the Teide Observatory in the Canary Islands.


Thanks Barb. I went to the spaceweather website and viewed the 1500 x 1000 BIG version of the photograph - it's spectacular!
CMC has doom written all over it







bombs it out-958 mb



Quoting 523. daddyjames:
Expert weighs in on likelihood of massive Oklahoma earthquake

Perhaps the most realistic evaluation of the situation here - which is why no one will be "responsible" for anything.

Lewchuck said there are differing perspectives on what is causing the new phenomenon.

If you want the conservative view, fracking has no effect on earthquakes at all. If you want the liberal view, every earthquake and it's brother is caused by fracking.

Fracking -- or hydraulic fracturing -- is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep below the surface by injecting highly-pressurized fluid into the rock.

"The reality is, statistically it looks like a small percentage of earthquakes might be related to fracking, but it's very difficult to prove.”


The truth lies somewhere in the middle - well, maybe leaning more to one direction than the other.


I'd be more worried about tornado safety if I lived in Oklahoma. Every school and home needs some type of shelter.
I graduated from Moore High School and lived just west of there when I was in my teens/early 20s.

we doom here!!
Quoting 503. daddyjames:
Wow, that was doozy - thankfully the shaking did not last long:

M3.7 - 10km NE of Stillwater, Oklahoma
2013-11-22 14:33:59


I went through the DC earthquake August 2011 in the old World Weather building on Auth road. I felt like I was the bone inside my dog's mouth being shaken. It was really strong shaking and I don't want to repeat it.
Quoting 526. biff4ugo:
Go LOW Temperature Records!!!
What are our chances for an Average Global MONTH???!


Global temperature anomalies do not change fast so it would take a several year radiative imbalance to get a normal month averaged globally.
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
Lots of clouds this am with the exception of the North West..

Rain/Snow line seems to be just West of Washington D.C.
Washington D.C. is forecasting rain while just west of the city (Dulles Airport) is forecasting snow.
Quoting 526. biff4ugo:
Go LOW Temperature Records!!!
What are our chances for an Average Global MONTH???!
Well, the planet hasn't seen one "average" month globally for nearly 29 years. That is, if you're under 28, you've never witnessed even a normal month temperature-wise; every one for the past 344 has been above the long-term average. So I don't expect we'll see an average month anytime soon. That's "soon" as in the lifetime of anyone alive today...