Rainy season ends in California; exceptional drought continues to intensify

Filed in Uncategorized by on June 1, 2014 271 Comments

Overview of recent weather conditions

April and May were very dry months for much of California. In most of the major population centers, little or no measurable precipitation occurred during the entire month of May.

The last 60 days have been much drier than usual across most of California. (NOAA/NWS)

The last 60 days have been much drier than usual across most of California. (NOAA/NWS)

Occasional thunderstorms did bring highly localized downpours –mostly confined to the Sierra Nevada mountains–but overall precipitation was well below average for both April and May. Now that June has arrived and there’s still no rain on the horizon, I think it’s pretty safe to say that the incredibly dry 2013-2014 “rainy” season is over.

 

Warmest year on record to date

In addition to the exceptionally dry conditions, temperatures in California have consistently been at their highest levels in recorded history for at least the past 6 months. NOAA previously confirmed that California experienced its warmest winter in at least 119 years of record-keeping, and more recent data suggests that 2014 is now the warmest year to date. In addition to the anomalous warmth on the multi-month scale, California was also been subjected to several intense, early-season heatwaves during April and May. All-time monthly high temperature records were set in a number of locations, particularly in Southern California–and more than a few stations set records for the earliest 100-degree day on record. What made these heat waves even more unusual was that they coincided with very strong offshore Santa Ana wind events. While this setup wouldn’t have been particularly notable if it had occurred in the fall months, such extreme fire weather conditions are virtually unheard-of in the spring months. Destructive, fast-moving wildfires did occur, and their intensity was such that multiple “fire whirls” were reported (and, even more impressively, caught on camera).

California is experiencing its warmest year to date. (NOAA/NCDC)

California is experiencing its warmest year on record to date. (NOAA/NCDC)

 

Why has it been so warm and dry in California?

Over the past year, I’ve repeatedly discussed the persistent large-scale atmospheric pattern that has led to the ongoing extreme drought in California.

The GFS forecasts continued well-above normal temperatures over the American West. (NOAA/ESRL)

The GFS forecasts continued well-above normal temperatures over the American West. (NOAA/ESRL)

An extraordinarily persistent area of high pressure over the northeastern Pacific Ocean deflected storm track well to the north of its typical position for much of the previous two winter seasons. While the prevailing high-amplitude flow pattern was finally interrupted by some storm activity in February and March–a period which brought the only substantial, widespread precipitation California has seen in over 18 months–our friend the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge staged something of a comeback during the spring months. While the magnitude of middle-atmospheric height anomalies is not as large as it was during the peak of the RRR back in January 2014,  the familiar pattern of strong poleward flow over the Pacific and strong equatorward flow over the interior Western United States remains distinct. Unfortunately, the current pattern remains favorable for continued above-normal temperatures during the early part of summer.

 

Persistently high geopotential heights continue near and west of California. (NOAA/ESRL)

Persistently high geopotential heights continue near and west of California. (NOAA/ESRL)

Persistent meridional (north-south) wind anomalies continue in a wave-like pattern across the East Pacific and western North America. (NOAA/ESRL)

Persistent meridional (north-south) wind anomalies continue in a wave-like pattern across the East Pacific and western North America. (NOAA/ESRL)

Very warm temperatures have occurred over a broad region over the past few months. (NOAA/ESRL)

Very warm temperatures have occurred over a broad region over the past few months. (NOAA/ESRL)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just how dry is it in California?

As previously mentioned, precipitation during February and March did help to generate a very modest Sierra Nevada snowpack and generate some much-needed runoff in Northern California reservoirs.

Sierra Nevada snow water equivalent as of June 1, 2014: virtually nothing left. (NOAA/NWS)

Sierra Nevada snow water equivalent as of June 1, 2014: virtually nothing left. (NOAA/NWS)

However, due the meager water equivalent stored in the Sierra snowpack at its peak and the very early onset of melting due to the heat waves in April and May, there is effectively no snow left as of this writing on June 1st. This is likely to have two notable short-term consequences: 1. soil and vegetation moisture in the mountains will be extremely low for a much longer period of time than usual this year, leading to increased wildfire risk, and 2. reservoir drawdown has already begun a month or two ahead of schedule. Given that maximum storage levels this winter/spring where already very low, it appears likely that a number of reservoirs may once again approach critically low levels by the end of the dry season in September or October. As others have already remarked: it’s going to be a long, dry summer.

In my next post, I’ll have an update on the El Niño event still developing in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

© 2014 WEATHER WEST

 

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  • Jeff Red Berry

    “In my next post, I’ll have an update on the El Niño event still developing.”

    But, but, but ?

    Daddy, I want a pony, and I want one nooooow!

    • Dan the Weatherman

      More like “I want rain and want some right now!”

  • craig matthews

    It is depressing news indeed. Our latest problem locally where I live, is residential sewer lines being broken by tree roots, because the local trees are now so desperate for water they will do anything to survive, by breaking through even the thickest and most updated and well built sewer lines. Guess its a good time to invest in drought resistant plants.

    • Loyal Brooks

      California’s culture – such as the things you just mentioned – will become new unavoidable realities for all. How water is viewed, and how it is managed is now forever altered.

      • craig matthews

        Too bad we have to learn these things in hinde-sight. Our business as usual when it comes to water is going to change now.

  • Loyal Brooks

    This is the deepest drought that Californians have ever seen, and it’s effects are gripping the state ever deeper with each passing day. Many places are at crisis levels. We are in the middle of watching history play out – here and now.

    This drought will be studied for years to come from all angles – what the atmosphere did, how the ocean contributed to it, the economic loss in the many billions. Back up just a little bit, and what is happening there in California right now is truly staggering.

    The situation in the Pacific right now is a tad slow, with the next WWB eagerly awaited to initiate the next Kelvin wave – IF there is another WWB at all. Until there is something new to present about a new development in the Pacific, this post of Daniel’s is quite apt.

  • Dan the Weatherman

    The last thing we need right now is another ENSO neutral year!

    • Loyal Brooks

      In actuality, ENSO neutral years are more likely to be wet years than either average or dry years in Bakersfield. I found a chart earlier today that lays out how each condition of the Pacific, from a strong La Nina to a strong El Nino and points in between, affects water years in several places in Central California. This reveals so much about El Ninos and rainfall in CA!

      This chart was compiled by the SJV NWA and published last year. Fresno has somewhat different outcomes. Snowfall in the southern Sierra is also included. An explanation of methodology is found at the bottom of the page. This is an EXCELLENT chart to show how differing El Ninos affect the precipitation in Central California!! Please see: http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/hnx/ElNinoLaNinaComparison.pdf

      Nothing is for certain, so all of this talk about a wet winter coming if there is an El Nino is not realistic. The charts provided shows just this. However, it remains that very strong El Ninos are strongly correlated with wet winters.

      In meteorology, most parameters are a “probabilities” issue, not absolutes. And, so it is with this very El Nino trying to develop right now, as El Nino development is a mix of meteorology and climatology.

      • Kamau40

        Loyal-

        You are absolutely right again. The link above is another great resource that folks should use regarding ENSO. This correlates very well to Jan Null’s link I sent you about a week ago. Thanks for your great and informative insights.

      • craig matthews

        I am surprised at some of the stats on that chart in regards to correlation of ENSO and water years in both Fresno and Bakersfield, and especially the correlation of Strong El Nino to number of foggy days in Fresno. I would have expected to see less foggy days during a strong El Nino event in Fresno due to more storminess then average not allowing an inversion layer to develop over the central valley that creates valley fog in the winter season. I’m glad you brought this chart to our attention. Because it clears up some wrong thinking in regards to ENSO and how it affects California weather. The stats on ENSO neutral years show that more times then not, Fresno received above average precip during a water year. And a similar stat found in Bakersfield just to the south. And there’s a lot more to it then just these stats of these 2 locals. I’ll continue reading this chart. Thank you Loyal.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          I would bet that Fresno doesn’t receive above average precipitation during an ENSO neutral year during a -PDO, +AMO cycle just like 2012-13 and 2013-14. However, it is more likely in other PDO / AMO combos: +PDO / -AMO, -PDO / -AMO, or +PDO / +AMO.

        • Loyal Brooks

          I felt like I’d hit the jackpot when I found this legitimate data set – in easy-to-read chart form – compiled and published by the SJV NWS in Hanford.

          It is revealing, isn’t it! Amazing the differences of rainfall years just in the valley and southern Sierra under the same ENSO conditions. This just illustrates how different each region’s outcomes really are given a specific ENSO condition in the Pacific.

          About your comment about there being a tendency for increased foggy days in strong El Nino – that’s a good question. At this point, I can only say that all winters bring a 2-3 week spell of calm, clear weather over the state from time to time in all winter seasons. In strong El Ninos, the soils are wetter than usual, which would contribute to higher dew points, leading to more frequent occasions where the surface air temp falls to the dew point. During those STRONG El Ninos, all years reported in the valley observed wet water years,

          • craig matthews

            About those increased foggy days in strong El Nino years, what you said about increased soil moisture and a couple of calm spells during those events makes sense. That’s probably what happened. And that soil moisture also applies to this last winter as well, as you know we had many calm days-weeks-months, and very little, if any valley fog, probably due to lack of rain/snow. Anyway, California being such a long state at mid latitude, stretching from north to south next to the north pacific, and having both the highest and lowest elevations in the lower 48, along with many other unique geological factors, it is no wonder that this state receives such diverse weather in any given winter, or even summer for that matter. I’d be interested if there is any relation to ENSO and summertime fog along the California coast. But something tells me that might be asking too much, as there are just too many micro climates along the coast to decipher the difference.

          • Loyal Brooks

            About a year or two ago, I saw a thematic map of the state of California – with the theme being “El Ninos and Water Years”. In that map (that I cannot find now), they large, generalized areas in the state that showed regions that have observed similar outcomes of El Ninos that do occur.

            The chart I found is far, far more specific, but it only deals with the SJV forecast area. I recall the map showing an area that stretched from the northernmost reaches of Big Sur and stretching SE across the SJV and on up into parts of the southern sierra – and southward to the Tehachapis. From that visual map, your area is clearly associated with what happens in that chart. Other parts of the state had different outcomes.

            This special map, I believe, appeared in a book I read about 5 years go. Being such, I can’t find that book, and I cannot find such a map on the internet. Can anyone else find it??

          • Loyal Brooks

            Separately, you mentioned the fog in the central valley. There was a big report 12 days ago on findings that since 1950, foggy days have dropped by 46%. I reported this in a post 3 days ago, just before this new one started. Hundreds of foggy “chill” hours are no longer happening each year, which is vital for orchards there.

            Check it out – I have a link to where that research came from. Why is that happening? The average rainfall has not been reduced, so something else is causing it. Could it be that slightly warmer winter temperatures occurring there are causing the dew points at night to not quite reach the ambient dew point – at which for formation occurs? I don’t know the cause – and the researchers only reported on the data itself. Do you have any ideas on that?

          • craig matthews

            That is very interesting and a little alarming. I can’t think of anything else that might be causing less foggy days since the ’50′s. Something to check on that might shed some light are Historic NCDC data for both central valley and foothill locations in the sierra, to see if there has been a some kind of general change in both temp and dew points over the last 50 winters. But that’s a complicated task. Maybe something has changed in the atmosphere above the inversion layer that develops over the central valley during calm periods in the winter months as well. But I don’t know. Good questions.

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  • Zepp

    The Dans are here to tell us what it all means, but for those who want the source, today’s 33 page compilation of ENSO data is here: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf

    In short: El Nino is still developing, and it still looks like a really big one.

    • Loyal Brooks

      Based on some actual on-the-ground data found here about water years and the strength of El Ninos, it is bothersome that the forecasts for the future of this El Nino is not for a strong event (based on the CFS.v2 model output for today). That chart shows this El Nino peaking at around 1.1ish in the months of OND and NDJ, then declining from there. We are not looking for any El Nino – we are looking for a strong episode for relatively reliable wetness in California,

      While It is true that we are still in a time where models are not at their best, as we are crossing the “spring barrier,” it needs to end up strong – and this this chart as is does not cut it. A moderate El Nino is suggested by the ensemble mean, and that may be the start of yet a deeper drought, based on data of previous years in the Central Valley.

      There is always good news. One thing we can count on is that this long range forecast will change – as this information is still preliminary at this time. We are in that very sensitive zone of where this developing El Nino can proceed, intensify, or find a way to fall apart or be weaker than hoped for.

      • Kamau40

        Loyal-
        Great analysis about El Nino on your blog above. I have noticed too as of late that the CFSv2 model is not as bullish compared to about 2 weeks ago regarding the current developing El Nino. We are just now slowly getting out of the “spring barrier” period so I suspect these models will change depending on whether or not the anticipated WWWBs will materialize by mid Jun.
        http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ensoyears.shtml

      • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

        The dynamical models have never been particularly good at predicting the intensity of El Nino, and that’s particularly true for strong events. Even the 1997-1998 event was not adequately captured by the models, and though forecast capabilities since then have improved modestly there’s still not a lot of confidence that the models are capable getting high-intensity events right. We still don’t know where this one’s headed, but that certainly doesn’t mean we won’t see a strong event.

        I will say that if the expected WWBs don’t materialize in mid-late June, we’ll have to seriously reconsider the possibility that the large potential of this event won’t be realized. But it’s still early…so stay tuned.

  • craig matthews

    So with water being and becoming even more of such a precious commodity, I kinda wonder if we will start to see water up there in the stock market, along with precious metals, oil, natural gas, and the like. Just Kidding. Some areas near where I live in Monterey county have been on water rationing for over a decade, though they call it “water allotments”, where they give customers a certain amount of water per day, and if you go over that certain number, you pay lots of money. Its a little different then water rationing, yet kind of the same. This water management style is due to population growth and the fact that there is not enough water in this area to support so many people. But now, with this incredibly severe drought, what we thought might happen(water management wise) in about 10 years from now, is being suddenly speed up to now. And we are being forced to wake up to the fact we might run out of water very soon here. Anyway, human problems aside, stress on the land from this drought is incredibly high. Animals are behaving very strange in my area, as deer and other animals are having to move down into the lowlands to find water. We have also been having a lot of rattlesnake incidents lately along the coast, which may also be drought related. Times are a changing.

  • Utrex

    Could this pattern be a precursor to the El Nino?

  • Cliff Collipriest

    “..except that what if this is the new “normal”.

    That is the question that has been bugging me all year. It seems NOAA’s predictions for CA temps is almost always above normal. When does above become the norm? What if “CA drought” is the way things are going to be from now on. Sure, there will be cooler/wetter periods, will those now become the headlines?

    • Dan the Weatherman

      I have also noticed that NOAA’s temperature predictions of late for CA, especially in their 6-10 and 8-14 Day Outlooks have almost always been above normal. It is almost as if I have been looking at the same 6-10 Day and 8-14 Day Outlook for the last 6 months!

  • Zepp

    Good sized thunderstorm immediately to the west of us right now. Lots of thunder, no rain.

  • lightning10

    Since the weather is so interesting. Going back on the subject of a few weeks ago.

    Record number of earthquakes have scientist running scarred.

    http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-la-quakes-20140603-story.html

    • lightning10

      On infowars they had a top geologist on after the La Habra quake. He said no one wanted to say it but they are very worried about the high number of quakes on the ring of fire. We could be going into a massive destructive period where quakes could become so frequent in some areas it wouldn’t be worth the time to rebuild in some areas.

      • lightning10

        That after the La Habra quake the USGS came out and at first said that expect another larger quake. A few minutes later where told not to fear monger even if it was true. So they changed there tune. If you look at original news clips that they one local station reported on that.

    • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

      Increasing frequency in small quakes does suggest some increase in risk of a larger one, but not by a huge amount. In other words, something that is essentially inevitable in in the long run has become slightly more likely to occur soon rather than further in the future.

  • lightning10

    If the earthquakes are to much to think about then take a look at this amazing video. Some sort of funnel cloud or sundog over a thunderstorm. An amazing video.

    • Loyal Brooks

      This is truly an amazing video! I have never seen this before. I can say that is is not any optical phenomena, as there’s too much cloudiness in the area to account for that.

      It can’t be a tornado, because they descend downward from a rotating mesoscale complex (a large rotating mass of thunderstorms). The rotation of tornados is from horizontal shear (winds changing direction as you increase in height) which induces the lower part of the storm to turn – and spin up in the case of a tornado dropping down from the base of the storm.

      It appears that there is a layer of altocumuls/altostratus above the stom’s top, which indicates a layer that is NOT spinning at all – those clouds, from this perspective seem to be forming a shield of cloudiness over a broad area. It could be that t-storm anvils are mixing in with the above cloudiness, but if they are there, they are being are obscured by the stable layer above the storm. A wider shot would provide so much more context and perspective!!

      Someone here probably knows what this is. Many thanks to anyone who can provide insight into the cause and nature of this phenomena.

    • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

      This is a good example of why you can’t always believe everything you see on the internet. This video is pretty clearly digitally edited to add that strange white feature atop the cumulus cloud. The distance of the cloud from the videographer, combined with the rate at which the white feature suddenly “jumps,” means that the “funnel” would have to be rapidly accelerating to supersonic speeds–well faster than the maximum speed of the world’s fastest fighter jets. Also, if you look really closely, you can see the stippling from the digital manipulation. ;)

      • craig matthews

        Is that the sudden jump I see at 12 seconds in the video? And then again around 45 seconds? They need a lesson in digital manipulation, because they are obviously not very good at it.

        • craig matthews

          But aside from that, its a pretty cool looking cumulus build up without manipulation.

  • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

    Some increasing evidence that stronger atmospheric reinforcement of El Nino is imminent. Looks like new WWB activity and possibly an active W. Pac. MJO signal within the next 2 weeks.

    • Xerophobe

      Would one be able to see the WWB’s on the ‘animated earth’ program?
      I looked at surface and 850 hPa winds around 5N 174W and seems to something beginning to look different than just E to W wind. Also the area of doldrums(?) seems to be progressing Eastward, too.

      • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

        Once they’ve initiated, you would probably see them there. Not occurring yet, though.

  • craig matthews

    I know this satellite picture does not represent winds necessarily, but I looks like there is a little more convection occurring near the date line and west today, along the equator. Could that divergence aloft and convergence at the surface get some kind of WWB going, by drawing in more air at the surface? I am still learning about this, so sorry if I got this info wrong.

  • Dan the Weatherman

    NWS San Diego keeps saying that the weather we have been experiencing the last few days and what is forecast the rest of this week is “seasonal”. However, the marine layer, which is a very normal feature for this time of year, has been virtually nonexistent the last several nights at least here in Orange, and the days have been a bit warmer than normal, and the nights have been a bit colder than normal. This is not quite what I would call seasonal weather this time of year; rather, it still feels a bit more like fall than spring without the marine layer influence. Forecast temperatures late this week in inland Orange County could touch the upper 80′s to near 90 later this week, which is warmer than normal for this time in June and not quite “seasonal”. That temperature range is more normal when we get into early July and onward.

  • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

    I’m seeing much stronger signs of a major MJO pulse starting in the Indian Ocean and propagating eastward into the Pacific by mid-June. The dynamical models–particularly the ECMWF–are suggesting that an extended period of westerly wind activity will occur in the equatorial Pacific later this month. This is exactly the setup needed to kick El Nino into a higher gear, potentially generating a new (and possibly strong) Kelvin wave that would arrive in the East Pacific during the late summer months. For now, it’s well worth staying tuned.

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/MJO/CLIVAR/ECMF_phase_51m_small.gif

    • craig matthews

      Thanks. That’s a good sign we been waiting to see. Hope that MJO pulse holds together.

      • Kamau40

        Howard Schectner from http://mammothweather.com/ has also been discussion during the last 2 days about the increasing signs of a strong MJO pulse currently developing out in the W.Pac. Perhaps, the strong MJO pulse should materialize over the next 2 weeks, which corroborates with Dan’s discussion above, and indeed it will help to jump start the developing El Niño pattern into high gear if everything verifies. We will be watching this closely.

        • craig matthews

          Its interesting to see how Howard Schectner relates MJO activity and the phases of convection in the tropics to weather in the high sierra 2-3 weeks in advance. If he’s right, then we should be looking at a rather cool and windy period going into mid and late June in northern and central California al least. And in relation to convection moving off of the Maritime continent around that time, we should hopefully see a good set up for a WWB. Off subject but: That live picture of Mammoth mountain is very scary, because there is almost no snow up there now.

          • Kamau40

            Yes, this is what he has been doing for several decades. There is virtually no snow on Mammoth mountain which I have never seen at or near an elevation of 10,000 ft. which is pretty amazing. According to the picture Dan(Weather West) revealed on his last post above, there is virtually no snow throughout the whole entire Sierra Nevada range. Even during all of the drought years I lived through in the past in this state there was at least some snow, but none is unheard of at the highest peaks. Not good at all!!

          • craig matthews

            Its an early backpack season up there. And those high sierra lakes might be a little warmer this summer with no snow around. That is a great website to refer to for high sierra plans, or to get some interesting data too.

          • Kamau40

            Yes it is. It is one I have been one I have followed for years.

    • CB Idaho

      Winter is off to a great start in the Andes. Portillo reports 20 inches overnight, and more is on the way. Excellent coverage a full 2 weeks before the season opens.

  • Dogwood

    Four years ago today, 6-4-2010, my wife and I went to Tahoe and were amazed that some cabins off 80 near donner were still buried behind 6 feet of snow. That wasn’t long enough ago to be a different era.
    Quite a turn of events in a short time though. A blip or a trend?

    • craig matthews

      That’s a good question. I think it comes down to averaging out both temperature and precipitation trends over a period of several years to decades and seeing if there is a trend upward of temperatures and downward in precipitation. There are so many things to take into consideration when looking into the data, when it comes to determining if in fact warmer and drier weather is becoming more common in California, and if in fact this type of weather will become even more common. Because we have things like El Nino. La Nina, PDO, AMO, and all the oscillations and other types of phenomena I cant think of that affect our weather here on both a year to year, and decade to decade basis. The data shows that temperatures have been slowly getting warmer over the last several decades here in California, and globally as well. But as far as precipitation is concerned, that’s more complicated. The trend in the last 15 years has been drier weather in California. But as a state, it hasn’t been anything out of the ordinary up until these last 2 years. The year you mentioned there was a sweet winter, and so was 2010-11. But since 2006, those are the only 2 decent winters we have had as a state. What we are trying to weed out is if this is part of a cycle, or is it a permanent trend, or both. I guess we will know in time.

    • Bandini

      It’s amazing the lack of a snow pack up here. I’ve been on trails for the past two months that should be inaccessible. Hiked Mt. Rose last weekend with nothing but spotty patches. The crest and southwest Tahoe are still holding onto snow, but I’m sure it will be melting soon.

    • Zepp

      Both. We’ll still see winters with deep snow for some time to come. But the average amount of snow over all will keep dropping.

  • craig matthews

    Watts up with that has El Nino part 10 out for June, titled “Still waiting for the feedbacks”. May not agree his position on some things, that aside, his latest graphs and charts that compare strong El Ninos of 1997 and 1982 are most interesting, because for the first time I have ever seen, he shows a graph of westerly wind anomalies for the 1982 event, and compares them to the 1997 event and now. This article is full of a lot of info so if you want to get to the details, then scroll down. It looks like our possible current El Nino is more similar to the 1982 event and not as strong as the 1997 event. I don’t have the ip address for this, sorry. Maybe someone else has it.

    • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

      The current event appears to have a structure fairly different from both 82/83 and 97/98, and I’m very wary of analogue comparisons with a sample size of two. Regardless, I’m increasingly convinced that the predicted MJO pulse this month is going to finally kick the atmosphere into a coupled state with the already El Nino-like ocean. In other words: I actually think the risk of a strong event is somewhat higher today than it was a month ago.

      • craig matthews

        I always thought 1982-83 and 1997-98 El Ninos were more similar to each other, but the charts show those two events were quite different from each other too. And this El Nino(if fully develops) will be its own, though we may find some likenesses to past events. Hats off to you Dan. I sure am learning a lot from you.

    • Xerophobe

      Here’s the link to his wordpress that has the same stuff as above in ‘tiny url’ form. http://tinyurl.com/kwh3g4m
      He’s got a lot of stuff. With Daniel’s post about MJO forecast there may be a WWB or two, three to get another or more kelvin waves moving. SO Index Tisdale mentions is interesting, but there’s not a lot of if/then with the SO Index for this time of year. Daniel just posted…and I’m on his side of the fence

      • craig matthews

        Me too. Its just interesting to see the comparison between what is happening now, and what was happening at this time in 1997 and 1982. And the charts that compare the El Nino of 1982 and 1997 are very interesting because you can see the differences in how they developed on paper.

  • inclinejj

    http://blog.sfgate.com/stew/2014/06/05/report-el-nino-not-likely-to-be-drought-buster/

    Courtesy of Climate Projection Center.The odds of an El Niño helping shake California out of its prolonged drought got a bit bleaker this week with a new forecast from the U.S. Climate Prediction Center.

    While the agency’s monthly report still projects that summer or fall will give rise to an El Niño — the warming ocean surfaces that can tip worldwide weather — federal scientists say the phenomena is most likely to be only of moderate strength.

    In Northern California, El Niños that have been weak or moderate have had little correlation with winter weather conditions while strong ones have been associated with some of the region’s wettest years. The El Niño year of 1997-98, for example, pounded San Francisco with a record 47.2 inches of rain.

    “We continue to be confident that an El Niño will develop,” said Mike Halpert, acting director of the Climate Prediction Center. But “maybe it’s not looking like the ‘97-98 event that a few folks thought a few months ago.”

    A giant underwater swell known as a Kelvin Wave has pushed cold Pacific Ocean waters closer to the sea floor this year, creating the warmer sea surfaces that can define an El Niño. Thursday’s forecast raised the chances of El Niño’s arrival in the Northern Hemisphere this summer to 70 percent — and 80 percent by fall or winter.

    However, Halpert said another Kelvin Wave is probably needed for a stronger El Niño to emerge.

    “There’s a slight tilt toward a moderate strength event, though we really aren’t ruling anything out at this point,” he said.

    While moderate El Niños have meant little to Northern California, they have been associated with wetter winters in the southern part of the state. The strong ones have been linked to wetter weather statewide.

    Federal scientists warn, though, that El Niños — weak or strong — come with a lot of variability and are by no means a surefire indicator of what the winter will bring.

    Most of California has seen just half its average precipitation this rain year and that follows two drier-than-normal years.

    Water deliveries from the state and federal water projects have been cut, and the governor is asking all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent. Some communities have gone as far as invoking mandatory rationing.

    • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

      This is a disappointing article. While it’s certainly true that El Nino is by no means a panacea in terms of drought relief, this entirely overlooks the fact that there is considerable risk of a strong event with much greater teleconnections to CA precipitation this year in particular. It’s just as premature to make the call that next winter won’t bring substantial rainfall than that it will be a washout. Also: I’d guess that Mike Halpert made that statement before the impending MJO event came into view.

      • Boiio

        From the San Jose Mercury News:

        But for the first time, NOAA scientists said, it looks like a moderate — rather than a strong — El Niño is developing. And historically, while strong El Niños have nearly always brought soaking rains to California, moderate and weak ones only about half the time have delivered wetter-than-normal winters.

        “The question now is what flavor of El Niño we’re going to get,” said Bill Patzert, a research scientist and oceanographer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. “I’ve got my money on this being El Wimpo.”

        • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

          While it’s certainly possible that we ultimately see a weak (or more likely moderate) event, I respectfully disagree that that the risk of a strong event has decreased. We’re really bad at making intensity forecasts for El Nino, and the state of the ocean still suggests at least the potential for a strong event. I’ll point out that Klaus Wolter at NOAA’s ESRL yesterday suggested an increased risk of a strong event given recent developments. I really do think we’ll have a much clearer picture of whether a strong event is still possible or not after the upcoming MJO event.

          “The odds for a strong El Niño are perhaps slightly higher than before, somewhere around 60%.”

          http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/enso/mei

          Also, arguably our best models (the ECMWF, SCRIPPS, and CFS) all suggest a strong event. Official ENSO projections have historically been extremely conservative, so the >80% likelihood of El Nino in NOAA’s official document is actually a pretty strong statement.

          • Mike Stephenson

            Beyond the current conditions, we’re at that 15 year interval for a strong el nino right? That along with current conditions seems like a good bet on a strong one to me

  • lightning10

    Weather pattern is so stale. No morning clouds and no big heatwaves. Something has to break.

    • TheNothing

      Well over where I live we are in our third day of 100 degrees plus with another four days forecast for more.

  • craig matthews

    Even though a weak or moderate strength El Nino is a little scary, because it lowers the odds for a wet winter in California, we shouldn’t forget winters like 1951-52, 1968-69, 1977-78, 1994-95 and 2004-05. All of those winters were either weak or moderate El Nino’s and California, especially socal, received a lot of rain and mtn snow those winters. So, even if this El Nino is weaker, a wet winter next winter can still happen. And with the PDO continuing to stay in a positive mode, that might help increase the odds too. If we end up with a weaker El NIno, it might come down to the state of other oscillations having more of an effect on our weather, like the PDO/AMO, and teleconnections like PNA and NAO and AO and other modes of variability which might go in our favor.

    • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

      It really all depends on where the maximum SST anomalies are located. If they’re in the far E. Pac., we might be in okay shape regardless of strength. If it’s more a Modoki (mid-Pacific) event, we might once again see ridging where we don’t want it. Right now, my “maximum likelihood” expectation is for a moderate to strong, East Pacific-centered event, in which case California might at least be unlikely to see a dry year. But confidence is still pretty low. I think we’ll either be able to rule in or out a strong event by the end of June/early July, post-MJO.

    • Kamau40

      Craig/Dan-

      To add further weight to this discussion, here is an excellent comment from Howard Schectner that he wrote on April 26, 14(about 6wks ago) regarding this very topic:
      EL Nino:
      I want to make a comment about the Hype of the Big Kelvin Wave that has moved across the tropical pacific near the Equator and has successfully brought warmer then normal SSTs to a large region of the ENSO basin. This is just one of hopefully more Kelvin Waves through out the Summer and Fall. The Kelvin Wave begins over the Western Pacific as strong westerly wind bursts cause an action/reaction in the ocean to depths down to 300M. The winds at the surface cause upwelling which causes cooling over the Western pacific and the reaction of the open wave is that warm water gets being pushed out in front of the wave that travels east below the surface, which eventually rises out over the central pacific and beyond.
      As far as predicting a big winter for the west coast due to El Nino, I am not “at this time” buying into that scenario.
      Why?
      Because for one, It is too early. Two, We are still in a long term cycle of the negative phase of the PDO which tends to dampen the effects of the Kelvin Waves over ENSO regions 1, 2 and 3 regions. Yes you could make the Argument that the PDO has been positive for the past three month. But only weakly positive. It would not take much for the sign to change back to negative this year.
      So what could happen next Fall? We may end up with the Modoki El Nino. A sort of hybrid where by SSTA’s are warmer than normal over the central pacific but colder than normal over the tropical eastern pacific. IE Sort of like an El Nino and a La Nina combined all in one. I am not saying that this will happen, but it is too soon to say that it won’t.
      For more information on the difference between the Classic El Nino and the Modoki El Nino, please click the following link:
      http://www.wsi.com/blog/energy/large-scale-differences-between-the-full-basin-el-nino-and-el-nino-modoki-during-u-s-winter/
      For the progress of the latest Kelvin Wave…See the following link:
      http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ocean/anim/wkxzteq_anm.gif

      Dr. Howard and the Dweebs………………………………..:-)
      - See more at: http://mammothweather.com/page/3/#sthash.bjn68bxR.dpuf

      • Kamau40

        Below is another great website link, which focuses more on the details of Madoki El Nino events from the Journal of Geophysical Science of the Oceans
        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2006JC003798/full

        • Kamau40

          In regards to the PDO, here is Dan’s(Weather West) quote from a few months ago for reference in context:
          “While there’s no such thing as a guaranteed outcome when it comes to the atmosphere, I would be extremely surprised at this point if there is not a significant El Nino event by fall. There’s not really a lot of evidence that the PDO in and of itself affects the probability of strong El Nino events. The atmosphere and the ocean respond to physical events–which we call “forcings”–and ultimately the PDO is just one expression of the Pacific Ocean responding to some combination of forcings.There are a number of physical reasons–in the short and long-term–why we should expect the developing El Nino to become quite strong.”

        • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

          These are some good resources. “El Nino Modoki,” or mid-Pacific centered El Nino, is a relatively new categorization. The reason why it’s important is that the atmospheric teleconnections relevant for California stem largely from the location of maximum anomalous thermal gradients, which are usually adjacent to where the SST anomalies are greatest. If that occurs too far west, California may experience enhanced ridging. If that ridging is pushed further downstream (east) with a full-basin El Nino, though, California can reside squarely in the storm track.

          Also: 1977-1978 was actually pretty wet in California, so the El Nino that followed the intense drought of 76-77 did indeed bring relief (along with some flooding, though it was not extremely widespread). An outcome like this would be pretty optimal, given recent conditions. It’s still too early to tell, since we still don’t know for sure if this event will be strong or (as Kaumau has mentioned) whether it might be a more central-basin event with unfavorable teleconnections. Observations suggest we’re not likely headed for Modoki event, but again: we’ll know more soon.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            Socal was very wet during 1977-78 with Los Angeles receiving over 33″ of rainfall that season.

          • craig matthews

            Checking my records, 1977-78, 1992-93, and 2004-05 had some similar type of weather patterns and storms. And especially socal got a lot of rain those winters. Interesting that 1992-93 is not considered an El Nino, winter but it sure seamed like one if you look at how precipitation was distributed across the western U.S that winter.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            I had always thought that 1992-93 was an El Nino year, and I even thought that I remembered the media mentioning it as such back then. It was only recently when I found that it wasn’t classified as one. I don’t know if it was originally classified as an El Nino, only to be changed later in revised ERSST data (from CPC).

          • craig matthews

            I have read in past articles mentioning 1992-93 as a weak El Nino winter as well. Historic Nino 3,4 data shows there was a period where ssts in that region were at or above the +0,5C threshold, but did not last for longer then 4 months so the criteria was not met. But it is a good example of how we can experience weather patterns and storms and precipitation distribution that appears to have an El Nino like signature ,even though ENSO may be weakly positive or neutral.

          • Kamau40

            Craig/Dan-

            I remember 1992-93 being a very wet year for Ca. which ended our 6 and half year drought cycle at that time. The media are the ones who classified the year as being a weak El Nino year, but I found out later too that it was not at all an El Nino year and we had big wet juicy mid latitude storms. It was actually more of a Neutral to very slightly positive(0.0-0.5) ENSO year. What is even more interesting is that the year before(1991-92) that was a strong El Nino event(peaked Jan ’92 at 1.6c), but So. Cal actually got the brunt of the precipitation between Jan-Mar of that year which I remember quite well. Don’t know though if that was an Eastern or Central basin event. But, the long drought continued for the state because we only got near normal precipitation here in Nor Cal. This is why I have been saying all long we have to be very cautious about banking on this current event “guaranteeing” the state a wet winter. We just won’t know until it actually develops and gets here.

            http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ensoyears.shtml

          • craig matthews

            I am confused about how they classify El Nino vs El Nino Modoki, because it looks like, in some instances, that while an El NIno is developing, it can take on an “El Nino Modoki” appearance, and then later on become a full basin El Nino when the El Nino is fully developed. An example of this is the 1994-95 El Nino that is classified as “El Nino Modoki”. During that El Nino, warmer waters were more confined to the central pacific, but then later on during that event, the warmer waters did make it to the Peruvian coastline, thus making that El Nino look like a full basin El Nino to me. Animations of the 1994-95 El Nino and other El Nino are at: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/enso/enso.different.html#1. I understand the difference between El Nino and El Nino Modoki, but I am a little fuzzy on how they come up with the classification. I can’t pull up the webpage that shows the classifications so sorry. What am I missing here?

          • Xerophobe

            GREAT link…thanks!!

    • Dogwood

      Hey I’d take 94-95 rain season any year, and if that was a weak to moderate El Niño then someone should bust out the champaign that we’ve got a shot at a repeat.
      That was WET.

      • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

        More than anything else, I think this is simply a good illustration of the fact that very wet storms can occur in just about any year. There were some really spectacular individual storms that winter in Northern California–some which I remember vividly!

      • Dan the Weatherman

        1994-95 was a very good winter for Socal as well. There were a lot of storms and they were well distributed throughout the season if I am remembering correctly.

        • Kamau40

          Yes that is correct. I remember that year was very wet here in Nor Cal. We had flooding rains and the season started early which was about Oct ’94.

      • Xerophobe

        One wouldn’t think that San Jose, CA (where I was at the time) would get over 50% it’s annual average rainfall in January with this global SSTA. Maybe there was an active polar jet?

        • craig matthews

          Such a good example of how weather does not operate as some of us think it should do by the layout of ssts. And that northeast pacific ssts alone do not govern the way storms come into the west coast.

  • lightning10

    Getting the first upper elevation thunderstorms today in Southern Nevada today. Not a true monsoon but just enough for the highest peaks to get a little something.

  • redlands

    Ive been recording weather records at my station since August of 1981. The best rain season for me is 1992-93 with 29.05 of rain. 1982-83 with 24.48 1997-98 with 22.34 2004-05 with 24.21. 2010-11 i got 19.29 – with 10.46 in the month of Dec alone – without the 10.46 of rain in Dec-2010 – the 2010-11 would of only had a measly 8.83 of rain. — Keeping in mind during that same period 1981-2014 – i average bout 12 inches a year. Am looking foward to a 20 inch-plus rain season — 30- inch plus would be interesting.

  • redlands

    This May 2014 – records since August 1981 – at my station ended up as the 3rd warmest May – with( 6 Days) – 100 and above – the most for May. Is this somehow related to El Nino — will June,July,August,September be hot and set records for warmth ?

  • lightning10

    Must be fun living in Seattle this time of year getting power house storms till the second week of July.

    • Douglas Ricker
      • Douglas Ricker

        I should clarify that it’s been dry the past month or so, and relatively warm and sunny to boot. We saw plenty of rain earlier in the year, including the storms that helped trigger the deadly Oso landslide. I think we broke a few rainfall records actually.

  • lightning10

    Las Vegas is just coming out of one of its driest Meteorological Springs on record. Only a trace of rain fell at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas from March 1 to May 31. This amount ties 1950 and 1959 as the driest Meteorological Spring on record.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      Not surprising, since Socal is coming out of a rather dry spring as well.

  • xeren

    PDO for may is up to around 1 now. not a guarantee of anything, of course

    • Utrex

      If you study this chart below carefully, notice how after “chunks” of deep negative PDO, “chunks” of positive PDO follow soon afterwards. If I’m not mistaken we’re on the verge of entering a “chunk” of positive PDO…

      http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cmb/teleconnections/pdo-f-pg.gif

      • xeren

        i hope you’re right, but there are many times on that chart where there were large chunks in the negative, which then poked up above zero for a month and then fell back down. i don’t really think you can predict where things are going on that chart simply based on where it’s been recently.

  • Xerophobe

    From WU Jeff Masters..echoing Daniel’s post re: MJO recent forecast and possible Kelvins to further propagate this ‘thing’

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2694

    • craig matthews

      This is hopefull news. Hope this gets the atmosphere in El Nino mode too, like this article says might happen, with a good MJO in the making.

  • Kamau40

    Looks like strong MJO is still holding together quite well is currently moving out into the Western Pacific. This is what will indeed kick El Nino into high gear and we should start seeing the atmosphere respond to the very warm ocean water by Aug. See Howard Schectner’s comments from this morning and see the two attachments. The first discusses Michael Ventrice discussion blog on Jeff Master’s WU and the other shows the movement of the strong MJO.

    http://mammothweather.com/

  • Utrex

    Today’s SOI is -20.1… if it stays negative for a long time this means the atmosphere is establishing its El Nino state.

    • craig matthews

      Yes, long term values need to stay negative. The daily ups and downs are normal, but the long term positive values we have had the last 2 months do not go well with the developing El Nino in the ocean.

      • Kamau40

        Craig-
        Review the well explained article link on WU(weatherunderground) by Michael Ventrice attached on mammothweather.com from Howard Schectner. He clearly mentions that if the latest strong MJO holds together and materializes over the Western Pacific ocean over the next 1-2 weeks, it should help to kick start the El Nino event into high gear. The MJO event should in turn start a renewed period of strong WWBs starting by the end of June(critical at this point) into at least mid July and we should expect to the atmosphere to start responding to the warm ocean water current sometime between July and Aug. If on the other hand, if the MJO fails to materialize I think that may also hinder for the El Nino to becoming a strong event later in the year(weak to moderate at best) and thus we will likely to have weaker precipitation signals this upcoming winter. We will be watching to see what happens to the current MJO and we should start to have a better idea of things might play out regarding the El Nino that is trying to develop for next winter in the coming weeks.

        • craig matthews

          Thanks. Its good to see these scientists and the computer models agreeing on this possibility, and it gives us some confidence that this El Nino could still be strong. It might develop more similar to the 1982-83 El Nino(not using this El Nino for an analog, or saying it is similar structurally to current El Nino). But the 1982-83 El Nino developed strongly later in the year, and this one might do the same.

    • craig matthews

      Seams like the atmosphere is having a hard time changing over to the El Nino state. Maybe the new MJO will do the trick

      • Xerophobe

        I have been waiting for some sign of this teleconnection to develop. I’ve looked at historical SOI’s and not seeing the atmosphere ‘hook up’ with the SSTA by this time of the year has been a little disconcerting to me regarding this whole event. This event may be an anomaly in more ways than one.

      • Utrex

        negative soi means el nino

        • craig matthews

          Thanks. I am still learning about SOI.

  • Danalith

    I’m new to the weather language, but I am learning as I go, can someone explain the SOI to me?

    • Xerophobe
      • Danalith

        Thank you, I am trying to learn a lot of terms in a short time. I am doubly interested in an El Nino because I was hit by a mud slide already this year back in February/March and so I have been trying to educate myself on the markers, but it can be complicated if you are new.

  • lightning10

    GFS showing its first monsoonal blast of the season. Its not much and its only for extreme Eastern So Cal. It does show the flow switching over.

  • craig matthews

    Check this out. This is 06z GFS opps run 6-11 forecast 500mb heights and rh for 6-21. If this were to verify, then we’d be looking at a strong 4 corners high and a weak upper level low off socal coast steering mid and upper level flow out of the southeast in 10 days. If there is any available moisture over Mexico to draw from, that combined with a lot of heat over the desert southwest might make an early start to the monsoon season. Its just one computer model run, and this will probably change. But other models are starting to show this too. I did some research on monsoon season start dates and found this one article that’s interesting: http://phoenix.about.com/od/weather/a/monsoontrivia.htm

  • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

    There are early suggestions that remnant moisture from from East Pacific Hurricane Cristina could move towards California later next week. This would be extraordinarily early in the season for such an event, since the average formation date for the second E. Pac. tropical cyclone of the season is mid-July! Certainly something to keep an eye on in the coming days…

    • Xerophobe

      Here it is showing 850hPa winds at 21:00 UTC

      • craig matthews

        Hope those winds remain weak off the California coast, and we don’t get a trough coming into the pacific northwest that would shunt the moisture east before it gets here. If anything, it sure looks like socal could see something from Cristina.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          It is still a bit too early in the season climatologically for Socal to receive moisture from eastern Pacific tropical systems, but with the strength of the systems lately, who knows?

          • craig matthews

            Yes, the latest models now take any left over moisture from Cristina into Texas. Too early, like you said. Need that 4 corners high to set up and the pacific jet to retreat up into the AK panhandle to allow any tropical influx to flow north and northwest up into California.

  • ApocalypseNow

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news but this new MJO Kelvin Wave is forecast to not make it to the Western Pacific and this potential “El Niño” will become “La Nada” before fall even begins; http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/ghazards/.
    Prepare for another dry winter.

    • Dogwood

      Yes we should absolutely prepare for another dry winter as Californians need to as a matter of course any given year.
      But I didn’t read any declarative abandonment of El Niño.
      To wit: “Given the inability for robust MJO activity to organize across the eastern hemisphere and shift coherently eastward in recent weeks, the official outlook calls for a continuation of weak or incoherent MJO activity over the next two weeks.”
      That seems about all that was projected.

  • http://yourlivingbody.com/ Your Living Body
    • Danalith

      The best part is where the Alaskan fishermen have never seen a yellowtail so they send it out for identification. Did anyone see the documentary about bears that they happened to film the year the salmon didn’t return because of the water temperatures? Most cubs died because the salmon run didn’t happen as usual. I wonder how much more of that we will see.

  • Kamau40

    A brief comment from Howard Schectner this morning regarding ENSO in terms of what type of weather patterns to expect this Summer for Ca. Please note this is NOT a forecast, but key weather signs to look for during the Summer if El Nino develops into a strong event:
    http://mammothweather.com/

    • craig matthews

      Are these key weather signs to look for based off of statistical data from past strong El Nino summers? The updated long range forecast models now show a weak trough off the west coast and a ridge further east toward Texas going into July, which goes along with those signs Mr. Schectner noted too. Depending on the placement of these features, remenants of tropical storms could get drawn north into California if the trough off the west coast is located in the right place(further offshore), and the ridge to the east amplifies north. I think it was Dan the Weatherman that said something along that line too?

      • Kamau40

        No, I think he is going by experience. I am not aware of any statistical data from past strong El Nino summers. I think Dan(The Weather Man) response in the last paragraph above may support of what we can expect if El Nino develops into a strong episode. Now, we have lived thru only two major events since 1980. During the 1982-83 and 1997-98 years, which were strong El Nino events, I do remember that those Summers were more humid than normal, we had many days that were in the 90s, but not many 100 degree weather, not much fog along the coast due to above normal water temp, and we had tropical activity during latter part of those Summers. Should the El Nino developed into a strong event, Dan(Weather West), had also mentioned in a previous blog that we could possibly see those types of weather features this Summer. I’m sure he will be discussing more about that down the road.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          Even in a moderate El Nino such as 1994-95, the humidity tends to be higher in the summer and the monsoon is often more active as well. Weak El Ninos I don’t believe affect the summer as consistently as stronger events, except that 2006-07 had a really hot and humid July here in Socal. The winter of 2006-07 was the driest on record for Los Angeles and other Socal locations, but Norcal fared much better with more rainfall and more snowfall in the northern Sierras if I remember correctly.

          • craig matthews

            Summer of 1991 moderate El Nino quite active for thunderstorms in central California too, with many balmy humid nights with nocturnal thunderstorms.

        • craig matthews

          Reason why I ask about statistical data for summers; I thought I saw a link on Howards page that showed a history of weather obs for Mammoth. But I don’t see it now. It would be interesting to have access to data like; temp, precip, dew point, and thunderstorm days during past summers in Mammoth(and other sierra locations), to see if during summers when an El Nino was developing, that the sierra had more humid days with more thunderstorm activity. NCDC has some data, buts it hit n miss.

      • Mike Stephenson

        Kevin Martin is predicting the 4 corners high to set up at the end of the month, i hope he’s right! http://www.southerncaliforniaweatherservice.com/2014/05/31/june-2014-weather-forecast-for-southern-california/

    • Dan the Weatherman

      That sounds much more like a La Nina summer as opposed to an El Nino summer, with a persistent weak trough in the west. This pattern that Howard mentioned was really exaggerated in both summers of 2010 and 2011 as the trough in the NW was really pronounced during the summer months, especially 2010, leading to more springlike conditions overall with only short bouts of high heat and thunderstorm activity.

      From what I remember during past summers with developing El Nino is that the Four Corners High is more established and persistent, leading to higher heat due to the ridge and more intrusions of monsoonal moisture aided by increased tropical activity in the Eastern Pacific.

      • Kamau40

        Your response in the last paragraph seems to accurately describes a typical Summer in Ca. during a developing strong El Nino episode. If I recall that is the type of weather pattern we experienced during the Summer of 1997 as the strong El Nino event was developing.

  • Danalith

    What are people’s opinions on the extremely early nature of the two cat 4 hurricanes – the second one coming more than a month earlier than normal? And when was the last time there were such early hurricanes?

    • xeren

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_California_hurricanes

      at least of the notable ones, looks like June 1990? 24 years ago?

      • Danalith

        Ok, so there have only been four years that actual 2 or more hurricanes have hit between May and June in the Pacific-East? Is that right?

        1984 was the first recorded time that we have had two cat 4 hurricane level storms may-June and it had a total of 4 hurricanes from May-June.

        2012, there were 2 hurricanes from May-June, a cat 2 and 3.

        2013 had three hurricanes from May-June all cat 1s.

        2014 has had 2 hurricanes (so far) from May-June both cat 4s.

        (there is unconfirmed information about 1956 I don’t know where to begin to research this or the accuracy, and am taking 1992 out because the first hurricane was in January and not considered part of the seasonal hurricanes)
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Pacific_hurricanes#Highest

  • ApocalypseNow

    Why isn’t anyone talking about the Elephant in the room?
    This current MJO is forecast to weaken rapidly well before it it gets near the Eastern Pacific. The SOI index is at La Nina threshold. The subsurface warm pool is cooling down. We are in for a repeat of the 2012 “La Lada” episode. On the plus side, the fall of 2012 did bring above normal rainfall to California.

    • Kamau40

      I have not seen any evidence the MJO is weakening as of late. See attached link below which reveals it is still strong and holding together.

      Also, the SOI will fluctuate until the atmosphere starts to respond to the warm ocean water which should not happen until sometime between Jul and Aug. Review article below which is what I sent a few days ago.

      http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/MJO/CLIVAR/ECMF_phase_MANOM_51m_full.gif

      • ApocalypseNow

        http://www.commdiginews.com/business-2/economics-economy/el-nino-2014-early-strength-fades-19366/

        Maybe it won’t fade completely but what about the fact that the National Weather Service is calling for a weak rather than strong, or even moderate El Nino?

        • xeren

          the link you posted says the exact opposite.

          “New model forecasts out this month suggest that the consensus probability of El Niño this summer and winter is higher than ever, up to 80 percent by midwinter”

        • xeren

          i’m not saying el nino won’t end up being weak, but every time a kelvin wave finishes, and the SST’s (predictably) back off a couple tenths of a degree for a month or two, everyone decides that’s the new trend and that el nino is kaput. just wait until another kelvin wave comes through in ~august and everyone starts proclaiming that el nino is back to full strength!

          i wish people wouldn’t be so swayed by natural variability within a larger trend.

          again, i’m not guaranteeing a strong el nino, but we all knew temps would back off a bit as the recent kelvin wave ran its course

        • xeren

          also, your link has the people looking at the data looking at an outdated PDO – they still think it’s in the negative phase and are basing their forecast on that!

          terrible work. the PDO has been in positive phase for months now, and they don’t seem to realize it.

          http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cmb/teleconnections/pdo-5-pg.gif

        • Mike Stephenson

          That’s kinda scary if you really trust the NWS

        • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

          The CPC has yet to issue an intensity forecast. The peak of the probabilistic plume is currently pegged around moderate-to-strong.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      After the fall of 2012, it has all been downhill from there in terms of precipitation for the state.

      • Kamau40

        Dan-
        The AMO has flipped back to its positive phase at 0.021 as of May. Have not seen the values for the PDO yet.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          Hopefully it doesn’t continue to trend that way and goes back to negative. However, as long as the PDO continues to stay positive, even if the AMO trends more positive, we should still be in relatively good shape as long as the El Nino continues to develop. If the El Nino fails and we go back to ENSO neutral or weak ENSO, then the atmosphere would likely still have the “memory” of -PDO / +AMO of last year and the winter could be another dry one. (As a side note, the AMO and PDO were both positive during the 1997-98 El Nino). The worst case scenario would be if the PDO goes negative, while the AMO goes positive.

  • Kamau40

    This brings to mind a question though, does anyone know when the atmosphere finally started to respond to the warm ocean waters in the Pacific during both the 1982-83 and 1997-98 El Nino events?

    • Xerophobe

      FWIW here’s a timeline for 82-83 I found.

      http://www.oc.nps.edu/webmodules/ENSO/history.html

      • Kamau40

        Great link. Very helpful, thanks!

        • craig matthews

          That is such good n helpful info from both of you. Some past strong El Nino’s were late bloomers. And that’s what might be happening here. Not gonna give up on this one yet.

  • Utrex

    You all need to remember the strong El Nino of 1982-83 was even at a much weaker state than the state we are in. However, by the end of the year, serious WWBs kicked up and the El Nino heated up like crazy. If that were to happen, we could have an even more intense El Nino than the 1997-98 one. WE are right in between the 1997-98 and 1982-83 El Nino heat stage, so we definitely have hope for any Strong El Nino of sort.

    • Kamau40

      In reviewing the link below regarding the 1982-83 El Niño event, the atmosphere did not start to respond to the warmer Pacific ocean waters until later 1982(about Sep’82). The waters currently are much warmer than the 1982-83 event. If the MJO holds together strongly as currently projected then another round of strong WWBs should develop out of the W. Pac later this month into early July. We should then start to see the response between atmosphere and the warm ocean waters by early Aug.

  • Dogwood

    Really nice and interesting graphic of 20 El Niños from strong thru weak since 1950 and the US rainfall they influenced.
    http://www.climate.gov/news-features/blogs/enso/united-states-el-niño-impacts-0
    Edit to point out, it’s the 6/12 blog post.

  • ApocalypseNow
    • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

      That’s not for the Nino 3.4 region. In any case, I reserve judgement until after the upcoming MJO event is over. ;)

      • ApocalypseNow

        If 3.4 stays warm while 1+2 cools, don’t we have a Modoki which could mean a dry winter as well? Anyway current projection for all the regions looks uncannily similar to what happened in 2012 (which means a potentially wet fall and early winter) but a rapid drying trend in mid-winter.

        • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

          The oceanic heat content and sea surface temperature anomalies are quite different this year from 2012, and I’m kind of suspicious of that Nino1+2 CFS projection accuracy. But I will admit: we’re not seeing the kind of push towards a very strong El Nino event that some would have expected a couple of months ago. It could very well still happen, but this is a great illustration of how next winter’s precipitation in California is still very much up in the air.

          • ApocalypseNow

            Do you think the CFS is basing the forecast off of the 2012 experience and/or SOI? Do you still believe the MJO event for this month will be strong?

          • Kamau40

            Dan-
            Ditto your comments above. Furthermore, which I have been saying all along, we just don’t know yet what type of winter weather pattern we will have until we have a better idea of the strength of the ENSO, which indeed will make a difference in the precipitation signals for Ca during upcoming Fall/Winter.

  • Guest

    Looks like the waters are cooling this month as well.

  • craig matthews

    Here’s a really good site that shows animations of different el nino’s, and both temp and precip anomalies for every month during both el nino and la ninas, and OLR anomalies for past years as well. I posted it before and I’ll do it again cuz its so good. http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/enso/enso.different.html#1. It might also answer some questions about how El Nino affects our summertime weather as well.

    • Boiio

      Very cool. Interesting to see how late in the summer the 82/83 event really got going and then how rapidly it developed.

      • craig matthews

        Yeah, I’m wondering what caused that to happen. Maybe a good strong Westerly Wind Burst and another strong Kelvin wave occurred that summer. Some great illustrations on that page.

    • Kamau40

      This is a great website link detailing and showing the comparisons of the most powerful El Nino episodes since the 1950s. Another thing to note that the animations even reveal that the structure for each event is different which also resulted in different weather patterns

      • craig matthews

        There’s a lot more info on that page then just animations as you could see. This page also links you into other great resources as well. Interesting to see the temps and precip anomalies given for each month during our wet season for both El Nino, Neutral, and La Nina years. They did have a link for summer season temp and precip anomalies for El Nino and La Nina years too, but I don’t see it now, sorry. Maybe the signals are just too weak to take note? Anyway, Daniel Swain has a real good tweet on the right side of this blog above that might shed some light too. Gonna check it out, looks good.

  • lightning10

    From El Nino to El skunko.

    • ApocalypseNow

      Well; the speculation was fun while it lasted. The El Nino could still get here but with a whisper rather than with a bang. I am predicting that we get around average rainfall for the 2014-2015 season with a slightly wetter than average fall and slightly drier than average spring. Better than the drought but not anywhere near the level of excitement that Nino wishers and hoped for.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        It is way too early to say how strong or weak this El Nino event will be at this time, as we have hardly even passed the spring predictability barrier. We won’t know for sure until early to mid-fall, and a lot can change between now and then.

        • Loyal Brooks

          And thank god wet years do not hang on El Nino events! They happen in all types of years. It is not precisely known why this is true.

          • Kamau40

            Loyal-

            You’re analysis above is absolutely correct!! To further back up you’re statement, here is a link of S.F annual rainfall data record going back to 1849.
            http://ggweather.com/sf/monthly.html

          • Dan the Weatherman

            It is definitely true that wet winters can happen at any time regardless of ENSO, but a moderate to strong El Nino does raise the odds of having a wetter winter more than other setups.
            I think the least likely scenario of a wet winter is during a -PDO, +AMO, ENSO neutral to weak ENSO event or when the PDO wildly fluctuates between neutral, positive, and negative with the same other conditions just mentioned. I looked back at 1959 and 1961 and realized that the PDO was highly variable from month to month during those two seasons during an overall -PDO phase. 1961-62 is the only wet year with a -PDO, +AMO, ENSO neutral that i could find in records going back to 1950.

          • Kamau40

            Dan-
            Yes, I noticed that too in doing some recent research on historical rainfall records in S.F and examining the recorded phases of the PDO and the strength of the ENSO during the last 50-100 yrs. It seems me that when the PDO/ENSO are not in the right phase they can, along with of course other important global tele-connection features, certainly can have a significant impact on the positioning of the jet stream winds during Ca. cool precipitation season. They also seem to affect the positioning of high/low pressure systems globally. I might add too that the cycle of the sunspots(low/max) can and does affect the ocean’s SSTA(Sea Surface Temp Anomalies) indices. It seems to me that the two important key features to watch for when we approach the upcoming cool wet season again will be the strength of the ENSO and what happens to the phase of the PDO which as we learned in the past that they are not independent from one another.

    • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

      It’s still too early to make a high confidence statement about El Nino’s eventual strength. We do know that the atmosphere has thus far been sluggish in responding to robust ocean anomalies, but that could easily change with the occurrence of just one or two big WWBs this summer. Even with a significant El Nino, though, there’s no guarantee of a wet winter in California.

      • ApocalypseNow

        Is the current MJO still strong enough to produce a WWB? It seems that if this one doesn’t materialize, we’ll be running out of time to get our strong El Nino. Can the warm pool sustain itself through the fall with the current SOI?

      • Dan the Weatherman

        I don’t know if I am correct in this statement or not, but from what I have read (and maybe not fully understood because this topic is more technical in nature), it seems that the atmosphere hasn’t responded to ocean temperature anomalies in recent years (especially 2006-07) in the same manner that it has done in the past. The atmosphere’s sluggish response this time around may be related to this.

    • xeren

      i love all the people calling for a failed el nino based on daily data, in the earliest part of the cycle.

      don’t look at daily data and try to make annual predictions!

      we’ve even (recently) had a year that was predicted to be an el nino year as late as october, and the temps changed in as little as a month, becoming a weak la nina, IIRC.

      there’s still a LOT of time left for a big el nino to develop (or fall apart), but i wish people would stop making declarative statements like this with so little data

  • Utrex

    Interesting… by looking at the overall El Nino precip connections from Daniel Swain’s Twitter page, the Moderate El Nino of 1968-69 produced extremely high rainfall amounts for California… higher than the El Nino in 1997-98! In fact, it produced the most above-average rainfall out of any El Nino since 1950!

    • Danalith

      The 1938 storms that caused terrible flooding and mudslides was likely an El Nino condition. But in 5 days they had 2 storms that dumped 10 inches in the lowlands and 32 inches in the mountains. Here are some interesting pictures.
      http://www.kcet.org/socal/departures/columns/la-river/the-destructions-begins.html

    • Xerophobe

      the SOI was kinda unremarkable that year,as well. In my area there was a lot more rain in the 82-83 and 97-98 El Nino’s.

  • Utrex

    If you’ve all noticed the lack of WWBs (Westerly Wind Bursts) has caused the warm pool to slowly wade back westward, and the kelvin wave has sort of decided to weaken a bit. If we get a few more WWBs we will have an increasing-in-strength El Nino.

  • craig matthews

    That ridge in the eastern north pacific north-northeast of Hawaii remains.

  • craig matthews

    El Nino Precip Anomolies during the summer months taken from 15 cases.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      I still can’t believe that the rainfall in the desert SW is actually shown to be below average during El Nino episodes. I swear that the monsoon activity is enhanced during summers with developing El Nino, because the Four Corners High is more dominant and ridging in general is favored over the West in this type of pattern, and there are more opportunities for moisture intrusion from eastern Pacific tropical systems. Southern AZ would surely be more favored with tropical system remnants, and yet that region is shown as even more below normal, which makes absolutely no sense to me.

      • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

        The signal is quite weak, regardless. The Sonoran high can indeed be less dominant in El Nino years, since the ocean to the west is less cool and the thermal gradient is reduced from what it would normally be. For what it’s worth, both the CPC and CFS model directly are calling for a wetter-than-average monsoon this year in the Desert Southwest.

      • craig matthews

        I thought there would be a lot more green in southeast California and the desert southwest. Anyway, the sat picture below I got off of GIBBS satellite archives taken in July of 1992, which shows remenants of an old hurricane that came up the coast. This is what we might see later on this summer.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          Craig, that is a good example of what often happens in summers with developing El Nino: tropical storm/hurricane remnants bringing copious moisture to the desert SW and enhancing a monsoon-like flow. Sometimes the rain is stratiform in nature with the heavy cloud clover, and at other times the pattern is convective in nature when there are more breaks in the clouds allowing daytime heating to destabilize the atmosphere allowing thunderstorms to form, often accompanied by heavy rain and flash flooding.

  • ApocalypseNow

    Here’s the latest update: The same models that were once predicting a super Nino are now predicting a weak Nino. One model actually predicts a strong La Nina (which might be better than neutral if you’re looking for a strong snowpack and colder than normal conditions for the 2014-2015 winter).

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/CFSv2/imagesInd3/nino34Mon.gif

    • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

      There are presently no dynamical or statistical models projecting the development of La Nina conditions.

    • xeren

      SST temp forecasts, are, in my experience, the least reliable charts to look at in all of climate forecasting. they change dramatically every week.

      i used to squint at them too, but after a while, i realized there was more or less no point in looking at them other than to laugh at how drastically they change from week to week

  • ApocalypseNow

    I’m having trouble finding the latest PDO info online? Is it still positive?

    • xeren

      if you are referring to the monthly pdo, i had posted it in a reply to you just a couple of days ago.

  • craig matthews

    Wouldn’t this be interesting if it happens later on this summer. Satellite picture from early August 1991.

    • Kamau40

      Craig-
      Based on past experience, growing up and living here in Ca, depending on how the El Nino pattern sets up and its strength, the best chance we could see some surprises in terms of tropical remnants from E.Pac hurricanes/tropical storms and convective activity in the state will probably be between Aug-Oct. The satellite picture above from 1991 was during the development of a strong El Nino event which only half of the state got the brunt of the wet storms of that winter and that was So.Cal which of course did not end the 6yr old drought at the time. But, from what I remember we did get come convective activity during Aug-Sep of that year which also affected Nor Cal/Central Cal.

  • lightning10

    Here is a graph showing El Nino and rainfall averages

    http://www.climate.gov/sites/default/files/ENSO_USimpacts_precip_lrg.jpg

  • Kamau40

    The latest PDO index as of May ’14 has trended even further strongly positive at 1.80. For those who have been having trouble seeing the latest values, here is the link below:
    http://jisao.washington.edu/pdo/PDO.latest

    • xeren

      wow, that makes it the highest PDO value since…you guessed it – 97/98!

      and, just looking at this long term chart,

      http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cmb/teleconnections/pdo-f-pg.gif

      that value is easily in the top 10 highest PDO values (at least if you only count each time the PDO goes higher than 1.8 and stays there for a few months as one event) in the last ~60 years.

      as WW has pointed out, of course, this isn’t necessarily good for an el nino, but extreme values like this are always interesting to watch

      • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

        A strongly positive PDO–if this persists for the next several months–would potentially be a signal for a wetter winter. However, as I’ve mentioned in the past, the PDO does not drive ENSO (if anything, it’s the other way around), although there are some exclusively extratropical aspects to the PDO pattern of variability. Because the PDO is defined by the occurrence of a particular spatial pattern of sea surface temperature anomalies (rather than the value in a box, as is El Nino), it may more directly relate to atmospheric teleconnections. There is a much stronger California precipitation signal during years in which the PDO and ENSO are in-phase, so this is certainly something to keep an eye on.

      • Kamau40

        Ditto Dan’s comments below which we discussed in detail before in the past.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      I just hope this positive trend of the PDO continues! Even if the AMO goes somewhat positive, the PDO being positive will increase the odds of wetter weather in the future. We just need El Nino this year so that our chances of a wet winter are increased for this next season, because in my opinion if we go back into a ENSO neutral situation, the atmosphere may have the “memory” of the -PDO / +AMO pattern of last year and may be another very dry winter as a result.

      • Kamau40

        Exactly!!

    • craig matthews

      It all comes down to what the pacific jet will do next winter season, and whether or not the RRR will remain. If that blocking ridge(the RRR) never leaves and remains in the northeast pacific, I believe there will be a much better chance that the ridge will get undercut next winter, especially if the PDO stays positive and ENSO stays positive, even if ENSO does not get as strongly positive as we hope to see. There was a brief period late this last winter where the RRR did get undercut, and wow, those were 2 very powerful storms that were allowed into California. It seamed like there were several times this last winter where that RRR should have been undercut by the pacific jet, but there just wasn’t enough force at our latitude to do the trick. Now this next winter, a slight change in position of atmospheric features and a stronger pacific jet might just do it for us. Plus the fact that the pattern has shifted some already, especially in the western pacific. As you mentioned the pattern does look different then it has the last 3 winters and I agree. Whatever the case, we just want it to rain again, like it use to do.

      • Xerophobe

        Here’s a kinda graphic (SFW) view of what was going on there and not going on here, last winter.

        • craig matthews

          If we get this same high latitude blocking next winter, I am inclined to think that the pacific jet will undercut that ridge with the aid of a stronger sub tropical jet associated with El NIno, and possibly a positive PDO. That blue area northwest of Hawaii might be extended toward California underneath the red blob over Alaska. A shift like that could put California in the bullseye of the southern branch of the pacific jet full of moisture laden storms. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if California goes from severe dry to sudden drenching and possible flooding. It just a California thing anyway: from droughts to floods. Anyway, this is just my opinion, not scientific based at all.

  • Cliff Collipriest

    This lay person just wishes ONE of you guys would figure out if CA will have a rainy winter :-)

    • Xerophobe

      From one lay to another ;-)

  • lightning10

    I think what we need is a big time heatwave over the area and the ocean like we had in May. That might help the El Nino out more than these huge troughs.

  • ApocalypseNow

    Given the positive PDO but lack of consistency in the signals in the Eastern Pacific over the past month along with the weakening MJO for June/July, what would you say the revised odds are for?

    1) A super El Nino
    2) A moderate El Nino
    3) A weak El Nino

    4) La Nada aka neutral

    5) La Nina

    • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

      What ever happened to a regular old strong event?

      The dynamical models current peg the most likely outcome as a moderate event by fall, with the caveats that 1) the models tend to underestimate strong events and 2) the atmosphere this year has been very slow in responding to ocean signals. With that kind of uncertainty, it could go either way, but it’s still very difficult to envision not seeing El Nino conditions being formally declared at some point this year.

      The “super El Nino” terminology is a bit of a distraction, I think. I’ll be paying close attention to where the SST gradients set up this year, as it’s that aspect of the event that has the biggest implications for CA cool-season precip.

      Regardless of El Nino eventual strength, though, it does look like the E. Pac. hurricane season will be enhanced by much above normal SSTs this year. There’s already evidence of this with recent activity…

      • Dan the Weatherman

        Two of the hurricanes in the eastern Pacific have been Category 4 storms and this is very early in the season for storms of that strength. From the looks of things as Daniel Swain mentioned above, the eastern Pacific is going to be pretty active this summer, and hopefully some of the remnant moisture can bring some weather excitement to Socal later on.

        I wonder why the atmosphere has been slow in responding to ocean signals this year?

        • ApocalypseNow

          I believe the average rainfall for most Southern California coastal locations in September is around a quarter of an inch but the median is zero. Is September rain always in the form of tropical or monsoonal moisture or is it sometimes an early season cold front more typical of winter? It seems with the median being zero, it would mean that when it does rain (maybe once every 2-3 years) in the L.A. area in September, it would be be around half an inch or so to bring the average up to a quarter of inch for the month.

          In any case, the vast majority of the rain in L.A. falls from December through March so while a stray September thunderstorm might provide some “excitement” for you, it would do little to relieve the drought. We need an early start to the rainy season and for it to continue throughout the spring months.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            September rainfall in Socal is usually from a monsoonal pattern or tropical moisture from eastern Pacific tropical system remnants. However, once in a while, an early season fall storm can come in from the north to bring a bit of rain, but it has been quite a while since that happened. That did happen in early October 2010 after a couple of very hot days to end September.

      • craig matthews

        I wonder the same thing “what happened to a regular old strong event?”. Historical data shows we use to get one strong El Nino per decade, but since the 1997-98 strong event, we have not had one. I thought that maybe the PDO had something to do with it, but there is no conclusive evidence, and as it has been said; ENSO drives the PDO and not the other way around. The forces that make El Nino strong just aren’t lining up the way they use to do. Or maybe those forces just aren’t strong enough. I don’t understand it. Right now, it looks as if once again, that one force we need to kick this El Nino into high gear is being blocked from entering the pacific basin. Though there is still room for hope that it could still happen.

    • Mike Stephenson

      Its been 15 years, the odds are on our side even if the signs are not

    • Xerophobe

      1) 0%
      2) 50%
      3) 35%
      4) nil
      5) nil
      6) strong <15%
      MJO I think is reactive to what's going on around it than having a mind of it's own to support or corrupt the +ENSO.

  • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

    Starting to look like we may be headed for a rather intense and prolonged heat wave by the end of the month. I’ll have a full blog post on this in a couple of days assuming it continues to develop…

    • Dogwood

      That’s always interesting.
      On a side note, I’d read where San Jose’s all time high of 109 in 2000 which celebrates it’s anniversary in a couple of days is being reconsidered.
      Lots of that going around lately.
      See Libya and Phoenix.

    • Xerophobe

      Looking forward to it! Hey Dogwood, I was in SJ for that 109 degree event. This could be very stressful for many native trees and plants having virtually zero rainfall for the calendar year 2013.

  • lightning10

    Models all over the place. Todays 12z showed a strong storm for all the way down to Northern California. That is something you would expect to see in early June for a stronger La Nina year as La Nina tends to favor late season storms.

    • ApocalypseNow

      Last year, there was a late season cold front that hit the last week of June followed by a rare bout of humid heat in the Bay Area. Something similar in the cards?

  • so.cal.storm.lover

    This is an interesting link.
    http://ggweather.com/enso/ca_enso.htm

    • Xerophobe

      I really like the weather links page. The info is presented well and there is a TON of real good stuff. http://ggweather.com/links.html

      • craig matthews

        Zerophobe, here’s a real good source of weather data specifically for Monterey, California: http://met.nps.edu/~ldm/renard_wx . Or If that doesn’t work, the San Francisco NWS page under “climate” under “local” then scroll down to “Monterey”. A retired weather observer Robert Renard has been doing some very informative weather summery for Monterey since 1992. Full of good info if you are interested. Anyway, those sites you guys listed above are some of the best tangible data I have seen on how different strengths of El Nino affect different locations in California. Well done. It goes to show that the further south you are in California, the better for getting above average precip during any strength of El Nino.

        • Xerophobe

          Thanks! All this stuff is becoming a black hole for getting work done during the day. LOL :-)

          • craig matthews

            Yep, so easy to get wrapped up in these things and then look up to find hours have slipped past unnoticed.

  • inclinejj
    • xeren

      weird, the charts that this guy posted are all el nino indicators that are several months old. why would someone use these?? up to date charts are freely available!

    • Xerophobe

      All the squid boats seem to be in Monterey Bay and Peninsula, usually they are in So Cal.
      I don’t think fish are proactive and know when an El Nino or La Nina for that matter, rather their migration is a result of the warming/cooling water. But I am not a fish, so…… ;-)

      • inclinejj

        I was going to mention. Salmon Season started out strong but the schools have seemed to vanish in the last two weeks. Granted there has been a nasty north wind.

  • craig matthews

    Anyone here remember the June 4th, 2011 storm. This one dropped 5 inches of rain in 24 hours in Big Sur, along with damaging south winds from that deep surface low offshore. Its just fun to look at in dismal times like what we are in right now.

    • Dogwood

      That June was bookmarked by that storm and another at the end of the month IIRC. Both .75″+ in San Jose.
      So I got to pretend that I was living in Boulder that month, which was nice.

      • craig matthews

        I can’t believe how tightly wound up that surface low became at our latitude so late in the season that year. A storm like that is considered deep even for January standards. Big Sur river ran high and muddy after that storm.

  • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

    GFS suggesting a chance of some interesting weather around days 8/9 as an unusually deep trough tries to develop just off the NorCal coast. Would not expect a significant amount of precipitation, but there might be enough instability for some thunderstorms. Certainly something to keep an eye on.

    • craig matthews

      Do you think it might pick up some tropical moisture from that disturbance forecast to come up off the coast of Mexico around that time?

    • http://yourlivingbody.com/ Your Living Body

      Hopefully far enough off the coast to generate some surf for So. Cal.

    • Guest

      18z looking better…

      http://i.imgur.com/hHn2fRN.gif

    • xeren

      18z looking better…

  • xeren

    WW, where could I find the updates to the image you posted on twitter of the 850hPA westerly wind burst forecast?

    https://twitter.com/Weather_West/status/478950559966179330/photo/1

    • Xerophobe

      Dang that’s interesting. Daniel, maybe in your update you can mention this as well as giving us a primer in MJO? I’m not really sure now if MJO just reacts to it’s surrounding conditions regardless of forecast or if it forecasts an upcoming change.

  • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

    18Z GFS is wild! Current prog would bring a major storm to NorCal next Friday. Very hard to believe, but now this is something to keep a very close eye on!

    • Xerophobe

      The heat wave you spoke about would be after next Friday?

    • ApocalypseNow

      Given that this storm is a winter style trough and NOT remains from a tropical system, wouldn’t it be more indicative of a weak rather than strong El Nino developing? We saw this last June (didn’t make it to Southern California but Bay Area got a decent amount of rain) followed by a rare humid heat wave.

      • tomocean

        How do you correlate those two events?

      • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

        The behavior of an individual system is not a predictor/indicator of the behavior of the tropical Pacific. :)

  • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

    Newest models have (as expected backed off considerably from earlier today, but it still appears that some showers (and perhaps thunderstorms) may occur in NorCal late next week associated with an unusually deep summer trough.

  • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

    Quick update: big jump in Nino3.4 SSTs, and a new (possibly prolonged) WWB developing. Also, the North Pacific warm pool is now, well, ridiculously warm, with a region of +5C degree anoms.

    • Boiio

      Is that area of warm SSTs in the northern pacific a symtom of the RRR?

      • xeren

        it’s why the PDO is in positive phase, and my gut feeling is that is part of what was causing the RRR, but i don’t think there’s any scientific evidence – it could just be a coincidence

      • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

        Hard to say if it’s a symptom, a cause, or just a co-variate with the RRR. There is likely at least some causal interaction. The recent huge spike is pretty amazing, regardless. It’s making me wonder if the El Nino teleconnections may be atypical given the enormous mid-latitude SST gradients. I’ll be thinking about this in the coming weeks…

    • so.cal.storm.lover

      What do you propose caused that big increase in nino 3.4 ssts so quick.

    • craig matthews

      That is good news. That North Pacific Warm Pool is a mystery. What is causing that warm pool to sit there for so long? And now its getting even much warmer; what is causing that to happen? I have been thinking that it is the ongoing blocking pattern in the northeast pacific and very weak surface winds in that area, but I don’t know. Any thoughts?

      • Kamau40

        Craig-
        This is indeed very interesting. I’m still wondering about that North Pacific Warm Pool too which is exactly in the same area where the “RRR” has been established for the past year. Many of the long range SSTA models suggest that the warm pool is likely to remain there going into this next winter, but this time it will include the El Nino pattern. Also notice on the first link that the author of the article is predicting a cooler than normal winter in the USA(Similar to this past winter) due to the current and likely long range setup of the SSTA in several key areas between the Pacific Oceans and the Atlantic Oceans in the Northern Hemisphere. This also includes the developing El Nino pattern in the Central-Eastern Pacific Ocean. Now, we still yet don’t know what this all means for us here in Ca. Review links below….
        http://theweathercentre.blogspot.com/

        • craig matthews

          Kamua40-Great link. Right now in some ways, it appears that the north pacific warm pool is trying to disconnect from the warm waters to the south associated with developing El Nino. And in some ways it appears the north pacific warm pool is retrograding back to the west a little bit. You can see what I mean if you look at the latest sst anomaly animation. Also, sst anomalies have increased in the western tropical pacific, and it almost looks like the warm “tongue of water along the equatorial pacific associated with developing El Nino is becoming split into 2 warm pools. What is interesting, is that the CFS is forecasting the warmer waters with this El Nino to retreat back to the west this summer before making another surge back to the east this fall. In some ways, it looks like CFS is forecasting sst anomalies to actually drop to below average in the eastern pacific in the next few months. And I can believe it too, just by looking at the latest trend in the thermocline depth animation. You can see that the warm pool in the eastern pacific under the surface is shrinking big time. We really need that forecasted WWB in the next few weeks and a new warm kelvin wave to keep this El NIno alive.

          • Kamau40

            According to Dan’s blog(Weather West) it looks like another round of possibly strong WWBs are currently developing in the Western Pacific which will indeed reinforce the strong sst anomalies later this Summer. Also, the latest SSTA in the 3.4 regions has significantly jumped above the June’s projections at 1.0+ which is huge. Please refer to latest SST Daily anomalies above. To be honest, I’m now very skeptical of the CFS regarding the sea surface temp dropping in the eastern pacific based on the latest developments out in the Tropical Pacific and especially in light of the current huge jump in sea surface temp in the eastern pacific. This is great news for this El Nino event to have legs. Look for Dan’s updated post over the next day or two.

          • craig matthews

            Dan’s new post above gives us some encouraging news now. I have been beginning to have some doubts lately, especially when I see how much the thermocline(pool of warm water under the surface) in the eastern equatorial pacific has shrunk in the last month.

    • Dogwood

      I’ve already seen the agnostics coming out in doubt of the new spike in 3.4.
      I hope this is the one though.
      Thanks for the update.

      • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

        It is slightly suspicious, but I’m seeing it in all datasets, so it’s hard to conceive of a remote sensing error that would affect all of them in the same way. If it’s real, it puts the Nino3.4 way above model projections for June/July.

  • craig matthews

    12zGFS forecast 500mb heights and rh for 15 days from today. This is wishfull thinking and will probably change in future runs. But there have been hints in the longer range models of a 4 corners ridge setting up in 2 weeks with possible moisture influx being drawn up from the south from a hurricane off Mexico.

    • lightning10

      Living the dream. That would be nice where trough and ridge give it the right direction.

      • craig matthews

        Its wishfull thinking. The new models don’t show anything like what yesterdays GFS runs were showing for early July, in having the 4 corners high in the right place with tropical infux coming up from the south into socal atleast. Oh well, but that is to be expected in the models that far out.

  • Utrex

    Regards to zonal wind anomalies, does anyone know any link(s) that do show GFS zonal wind forecasts? Thanks so much.

  • lightning10

    Todays computer models even show some very light showers in parts of So Cal.

  • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

    Some pretty big news on the El Nino front (which will make it into a full blog update to be written tomorrow, probably published by late evening): SST anomalies have jumped way up over the past week. In addition, a new series of possibly strong westerly wind bursts are developing in the West Pacific. The Nino 3.4 region is now well above all model projections. It’s not clear what this is just a transient burst or something that can be sustained, but if the new WWBs create a new Kelvin wave that would reinforce the anomalies toward the end of summer, the probability of a stronger event may be increasing once again. Take a look at the SST anomaly loop below!

    • lightning10

      I don’t like that pocket of cold water off the coast. That is where the tropical moisture would feed up.

      • craig matthews

        Is that the cold pocket of water northeast of Hawaii you are talking about?

    • David Thomas

      We still need two see where El I Niño sets up shop depending on where it setup will have a big impact on are weather come fall so don’t get two excited this yet this winter can be way above normal rain fall or way below normal will this have two zee how the El Niño plays out druning summer

      • Utrex

        East Pacific-based El Niños or “full basin El Niños” usually have above normal precipitation for California. Taking a look at the amount of warm water on the coast of S. America can only conclude this El Niño will be an East Pacific-based El Niño. If it’s moderate, it will turn out like the 2009-2010 El Niño. All strong El Niños are East Pacific-based so they should all produce above normal precipitation for California.

        • David Thomas

          Good news

    • craig matthews

      This is encouraging! But I hope you address what is going on under the surface as well(T-Depth Animation). I have a lot of questions about what I am seeing on this anomaly loop; in regards to what appears to be the a building up of warmer waters in the western north pacific south of 20N. And the fact that it appears that the North Pacific Warm pool is retrograding back to the west and colder waters appear to be developing northeast of Hawaii. Could it be a fluctuation occurring in advance of the next kelvin wave that might develop this summer? Anyway, you are probably in the midst of writing up the next blog posting and I’m sure it will be awesome as always.

  • David Thomas

    We still need two see where El I Niño sets up shop depending on where it setup will have a big impact on are weather come fall so don’t get two excited this yet

    • ApocalypseNow

      You mean an El Nino Modoki? Remember that the Modoki of 2004-2005 gave Southern California one of the wettest winters on record.

      • David Thomas

        Nop I don’t mean Modoki El Nino where in my post did I say Modoki El Niño

    • JAY

      It is not, “two!” Just an FYI . .

  • craig matthews

    Anyone heard of the “Delayed Oscillator Theory”? Way over my head stuff! A prevailing theory of ENSO is that it behaves as a delayed oscillator in which Rossby Waves travel westwards off the equator to the western side of the Pacific where they are reflected and manifested as Kelvin waves along the equator and cause a reversal of the previous condition. I ran across this in an article I stumbled upon: http://orca.rsmas.miami.edu/~melicie/dmodel1.htm. The Delayed Oscillator Model. Very, very interesting theory that I wish I could explain but I don’t have the ability to put it into words others could understand. Maybe others on this blog will read it and might understand it more then me, and have something to say about it. But I think its important and related to what has been going on in the pacific, especially this last year. It also raises some questions about the RRR, and if it has some relation

  • http://www.weatherwest.com/ Weather West

    New post will be up in the late evening.

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