California enters extended dry period once again as high pressure builds; summer-like temperatures by mid-March

Filed in Uncategorized by on March 9, 2014 323 Comments

Recent Weather Summary

Active weather finally did return to the Golden State over the past several weeks. A handful of storm systems, driven by the first major easterly incursion of the low-latitude Pacific jet stream in over a year, brought substantial precipitation to essentially the entire drought region. One of these storms in particular was especially notable, bringing very active weather to Southern California (including severe thunderstorms and localized flash flooding).

Mini-supercell that produced an EF-0 tornado near Woodland, CA. Photo by Weather West member c33f.

Mini-supercell that produced an EF-0 tornado near Woodland, CA. Photo by Weather West member c33f.

In some parts of Southland, this storm brought the heaviest 1 and 2 day rainfall totals in several years. In the unstable airmass associated with the low, a few strong thunderstorms also occurred in Northern California, which ultimately culminated in the touchdown of a brief EF-0 tornado in fallow agricultural land just east of Woodland, CA in the southern Sacramento Valley.

Tornado-producing cell near Woodland, CA. Note that the actual funnel is visible near the center of this image! Photo by Weather West member c33f.

Tornado near Woodland, CA. Note that the actual funnel is visible near the center of this image! Photo by Weather West member c33f.

Weather West member “c33f” was lucky enough to capture this unusual event on camera, and photographs showing the impressive structure of the parent mini-supercell (and the tornado itself!) are included in this post. Elsewhere in California, the far northern reaches of the state have received more consistent precipitation over the past several weeks, as a moist plume of Pacific air (including a couple of modest atmospheric rivers) have sagged far enough southward to share some of Seattle’s rain with Eureka and the broader North Coast.

 

Recent precipitation in the context of ongoing drought

The occurrence of substantial precipitation across most of California in recent weeks represents a rare piece of good news in the midst of an otherwise rather stark situation. 30-day accumulated precipitation is actually near or above normal in some parts of the state, which is the first time that’s occurred in at least 14 months over any broad region in California. Rainfall intensities were high enough in many places to get the creeks and streams flowing, at least briefly, bringing some much-needed water to riparian ecosystems and generating a pulse of runoff into reservoirs at a critical time of year. 20140304_CA_trdThe seasonal grasses across California have finally–in early March–received enough water to germinate. Wildfire risk–at least for the moment–is fairly low thoughout the state. The Drought Monitor update after the major SoCal storm shows some modest, short-term improvement in drought severity in some places, though this took the form of a downgrade from “exceptional” to merely “extreme” severity in some cases.

But what about the bigger picture?  Amazingly, all this observed precipitation over the past 30 days doesn’t even bring us close to normal for calendar year 2014, let alone for water year 2013-2014. The vast majority of California remains below 50% of normal for the water year. Sierra snow water content, while slightly bolstered by recent storms in the south, remains at all-time record-low levels in the Northern Sierra and is dropping quickly elsewhere as unusually warm temperatures persist. And most concerning is the forecast for the rest of March: high and dry.

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No “March Miracle” this year

The forecast for the next couple of weeks looks extremely unfavorable for additional improvement in drought conditions in California and unfortunately will lead to re-intensification across most of the state. At the time of this writing, it’s actually raining across more northern parts of the state, and precipitation is expected to continue and locally expand as far south as the Sacramento/San Francisco regions overnight tonight. Locally moderate to heavy precipitation is possible across the far north as this warm system continues to push moist air onshore, and given high temperatures in the lower levels of the atmosphere it would not be a total surprise to see a thunderstorm or two tonight.

Current infrared satellite imagery depicting clouds streaming into Northern California from the southwest in advance of a weak cold front. NOAA/SSD.

Current infrared satellite imagery depicting clouds streaming into Northern California from the southwest in advance of a weak cold front. NOAA/SSD.

By Monday afternoon, however, all precipitation will be exiting the state as high pressure builds in from the south and west. This will set the stage for an extended period of completely dry conditions across the entire state, and possibly a period of record-high March temperatures as high pressure builds strongly overhead. In fact, the upcoming pattern greatly resembles that which occurred during the most intense period of geopotential height ridging associated with the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge.” What’s not clear at this point is whether the upcoming high-amplitude ridging will have the same extraordinary persistence as the RRR. Current model projections do suggest the continuation of mean ridging over or near the West Coast for at least the next 2 weeks, which means that California will likely approach the end of March with little or no additional precipitation after the very modest event tonight. While some precipitation does typically fall in April, prospects for substantial and drought-busting rains decrease rapidly by the end of March.

Ridging returns to CA. NOAA/ESRL

Ridging returns to CA. NOAA/ESRL

 

Continued momentum towards the development of El Nino

NOAA’s official ENSO Alert Status was upgraded to “El Nino Watch” this week in response to numerical model projections favoring the emergence of warm sea surface temperature anomalies in the tropical East Pacific over the coming months.

Sub-surface warm anomalies in the Central Pacific are currently very impressive. NOAA/CPC.

Sub-surface warm anomalies in the Central Pacific are currently very impressive. NOAA/CPC.

Recent observations continue to support these model forecasts, and at the time of this writing a very strong and sustained westerly wind burst is continuing to push a large pool of warm, sub-surface ocean water currently located in the Central Pacific further to the east. As I’ve previously mentioned, these sub-surface warm anomalies are quite large–now exceeding 4-5 degrees C–which suggests at least the possibility of a significant El Nino event later this year. I’ll continue to follow developments in the tropical Pacific in the coming months, so stay tuned to Weather West for updates!

© 2014 WEATHER WEST

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  • Dreamer

    What is the forecast for April, May, and June? Will May Gray dominate or will it be one of those hot Santa Ana Mays? June Gloom or blazing hairdryer inferno of the off shore flow?

  • James Fenimore Cooper

    The enthusiastic discussion of our one good storm this season is great, but Sierra snow pack is today 20% of normal after all said and done.

    What we need right now is: 1. Face the fact that our climate has changed due to 400 parts per million (PPM) CO2 and we aren’t going back to the “normal” everyone seems to assume will return. We’ve been warned for decades exceeding 350 PPM would bring droughts and heat.

    2. We need to move on and plan how to sustain this $2 trillion dollar State populated by 38 million people with much less rainfall. There are things that can be done like severe rationing and conservation, water recycling to the max, desalination plants (ideally run by Thorium molten salt nuclear reactors that do desal as a by-product to creating electrical energy) and other steps. Yes, these are big, difficult steps – but look at the alternative of State economic collapse.

    All the hopeful talk about the drought being “par for the course” is damaging to the State’s future since it inhibits real, hard nosed planning and action. Let’s get to work.

    • Charlie Hohn

      Human caused climate change affects things for sure but this was going to happen regardless. It’s in the tree rings and sediment cores. It might not even be due to human climate change. The West is prone to occasional very severe droughts.
      The drought is par for a course where no one is looking where they are hitting their golf balls. (and for that matter, they shouldn’t be hitting them at all unless the golf course is irrigated with reclaimed water)

      • I’m not quite sure how the fact that extreme droughts have occurred in the geological/dendrochronological past precludes a role for climate change in the present event.

        • Charlie Hohn

          Oh… It doesn’t at all. My point is they are probably Comorbid.

    • Dreamer

      Not necessarily long term climate change. Back in 2004 and 2005, the Gulf Coast had abnormally crazy busy hurricane seasons for 2 years in a row. Everyone screamed that this was the “new” normal due to climate change. Guess what? From 2006, onwards, most hurricane seasons (except for 2012) have been quieter than average with very few landfalling cyclones.

      Moral of the story: California could get well above normal rainfall (even record setting) for the 2014-2015 season and then there could be a long run of normal to above normal seasons after that.

      • I would definitely agree that it’s problematic when late-breaking weather events are casually attributed to climate change without some sort of substantial scientific analysis. But I think it’s equally unreasonable to assert that certain events intrinsically cannot be linked to climate change just because similar events have happened in the past.

        • scott

          Would you say that within the new variability there’s room for four seasons of record rainfall? and room for four straight seasons of 10 inches?

          • scott

            whups hit return too early – either way it’s a slow-rolling economic disaster since agriculture is engineered for conditions near the mean, or the old mean anyways.

    • Jeff Red Berry

      I just read the other day Sierra snowpack “on average” was at 35%. Not to parse, just what I saw.

      • Statewide snowpack average: 30% of average to date; 28% of April 1st average. N. Sierra is at 20%. It’s extremely low no matter how you slice it.

        • scott

          30% or whatever is actually a positive way of looking at a 70% shortfall. That’s looking at Demand in a conservative way – no one knows what actual demand would be if the water was there . . . so, think 70% shortfall, especially in ag-related employment, in groundwater recharge, in planning for demand or maybe reaction to met demand.

  • Zepp

    That’s about as dire a forecast as I’ve seen. We’ve gotten about 18″ of rain since it finally began raining in late February, which is just enough for grass to green up and grow. But there’s essentially no snowpack; at 7,000 feet it’s only six inches deep, which means it will be totally gone by the end of March.
    So we have enough moisture for lots of understory to grow, but it will be bone dry by June. And if the el Nino turns out to be a strong one, it means hotter and drier conditions on the interior, and an increased chance in late summer of a monsoonal flow. It’s hard to imagine fire conditions worse than that.

    • Dreamer

      Wouldn’t monsoonal flow bring rare summer rains (and a bit of humidity) to CA to REDUCE fire danger?

      • Zepp

        Possibly, but the odds are much greater that it will bring thousands of dry lightning strikes. As happened a few years back, when such a flow started over a thousand wildfires around the state. Some burned for months.

        • Dreamer

          Isn’t dry lightning an oxymoron? Thunderstorms mean rain nearby if not directly overhead.

          • Zepp

            Not in the West, I’m afraid. You get the clouds, necessary for the ionization to create lightning, but they aren’t moist enough to result in any significant rain. Dry lightning strikes are the bane of CalFire’s existence.

          • I’ve seen cloud-to-ground strikes coming from a cloud layer only 10000-15000 feet thick here in NorCal during monsoonal events, and those clouds sure aren’t capable of producing much (if any) precip at ground level. Often monsoonal storms in California will produce precip at the cloud base that never reaches the surface–which results in some pretty spectacular virga.

            I do think there will probably be an increased potential for convective events this summer in California given the recent evolution of ocean conditions.

          • Zepp

            That sometimes happens up here in the mountains, too. The virga, I mean. We get the opposite on some spring days; snow on a cloudless by windy day. Blow off of the mountain, you know.

    • alanstorm

      Zepp, good to see your area (or at least west of you) got some meaningful precip. Almost 4″ towards the coast. Yes, the “NoPack” is dire. Trinity Mtns nearly bare! Its been nice to have fire danger out of the conversation for a month, but I guess that’s over. My home is in the Mendocino Co highlands and fire danger is a yearly issue. I’ll never forget that dry-lightning 2008 nightmare. Over 100 seperate fires county-wide! The lingering smoke was unbearable. I had to leave for a week it was so bad. I’ve got a view of Sanhendrin Mtn east of Willits, (6000ft) and every summer I’ll watch dry thunderstorms build on it, flashing lightning, sometimes starting fires. All we can do us hope for another “inclusion of the pacific jet” next month & NO DRY LIGHTNING EVENTS this summer.

      • Zepp

        I figure if it stays dry, our fire season will resume by late April. As opposed to mid June most years. Ground’s good and wet, but usually we have between one and three feet of snow here at this point, so the ground stays hydrated well into the hot period. Usually it doesn’t become critically dry until late August, early September. This year? May, June if we’re lucky.
        Right now we have strong change winds blowing, gusting to about 45. Cloud cover vanished overnight. Highs around 70 at the week end.

  • What are the prospects of drought relief in California with the onset of an El Niño event. Doesn’t it generally lead to significantly increased precipitation state-wide?

    • Dreamer

      Next water year.

    • Jeff Red Berry

      It does, on a massive scale and in fact it is often too much a good thing. Granted, the reservoirs and the ground will soak up a lot of it, but El Nino’s tend to be destructive causing flooding, mudslides, and damage to agricultural concerns. That said it beats the alternative ie: another year of drought.

      • SFBay2

        Yep. I’d take it.

      • calibeep

        I think we need more reservoirs. Not wanting to get anywhere near the controversy of the Delta, though. Just want to raise funds for reservoirs!

        • Jeff Red Berry

          I agree entirely with you. After the “big” storm 2 weeks ago my daughter and I walked up to Lake Lagunitas in Marin. It was full to the tree line and the were running the spillway full bore. The “stream” that normally runs below was a river complete with rapids that would have easily washed a grown man away.

          I stood there watching it thinking “but, we, need, . . . that ?”

          We also have a problem with existing reservoirs which are not “seismic” and because of that can’t be filled to capacity.

          But beyond that there needs to be a fundamental re-thinking as to how we use what we have. And also the costs associated.

          IE: do we really need to water grass, wash cars, and flush toilets with EPA certified clean drinking water ? That’s crazy and the answer is we don’t.

          Also, Southern California and their swimming pools. That needs to become a significantly more expensive proposition.

          There’s an old saying about S.F. and restaurants: If everyone who lives in S.F. went out to dinner at once there would still be empty chairs.

          The same is true of Southern Cal and their swimming pools. If everyone in Southern Cal went swimming at once there would still be space leftover to get in the water.

          Also re-thinking land use and the concept of growing things like alfalfa which requires water and land to produce a food stock that is in turn fed to another food stock: Cattle.

          I love a steak as much as the next guy, but why not just grow food for humans ?

          It would be a cool legacy for Brown’s last term as governor if he started something that would put CA on a path of water sufficiency for the 21st Century.

          • scott

            I think the receding snowpack will offset any reservoir building gains; I think the coming movement to protect the Delta from searise will soak up dollars and political will that might pipe water from somewhere else. Fading snowpack is the problem – reservoirs are really for drinking water and recreation, sometimes flood control and helping the fish, but they will not run agriculture, which is our actual economic base here.

    • We would want to see evidence of a strong El Nino before making a prediction regarding precipitation next winter. Contrary to popular conception, the link between CA rainfall and El Nino events is only strong for upper-tier events. That is to say: a weak to moderate event would not have an appreciably higher than usual chance for above-normal precipitation, though it would probably make a repeat of this past winter very unlikely.

      • xeren

        i think this graph ordering el nino events by strength shows that questionable link

        http://50.87.144.177/~bestsnow/ElNino2013.jpg

        la nina events are much more predictive of low rainfall, and el nino events just seem to be predictive of volatility, except, as you mentioned, at the upper tier

  • Dreamer

    BTW- I actually found out there climates in this world that are way drier than Southern California that are NOT scorching deserts. The coast of Northern Chile has mild weather year round (days in 70s in summer and 60s in winter) but only gets measurable rain (the form of maybe a tenth of an inch or so) once every 10-20 years. There’s some food for thought!

    • RachelInCalifornia

      You mean the Atacama? It’s high up, so cool; but nothing much lives there, only miners, algae, lichens and the occasional cactus. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atacama_desert. Or the Norte Grande, where they drink the fog droplets? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Far_North,_Chile

      • Zepp

        Precipitation, rather than temperature, define a desert. Many people are surprised to learn that nearly all of Antarctica is a desert, receiving less than 10″ (250mm) of liquid equivalent. Some areas, such as the Dry Valleys, are even drier than the Atacama.

  • Jeff Red Berry

    Daniel, I ran across your blog by accident and upon reading it signed up for updates on the spot. I just wanted to say I love it, and to keep up the fantastic work.

    • RachelInCalifornia

      Jeff speaks for me. Great stuff. Helps to make the hemispheric circulation clear.

      • SFBay2

        Ditto what these two said. Thanks for the great blog updates – even if the news isn’t great, it’s really interesting to see the science written in an accessible way.

  • rainscout

    Thanks once again.. Weather west.. for the summation of this years weather situation..trying to remain scientific and look at the bigger picture..but as has been said many times on this blog…Calif. has some serious work to do to deal with what could be very unreliable weather patterns in the near future..this year maybe a pre-cursor to who knows what…I know tree ring data supports dry senarios in the past but as I said before there wasn’t 38 million people and massive agriculture and industry dependent on what could be a dwindling life supporting resource..hoping for El-nino once every 10-15 years is no way to plan for sustainability..and as much as I hope we get a wet one next year..i’m afraid everyone will just go back to life as usual….

    • CalNative

      There are 38 million elephants in the room when this issue is discussed. It seems rare that anyone will question the wisdom of allowing developers to invite 38 million water-guzzling people to live in an area where precipitation is unreliable at best, all of whom have been told they can have a garden straight out of the south of England, replete with emerald green lawn and thirsty rose bushes (“Be Water Wise” PSAs notwithstanding.) Then we need to grow food in the semi-arid central valley to feed them, requiring even more water. Water for both purposes has to be moved around the state via a massive technological infrastructure, including the aqueduct that destroyed the Owens Valley so that Los Angeles can look like Strafford-on-Avon. You can build as many dams and desalination plants as you like, which may sustain the unsustainable a little longer, but will further contribute to the wholesale degradation of local ecosystems. Climax forests die, wildlife disappears, native pollinators vanish, but we’re still here, dammit, and isn’t it great to live in a place where it never rains?

  • Nick W.

    This is definitely the worst winter ever. I’ve never seen so many hot/dry days during the winter in all of my life in California. I can’t believe these evil ridges of high pressure keep dominating our weather pattern so often in the past three years. This trend is so disturbing. It’s like a sci-fi movie. I don’t know what to do.

    This state needs to take immediate action if we’re ever going to sustain life here without much help from Mother Nature.

  • Pingback: California Weather Blog: California enters extended dry period once again as high pressure builds; summer-like temperatures by mid-March » MAVEN'S NOTEBOOK | MAVEN'S NOTEBOOK()

  • Cliff Collipriest

    Another Great Article Dan, as disappointing as the predictions are.

  • rainscout

    CalNative…I think you ..sadly…put it exactly like it really is…I feel exactly the same way and feel greatly for the diminished ecosystems…

  • alanstorm

    Well Willits/Mendocino Co got around 1.5″ & areas in Humboldt /Del Notre got 2″-3″. Rivers are up but not for long, better then where we were a month ago. Worse thing I think is the lack of snowpack statewide. So I guess its back to the January drought-pattern for now. Neat.
    Weatherwest- you say “the first incursion of the low level Pacific jet in a year” finally gave us some rain. So shouldn’t we be paying much closer attention to the action/inaction of the jetstream and why it’s all screwy? I keep asking if this weak, wavey jet going up into Alaska is allowing a RRR to build and strengthen but haven’t got a yay or nay. Could this be the cause of it??

  • rainscout

    alanstorm.. great to hear the north coast got something..five minute sprinkles was all we got here south of San fran…Your ? to weatherwest is a good one as I too wonder where any real jet stream energy is…seems like every “storm” we have had has pretty much lacked any real dynamics like I remember of some years past…certainly no cold air to help wring out the moisture..There has been some discussion of the jet stream in the blogs but i am sure Daniel could shed some educated information on the jet stream dynamics..

  • Whyyousoandso

    This is really disturbing….

    Is there any word on when, exactly, El Nino might develop? I know it’s not a cure-all, and presents many problems (mudslides, etc.), but I ache for the wildlife and native veg out there.

    • craig matthews

      The current projections on CPC’s ENSO page predicts a 50 percent chance that el nino could develop this summer, possibly in the may-july period. However, there are some indications of a more rapid and intense development of el nino partly due to the recent very strong kelvin wave and westerly wind bursts that are propagating east across the equatorial pacific. But who knows.

      • I think the CPC forecast is pretty conservative. I’d put the odds at some sort of El Nino developing by early fall 2014 at 70-80%.

        • Dreamer

          What about the odds of a strong El Nino like 1997-1998? By the way, I found out that September of 1997, HURRICANE LINDA was forecast to make landfall in Southern California at one point but it turned away from land so that Sharknado movie about a hurricane hitting LA is not as far out there as you think. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwsqFR5bh6Q

        • OnShoreFlow

          is there an analog from 97-98 comparable to the current state of the conditions?

  • craig matthews

    It appears that last weeks intense storms that hit central and socal came about 2 weeks after that intense westerly wind burst along the equator in the western pacific. And now we just had another even more intense westerly wind burst in that same area. So I am hoping this “might” mean another round of intense storms for california by the end of this month. This is just speculation, and there may not be a connection here.

    • Xerophobe

      Are you referring to the anomalies here?

      • @Xerophobe-
        Could you possibly post a link that that TAO data?

      • craig matthews

        I was referring to CPC’s ENSO weekly update and graphs plus their MJO updates and graphs as well, which show another strong westerly wind burst just west of the date line that just occurred this last week. But the chart you provided seams to show the same thing. Thanks for providing that info. I too am looking for better graphs.

    • Dreamer

      I’m going to stand by my prediction of ZERO rain for L.A for the rest of the spring and that the next rain LA will see will be when people least expect it (August).

      • craig matthews

        In 1977 we had more rain in August then any other month in Big Sur. I think the same think happened in socal. If el nino develops, its even more possible to have a wet august.

        • Dreamer

          What about more than just “rain” for LA in August? What about this scenario: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwsqFR5bh6Q

          Think it’s impossible? HURRICANE LINDA was forecast to hit Southern California at one point during the El Nino of 1997 but the storm turned away at sea eventually and only gave LA some sprikles and huge waves.

          • Harold Brooks, one the world’s leading tornado experts, actually gave a pretty amusing, tongue-in-cheek interview on this very topic last year:

            “Brooks went on to say that if a twister were strong enough to scoop up a bunch of large sharks, the debris present in tornadoes—wood, metal—would essentially filet the animals.”

            http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2013/07/sharknado-sharknado-sharknado-sharknado-sharknado

          • Based upon this historical record, it appears that some sort of tropical system makes landfall in California (almost always SoCal) every 50-100 years or so. They’re almost always weakening rapidly by closest approach, and it’s entirely likely that the storm SoCal had two weeks ago was stronger than a rapidly-weakening tropical storm would be. There’s always the off chance that a very strong hurricane over the East Pacific could make a rapid turn toward the north during a strong El Nino year and perhaps threaten Los Angeles/San Diego (as happened with Linda in 1997), but it’s likely that the tropical moisture/heavy precip would do a lot more damage than the winds in any case.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          Los Angeles had just over 3″ of rain in May 1977 and then had something like 2″ in August. It seems that a lot of rain fell during the “off season” that year as opposed to the actual winter.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        I don’t believe that LA will go rainless the rest of the season. We are in an off and on Santa Ana wind pattern right now that is expected to last until at least next weekend, and this is definitely NOT a springlike pattern; rather it is more reminiscent of a pattern frequently seen between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. A springlike pattern at the end of the rainy season is a typical May Gray / June Gloom scenario in which onshore flow is dominant, and we usually don’t get moderate or strong offshore flow events once the rains are over.

    • Sunchaser

      The GFS in the long term is indicating a rather deep closed upper low
      and associated deep surface low about 500 miles west of SF 18Z
      Monday that eventually becomes a rain producer over SoCal…
      The ECMWF puts the forecast area in weak to moderate
      northwest flow at upper levels and shows a weaker closed low further
      west than what the GFS is forecasting according to the NWS discussion..
      I know its a ways out but could what you mentioned be this what the GFS
      is hinting at?

      • craig matthews

        The latest long range GFS runs seam to be all over the place with each successful run. But there appears to be some hints that the ne pacific ridge could retrograde northwest up into Alaska 2 weeks from now allowing room for the westerlies break through toward the west coast. I’m not making any claims here, just theorizing about the connection between the pacific jet and westerly wind burst along the equator west of the date line. There are other factors to consider here as well. The PNA is expected to go negative in 2 weeks, and that may mean a trough off the west coast as well.

        • Keep in mind that atmospheric indices are not themselves causes of atmospheric phenomena–the PNA is defined by the state of the atmosphere. So, if the models are projecting a West Coast trough, chances are the PNA will be negative by definition.

          In any case, I’m not very encouraged by precip prospects in any of the models. Even those bringing precip before the end of the month show very light stuff without any major jet incursion.

    • Dreamer

      It means El Nino is coming

    • Tropical forcing is often responsible for the enhancements of the westerly jet that bring CA wintertime precip. Lots of anomalous tropical forcing right now in the pre-El Nino atmosphere, so some of the typical indices are out of whack. It’s possible that the previous WWB had some effect on the recent storms in CA, though it’s not clear that the present one (even though it’s stronger) will have the same effect. It’s starting to get just too late in the season…

  • Utrex

    The warm anomaly in the GoA is cooling down. Less ridges for us!

  • OnShoreFlow

    *newbie atmosphere fan*…love this blog and its participants…best collection of weather heads around.

    how about that warm pool dissipating ever day? Forgive me if im off, but I was always under the impression that warm sst’s north of Hawaii would enhance Lows as they drop out of the GOA…not influence sinking air.

    • Utrex

      This type of pattern is known to ward the Aleutian Low, which usually brings the jet stream to the West Coast. With a warm anomaly in the GoA the Aleutian Low wants to avoid that area. The crazy RRR was feeding off of the GoA, and that was what made the RRR so persistent. As it cools, it will no longer provide an energy source for high-pressure systems.

  • Not what we want to see. Shades of January?

    • redlands

      u saying being bone dry and high temps

      • Nick W.

        In most of the 2 week period, yes. I’m wishing California would see normal temps soon. I’m tired of these repeated heat waves when there should be winterlike weather.

    • Charlie Hohn

      Incidentally much of that three inches in Vermont is coming in the next two days and all in the form of snow. Yikes! Wish I could share some with the Sierras

  • redlands

    If were gonna have an El Nino Event next winter — what does that mean for this summer ??? Hotter temps, higher humidity, greater chances of getting remnants of dying hurricanes ?

    • Dan the Weatherman

      El Nino summers in the coastal and valley areas of Socal can be quite warm, and are often more humid than normal especially going toward August and September. It is possible that that actual highs may be limited to the 90’s due to the higher humidity later in the summer, but even then a few 100+ temps cannot be ruled out. The monsoon is often more active, aided by moisture from the remnants of eastern Pacific tropical systems, and there is a higher chance of measurable rainfall west of the mountains. It is even possible for the remnant low from a former tropical system to come ashore, bringing some lower level moisture and a few showers. I think this happened in the summer of 1997 and I remember the cloud cover resembling the type of tropical cloudiness I have seen in Hawaii.

      • redlands

        Dan — thanks for the info — I will have to look at my weather data back to August of 1981 — look at the years we had high high rain amounts —-

        i

        • Dan the Weatherman

          The mountains and desert areas get the brunt of the monsoonal moisture even in El Nino years, but like I just said, the chances are elevated for the coastal areas, especially if there is a significant moisture plume from a decaying tropical system.

      • Kamau40

        Yes, the weather patterns you described above happened that way during the summer of 1997. Even in Nor Cal, I remember it was more humid than normal, mostly in the 90s for inland valleys with some days 100+ degree temps, very foggy a long the coast, very active monsoon season, with a couple of tropical lows that made it off the coast of So.Cal that produce some rain showers throughout the state in Aug/Sep of that year. Although, I don’t remember seeing much in the way of convective activity which I was quite surprised just mostly early season rain showers.

    • snow755

      Wait and see

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  • Nick W.

    Another Santa Ana wind event happening. I wish these evil high pressure ridges would go away so we can see some cooler, rainy weather for once. 🙁

    • Dreamer

      Patience is the key. All thing must come to an end including the RRR- you’ll just have to wait until NEXT season.
      In the mealtime, if you’re craving some weather excitement this spring and you have both some vacation time and money on your hands, I suggest a trip to either New Orleans, Charleston, Nashville, or anywhere in Florida within the next several months. You’ll be able to kill two birds with one stone; sightseeing and enjoying the local culture while experiencing some powerful spring thunderstorms.

  • snow755

    The GFS has drop the idea of a storm around the 20th and 21st I think it may be safe two say the raining season is over looks like we could be in for a vary warm April and a hotter then normal May

    • Dreamer

      I think Northern California may get a small rain system or two in April but it won’t make it to the LA area.

  • craig matthews

    I predict that another atmospheric river will set up between Hawaii and northern California/Oregon sometime between the 20th and 25th. I’m just throwing this out there for thought. But the reason I think this way is because some of the long range models show the ne pacific ridge will move northwest toward Alaska 10 days from now and beyond. This will allow the westerlies to break through just north of Hawaii and make way toward the west coast with systems that will draw tropical moisture from an area southwest of Hawaii northeastward toward the west coast. However, and unfortunately, another ridge will probably re form off socal keeping the moisture plume over the pacific northwest and northern California, not allowing it to sag south like it use to do in the good old days.

    • Sunchaser

      AccuWeather is showing rain on March 24th and rather unsettled weather for the rest of the month…I wish ..I wish …I wish !!!!!

    • honzik

      I think you’re right. That’s what the GFS seems to show – the 19/20th is the small event that opens the rain door and then a few days afterward a more energetic storm.

      BTW, many thanks Daniel Swain for this website and his analysis. It really is the go-to place for me for California weather. My friends and I used to joke that the Weather Channel would spend more time covering the weather in the counties in Connecticut than for everything west of the Rockies. Weatherwest concentrates on really a different type of weather forecasting – one more appropriate for us in California. Back East the concern is more short term – will it snow tomorrow? Are thunderstorms predicted for the weekend? In the California, because the weather is so good and predictable and because we live with the threat of drought over our heads, what we really want is a more long term outlook related to rain and snow-pack, particularly during the rainy season. If we are interested in the short term, we want to know about the strength of the forecasted storms, perhaps, and in the summer we’re more likely to think about the short term only with regard to what the marine layer is doing, and perhaps about fire-related conditions (e.g., Santa Ana winds).

      Anyway, we get all of that here – not just from Daniel but also from the excellent posters. Thanks to all!

  • lightning10

    Looks like a warm week turning into a monster heatwave into the weekend.

  • Sean Norman

    The thing to remember with an El Nino is that there has been no clear trend in weather except during very strong events. Moderate events tend to favor areas of Southern California. During strong events such as 82-83 and 97-98 Northern California experienced very heavy and continuous precipitation. Those years are benchmark years for the Sierra Nevada Foothills with areas at 2500 feet such as Grass Valley, Nevada City and Paradise picking up 70-80 inches of rain in a year. El Nino is just one player in the game. It can be a star player but still just one player. El Nino acts like a “force multiplier” by increasing convection because of the warmer water- so that storms can come in juicier. So each storm that tracks inland will have the chance to pick up more water.
    The true effects of any El Nino will not be felt along the west coast until Fall. Look back at the 82-83 and 97-98 events and you will see that the months of October,November and December had very high rainfall periods. Most of those months averaged well above average in precipitation. Why? We had multiple dry systems come through this year during those months- they took an over land trajectory and became cut off from any available moisture. If a strong El Nino develops- we may see some strong wet systems arrive by mid to late October. All those closed lows that come ashore may have the opportunity to pick up some significant moisture.
    Between now and then- I would expect the current trend to continue, and perhaps even a very hot summer. If there is an increase in convection from decaying hurricanes- expect a lot of lightning for California- and even if much of it arrives with some precip- that could be a disaster all unto itself….

    • Kamau40

      Well said!!

  • JR Flanders

    So what is the potential influence of an El Nino during the dry season (May – November)?

    • snow755

      Wait and fine out 1st we need a el Nino we would likely see el Nino by mid summer un lees it comes sooner

    • craig matthews

      If El Nino develops in the next few months and becomes strong, its influence will be more pronounced over the tropical region to our south during the dry season if think. A strong el nino by summer tends to influence the development and track of tropical cyclones off the coast of mexico and central America. It would also change the summertime flow pattern over mainland mexico and the desert southwest. During the strongest el ninos of the past, California summers had more moisture coming up from the south meaning more thunderstorm activity. And ocean temperatures were above average which influenced the marine layer and warmed the immediate coast.

      • Xerophobe

        If an El Nino ramped up, say May 2014 would it still be developing throughout the summer, into the fall and early winter? These don’t last very long unless we are in for “la Madre de todo el Niño.

        • craig matthews

          Usually when El Nino has developed by May it continues to develop over the summer and then peaks in intensity in the late fall or early winter. But there have been exceptions. Every El Nino is different. If El Nino develops by this May the chances are greater that it will continue to develop over the summer and fall and become a strong event. Check out CPC’s El Nino Index page which goes back to 1951, which shows El Ninos of the past and how they developed. I will try to get that address for you.

          • Xerophobe

            Thanks I went ahead and put this question as a new topic for possible discussion. Appreciate all of your contributions!!

  • lightning10

    In the short term looks like 1/3 scenarios for the long range for So Cal.

    So Cal gets a weak but cold system. Brings little if any rain but much cooler temps.

    So Cal gets a subtropical tap. It would be a warmer solution but with much more moisture.

    So Cal just misses out on a storm to the north and it only brings slightly cooler temps.

    • Sunchaser

      I’ll take the door # 2 please….

  • craig matthews

    We are getting some very strong easterly winds down here on the big sur coast today with small branches breaking off the trees. Did not hear any mention of this wind event in any discussion for my area. We’ve had some gusts atleast in the 40’s. And even more strange is that there are some building cumulus clouds over the santa lucia range just to my south that appear to have some vertical growth. This is a little surprising given the placement of a tiny low over the southern sierra. Haven’t heard any mention of clouds in the discussions, or thunderstorms for that matter. But that doesn’t mean it cant happen this afternoon especially over the southern sierra and diablo range west of I-5. This dry warm wind is bad for the grass that just sprouted from the recent rains here. Seams like every card in the deck is stacked against us this year.

  • Sean Norman

    One other thing to watch for- In the 97-98 El Nino fishermen began to catch many different variety of fish that normally inhabited warmer waters to the south- off the California coast. Once that warm current begins to migrate north we may begin to see that again. We had a fisherman at work- and we ate very well for those months from the late summer through fall.

  • Xerophobe

    @ Weather West saw you were mentioned in the same article at NatGeo news with Jan Null!

  • snow755

    The GFS is hiting at a low snow event next week could be the last low snow event this season

  • lightning10
    • Nick W.

      Not good.

  • Kamau40

    This is very encouraging news!! I just took a peak at the very latest long range climate CFvs2 model forecast and it looking like El Nino pattern will be strong by the Fall season(Sep/Oct). Please review the model forecast below(notice the median black line is at least 1.5) along with the sea surface temperatures ramping up later in the year. If this verifies, from what I have seen and experience living out here on the west coast during past strong El Nino episodes, it means the rainy/snow season should start earlier than usual and will last thru the Spring months of the following year.

  • mycoholic

    BA over at OpenSnow has been pointing at a possibility for precip starting around the 20th for a couple of days now and now I see it starting to pop up in more and more model runs. Latest GFS shows a decent amount of precip (1.25”) for the Bay Area from a system starting on the 24th. I sure hope it pans out. It would be great to get a couple more rain events to moisten the ground and bolster the meager snow pack before the wet season really closes.

  • lightning10

    Just as Kevin Martin said this afternoon for So Cal some afternoon showers/thundersnow has popped up over the local mountains.

  • rainscout

    mycoholic…anything at this point…bring it…Kamau40..just hope El Nino pans out and that it starts very early and ends very late next year.. I hope the whole state is soaked ….

    • Dan the Weatherman

      I hope we get a strong El Nino next year as that will substantially boost our chances of a wet season. I am really getting tired of the dryness of the last 3 years, and it has been especially bad this year after being so dry the year before. This has been one of the most boring seasons overall that I have ever seen and I have lived in Socal for my entire life. One big storm just doesn’t cut it.

    • Kamau40

      If strong El Nino conditions holds together in the future as predicted, the odds are great that the state could get flooding rains and big time snows in the Sierras next winter. We just have to be patient and wait and see how everything pans out. We are definitely due for a major El Nino event because it has been quite awhile(1997-1998) since we last had one. Looking at past records, major El Nino seem to occur every 10-15yrs although some have been shorter. For example, 1957-58, 1972-73, 1977-78, 1982-83, 1997-98 which others have also posted in previous blogs.

  • Dan the Weatherman

    Aside from the La Nina-like cold SSTs in the tropical eastern Pacific, it is looking as if the SSTs in the North Pacific are beginning to take on a +PDO appearance, and the the PDO indices from January and February are weakly positive. I was wondering if I am seeing this correctly. If that is the case I don’t know whether this is temporary or long-term, as the PDO has been negative off and on for only about 19 years as opposed to 25-35 years.

  • Kamau40

    To further add to my earlier blog about next year’s rainy season starting earlier than if indeed a strong El Nino is verified, the latest climate models below is also showing some convective activity along the coast of So. Cal and lots of it increasing in September throughout much of central and especially So. Cal. incl the deserts. I know of course this is very early to rely on such predictions, but this is the first time I have seen this much precipitation(represented in green and deep blues) this far out; nevertheless it is all in line with my earlier thoughts about the rainy season getting earlier than normal start for the state in a strong El Nino year and it usually starts in So. Cal first.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      The rainy season often does get started in the fall during stronger El Nino episodes and there are usually more frequent storms even if they are not the larger storms that arrive during winter. Other years can also have a wet fall, but if it is too wet, it is often followed by a drier winter.

      • Kamau40

        Great point. I’m wondering in those years with strong El Nino’s when the weather was too wet during the Fall then followed by a drier winter was because those Strong El Niño peaked too early? Usually El Nino’s peak around Dec or Jan. I’m hoping we have a gradual increase in rains/snows in the Fall leading to much bigger storms during the Winter into the Spring next year. We’ll just have to continue to monitor the new El Niño pattern in the coming months hoping too that it doesn’t peak too early.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          I think some of those years having a drier winter may have been from the El Nino peaking too early in the fall and weakening by early winter.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      There is often more activity in the early fall during a stronger El Nino event as dying eastern Pacific tropical systems bring moisture into Socal and the Desert SW, which bring early season rains to the deserts including AZ. Regions of Socal west of the mountains occasionally get in on the action as well. Tropical Storm Nora, which made landfall around Yuma, AZ in September 1997, brought widespread rains to the region, even west of the mountains. I picked up almost a half an inch here in Orange from the remnants of that storm.

  • Utrex

    It seems we’ll enter a wetter pattern after Sunday the 16th. In fantasyland, we may even see a stronger trough around the Sunday of the 23rd. Unfortunately after that trough it looks like the RRR in the Bering Sea will move over the west coast…

    • Not quite sure what’s you’re seeing…this is the latest 16-day precip accumulation from the GFS: nothin’!

      • Xerophobe

        I have a kindergarten question…to look at the latest 384hr GFS QPF do you calculate which UTC is closest to one’s local time? IE I’d subtract seven hours from PDST, assuming UTC/ZULU “00Z” is 4:00 AM PDST? So I’m posting at roughly 12 noon (12:20 PM) now PDST and I’d use the 012 because it’s the most recent even if between 006 and 012? sorry if this is confusing!

        • Utrex

          http://lmgtfy.com/?q=UTC+to+pst

          This is intended to be a joke, nothing serious, but hey, this is the best way to finding your answer.

          You’re welcome. Click on worldtimebuddy at the top.

          • Xerophobe

            Cool! 🙂 ..you got me!! I was looking for which forecast model run to use, the 00, 06, 12, or 18 UTC..Thanks. I made it too confusing even for myself when I read it today!

  • alanstorm

    Man – looks like a juicy 2 day rain event for the whole state on 26th-27th! So much for the RRR being so resilient. When these fronts come in springtime as warm as its been, expect some good heavy rain.Yea, yea, I know its hopeless for the drought, but this season ain’t over yet & El nino is next season.

    • Mike Stephenson

      I don’t think we have had a good convective cutoff low in a while with widespread thunderstorms. Would be nice

      • Utrex

        On January 30th 2014 the CA valley received thunderstorms with hail, lightning, and gusty winds due to a cut-off shortwave low.

    • That’s still 12+ days out! More likely that not, that will never make it to CA…

      • alanstorm

        I’m not a betting man myself, but do I smell a friendly wager?? I’m willing to bet Willits/Howard will get 1″ or more by the 28th. Based on what you ask? Well, the models had the last rain event spot on from 12+ days, how it smacked L.A., plus that big AR as well I think. Also, BLIND OPTIMISM. Plus, I will make it rain with my mind. Kind of an H2O telekinesis. Everyone is so gloomy, Jeez.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          I think we will see at least one more storm this season because we have had a couple of recent Santa Ana wind events. The last weather event during the rainy season is not usually a full-blown Santa Ana event; rather it is usually a rain event, which then is usually followed by onshore marine layer cloudiness as we transition into the “May Gray” / “June Gloom” season.

        • SFBay2

          I would be willing to bet you. Not that I think you’re wrong, but only so money can somewhat mollify my irritation if we don’t get more rain.

          But it’d be a bet I’d hope to lose. I’d rather get rain, and pay up.

    • Kamau40

      Do not count on a system like that 12+ days out; especially, in an extreme drought year such as this one. I believe more likely too that the system will not make it to Ca.

    • craig matthews

      Computer models are still all over the place in their long range predictions out toward the end of the month. But I think theres a good chance that another atmospheric river will set up in the same place between Hawaii and northern California before months end, possibly bringing flooding rains to the north bay area and mendicino as well as the northern sierra foothills. I don’t have any real basis for my idea here but I have noticed that patterns have a way of repeating themselves in a given season.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        Patterns do have a tendency to repeat at least a couple of times and often even more during a season. Heavy rainfall is certainly an event that has not repeated in Socal during this ultra-boring season.

    • Loyal Brooks

      I so much hope you are right. I found some computer models that are beginning to agree on your This ridge offshore that has been so exceptionally resilient – never actually was. It was only acting in response to forcings the atmosphere that were in place over much last calendar year and much of this rain-year. Just like all good things come to an end, so do “bad” things! That ridge that flexed its muscle for so long doesn’t seem to be able to flex so much anymore.

      I don’t mean to say here that it cannot, but look, it is in a very dynamic latitude where there are so many moving targets. It eventually cannot ward off all of them. In the scheme of things, it is beginning to fade back to what ordinary ridges do from time to time in most every rain-year.

      And, alanstorm, never it is true that during a severe drought that a 2-day spell of heavy rain is “hopeless.” Those Doug firs up there are counting on these special days – they will scrape by to carry them through to the next wet year – the strong ones, anyway. Enjoy your rain!

  • Xerophobe

    Is there any caution that even though it seems an El Nino is developing now it’s too early? The ’97-’98 event really ramped up in October ’97 and the ’82-’83 monster started to develop in summer ’82.

  • craig matthews

    Operational SST anomaly charts for March 14 1997 over the entire north pacific basin are almost identical to the current SST anomaly chart. Check out CPC’s satellite operational SST anomaly chart and you will see what I mean. There is a lot of warmer then average sea surface temperatures in the eastern north pacific and these temperatures are increasing and expanding off the west coast of north America and Mexico. This very similar thing happened in march 1997, even with the area of below average ssts in the central/eastern equatorial pacific. I am curious as to what this will do to the PDO index this next month. Because the current sst anomalies across the pacific basin are not what is commonly seen during a negative PDO. In fact the current ssts look more like what is seen during a positive PDO. I am not totally studied up on the PDO, but it appears to me that the current trend in the ssts across the pacific looks like it could cause the PDO to go positive. But the real question I have is how the atmosphere will respond to these increasing ssts in the eastern north pacific. Another thing I see is below average ssts emerging in the western north pacific off of asia and Japan, and also around Indonesia and Australia. These anomalies have been observed preceding past el nino as well.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      I have been noticing the same thing regarding north Pacific SSTs in that it is looking more like a +PDO signature.

      • Kamau40

        Is the AMO still in its weakly negative phase? You’ve mentioned earlier in the year that it has flip too, but we don’t know if it is temporarily or for the long term. What websites do you use to monitor these phases? If at least two or all three phases global teleconnection phase change what impact will that have on the West Coast? We have at least 2 phases that has changed, ENSO and a weakly positive PDO.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          The AMO index value for February has not been updated as of yet, and it seems to take longer to appear for some reason. The sites I use are as follows:
          http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/data/correlation/amon.us.data for AMO and http://jisao.washington.edu/pdo/PDO.latest for PDO.

          If the AMO stays negative and the PDO stays positive, then we have a better chance of wetter weather even without El Nino, but it may take a year to see the effect due to the atmosphere’s apparent “memory”. However, if the El Nino comes on strong this year, we will have a much higher chance of a wetter season next year. Subsequent years should be better overall if the AMO remains negative and PDO remains positive. It is still too early to tell whether these indices have changed for the long term or whether it is just a temporary blip.

          • Kamau40

            Great thanks!!

  • Looks like eastern Pacific sea surface temperatures are poised to increase rapidly over the next 2-4 weeks as a huge subsurface warm pool begins to surface. Also, strong westerly wind anomalies continue over the West Pacific. All signs continue to point toward a significant El Nino event.

  • Utrex

    A low-pressure system will crash into the high-pressure off the California coast this weekend and split. The northern portions moves into PNW and only gets the uppermost part of Northern California. The southern low will either become a closed low or a cut-off low, and will remain stationary there. The models are having trouble timing on the “big” low-pressure system, when the closed or cut-off low gets shoved eastward due to the “big” low pushing east. This trough can bring thunderstorms into California.

  • Dreamer

    Anyone here want to make an official bet that downtown LA won’t see any more rain for the rest of the water year? I did my research and found it that L.A’s longest dry spell was from February to September of 1997 and you all know what happened that 1997-1998 year. If you can tolerate another 6 months of weather boredom, you’ll get as much “weather” as LA could ever get this coming fall.

    BTW- I’m surprised that most of the complainers and rain wishers on here are natives of Southern California. I thought if you grow up with “boring” weather, you don’t know anything else and consider it normal. I thought most Southern Californians enjoyed endless sunshine, low humidity, year round warmth, and little rain.

    • Dreamer
    • Dan the Weatherman

      It has been downright boring even for southern California standards the last two years, and much drier than normal for that matter. Socal does have a reputation for boring weather, because the dry season is so long here stretching from late April to the beginning of November on average. If Los Angeles doesn’t receive any more rainfall for the rest of this season, it will be the first time since records began in 1877 that two consecutive seasons have recorded less than 7″ of rainfall, and this is a very significant statistic just showing that this dryness has been extreme even for a semiarid climate.

    • Scott Turner

      “most” Southern Californians probably do prefer sunshine. Yet every single one of them will also acknowledge, in somewhat cliche language, that “we really need the rain right now.” That said, many of us are disturbed by warm temperatures and sunny skies when it ought to be cool and damp.

    • hermit crab

      We don’t like farmers having to destroy crops, water rationing and dead landscaping, drained pools, sky high water bills. Having to change our toilet and shower habits. A long time ago in another drought, a mayor telling us to take only two showers per week… Dying lakes, cracked soil…I feel parched thinking about it. Of course we love sunshine, but even desert rats need some water.

    • Loyal Brooks

      S CA people interested in climate/weather who have lived there a long time, have seen exceptional swings between very wet and very dry winters. Occasionally, as much rain falls in LA in a few months than it takes all year in East Coast cities. Many enjoy the very wet – having very dry spells interspersed makes dynamic rain events all that much more interesting.

      Keep also in mind that low-elevation downtown LA is not a good measure as to just how much orographically induced precip call fall in only a few months. Some places receive so much precip in orographically-favored in a matter of months than it would take YEARS to match in any East Coast city.

      I remember back in the day when I lived in New JOY-ZEE, and asked a friend about so much rain and snowfall that occurs just outside many CA cities so quickly. The reply was short and sweet: “If it doesn’t occur in the cities where we all live, then it doesn’t count.” This was from a fellow Meteorologist!

      I reminded him that Californians love the outdoors and many hike into these regions all of the time, since they are so close to cities. There is no parallel there, so there was no response to that.

  • Utrex

    proxigee.com/140314_814prcp.new.gif

    • Xerophobe

      I’ll take a bulls-eye any time, even if it’s 10-14 days out. On a downer note is that these are seasonally adjusted. A late March forecast with above normal POP might be equivalent to an “N” in late December as far as accumulation.

  • Loyal Brooks

    This morning, several good models peering into the future suggest a major change in the overall atmospheric pattern coming up. Not only does MN look like the usual springtime fluctuations between cold and warm beginning to take over (finally), but also the E Pacific and west coast will be involved in this wonderful progressive situation. The GFS this morning shows a serious progressive pattern across the E Pacific, taking place around March 25 – 27, or so, maybe beyond. This far out, we cannot be certain of this, but confidence is growing.

    This morning’s run of GFS, (and other models are included), show a healthy trof moving ashore around the above dates bearing precipitation in N and C CA. This may not leave S CA out, but the main energy appears to be focused there.

    The significant dynamics look to be strong enough to overcome a weaker AR than we have seen. And, a ridge does not appear (at this point) to pop right back up behind it – leaving a progressive westerly flow into much of CA for further possibilities of water from the the sky. Imagine that!

    We are looking 10 days out or so, and things may change. Right now, it does look good for CA!! It would be helpful if craig matthews could add to this w/his keep eye on the W pacific, it’s westerly downbursts, and Kelvin waves that he has noted previously.

    • alanstorm

      Yes, & I’m helpfully keeping my eye on the improving jetstream finally coming at us as opposed to straight up into Alaska then down to the Midwest. Incidentally, those are the 2 days I’ve chosen to make rain with my mind.

      • Loyal Brooks

        The mind is a powerful thing!

    • Nick W.

      I hope you’re right. I’m tired of these heat waves. Getting battered by Santa Anas and heat now.

      • hermit crab

        We had a weird late sundowner last night…it was the 11 o’clock news that said the temp had just gone up 16 degrees

      • Dan the Weatherman

        I am getting tired of these warm to hot spells which have been occurring with regularity since November. I will be sick of the heat before summer arrives if this continues.

  • rainscout

    interesting how people that are aware of the critical need for rain and Mtn. snow in Calif. in the “winter” and actually dare to speak up about it when the majority are saying how “lucky”we are…are labeled “complainers”..I mean does it really take two drought years before this and then this one from hell with summer heat in Dec…Jan..and now March..Loyal Brooks example of the meterologist that said that “if it didn’t happen here it didn’t happen”…case in point…could all be wishful thinking about the end of March ..early April..but what else can we do except hope for the unexpected..and of course a strong “El-Nino” next fall-winter…

    • Loyal Brooks

      rainscout – I was logging off here – and was essentially ending my time on this blog – and I just happened to see my name just before I logged off. I have not been on this blog for several weeks, save for a little glancing at it, and perhaps a comment or two.

      I very much get your point of the three camps – about “how fortunate Californian’s are so have at least have SOME significant rain as opposed to none,” while many of the other ones on his blog vent their frustrations about the damage to the land and ecosystem other one. The third rail here is “do people here call 911 if they hear thunder? Oh god…

      I always have been a champion of CA’s unique ecosystem, feeling sick about it all the way down to the level of which species of trees are most affected so I can do personal research on that..I have written far too many comments blatantly showing my over-concern of the environment. I would say I had gotten to the edge of being “effusively sentimental – maudlin – about all of this.” I have asked which trees and where are being most affected – I have spoken so much about groundwater, that almost NO ONE seems to give a flip on this blog, though it is CA’s most important single use of water overall.

      • Loyal Brooks

        I remain “in the dark” about what was meant by the comment “if it didn’t happen here it didn’t happen.” I don’t know what that means. Anyone can just click my name and see every one of my comments – no where is that found.

        My objective here was to present a professional meteorological view of the circumstances we find ourselves in, and I think I am being counted as “one of the bad guys for presenting facts,” while hiding my true feelings about the whole issue. I actually cared about answering questions I could see arise from the comments, but obviously is rubbed a very popular guy the wrong way. I actually care about the land. I guess I am the only one who knows this.

        I have to sign off here with complete and total bewilderment what rainscout means by that false sentence.I now have confirmation that honest meteo evaluation of current circumstances are not welcome here…. (If that is what that comment meant). I have long suspected this, but now I know (I think).

        • I’m not really sure what the initial source of this drama is, but as a general rule I’ve been pretty open to discussion of anything even peripherally weather or climate related, including topics relating to the effects of the drought on the natural and human environments. People are welcome and encouraged to have these conversations on Weather West, as they always have been. But the this current comment thread seems to be headed off-topic, so let’s keep the focus on the atmosphere. Thanks! 🙂

          • hermit crab

            If I am the one who started it, I apologize. I was just remembering what 76-77 was like and didn’t mean for what I shared to contradict anybody…just blabbing without thinking. Oops.

          • Loyal Brooks

            First, it was strictly and only regarding the atmosphere in every sense of the world. I didn’t know what it was either i.e ( I think), (if that is what it meant) Please, don’t come to me first and imply I was out of turn.Neither of us were out of turn – a mistake that was cleared up. I am starting here.

            There wasn’t one word peripheral to this blog in at all. I gave a complete, well-worded answer to a post that needed clarification. Please don’t come to me and tell me to squelch to the drama. Since I had no idea that rainscout was quoting me quote something from someone else, and didn’t say so, I really had no idea what he was referring to. I thoroughly enjoy rainscout’s inputs in here, and I have directly told him so. To me, the reply did not make any sense at all.

            This sincere miscommunication is on its way to easily being resolved, and as soon as I get back to rainscout, and accept his explanation that we did not understand each other, and exchange our apologies all will be well. Thank you.

      • hermit crab

        Worried sick about the groundwater where I live, but I’m very aware of it because there has been local news about how a bungle by our water district several years ago is the reason we have very high water bills, and the district is also burdened with debt, and the eqipment needed to tap into our groundwater needs a lot of repair! Also, an oil company wants to suck up something in a location which could contaminate our groundwater. So stupid!

      • hermit crab

        Please don’t go; have really gotten a lot out your posts. Really really hope you stay.

        • Loyal Brooks

          I don’t mean going in the sense of leaving…. I am very, very busy at work for the time being. There are weekdays that I do not feel like going back online after working all day on the computer.

  • rainscout

    Loyal Brooks..I am very sorry you misinterperated my comments..I consider you to be a fellow friend on care for the ecosystems and I find it great that you still care about the Calif. situation ..I am sorry for the mis-quote..I mistakenly para phrased,,,your post are ones that I read Carefully and with respect for your knowledge…My “complainer comment was in general from people I know around here..no way intended toward you..honest Metro is exactly what we need from people like you that run circles around us layman..very sorry about the misunderstanding..show how words can be interpertated very different than intended…my paraphrase was from your..”If it doesn’t occur in the cities where we all live then it does’nt count”

    • Loyal Brooks

      I had logged off here, and didn’t see any of this until minutes ago. Now that I know that you were referring to the NJ guy who said the tremendous CA orography amounts to so much – and him making that declarative statement that it didn’t count if it didn’t happen in cities, it did not count. He had cover from most of the East Coast community.

      I would so much rather hear you talk about how you feel with the rain on the redwood forest – by far. I am sorry that I did not understand that was what you were referring to: a quote from someone else. I thought you meant me personally reflects something that you didn’t like. One thousand apologies. You are a good guy, and anybody can see that!

  • rainscout

    Loyal..also I can’t reply back directly or I would have..probably my lack of computer skills..I was using your “quote” only in a postive light to show how people can become disconnected to the bigger picture..again very sorry and please keep posting all that you can share…I have learned a lot form your posts…..

    • Loyal Brooks

      This came from a total misunderstanding from a well-appreciated guy on here who can relate to the land as I can. I can recognize it a mile away!

    • Loyal Brooks

      Now, that it is all understood – and I have to admit I have not been on here much at all in the last 3 weeks, I honestly did not understand what it meant. now, I do. Just needed that little explanation as to it being a quote from someone else. Now, if the worlds problems could be solved this easily….

      But this is active reconciliation among real men in real time!

  • rainscout

    And Loyal…your point about the ground water is right on the money!!!!

  • hermit crab

    The heat is on where I sit in so cal. Might clip some buds from my succulents tomorrow.

    • Loyal Brooks

      I think you should water that succulent until it is sorry for even being a succulent. Rainscout knows what I mean.

  • rainscout

    Weather West.. sorry to have driven into this ..but could you please let Loyal Brooks know I have replied.. but my computer won’t allow me to respond to sender…i have to go back to the blog sight..and hermit crab.. not your fault at all just a total misunderstanding………

    • Loyal Brooks

      All is water under the bridge now – if only the stream would flow!

      Next time it rains in your redwood forest, please enjoy it a little bit more. Really.

    • hermit crab

      Hey thanks rainscout. Feeling better about other things helps me cope with the unwanted heat. If only I were an 18 year old surfer I could be enjoying myself!

  • Dreamer

    How bout if everyone shake hands and apologize and then FORGET ABOUT IT? On the count of three…1….2….3….I’M SORRY

    • Loyal Brooks

      Forget about what?

      • Scott Turner

        Seems it was already forgotten.

  • rainscout

    I feel great respect for this blog. and Loyal.. the more you contribute the better for us all…thank you

    • Loyal Brooks

      Well, thank you more than I can really say!!! The way you put your feelings into words … well you don’t see that often. Good job.

  • alanstorm

    OK, since we all had a good cry, can anyone explain if the RRR was mostly caused by a weak, wavy jetstream allowing it to remain over the GOA & intensify, or the RRR was so strong it shunted the jetstrem northward into Alaska? Or was it both? Chicken or the egg question, really. Bok bok.

    • These may be two separate issues: the RRR formed, for whatever reason, and pushed the jet stream/storm track well to the north. Part of the explanation why the RRR formed in the first place may come from the weakness of West and Central Pacific zonal flow, which is probably dynamically related to SST forcing (midlatitude and possibly tropical in origin). But it is a big chicken or egg problem, and it’s going to take some numerical modeling studies to figure out exactly why this has occurred.

      • alanstorm

        Thanks

    • Utrex

      As the El Niño forms, the jet stream should no longer be so elastic and flexible, but rather a more straight flow. This is caused by the El Niño sort of “flattening out” the jet stream over the pacific ocean iirc. Sort of an off-topic statement but a little snack for thought.

      • alanstorm

        Thats more than a snack and right ON topic. We’ve been lacking a “straight flow” all winter and I’ve been flying the “zonal flow” jetsream flag for awhile now as the cure to our drought ills. Remember the Arctic sea ice melt-off is being blamed for a wavy jetstream as well & I doubt that will change anytime soon. Hopefully the coming El Nino will slap it back into shape as you suggest.

  • Utrex
    • The formal definition of El Nino includes 3-month mean SST anomalies, so it will likely not be until June/July that the official El Nino threshold it reached. But positive E. Pac. SST anomalies–perhaps large ones–may indeed develop in April.

      • Dreamer

        Will April be too late for Southern California to get any impact this season?

        • Zepp

          Probably too late for any big winter storms, but summer might see an increased monsoonal flow. A mixed blessing, that.

          • Dreamer

            Monsoons don’t start til July or August right? What about the April through June time frame? Will by prediction for absolutely no more rainfall in LA through June 30th still pan out? I made a psychological bet on that one and want to win it for my own ego.

  • Dan the Weatherman

    It seems that after the RRR weakened and/or shifted at the beginning of February, the subtropical ridge has remained stronger than normal, sending the storm track mostly into Norcal and the Pacific NW. As a result, Norcal and points northward turned wetter (even if still below average), but Socal has remained mostly high and dry, except for the two storms at the end of February and the very beginning of March.

  • Utrex

    Off topic here, this video shows a Woodland tornado during February 28th, which touched down in NorCal! It came from a mini-supercell as an F0.

    • That’s perfectly on-topic, and a spectacular video. Thanks for posting!

    • Dan the Weatherman

      That was great video footage of the tornado! In the first part of the video, it looked as if there was a second funnel cloud on the right, or at least one trying to form.

  • Pingback: Sunday Best: Last week’s most read posts and most popular out-clicks » MAVEN'S NOTEBOOK | MAVEN'S NOTEBOOK()

  • Zepp

    Your headline nailed it. March 15th, it was 76 here. A record for the date (previous record was 73) and 22 degrees above the average for mid March.

  • c33f

    High, dry and warm for California, 16 March 2014, with offshore winds to the south pushing the marine layer far out to sea…. while rain takes aim at the PacNW and BC.

  • rainscout

    I guess I should stop myself from looking at long range forecasts..as they can of course be wrong..but has anyone else seen the recent CPC NOAA outlooks for this year and next..I know ..hopefully.it can change but right now they have Calif under the gun for above normal Temps. from now until the fall and possibly longer..and no real above avg. precip. even into 2015. Of course El Nino could change the precip. charts ..maybe not the Temp. forecast as much..If they are right we could be in for a long hot summer on top of our extreme drought…also different topic but interesting..Brazil is going through one of its worst droughts ever with only 10% of normal rainfall..some say it is the worst they have ever seen.. sounds all to familiar….

    • The really long range CPC projections, for better or for worse, have very little predictive skill. What next winter is likely will largely depend on whether we get a strong El Nino in place by the fall or not. I do think we’ll have a much better idea whether that will be the case by June…

    • Kamau40

      Ditto Dan’s statement below. We really won’t have the best idea of the strength of El Niño for next Fall/Winter until about Jun or July. The key is also when the El Niño peaks which will determine how much impact it will have on Ca weather. If the weather pattern peaks too early, it could lead to a wet fall, but possibly a drier than normal winter depending on what the AMO and PDO index at that time, especially if we get back into +AMO, -PDO regime. Again, we don’t know for sure if the recent change in these two global teleconnection is a long term trend of just a blip. We just don’t know as of yet. Only time will tell. Even my recent posts a few days ago, while I’m very encourage with the high likelyhood of having an epic year for 2014-15, I’m also very cautious by saying if everything “verifies” of having a strong event and that it peaks and continues during the winter. NOAA’s CPC long range outlook incl the climate system I show from time to time has limited skill in making such long range predictions that far in advance(6-9mo out). We just have to wait and see in time as we get closer to next Fall/Winter.

  • Dan the Weatherman

    This warm weather is getting beyond ridiculous! Many reporting stations here in Socal are in the upper 80’s and low 90’s at this hour (2 p.m.) with Fullerton at 92 and downtown L.A. at 89. Here in Orange right now, my digital thermometer is reporting 89.4 degrees and the sensor is outside my north facing window in total shade attached to a plastic shed next to the house.
    If the pattern continues onward like this and we don’t get any more rain, I guarantee that this spring is going to have its share of spikes of hot weather into the 90’s and even low 100’s especially in April and May. I hope we get into a cooler and wetter pattern toward the end of this month and into April to prevent this from happening.

    • craig matthews

      That is ridiculous. Especially after we have had such a brutally dry winter. Could it get any more relentless. Its 82 in big sur, and all of that rain we had a couple of weeks ago has dried up. And now the fresh green grass is beginning to wilt.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        I believe this is the result of a jet stream configuration that has been locked into a western ridge and eastern trough ever since the November or December and for some strange reason it can’t seem to change like it used to. The RRR in the north Pacific and the subtropical ridge off Baja have both kept the pattern in place, and now it seems that the subtropical high is more in command while the RRR has either weakened or shifted in a different direction.

        • OnShoreFlow

          isn’t this all part of a drought cycle?

          to me, there is something more to the equation that gets overlooked in all this…THE SUN…how dormant has it been the last 3 years especially? Can this be tied into the Polar Jet and its inability to progress through its perceived “normal” transgressions?

          You can gather any time period analog you want on the atmosphere but if you have no data paralleled with the CME/Flare output from our star, I personally believe its incomplete…

    • Cliff Collipriest

      It peaked at 92 here in Santa Maria. Absurd for March.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        90’s for any part of CA during this time of year, with the possible exception of the low deserts, is really hot for March, and is usually associated with the combination of a strong upper high and an offshore flow event. The low deserts such as Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley usually don’t begin seeing 90’s on a regular basis until about the first or second week of April on average, but there easily can be 90’s before that period depending on the pattern but it is not a permanent pattern just yet.

      • hermit crab

        It wasn’t all that cool down here in south county … Still trying to cool the bedroom down enough for sleep. It’s Fourth of July instead of St. Patrick’s Day.

    • Utrex

      It’s mother nature. She’s saving her crazy weather for the fall and winter this year and next year’s winter…

      • Dreamer

        Yep: short-term pain for long-term gain….

  • craig matthews

    One very important thing to keep in mind is that if a strong el nino develops similar to the 1997 event, that does not necessarily mean we are going to have a warm dry spring as we did in 1997. No two el nino events are alike. I still think we are going to have another round of significant storms before the month is over. The latest long range models still hint at a fairly strong low developing in the eastern pacific and progressing into the west coast around the 25th. And now the ECMWF is showing potentially 2 lows coming into the west coast around that time. Keep in mind that it was the ECMWF that first predicted the significant storms that occurred a couple of weeks ago at the very end of February. I am really keeping my hopes up on this idea.

    • Dreamer

      History repeats itself. The drier and hotter the spring, the stronger the El Nino. If we get not one more drop for the rest of the spring, we are more likely to get some exciting rain events in fall.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        I don’t believe that the development of El Nino normally causes hotter and drier springs because it usually develops in the summer and early fall months. The 1997-98 El Nino did start to develop in the spring and the rainy season here in Socal just seemed to suddenly shut off after the end of January. However, the late winter and spring of 1982 wasn’t dry in Los Angeles like it was in 1997. I don’t know why the rains just shut off after the end of January in 1997 and whether or not it had anything to do with the developing El Nino.

        • Dreamer

          You got me. I don’t have scientific knowledge of meteorology. PDO, MJO, and all that stuff is a foreign language to me. I am just a transplant who misses rain, thunderstorms, and weather. I came across this blog by accident when I found out that this year’s weather was boring even by California standards and was trying to find the cause of the drought. I have learned a lot from this blog and enjoy making wild guesses for the fun of it. I did learn about the 1997 record dry streak and how hurricane Linda was once forecast to be the first hurricane to hit California that was supposed to break that record dry streak. I found that out through my friend, google.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            You are certainly witnessing some of Socal’s most boring and uneventful winters that i have ever seen and I have lived here my entire life.

            If Linda struck Socal as a hurricane, it would likely cause a lot of damage in terms of wind especially closer to the coast where Santa Ana winds aren’t experienced as strongly. The storm surge would certainly cause damage in low-lying coastal areas and a little ways inland in the coastal cities of the L.A. Basin. Further inland and other coastal areas on high bluffs would most likely be high enough in elevation to avoid the brunt of the storm surge.

          • Dreamer

            Yep- those writers of Sharknado didn’t take into account any science. Seriously, have you seen the movie? Great weather sci fi flick!

          • Dan the Weatherman

            No, I have not seen the movie as of yet.

        • Dreamer

          Didn’t Linda give you some rain too? The one that was forecast to strike Southern California as a HURRICANE (not a tropical storm) but then turned away at sea but still put spin off clouds and showers as it turned away.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            I don’t believe the remnants of Linda brought any rain west of the mountains, but it could have enhanced the monsoonal flow over the mountains and deserts.

  • alanstorm

    Well I should have taken SFBay2’s challenge to my wager on a “soaker” hitting the whole state on the 26th & 27th. The computers are getting smarter evey minute, assimilating the data from this screwy “winter”. Will it be an AR or simply a subtropical flow? What’s the jetstream’s role? As abnormally warm as it is, I bet it will be heavy rain with some t-storms and maybe another tornado. (Springtime in California’s Tornado Alley, you know….)

    • Dreamer

      Does California receive its rare t-storms more often in spring than in winter due to the longer daylight (not caused by DST but by the tilt of the earth)? or are the more common in winter here because more rain falls in January and February than in late March or April?

      • alanstorm

        I think it depends on where. Those big ones in the central valley usually roll thru in spring associated with cold fronts like it did a few weeks ago. I live in the high coastal mountains. Any tropical moisture the wanders its way north in summer usually results in thunderstorms on Mt.Sanhendrin which I can see. (6000ft). You can watch lightning flicker nightly. In winter, we get them when really cold cold fronts come ashore. Usually those are brief. Every year we get something. I remember El Nino winter1982 brought a supercell onshore in Eureka that produced a tree-downing funnel cloud!

  • Utrex
    • Dreamer

      L.A is in the white zone which means we could still get…….NOTHING…
      When does zero rainfall in a 6 day period start to become normal in L.A? My guess is early April…..so the white zone is pretty close to zero.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        Actually L.A. is in the light green zone, while most of Orange County and south are in the white zone. Zero rainfall in a 6 day period would probably become normal in L.A. during late April.

        • Dreamer

          So then the concept of “below normal rainfall” from May through October would be moot because normally no rain falls during those months or are the norms based on a minscile amount like 0.01 over 6 days in the summer?

          • Flunking_retirement

            All it means is we have an equal chance of rain, or no rain, which basically So Call has been in all year. Is just numbers.

    • Sunchaser

      The GFS long range Forecast Model animation kind of supports some weather coming as well ….we shall see !!

      http://ready.arl.noaa.gov/ready2-bin/animation.pl?id=GFS&mdl=grads/gfslr/panel2&file=anim

    • Dan the Weatherman

      We will have to wait until tomorrow to see if the 8-14 Day Outlook still shows above normal precip for CA when it has had forecaster input. The outlook maps on weekends are entirely computer generated the majority of the time.

  • Ian Alan

    66F for a high here in running springs. warmest day since October I believe.
    Possibly the only March day above 60F since at least 2008.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      Have your lows been above freezing the last couple of days, or have you managed to get below freezing with the very dry air mass in place?

      • Ian Alan

        Past couple nights, yes, well above freezing – fluctuating with the wind yesterday. For example 45F at 9pm last night jumping to 50 at 2am with a final low of 43 at 6am.

  • lightning10

    A disgusting 92 degrees here in Whittier today. Night time temps have been what you would expect in early June as well. I blame congress for messing with Daylight savings time a few years ago. Even the National Weather Service noted that it would make it rather easy to break records.

    • Fortunately, Congress has nothing to do with the timing of astronomical sunset and sunrise. How would shifting our clocks by an hour affect high temperatures?

      • lightning10

        The clock moving giving us an extra hour of daylight. Makes it more easy to break records.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          We have an extra hour daylight in the evening from adjusting our clocks forward, but that hour is taken from the early morning. Adjusting our clocks forward doesn’t actually make the number of hours of daylight change at all; rather it simply shifts the daylight hours one hour forward. The days grow longer as the sun moves more directly overhead due to the earth’s tilt as we approach spring and the longest day of the year occurs on the Summer Solstice (between June 20-22), which is June 21 this year.

  • redlands

    Was a toasty 92 in Redlands, Ca today 3-16-14 — Like Dan said below — its way too hot for March — Record for today is 98 at my station which happened in 2007

  • redlands

    Was 2004-5 an El Nino Year — because i got 6.07 of rain in October — ending the rain season with over 20 inches. The 1997 September that Dan was talking about — Redlands had its its wettest September with over 1 inch — to be exact 1.17

    • Utrex
      • redlands

        Thanks Ultrex — I checked the site out — interesting info — Where u from City wise

        • Utrex

          Sacramento, Calif

  • GFS already backing off on late-month rain chances. We’ve now reached the time of year when climatological forcings do not favor deep troughs along the West Coast. We can still get precip through April–which can be significant in some years–but it usually comes from cut-off systems with little subtropical connection (thus, totals are usually capped much lower). Still might see some rain in NorCal later this month, but I doubt it will be of much significance.

    • Xerophobe

      Hopefully this will kick back. My memory ain’t that sharp but I think the last event in Feb had a couple of hiccups, too. If this does come to fruition as a decent rain event, I’ll put another arrow in CM’s WWB quiver.

  • Sunchaser

    Nice little reminder we had this morning of what California has to offer….Earthquakes and dry weather and is there a correlation? I was wondering if any of you weather buddies know what the weather was like back in 1994 when we experience the Northridge earthquake ?

    • Dan the Weatherman

      January 1994 was a warm and dry month, similar to the conditions we have seen for most of this winter.

    • Xerophobe

      There are ‘old wives’ tales’ about EQ weather. Story I keep hearing is a humid day (for those in CA) with high cirrus. If anything tidal waves might be a straw that could influence two plates that are stressed enough to move in a jerky, EQ fashion. Dogs and other animals seem to hear a low frequency when a quake happens before we can feel it.

    • Pre-quake adjustments in the Earth’s crust may allow for emission of certain kinds of gases (i.e. radon) at above-background levels immediately before a major quake, but there’s no evidence at for a causal relationship between atmospheric conditions and earthquake activity (or vice versa).

  • Utrex

    You know the saying, “When something big happens, more big things come from it.” The record-breaking Kelvin wave we have here isn’t something to be fooled by. It’s stronger than the one we had in 1997. You know what that means? Record-breaking El Niño? Perhaps.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      What I hope doesn’t happen is that the talk of El Nino gets hyped up during the spring and summer months only for the prospects of El Nino to fizzle by late summer or early fall and we go back into another ENSO neutral season. I believe we went through this for the 2012-13 season, and the El Nino-to-be fizzled out during the early to mid fall, and we got stuck with one of the driest ENSO neutral seasons on record in combination with a -PDO, +AMO regime.

      • Utrex
        • That’s actually quite a good discussion. The similarities between 1997 and the present are very impressive. I expect we’ll see rapid development of SST anomalies in the next 2-4 weeks.

        • Kamau40

          Very compelling and interesting discussion about the up coming El Nino event above. Thanks for sharing.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            That was certainly an interesting discussion, especially the comparison of this winter’s 850mb zonal wind anomalies to the same period in 1997 over the Pacific Ocean, and that the two looked almost identical. The weather may be getting ready to get much more interesting than what we have seen lately in a few months if this El Nino does develop.

        • I have to say–with each passing week, El Nino conditions are looking more and more likely, and there really does appear to be at least the potential for a very significant event. Present subsurface anomalies are huge, although we may never really know quite how high they’ve become since the TAO buoy array in the tropical Pacific is substantially non-operational due to lack of funding. We actually had more comprehensive instrumentation in place during the last big event in ’97-’98…

      • Kamau40

        Exactly! Dan, I’m glad you re-emphasize that point. We have to be cautious, while prospects still look good as of today for a strong El Nino later in the year things can still change, there is that possibility it can fizzle out prior to winter. That is why we hope it doesn’t peak too early either. Although, as of to date I don’t think it will based on the recent very warm sub surface temperatures that has developed in the central and eastern Pacific ocean. However, it is still way out into the future and a lot can happen between now and the end of the year. We are not even yet officially in an El Nino pattern. We don’t want to get too excited yet and then become disappointed just like what happened in 2012-13 and even last year when we thought we were going to have a moderate event and then only to fizzle out by Oct ’13. At this point we just want to be humbly hopeful that everything will hold together this time. I believe we will have a better idea or assessment of the strength of the new El Nino event by Jun or July ’14.

      • craig matthews

        I remember that as well; in the late summer of 2012 they were saying el nino is likely in winter 2012-13, and it vanished into thin air that fall. But this time around there are much stronger anomalies taking place along the equatorial pacific then what was occurring in the summer of 2012. So our chances this time are much greater. One interesting thing that happened in the late summer of 2012 is that the equatorial pacific warmed as if el nino was developing, yet atmospheric conditions were actually responding in a la nina type fascion which had some scientist baffled. This time, however, it appears that the atmospheric conditions and oceanic conditions are both lining up together pointing towards a developing el nino. That’s my take on it at least.

        • Yes–this year is different. I now expect to see large E. Pac. SST anomalies in place by June.

  • I’m also starting to notice that the seasonal models are depicting large positive SST anomalies along the entire western coast of North America this summer and fall (in addition to El Nino conditions in the tropical Pacific). It’s not immediately obvious what implication this has for summer and fall weather (the most direct effect would probably be to increase temperatures under the marine layer by 2-5 degrees, which would be notable in itself), but I would definitely hazard a guess that East Pacific tropical cyclone activity will be enhanced and the likelihood that tropical moisture/remnant systems might affect California will probably be higher than in recent years.

  • Wow. SST anomalies surfacing as we speak (this is from the available TAO buoy data). Subsurface anomalies as of yesterday now 5+ deg C, and latest CFS projections after the recent westerly wind burst are showing even higher anomalies by late fall. Right now, everything appears to be coming together. Stay tuned…this will be a major topic of discussion through the coming summer and beyond.

    • Utrex

      I noticed that there were negative SST anomalies during 1996-1997 until February 1997, when the SSTs began rising dramatically. During April, a weak El Niño formed. Temperature skyrocketed afterwards, and that may happen this year. We haven’t hit April so we have no clue. I’m hinting it may happen, though!

      http://ggweather.com/enso/oni.htm

    • And even newer info suggests that subsurface are literally off the charts–higher than the highest +6C contour plotted in the CPC data. At this point, it’s very difficult to see how this won’t result in an El Nino event at some point soon, and a strong one at that. For those of you who pay attention to the weather and climate circles, this will probably become a pretty big story over the next 2 weeks.

      • craig matthews

        Its amazing to see the T-Depth animation update today and how remarkably fast that large blob of strongly positive anomalies just under the surface is racing eastward toward the eastern equatorial pacific. I’m wondering if that sudden rise in ssts just west of the Galapagos islands is related?

      • Kamau40

        I was wondering if I was reading the latest subsurface temp correctly. I cannot believe the temp are already higher than +6C? What I have noticed is an increasing area of dark reds and getting larger and larger. This is the highest I have ever seen during a pre El Nino state. It almost looks like a volcano is exploding underneath the ocean which also means the weather will be changing globally incl lots of wild weather in the coming months.

        • Utrex

          You are correct. This El Niño definitely has potential. We did not see this when there was supposed to be an El Niño for 2012.

          • Kamau40

            Absolutely! Especially, if the PDO remains in its current positive phase, which the long range CFS models are currently showing, it will certainly help to support a super El Nino phenomenon.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            The positive PDO will definitely favor the developing El Nino. I first noticed the trend toward positive in the monthly index update that it turned positive in January, and then I noticed the positive signature on the Pacific SST anomaly map on CPC’s ENSO discussion just a few days ago.

          • Kamau40

            Makes perfect sense to me. Well said!!

      • Cliff Collipriest

        I hate to have to give up on this season, but it looks like this may be the driest year yet on the Central Coast. Bring on next season!

    • Stereolab

      I remember it being said here that El Nino doesn’t cause more storms, but only increases the severity of storms. So wouldn’t a strong RRR like we’ve seen over the past 18 months render an El Nino mostly impotent then, since so few storms were let through?

  • Xerophobe

    Is El Nino more of an East to West progression of warm water rather than SST anomalies moving from S. America Eastward?

  • Utrex

    Here is an animation of the subsurface pool of extremely warm water.

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ocean/anim/wkxzteq_anm.gif

    Once it hits the surface, it flattens out, stretches east, and basically heats the surface of the equatorial waters along the nino regions.

    Here are the nino regions:

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ninoareas_c.jpg

  • Utrex

    It seems our chance of rain has downgraded to a meek “light rain event”. Bummer. It’s still 8 days out and can certainly change…

  • Guest

    If you weather enthusiasts were given two choice for the 2014-2015 year and nothing in between, which option would you take?

    A) This El Nino turns out to be a HUGE monstrosity much bigger than anything ever seen in recorded history. The eye of a hurricane strikes downtown Los Angeles spawning tornadoes with sharks raining down on people.

    or

    B) A long-term extreme drought meaning it will NEVER rain again in Southern California in your lifetime. Not one drop for the next 50 to 100 years.

    Which of those two would you take? Analyze and pick the less of the two evils. If you need any help deciding, download the movie ‘Sharknado’ to get a feeling of what option A might feel like.

  • JimmySD

    I’m wondering if El Nino related changes in ocean circulation might be contributing to the recent fluctuations in atmospheric CO2. After a February lull the last two weeks saw a big spike.

    The 1998 El Nino caused CO2 levels to jump 2.84 ppm in one year.

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/webdata/ccgg/trends/co2_weekly_mlo.png

  • alanstorm

    Huge SST spikes remind me of that “anomolous” pool of rediculously warm water in the GOA directly below the RRR in January.

    • Here, through, the mechanisms and teleconnections are totally different.

      • alanstorm

        Well I guess its still a mystery. Some sort of anomolous warm “eddy” that helped intensify the RRR? Or was it the other way around?? Maybe sort of a symbiotic relationship??Jeez. Another “chicken or the egg” riddle.

  • SFBay2

    So I know the El Nino event theoretically does not impact us in this “rain” season. But does it heighten the chance of summer rains, or at heighten the possibility of the rainy season starting earlier next year?

    • Kamau40

      Correct, the current El Nino development will not have an impact on this year’s rainy season, but there is a greater probability that we could see more tropical/or remnants of dying hurricanes from the E.Pac. to impact our weather during the summer, especially later(i.e Aug/Sep). Dan(Weather West) mentioned the potential impact the upcoming El Nino could potentially have on our Summer weather just a few blogs down from a couple of days ago.

    • Dreamer

      Do most Native Californians consider “summer rain” to be an oxymoron? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ti6ENbqlkMY
      I mean the people who haven’t lived anywhere else.

  • craig matthews

    That extremely warm sub surface anomaly racing eastward across the equatorial pacific in association with that strong kelvin wave is really starting to surface now near the Galapagos Islands. Its amazing how fast ssts are rising in that area right now. Seams like CPC is being very cautious in there forecast of 50 percent chance of el nino by summer. Because the way it looks right now is that el nino is very likely by summer. And possibly sooner then that if the latest trends continue.

  • alanstorm

    Yeah, I know. The GFS models are turning my “soaker” prediction for next week into a wimpy, light rain tease. So I guess that’s it for this year. Back to all the mind-numbing drought talk. Wouldn’t be the first time I was led astray by a model….

    • ECMWF is wetter, CMC even drier. In the last two years the European range model has really started to pull ahead of the American GFS in terms of accuracy, since NCEP’s computing power is falling way behind the international cutting edge. All else being equal, I’d give the ECMWF slightly more weight…although the drying trend in the GFS is consistent with recent model behavior.

      • Xerophobe

        I guess one still needs use all and filter them based on recent accuracy. How many forecast models are usually used?

      • honzik

        I seem to remember reading that the ECMWF, unlike the GFS, is able to make use of data from polar satellites, which helps its accuracy. Do I remember that correctly?

        • The ECMWF does have a better data assimilation scheme, but I’m not sure about the specifics.

    • Dreamer

      I bet on the GFS even though I don’t know what it stands for (sounds like GPS though). I just intuitively think it wont rain any more this season in the LA area. BTW- Am I the only amateur on here without a scientific background in meteorology?

      • Dan the Weatherman

        GFS stands for Global Forecast System, which is the main American computer weather forecasting model.

        • craig matthews

          I call it Global Fickle System.

      • Xerophobe

        I’m in your category, too. I probably have a pedestrian knowledge.

      • Cliff Collipriest

        I am in your category as well. Limited knowledge but I watch weather closely.

  • MJA

    Thanks for the info Daniel, good job! =

  • U.S. Navy/NCEP model hints at rapid SST warming over the next week:

    http://polar.ncep.noaa.gov/global/nctest/?

    • craig matthews

      I don’t see there being any way around the fact that we are going to see El Nino develop by summer with such strong anomalies taking place under the surface, and with such a strong force with that body of warm sub surface ssts moving west to east across the equatorial pacific. Now they are saying sub surface positive anomalies are surpassing the 1997 event in the western equatorial pacific. I am wondering if such a strong kelvin wave has occurred in the past where then an el nino did not develop.

      • It’s conceivably (and physically) possible that some strange configuration of atmospheric conditions puts the brakes on this evolution–but that seems very unlikely at this point. I’ve looked at some raw buoy and satellite data and there are indications that 1-2 C SST anomalies have already surfaced over the past 24 hours or so. Stay tuned…

        • Guest

          At this point, would you be willing to bet a year’s income that El Nino happens? If not, what about a month’s income, a week’s income, or one day’s pay? How much are you willing to bet on it? The way to measure how sure you are of something is to put your money where your mouth is :).

          • OnShoreFlow

            as WW mentioned before, the atmosphere is chaotic and can change its mind overnight.

            If I was a bookie in Vegas I would place the odds of El Nino (5 to 1), ENSO neutral (10 to 1) and La Nina (30 to 1) at this point…

        • Kamau40

          One significant way that I can see for the upcoming El Niño to collapse is if the phase of the PDO becomes negative again, which is possible. But, looking at the recent ssta and the whole configuration of the Pacific Ocean, I don’t think that will happen. Furthermore, the PDO switched in early 1997 from negative to positive and remained that way until the middle of 1998.

  • Xerophobe

    Trivia: Who’s old enough to remember Harry Geise and probably his most famous long range forecast?

    • karlstorm

      I remember Harry Geise as the weatherman on KGO Radio 81 (San Francisco). I don’t remember his most famous long-range forecast.

      • JTB9

        I remember Harry Geise from KCBS-AM in SF. “Let it snow” could be your clue.

    • Never Too Soon to Panic

      In September 1966, a meteorologist named Harry Geise, announced on CBS-TV there would be a major snowstorm on December 24th-25th, 1966 in New York City. Everyone made fun of him. “It’s impossible to forecast a snowstorm three months in advance!” Well, on December 24th-25th 1966, New York City and surrounding areas received approximately 17 inches of snow.

      source: http://theweatherwiz.com/about.htm

      • Given the realities of chaotic processes in the atmosphere, thought would fall into the realm of “lucky guess.”

  • Dreamer

    Here’s another shot in the dark amateur prediction for April. L.A will have a monstrous heat wave during the week of Easter with 100 + for several days in a row, maybe even 110 in some spots.

  • lightning10

    Here is something to note. In years of lack of rain in Winter So Cal often gets 1-2 late season rains in late April-early June.

    • craig matthews

      Same thing has occurred up where I live as well. Even during the recent dry winter of 2011-12, we had some good storms in april.

  • craig matthews

    I sure would like to see the 12z ECMWF 3-20-2014 verify out at day 10 in its prediction of a potential wet pattern setting up along the entire west coast. Note that this model has a better verification record, as someone else mentioned as well, and it was the first model to forecast that short lived but intense stormy period at the end of February. I’m not giving up yet! I still believe we will get another couple of good storms toward the end of this month.

    • OnShoreFlow

      each run of the GFS (18z) keeps showing that pesky subtropical ridge nudge the Jet further north…seems like this has been a trend with that model during a major shift in the pattern this season.

      Once the MJO fully moves into the indian ocean (Phase 2) will we start to see this change maybe?

      • Perhaps…but the MJO has been pretty incoherent as ENSO evolves and it’s not clear that it has a big effect all the way downstream in CA during the spring, anyway.

  • TheNothing

    More before and after pictures of Folsom lake. The before is sometime late January and the after was two days ago.
    https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7292/12003886985_87ac0780be_z.jpg

  • craig matthews

    Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami has reported that some locations in the western equatorial pacific are reporting west winds up to 30mph, where normally the trade winds are out of the east at around 10mph. That’s a major deal. I lost the location of this article I got this info from but hopefully I will find it soon and post it. The chances for el nino are rapidly increasing each week.

    • I think the magnitude of these recent changes in the equatorial Pacific is pretty astounding. Believe it or not, this could still fall apart if the anomalous Westerlies die at some point in the next 2 months, but if they keep blowing…I’m increasingly thinking that 2014-2015 has strong potential be a very interesting year for those who pay attention to the weather and climate, including the potential for some pretty extreme meteorological events globally.

    • Boiio

      I was reading the same article today. Solid article

      http://mashable.com/2014/03/19/intense-el-nino-maybe/

  • “80% chance of a major El Nino” this year, according to Paul Roundy.

    http://blog.timesunion.com/weather/possible-major-el-nino-developing-and-our-wild-winter/2953/

    Given up-to-the minute data, it’s possible he’s right. I might err a little more on the conservative side of things for now, but I would agree that there’s a greater than 50% chance of a strong El Nino this year and a non-negligible chance of an event rivaling 97-98. My goal is to have at least a short update later this weekend or Monday discussing this…

    • craig matthews

      That article really answers my question about comparing our current kelvin wave to past events. Because I didn’t know we had only one other event this strong to compare to, and our data only goes back a couple of decades. There is a chance this el nino could be a bust, but being how strong this kelvin wave is and how strong these westerly wind bursts are I would think it will take a very strong opposite reaction to counteract that kelvin wave. Such as a sudden burst of easterly trade winds in that same area or areas east of the date line. But instead latest data suggest even more potential westerly wind bursts. All I can say is that this is getting exciting.

  • alanstorm

    OK. NOAA models showing another statewide “soaker” hitting on the 30th. (Which will rain out my plans at the Good Guys car show).
    Interestingly, highs predicted near 70° so maybe t-storms. Granted, its only 7 days out, but the last one predicted for 26th dissolved into nothing. Just another teasing model trying to screw up my plans??

    • Update forthcoming. By late evening, perhaps?

  • Severe Wx

    Wow….some of the latest CFSv2 readings are impressive. Looking forward to your update on the El Nino.

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/CFSv2/imagesInd2/nino3Mon.gif

  • craig matthews

    Latest CPS MJO update page shows a possible 3rd westerly wind burst developing in the western equatorial pacific. It has just emerged on the anomalies chart which is a day old so who knows how strong it is today. But a third westerly wind burst could really boost our strong el nino prospects. And 3rd one might be the charm. I was getting a little worried a few days ago when the trade winds were strengthening in the western pacific again, but now they are reversing to westerly once again. This is really something to be excited about in this dismal weather period.

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