California’s dry season has arrived; March toward El Niño continues in Pacific

Filed in Uncategorized by on May 5, 2014 163 Comments

Summary of Recent Weather Conditions

California’s meager rainy season of 2013-2014 experienced its last gasp in late April. Modest rainfall (and mountain snowfall) occurred on April 25th, though outside of a few localized downpours overall precipitation totals were not particularly noteworthy. Over the past ten days, strong high pressure associated with a high-amplitude 500mb ridge developed over the far Eastern Pacific, bringing a record-breaking early-season heat wave to much of California.

March-May zonal wind anomalies. (NOAA/ERSL)

March-May 500mb geopotential height anomalies. (NOAA/ESRL)

March-May geopotential height anomalies. (NOAA/ERSL)

March-May 250mb merid. wind anomalies. (NOAA/ESRL)

March-May surface temperature anomalies. (NOAA/ERSL)

March-May surface temperature anomalies. (NOAA/ESRL)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A number of daily high temperature records were set over a multi-day period over a geographic region spanning the far North Coast (near Eureka/Arcata) to the Mexican border (including San Diego County). Remarkably, the afternoon high temperature recorded at the San Francisco Airport on April 30th was higher than any recorded temperature during all of calendar year 2013! This spring heatwave also coincided with the occurrence of powerful Santa Ana (offshore) winds in Southern California, with the typically windier mountain peaks seeing gusts in the ~100 mph range. These high winds–combined with ongoing extreme drought conditions–led to extreme fire weather conditions, and several wildfires did ultimately break out. In the wake of this heatwave, the Sierra Nevada snowpack fell further from near-record low levels to essential nonexistence.

It’s interesting to note that the observed large-scale atmospheric pattern over the Eastern Pacific since March has featured a return to increasingly persistent anomalous ridging. While an incursion of the Pacific jet did effectively knock down the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge in early February–allowing a series of significant storm systems to bring much-needed precipitation to California–California has found itself either directly underneath or immediately downstream of a fairly persistent region of positive geopotential height anomalies since early March. While there were a couple of significant precipitation events during that interval (which did not occur during the RRR’s reign), high pressure and well-above-average temperatures have dominated California’s weather over the past couple of months.

 

The forecast: more of the same

Unfortunately (though perhaps not surprisingly), dry weather will remain the rule over the next 1-2 weeks. A few showers and perhaps even an isolated thunderstorm (mainly in the mountains) will be possible late Monday into Tuesday as a weak system brushed California, but widespread precipitation is not expected and anything that does fall will be light. gfs_namer_192_500_vort_ht_sThis system will bring another round of strong offshore winds to Southern California, though they will probably not be quite as strong as the most recent (damaging) episode. Temperature will warm again later in the week as high pressure rebuilds and a new ridge forms along the West Coast. In short: anyone hoping for a late-season soaker is out of luck.

 

El Niño update: still appears likely that we’re in for a big one

I’ve been closely following the evolution toward an El Niño event in the Pacific Ocean for several months. Early interest in this event was piqued by the initiation and eastward propagation of an enormous oceanic Kelvin wave earlier this winter, which has since traversed the entire Pacific basin and reached the west coast of South America. Large positive subsurface temperature anomalies associated with this Kelvin wave are now surfacing in this region, and in recent days there has been a rapid rise in sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies.

Global SST anomalies. Note the red region west of Peru. (DMI)

Global SST anomalies. Note the red region west of Peru. (DMI)

A number of anomalous westerly wind bursts (WWBs, or disruptions to the prevailing easterly trade winds) have been observed in the West Pacific, while a more modest (but steady) weakening of the Easterlies has been observed in the East Pacific. Patterns of equatorial convection (tropical thunderstorm activity) have shifted in a way that suggests that the atmosphere is starting to respond to these changes in SSTs, meaning that the self-reinforcing physical patterns associated with a developing El Niño appear to be well underway. Notably, a new Kelvin wave appears to be forming in the West Pacific in response to the strong WWBs earlier this year, which is likely to send another pulse of warm water eastward over the next 1-2 months.

CFS forecast calling for an East Pacific WWB in early-mid May. (NCEP via Kyle MacRitchie)

CFS forecast calling for an East Pacific WWB in early-mid May. (NCEP via Kyle MacRitchie)

In the relatively short term, numerical models suggest that a fairly strong WWB will occur this week much further east than as yet been observed during the current event.This is a potentially important event in the evolution of El Niño, since this temporary 180-degree reversal of the winds in the Niño 3.4 region will essentially shut down whatever weak upwelling remains in the far eastern Pacific. If this event comes to pass as currently projected in the models, I’d expect rapid SST warming to continue and expand westward over the next 2 weeks. With additional major West Pacific WWBs slated for early summer, wind conditions appear to be favorable for the maintenance of the already-developing second major Kelvin wave and perhaps even the formation of a third later this summer. There is currently no evidence of a sub-surface cool pool developing in the West Pacific after the passage of the huge Kelvin wave a couple of months ago, which effectively means that there’s no obvious “kill switch” that would have the potential to shut down this developing El Niño event before it really gets going. In other words: a repeat of summer 2012–where early-season signs of a developing event ultimately collapsed, leading to failed forecasts and much consternation–appears to be very unlikely.

 

How does 2014 stack up to 1997 (so far)?

SST anomalies, May 2 2014. (NCEP/ESRL)

SST anomalies, May 2 2014. (NCEP/ESRL)

SST anomalies, April 2 1997. (NOAA/ESRL)

SST anomalies, April 2 1997. (NOAA/ESRL)

SST anomalies, May 2 1997. (NOAA/ESRL)

SST anomalies, May 2 1997. (NOAA/ESRL)

Many comparisons have been made between the presently developing event and the lead-up to the powerful 1997-1998 El Niño event. These discussions have centered largely upon the fact that the observed magnitude of the Kelvin wave now surfacing in the East Pacific is comparable to (or even greater than) a similar wave that occurred during late winter 1997. New data now suggest that the observed evolution of sea surface temperatures is now also remarkably similar to 1997, although as can be seen in the below plots 2014 is tracking several weeks behind 1997. The structural similarity of SST anomalies in the equatorial Pacific between 1997 and 2014–combined with numerical model projections for continued warming in the coming months–suggest that the it’s still rather likely that the Pacific is headed for a major El Niño event this year. By the end of May, we start to move past the Spring Predictability Barrier, so I expect that we’ll have a much better handle on where things are headed by early June. Stay tuned!

© 2014 WEATHER WEST

 

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  • Jeff Red Berry

    Excellent as always.

  • Daniel Barth

    Thank you very much!

  • do you have a fb page?

  • craig matthews

    Again, this is so well encompassing current weather and weather related conditions in our state and conditions in the tropical pacific that could very well impact California weather later this summer and especially next fall and winter. You mentioned that another potential major kelvin wave is developing in the western pacific at this time. If this next kelvin wave does in fact become another strong one going into summer, and more westerly wind bursts occur further to the east, seams like there is no way around the fact that we are on course for a strong El Nino.

    • Kamau40

      Craig, what you’re comment above is exactly correct. Keep in mind though that Dan(The Weather Man) mentioned we are likely to see 2 more fairly strong oceanic Kelvin Waves over the next 1-2 months. If this happens, based on the latest conditions in the Tropical Pacific, which I see no reason for the waves to not materialize, that further solidifies we will have a very powerful El Nino to develop by the Fall. Also, the conditions in the E. Pac due to the developing El Nino pattern is now favorable for the early start of what should be a very active Hurricane Season. Read website below: In addition, I’m expecting to see a much higher probability of seeing residual moisture from some of these tropical systems to produce more convective activity for Ca. later this Summer. Our weather could get very interesting down the road.

      http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/east-pacific-hurricane-season-1/26503210

      • craig matthews

        Yes, could get interesting this summer, especially later summer. And if you live on the coast, this summer could be warmer and perhaps a little humid if ocean temps rise like they did in 1997.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        It wasn’t me that said that we would be likely have two more strong Kelvin Waves over the next 1-2 months, unless I was quoting what someone else was saying, because I am still learning about this subject and am not familiar with how frequently they occur during a developing El Nino event. It was likely Daniel Swain (Weather West) who mentioned it.
        By the way, Daniel mentioned above that there is possibly another Kelvin Wave currently developing in the western Pacific, which would certainly be good news in aiding in the development of El Nino.

        • craig matthews

          Well no matter who said it, all the same, its getting exciting to watch this event unfold.

    • Jeff Red Berry

      He mentioned further confirmation the end of this month.

  • A fairly impressive thunderstorm cell just popped up northwest of Sacramento. The vast majority of places stayed completely dry today but it looks like a pretty big population center (Sac metro) may get a nice downpour with lightning over the next hour. This is one of those days where the forecast verified nicely–isolated thunderstorms were expected and did indeed occur–but since the isolated storms that did form are affecting a big population center on a day with only a 20% chance of precip in the forecast, there tends a be a perception of a “busted forecast.” In any case, there must be some great views in the Southern Sacramento Valley this evening.

    • darrenking

      Heavy rainfall following a gorgeous sunset here in Folsom. Sitting next to my window listening to the downpour right now. Very nice.

  • TheNothing

    A really strong cell just popped up over Camp far west and looking out west of me here in Rocklin looks really juicy.

  • TheNothing

    just snapped this photo you can see the setting sun peeking through the rain band.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/100185958@N02/14115991852/

    • Chowpow

      Here’s a potato quality (iphone) picture from a few minutes ago.This was from the cell that popped up for s few minutes in southern Nevada County, shortly followed by decent hail and rain….nice little storm!

      • craig matthews

        Great shot. Way cool Is that above Nevada City?

        • Dan the Weatherman

          You were lucky to capture lightning from your phone, or was this a frame from a short video clip that you captured?

    • JibJab2

      Great pic.

  • Bandini

    Rain/snow combo in truckee, dark clouds before sunset.

  • Kamau40

    The AMO has gone more strongly negative. April numbers are now at -0.071. This is the 4 month in a row. This is also great news for precipitation for Ca long term if this continues.
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/data/correlation/amon.us.data

    • Dan the Weatherman

      Both the PDO and AMO are trending in the direction that I want to see them go. Getting away from the -PDO, +AMO combo should help with our rainfall prospects in the future, but we need a significant El Nino to bring us good rains next season I believe. If we have weak ENSO next season, it could still be dry with the atmosphere having a “memory” of the PDO and AMO signature of the previous year. It would take until next season for that to change, at least I could tell from looking back at records to the 1950’s.

      • Kamau40

        Yes, I totally agree with you’re analysis.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          Thanks!

      • craig matthews

        Good analysis. Makes me wonder if there is “learned behavior” in the atmosphere. Or learned behavior in weather patterns. As storm systems appear to follow a familiar path across the pacific and North
        America each winter. I hope that the atmosphere forgets that we have been locked in a -PDO/+AMO , as the new +PDO/-AMO index becomes familiarized in atmospheric weather patterns.

        • Dan the Weatherman

          I think it just takes the atmosphere a while to respond to changes in oceanic conditions along with other factors, so there is simply a delay before the jet stream changes its behavior.

          • craig matthews

            I agree. Lag time.

  • Jeff Red Berry

    Dan, any thoughts on this, I think you’ve mentioned the atmospheric rivers before, but what if the El Nino breaks down ? What do we look for prior to one of these?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Flood_of_1862

  • Jeff Red Berry

    Also, apropos of nothing contrasting the past with the present. Some interesting data points on the L.A. River and it’s capacities, I thought pretty amazing:

    http://articles.latimes.com/1995-03-26/local/me-47451_1_los-angeles-river

  • lightning10
    • Jeff Red Berry

      Yeah, and for the low, low price of only 20 million dollars to re-build something that was already built. Meanwhile they continue to water lawns, flush toilets, and wash theirs cars with EPA certified clean drinking water. Makes perfect sense. But, when they want drinking water they buy it in the stores, drive it home in their SUV’s, then toss the bottles and their caps into the ocean. We as a species deserve everything that happens to us.

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  • Severe Wx

    SOI has dropped like a rock in the past few days….5/6/14= Daily SOI of -35.83!

    • craig matthews

      I was starting to wonder about the SOI being positive for so long in April. But man it sure has dropped off the cliff in the last week. Thanks for posting that number. That is impressively low. I wonder what the record is for negative SOI value? We had a very low SOI value somewhere between 1904 and 1906.

      • Xerophobe

        April 1905 was almost -40.
        Jan ’83 about -37 during 82-83 El Nino.
        97-98 El Nino SOI never got as low but was below -10 for a 12 month period of April 97-April of 98. Lowest ONI was about -25 in June 97 and March 98
        I don’t know of any other times it was lower than 1905

        • craig matthews

          That appears to be the lowest recorded SOI value on the charts. NCDC archives for precip in Monterey California show some fairly impressive monthly rainfall totals in 1905-06.

          • Keep in mind these are likely monthly values. Daily SOI values are sensitive to fluctuations in weather. That said, -36 is pretty low.

          • craig matthews

            Thanks for clarifying. Still learning about SOI.

    • Kamau40

      Yes, it is indeed verified that the current SOI values is -35.83! This indeed is another great sign a very powerful El Nino is on the way. I have not seen values this low during any pre El Nino weather pattern. This is significant.
      http://www.longpaddock.qld.gov.au/seasonalclimateoutlook/southernoscillationindex/

  • Zepp

    The National Assessment Report on Climate Change is out, and the White House coverage of it is available here ( http://www.whitehouse.gov/live ). It’s obviously tailored for mass consumption, but the gist of the report and coverage is, “It’s here. It’s now. And it’s already messing us up.”

    • The actual report is available here:
      http://nca2014.globalchange.gov

      and Jeff Masters has a nice summary here:
      http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2675

      This is a much more accessible document than the IPCC reports–well worth the read.

      • Zepp

        Excellent. They, in turn, both highly recommend this:
        http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/highlights/overview/overview

      • alanstorm

        As expected. The extreme weather flip-flops have been obvious & the climate domino effect is in action. Good luck on any way we can curb greenhouse gasses at this point, what with all the emerging economies growing at a breakneck pace. Spent some time in China & S.E. Asia a couple of years ago- unbelievable growth & unbelievable air pollution. Away from the smog-choked cities the air is even worse cause they burn everything! This report should make the natural gas/fracking lobby quite happy, though. Should be quite a ride for the rest of us. However, I don’t like the permafrost/ methane release scenerio one bit…..That would be “game over”, right?

    • Boiio

      I’ll believe in man-made climate change when it stops raining in California….oh wait….

  • lightning10

    Weather looks to be a lot more interesting in So Cal today than expected.

  • lightning10

    Getting some rain over here 🙂

  • craig matthews

    Disturbance off Mexico coast appears to be getting stronger. It has the potential to break records for being the earliest named storm in that area, but it has some wind shear in its path which may keep it at bay.

  • craig matthews

    So, this is dumb off the subject question, but for the computer illiterate like myself, what process do I have to go through to upload pictures onto this blog, like others are doing? A simple step by step process, or a link to directions would be very helpful.

    • Xerophobe

      I log-in with Disqus so all I do is drag and drop into the rectangular box below the text box, then it opens up and swallows it and show up below…. 🙂

      • craig matthews

        Test Run

        • Appears to be working!

          • craig matthews

            Yep, starting to figure this computer out. That’s a lot of positive sst anomalies in the North Pacific, especially off the west coast of North and Central America. If we don’t get any upwelling off the California coast, it seams like coastal areas are in for a warm summer even if a marine layer is present right?

  • Utrex

    A bit late with the storm system two days ago. Here are some puffy cumulus I saw.

    I also observed a thick virga fall from a cumulonimbus bottom, with lightning. It seemed that that was one of the strong thunderstorms that were observed that day. It missed where I lived though.

    I also have a shot of a thunderstorm downdraft with a backlit sunset.

  • Dan the Weatherman

    It is looking like another Santa Ana (likely not as strong as last week) and very hot weather event shaping up for next week, about as un-springlike that it ever gets this time of year. Why is it that we just can’t settle into a springlike pattern with marine layer cloudiness and 70’s to near 80 for highs more like it should be this time of year? This temperature roller coaster ride as of late feels like October or November, not May! I am really getting tired of the spikes into the 90’s we have been experiencing this spring, especially if it gets as hot next week as it did last week.

    • Yes–right now, looks like we could be headed for an even more impressive early-season heatwave next week. That does not bode well for the fire season this year, since all the vegetation is going to be “end-of-summer” dry by the end of May.

  • Sunchaser

    Another little shaker tonight in LA….3.3 magnitude…the epicenter was located in Bell about 9.3 miles deep….

    • Dan the Weatherman

      I didn’t feel it here in Orange despite sitting here at the computer. It was simply too far away from here given the magnitude.

  • Dan the Weatherman

    The 6-10 Day and 8-14 Day Outlooks have been repeating like a broken record for what seems like all year. Ridge in the West / Trough in the Midwest. When is this pattern ever going to stop and just simply become more zonal? I know that I am asking stupid rhetorical questions here, but I am just getting tired of all this dryness we have been experiencing the last three seasons and this excessive ridging we have had since last fall.

  • EOrr

    Just a little FYI. The western wind bursts (wwb) sync up with the passage of the MJO. For those who care the MJO is a standing wave that slowly travels around the earth at the equator and orbits the globe at around 40 day periods. The bursts this last month were stronger than the models predicted but the next round in a couple of weeks will ensure that the enso 3.4 will stay above +.5 and the CPC can officially announce el niño the first week of August. (It is defined as 3 consecutive 3 month periods of +.5 anomalous temps). We are currently in phase 1 of the MJO which will suppress cloud formation in the west pacific for the next couple of weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised if a little bit of scattered rain continued for parts of CA as the ridge is a little further south and is peeling off a little moisture as it batters the pacific northwest.

    The pacific jet has been wonky lately but it looks like it may solidify into its normal summer mode in the next week so it is hard to say what will happen. If the jet stays north the rain is gone for the year but if the jet splits due to the negative convection anomolies near the Phillipenes then we may just see some glorious weird rain this summer. Just my naive hope more than anything though.

  • Utrex
    • Now looks almost exactly the same along the equator as late April 1997…now just two weeks behind.

  • lightning10

    That old ring of fire is acting up again. 3.2 last night and 6.0 in Mexico this morning. Just got to hold on and hope for the best.

  • craig matthews

    GFS shows 500mb height of 588dm centered over the central coast by late Tuesday next week(or Wednesday). This would mean our first 100’s in central coast valleys if this is to occur.

  • Kamau40

    The PDO is now up at 1.13 for the month of April as the El Nino pattern continues to develop!
    http://jisao.washington.edu/pdo/PDO.latest

    • craig matthews

      Everything seams to be headed in the right direction(or direction we want to see) as far as PDO, AMO and ENSO. Nice to hear that update for the PDO. Thank you Kamau40!

      • Kamau40

        Absolutely!

    • Dan the Weatherman

      That is definitely good news for us, and from looking at SST anomaly maps lately, it definitely looks as if we are entering a +PDO phase for a while at least.

  • TheNothing

    Today I was running around in a sweatshirt, but by this time next week I’ll be frying eggs on my front driveway.

  • Dan the Weatherman

    It is really looking hot for Socal next week as the NWS has temperatures forecast to be in the mid-upper 90’s for inland Orange County from Tuesday through Thursday. Yikes! Hopefully it cools down to comfortable levels for next weekend for outdoor activities. At least this weekend is going to be nice, because it was being hinted at earlier on that the heat might start on the weekend as opposed to Monday.

  • darrenking

    Raining again in Folsom tonight. A replay of a few days ago. I like it.

  • Xerophobe

    IMO, regardless of how one feels about Tisdale, here is a good up to date comparison of 97-98 El Nino vs the event in progress now. FWIW early on this year Tisdale thought this current event if bloomed into a strong El Nino would be between 82-83 and 97-98. We’ll see.

    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/the-201415-el-nino-part-7-may-2014-update-and-what-should-happen-next/#more-7017

    • It’s not clear to me why we should expect the current event would track between the 1982 and 1997. There is no singular evolution of El Nino events, and our sample size (for truly big ones) is very small (2!!).

      At this point, an El Nino event of some strength is extremely likely (>90%). There remains a pretty good conditional probability that this highly likely El Nino may become strong (>50%), and current conditions in the Pacific resemble those observed during the strongest events on record. That’s about as much as we can say at this point, but that’s actually quite a lot!

      • Kamau40

        In addition, here is a snapshot of what the ssta in the Pacific Ocean may look like during the Oct-Dec timeframe, according to the CFC long range forecast. We still have to get past the Spring time “barrier” before any of us will know how strong the developing El Nino pattern will be. The fact that the long range models have been and still are forecasting very large ssta along the equator this far out I think is quite substantial!!

        http://origin.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/people/wwang/cfsv2fcst/htmls/glbSSTe3Sea.html

      • Xerophobe

        I do agree re your first paragraph. Kinda like a financial report: “past performance do not guarantee future returns”!

    • craig matthews

      I think he does a very good job at detailing the differences between the ’82-83 and ’97-98 El Nino events and then comparing current developing El Nino to both of those strong events. But at the end he really hammers it by saying no two El Nino events are alike. So really, at this present time, there is no telling how strong this event will become.

  • craig matthews

    So it looks like many California areas could reach 100 degrees next week. This is not good as fire season will most likely begin very soon as the grasses quickly cure. Local fire personnel in charge of collecting fuel moisture samples in the Big Sur area says fuel moisture content in the brush and shrubs is at late august levels. Scary! I am absolutely sick of seeing these ridges pop up with such ease off California over and over again.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      Like I have said before I am tired of this excessive amount of ridging and associated hot weather, and I would rather just have a nice string of springlike days in the 70’s to low 80’s until the end of June or some significant late season rainfall.

      I am wondering if the developing El Nino conditions is in any way indirectly responsible for this pattern of high heat spells we are currently experiencng. I remember the spring of 1997 having some very hot weather in Socal, particularly sometime in late March and May, but I can’t remember whether there were strong late season Santa Ana winds back then or not.

      • Azmordean

        Yeah I too am tired of heat. Expecting upper 90s here in Mountain View. Very out of the ordinary in Silicon Valley, especially to have it last several days. I’ve already used my A/C unit more this year than all of last summer, and it looks like I’ll be using it all week this week.

        It looks like overnight lows will be anomalously warm as well so I may even have to sleep in the living room this week, as my A/C is a “through the wall” model and it is in the living room, so the bedroom doesn’t get too cool.

        I’m afraid a miserable summer may be the price of rain next winter though. If the El Nino is strong I suspect the heat will continue.

        • My next post may even have a section on the “Return of the RRR,” since we’re back in a pattern of highly anomalous, persistent ridging over the northeast Pacific. There does appear to be a link between this pattern and the developing El Nino, though there are almost certainly other major factors at play as well (look for a long post on that towards the end of summer).

          This week looks quite hot, and the recent pattern means that fire season will have the potential to be exceptionally severe this year (not only because of the drought, but even more importantly due to these recurring early-season dry wind/heat events).

          El Nino is a virtual guarantee at this point–I’d peg that potential at 90-95%. There is still considerable uncertainty regarding the strength, but I still see a lot of evidence that we’re headed for a strong one, centered in the East Pacific. Next blog update will probably occur next weekend.

          • Dreamer

            Will this early season heat come in waves of a few days of heat followed by a return to normal temperatures or will it continuously remain hot from now until October? Will there be some humid spells in between the bouts of dry heat and Santa Ana winds?

          • Kamau40

            Looking forward to your next blog next weekend. I hope you don’t mean that with this developing El Nino pattern and the link to the “return of the RRR” will persist into next winter with possibly more dry weather for Ca? Perhaps, I’m misinterpreting your statement above.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            Significant Santa Ana winds are forecast once again for Socal beginning tomorrow and lasting well into next week for the second time this month, although they are not forecast to be quite as strong as those the week before last. This is definitely an anomalous weather pattern, as Santa Ana winds are pretty rare for this late in the season, even though I have seen weaker events in early May from time to time usually followed by a storm or two before the rainy season wraps up for the spring.
            Do you think this dry Santa Ana pattern to be a recurring pattern the rest of this spring, or do you think we will finally have more normal spring weather? I would at least think that once the jet retreats to the north and the deserts turn hot, surface high pressure will be prevented from setting up over the Great Basin due to the intense heating that usually occurs over the late spring summer months leading to more persistent onshore flow.

          • Xerophobe

            Looking forward to the long post at end of summer as well as the update. If your research does link RRR and other other, reinforcing conditions to the RRR to eventual (large) kelvin wave formation you’d have a great thesis.

          • Dogwood

            This has been a novel concern of mine for months- warm GOA pool coupled with RRR now gets more warm water fed via El Niño and we have the law of unintended consequences. A super warming in the North Pacific and everything arches over Alaska all over again next winter in the face of massive RRR. Maybe Mexico north to Baja gets all the action and CA gets continued drought.
            So what will it take to normalize the Gulf of Alaska waters, and does it matter?
            Food for thought. RRR just a precursor to El Niño and it goes away? Or a new thing entirely.

          • Kamau40

            That has been my concern too. Usually though from what I have observed in the past and from factual historical data, when there is an Eastern basin strong El Nino event, such as the one occurring, more often than not the whole state of Ca gets hammered with flooding rains and big time snows which is what I am expecting to happen next winter. If this event was occurring in the Central Pacific Ocean then I would be much more concern. The other important note is that so far we have a strong +PDO, -AMO, and strong ENSO compared to the last 3 yrs in a row in which we had the -PDO, +AMO, neutral ENSO combo which has been the chief culprit as to why we have had 3 consecutive years in a row of severe drought for the state. Though I believe there maybe other unknown factors involved which is yet to be discovered in the coming years. However, it is to early to tell in terms of specifics of what type of weather we will see until we get closer to next winter.

          • craig matthews

            One thing that was discussed earlier was the discovery of a “dipole” set up that has been discovered a year prior to El Nino or La Nina, where a more persistent strong high pressure cell is centered in the northeast pacific and a more persistent deep low is centered near the Hudson bay a year prior to El Nino and La Nina. So the RRR could be a precursor of impending El Nino conditions for later this year. Weather West posted this article in the last update a few weeks ago ( http://news.cisc.gmu.edu/doc/CA_drought_research.pdf ). What scares me is the magnitude of warmer then normal ocean temps that cover a vast area in the eastern an north pacific that appears to be growing in size with time. And how will these warmer waters in the northeast pacific affect the pacific jet if we do end up with a strong El Nino?

          • Kamau40

            So do you suspect that could mean a ton of rain/snow or more severe dry conditions for next winter?

          • craig matthews

            Honestly, Kamau40, I don’t know what that means for California next winter. But in the back of my head, I’m thinking that since there has been such a big switch in the ocean-atmosphere pattern along the equatorial pacific, and a big switch in the PDO as well, there should be a big switch in the weather pattern across the north pacific basin into North America as well. So I do “suspect” the weather pattern across the north pacific basin will be quite different and we will experience a wet winter in all of California, especially socal, this next winter. But like I keep saying, I am no expert whatsoever. There are just so many factors involved.

          • Kamau40

            Yes, there will be other factors as well. But, with a strong Eastern basin El Niño pattern, we should have a very strong subtropical jet stream next winter combining with the polar jet stream to bring very heavy wet winter storms to Ca. I’m not an expert either, but I’m going off of historical data and passed experience with two major El Niño patterns. At this point though it is way too early to tell regarding specifics. We will know more as we get closer to next winter when everything will be coming together at that point. We just have to wait and see.

          • Kamau40

            I am no expert on this; however, based on what I have learned from Daniel Swain during the past year since signing up on this site is that what gives me great hope for an epic winter for 2014-15 is that the key global tele-connection features has finally switched(-PDO, +AMO, neutral ENSO to +PDO, -AMO, and continued signs of strong ENSO). From a historical standpoint that usually favors Ca well for a very wet winter. But, again it still does not guarantee a wet winter, we just have to pray and hope that it rains/snows next winter.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            I will say that things are definitely trending in our favor, and while I can’t say for sure quite yet if our winter will be epic, I certainly don’t believe we will have another year as dry as the last two.

      • craig matthews

        I have wondered as well as to any connection with the developing El Nino to this anomalous ridging off the California coast. And I still wonder about the very large area of warmer then average ocean temps in the northeast pacific that are still present to this day, though not as anomalously warm as in January. It appears the warmer waters in the northeast pacific and off the west coast appear to be making some connection to the warming waters in the tropical pacific.

        • Kamau40

          Interestingly, I have been wondering about the “RRR” link too for awhile in regards to the developing El Nino, which started with the record breaking Kelvin Wave that began traveling across the Pacific Ocean in Jan. In fact, I think earlier in the year when I began seeing signs of El Nino I was trying to connect the dots.

  • lightning10

    Man claims he finds pattern on large quakes in So Cal.

    http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2014/04/30/ex-la-science-teacher-shares-theory-on-when-earthquakes-occur/

    In 1933, a magnitude-6.4 quake struck Long Beach at 5:54 p.m. at dusk. It was a full moon.

    In 1971, a 6.6-magnitude quake hit Sylmar at 6 a.m. at dawn. It was a full moon.

    In 1991, a 5.8-magnitude quake hit Sierra Madre at 7:43 a.m. at dawn. It was a full moon.

    “All those quakes took place at dawn or dusk or at new or full moons,” Nabhan said.

    I will look up what the temps where that day as well.

    It does say

    Notably absent from Nabhan’s list were the Whittier Narrows quake and the Northridge quake. While they both happened in the early morning hours, it was not within 36 hours of a full or new moon.

    • Utrex

      Syzygy.

      • alanstorm

        Oh-syzgy. That’s Jim Berkland’s research on moon alignments & quakes. Very interesting. Plate Techtonics are impossible to get a handle on. Let’s say a particular alignment triggers an “event”. Doesn’t always mean a quake will occur right then. It could just build more tension like a mounting rock slide. One more “pebble” could make the whole thing go. No way to predict if its the straw that breaks the San Andreas’ back.
        Oops- I forgot this was a Ca weather blog!

    • bryan kerr

      Didn’t follow the link, but it sounds like the guy is cherry picking. What about Hector Mine, Big Bear, Landers, Joshua Tree, etc.? Memory’s a bit foggy, but I believe John Vidale did some work on this while he was at UCLA and found a very weak tidal correlation with low magnitude events. Don’t know if any new work has been done, but Dan could probably take a short elevator ride and get some answers from Greg, Jesse or Norm.

      Don’t bother with the temps. Weather has absolutely no effect on triggering earthquakes.

      • Yup. There simply isn’t any evidence for a meaningful physical linkage between earthquakes and weather, or earthquakes and planetary alignments. On the other hand, there’s increasing evidence that human activities do have an influence on local quake activity via fluid injection wells. In fact, the evidence for that latter point is strong enough that the USGS recently issued a rare statement regarding the artificially-increased risk of a major quake in Oklahoma:
        http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/08/us-usa-oklahoma-earthquakes-idUSBREA470PW20140508

    • craig matthews

      So I guess this might be called earthquake weather, and, we are getting close to a full moon. We shall see!

  • alanstorm

    What the? A rain shower here in Danville? Where did that come from?

    • Kamau40

      We had the same thing here in Napa earlier a very light rain shower. It was indeed very strange.

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

  • Sunchaser

    The Santa Ana’s have arrived!!!! single digit humidity and wind gusts up to 23 mph…with temps 78 F….here in Glendale. Happy Mothers Day 2014 !!!

    • Dan the Weatherman

      There has been a Santa Ana breeze here in Orange this afternoon, but nothing like the last event, though. It is warmer here today, but the worst of the heat won’t arrive until tomorrow or the next day.

      • Sunchaser

        The NWS is saying that we will hit triple digit temps mid week and I for one am not looking forward to that this early in the year…I work outside so you can bet I will be keeping myself in the shade and drinking lots of fluid and sitting in my truck with the air on as much as possible….!!!!!

  • lightning10

    One local thing that I remember about the last El Nino was in mid/late June the seals started dieing on the coast. I wonder if we will see that again.

    • Sunchaser

      They are .(sad) ..saw it on the news just the other day. They say its due to a lack herring that they feed on. Whether this has to do with warming waters is still up to debate…

  • Utrex

    Maybe the RRR was a precursor to this El Niño? Was it caused by an upwelling of the strong kelvin wave…? Or am I lacking something.

    • The RRR predates the upwelling part of the current Kelvin wave by many months. There is some evidence that W. Pac. conditions as far back as last summer (associated with an El Nino precursor event) may have contributed to the RRR. This and other hypotheses will be the subject of a much more substantial blog post later this summer.

      • craig matthews

        I can’t wait to hear what you have found in your research. I am hoping you will incorporate “the dipole” idea into one of your blog posts as well.

  • Dreamer

    I did some research on the Nino and the SOI is back way up which means this thing may not actually happen.

    • Not at all. The SOI is a fickle metric–defined by the surface pressure field at two specific point locations on the planet–thus its variations are highly sensitive to local weather entirely unrelated to large-scale atmospheric changes associated with El Nino. Much more important are surface/subsurface temperature anomalies and also surface wind anomalies, all of which are exhibiting strong signs of El Nino.

    • xeren

      careful with that wattsupwiththat – it seems to be a thinly veiled climate change denier website, so i would be hesitant to believe anything posted there

  • Kamau40

    Great video and advice about upcoming El Nino from our Bay Area’s own Jan Null who knows a lot about El Nino event. Even Daniel Swain is quoted in the article on this link. While the odds are increasing that we will have a strong event and that we will have a wet winter next year is still not a guarantee. Even if we do end having an epic year next year, our precipitation deficits are so large that it will take at least a couple good wet solid years to get us back to where we should be.
    http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/05/09/chances-of-el-nino-increasing-effect-on-california-drought-debatable/

    • Sunchaser

      I saw the segment on the Channel 9 news here in LA as well….Great video to watch…agreed !!!

      • Dan the Weatherman

        Great video! The information about El Nino was presented well and accurately. Even though El Nino increases our chances of a wet winter, it is certainly not a guarantee, especially with weaker events. Everything is trending in the right direction to have a better winter next year, but I still cannot say with absolute certainty that we will have a wet year, but I don’t think it will be drier than the last two winters, though.

        • Kamau40

          Yes, great response.

          • Zepp

            We got unusually heavy snow (for December, that is) that year, and by Boxing Day we had about four feet on the ground. It started raining about the 29th, and the rains warmed and intensified over the next three days. When I work up on New Years’ Morning, it was 44 at dawn, and pouring. All the snow was gone. I went back in and started frantically emailing warnings to everyone in low-lying areas.
            We even had flooding up here!

    • craig matthews

      The two great minds on this video make such good points. One in particular: we really don’t know if an El Nino will happen, until it actually happens. Right now it looks like El Nino will happen, but it hasn’t really happened yet. Though I’d bank on it happening with such strong signals pointing toward El Nino by this summer.

    • Xerophobe

      The $64 million question is will this possible El Nino bring above, below or average precip. for next rain season? The 87-88 El Nino was not good for precip. HoWeVeR the ONI values for that season peaked in summer and fall…bUt the almost as big El Nino of 91-92 had ‘good’ ONI but also below average precip. We just won’t know until we hit Oct-Dec, I guess.

    • Cynthia Banks

      Kamau40, I responded to you with my alternate email address on Walid’s site, but he blocked it. He also is holding all of my comments. I haven’t said anything offensive so I guess he just doesn’t want the other opinion out there. You asked for how to contact me so here it is sunshine112775. Gosh I hope this site doesn’t block me.

  • Utrex
    • Cliff Collipriest

      I was wondering if you could interpret that for me. Is the warm patch of water at the equator between 180 and -160 degrees what Dan is referring to as the next Kelvin Wave that he says is developing? Also, does all the above normal SST along the entire Central and North American west coast mean anything other than it is above normal?

  • Zepp

    PDF with all the latest NOAA charts and predictions regarding ENSO here: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf

  • Nino 3.4 Index is now above +0.5C, meaning that El Nino conditions have provisionally arrived. With a new Kelvin wave developing in the Western Pacific, I would now say there’s around a 95% chance that at least weak El Nino conditions will officially be declared by mid-summer.

    • Xerophobe

      When you do your next update or your biggie update late this summer could you include what if any importance Nino 1+2 index has to do with anything? The only speculation I can muster when there is a defined El Nino: If Nino 1+2 stays relatively warm or warmer than Nino 3.4 during the overlapping months ONI is calculated during the rainy season, it appears precip. is good but if 3.4 is warm and 1+2 is not as warm or waning the opposite is true. If Nino 1+2 is of no importance…then go back to your regularly scheduled programming… 🙂

  • Dogwood

    Feels like I’m Linus waiting for the Great Pumkin to arrive on Halloween.
    In a good El Niño year tho, it may not be any different on November 1st when I wake up. Only takes 3 events out of 20 weeks in the rainy season to really bring substantial benefits to California. Look at the monthly records of El Niño years past. You pull the two wettest months out and the rest of the time, just like any other winter, if memory serves me. Still, it’s easy to forget what 10 straight days of statewide rain does for us. That’s 4-20″ of rain, a third of the annual average for a good event.
    The barrier wall is not that huge.
    Thanks everyone for all the great info.

  • Severe Wx

    We need another monster WBB and kelvin wave to kick this event into high gear. CFS V2 models have been really dropping the ball on the El Nino.

    http://origin.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/people/wwang/cfsv2fcst/imagesInd3/nino34Mon.gif

    • Xerophobe

      I was thinking the same thing after I posted something about Nino 1+2. Hopefully WWB’s, preferably with a more Eastward origin will happen. Still notice the ramp up in September…a good sign. December is usually the month when you’ll see peak anomalies, though which is about what this forecast is showing, the ensemble mean is maybe late November-ish. We’ll see

  • snow755

    nino 1 and 2 is warming up fast and you no where the warm water will head it head W in two the rest of the nino areas we are heading for a mod two strong EL nino by mid summer and super strong by fall

    all so you can throw the CFSv2 mode runs in the trash can they are all wrong the best thing you can do is this watch how the # go up in in the coming weeks has they are going up fast the Intense warming we are seeing in nino 1 and 2 all head W in two the W of the nino area so we will be seeing
    Intense warming in all nino areas soon all so with nino 1 and 2 at 1.2 all ready that is vary close two mod El nino if not all ready there this watch how thing will chages in nino 1 and 2 has we head in two the rest of the week or by weekend we could be at strong EL nino in nino 1 and 2 area with all other nino not far be hild EL nino is now in high ger

  • snow755

    has pointed out nino 1 and 2 has really jump up from the last time i posted it wish was last night its now at 1.3 wish last night it was olny 1.1 thats a big jump that all so means that puts us even closer two mod EL nino and has you no whats been going on at nino 1 and 2 is all so now starting too happen at all other nino areas we could be hiting 1.7 in area 1 and 2 by the end of the week wish would put us at strong EL nino this EL nino is comeing on fast

  • bryan kerr

    A bit off topic from this specific post, but John Oliver had a brilliant take this Sunday on the climate change “debate.”

    • Shaggy

      John Oliver is no Stephen Colbert but then again Colbert apparently won’t be Colbert in another season, so I suppose he’ll do.

  • craig matthews

    It not to often when Monterey California is at 90 degrees with an RH of 11% in early May. It is this very low RH value that is rare for this time of year, because local fuel moisture values are usually much higher and that contributes to a higher RH value at the surface near the coast even during spring time heat waves with light offshore winds. This is the type of stuff more common in October, as many others have said. This current heat wave somewhat resembles the 2008 heat wave in mid May that preceded the worst fire season this area ever had that started in late may that year. Hope this is not going to become the common theme going into this summer.

  • Dan the Weatherman

    This is definitely a fall pattern that we are in. Here is an excerpt from LA/Oxnard’s AFD this afternoon:

    .HIGH PRESSURE WILL CONTINUE TO WEAKEN OVER THE WEEKEND AS A TROF APPROACHES THE PAC NW. THAT TROF WILL SLIDE SOUTH THROUGH INTERIOR CALIFORNIA LATE SUNDAY THROUGH TUESDAY EVENTUALLY EVOLVING INTO A QUASI STATIONARY LOW JUST WEST OF THE 4 CORNERS TUESDAY THROUGH AT LEAST THU. SO NEXT WEEK WILL BE QUITE THE OPPOSITE OF THIS WEEK WITH STRONG ONSHORE FLOW, MUCH COOLER TEMPERATURES, AND VERY LIKELY A DEEP MARINE LYR.

    The low is forecast to take an inside track, and I hope this doesn’t lead to another Santa Ana event later in the week when the low moves east and high pressure builds in again.

    It seems that the spring pattern over the last 2-3 years has been more fall-like for some reason. It may simply be that the jet stream is way too amplified (like it has been this spring) as opposed to being more zonal.

    • craig matthews

      Yes Dan the Weatherman, that is exactly the same type of weather pattern that I have noticed where I live(near Big Sur) these last 2 springs. It is as if some invisible pathway develops in the springtime for lows to track down the east side of the sierra then down into either Arizona or into the northern rockies depending on how amplified the epac ridge becomes behind the inside slider(s) that ride over the top of the ridge. Our spring seasons where I live have been much more dry and windy in the last 2 years, but not as hot as this spring. April 2012 started out very wet for the first 2 weeks, then no rain the rest of the season. 2013 spring was entirely dry with several inside sliders that produced a lot of dry cool northerly winds if I recall that correctly. That low that is forecast for next week has me concerned as well.

  • craig matthews

    So in the visible satellite picture I am trying to post here, sorry its not animated: looks like a fire near Pt. Conception or Lompoc if its possible to view that strange looking hazy cloud in that area?

    • craig matthews

      Test run 2

      • stormsurge10

        There’s one down here in San Diego county too.

      • Cliff Collipriest

        The fire was in Lompoc, south side of town was under evacuation orders for a while.

  • stormsurge10

    Wow. Here in SD county, wildfires, more high 80s/low-to-mid-90s temps for the rest of this week. What is going on?

    • Dan the Weatherman

      What is basically going on for some weird reason is that we are experiencing a weather pattern more typical for late October and November right in the middle of spring, as opposed to the typical May Gray pattern that we normally see at this time of year.

    • Cliff Collipriest

      98 degrees on the Central Coast (Santa Maria) and a wildfire in Lompoc yesterday. This is just wrong.

      • craig matthews

        Seeing these wildfires so early in the season is scary! I live 1 mile from the ocean and its 93 at 1pm with RH of 8%. Folks in my area are worried of a repeat of 2008 wildfire season, which started in late May. But in regards to fire season in general; it seams that fire season began in April 2013 and has never ended entirely, even with the couple of weeks in early March and early April where the fuel moisture increased due to those few good storms we received. Now all we can hope for is a return of a thick marine layer as it looks like no rain for the next 2 weeks.

        • Cliff Collipriest

          Craig, I have to agree with you about the wildfire season beginning last May. I have acreage outside of town and normally during the winter I can clear and burn brush and burn tree trimmings. Not this year, it never got wet enough for safe burning.

          • craig matthews

            Yes, this is just plain crazy. Same thing here with no burning piles the whole winter. Now the forest service will probably start to close the back country with these current wildfires in socal. At least I will be able to due my usual ascent to forester pass in the high sierra this summer without having to worry about snow fields. They will be gone by june at this rate.

  • craig matthews

    Getting warmer in the eastern equatorial pacific!

  • itsshane

    OK I’m no meteorologist and have about zero clue as to what is being said in this article. All I’ve heard from other sources that El’ Nino = Possible cooler summer.. Is this true? Could we have a cooler Summer this year? – Cooked North Hollywood Resident

    • Dogwood

      I stated once before a few months ago that summer of ’82 was cool windy and un-summer like in San Jose. There was a constand wall of Santa Cruz fog over the Lexington Gap above Los Gatos and there wasn’t a heat wave until mid august. My recollection was that a “real” summer wasn’t coming. Then 82-83 rainfall went into overdrive. So, anecdotally, it happened once in an El Niño summer run up. The daily average high for June in ’82 was 73.3 (normal 79.3 ) , July 79.8 (82.1) August 81.1 (81.8).
      1997 was warmer though: June 81.0, July 84.5 & August 83.1, with September actually being far warmer @85.6 right at the entry to the big El Niño rainy season of that winter.
      So, one never knows.
      And to this current May heat wave, many years this weather is not repeated in June or July. At least in the Bay Area, the marine influence can often dominate well inland until early autumn even after the head-fake of an early hot spell that gets everyone fearing a bad summer ahead.

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  • James Sackett

    “For those of you who don’t Habla en espanol! El Nino is Spanish for… The Nino.”
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    my name is Marisa James,i am From GERMANY I never knew I could be happy again cause my life turned in a mess by my ex boy friend named James, cause the love I had for him was incomparable, I loved him with all my heart but he dumped me just because of other girl, ever since then I have never been my self cause I love James and think of him every seconds of my life so I cant just let him go like that cause I think he is the love of my life, so I decided to go on research on net on how to get lost lover back. At hot mail blog that was how I saw a lady who testified the great things which Dr.AYO did for her after reading I was convinced to give a try to Dr. AYO to see if he can help me also. So that was how I contacted him greatayosolutiontemple@gmail.com and told him my problem. So when I told him my problem he just told me not to worry that I will have James back within 48hours, I was so surprised, I he call me and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened,. I was so surprised and was short of words cause I could not believe what I was hearing. So that was how James came to me and now we are living happily than ever before. My friends out there who needs help I will advice you contact Dr. AYO for help.You can reach him via: greatayosolutiontemple@gmail.com

  • Marisa James

    my name is Marisa James,i am From GERMANY I never knew I could be happy again cause my life turned in a mess by my ex boy friend named James, cause the love I had for him was incomparable, I loved him with all my heart but he dumped me just because of other girl, ever since then I have never been my self cause I love James and think of him every seconds of my life so I cant just let him go like that cause I think he is the love of my life, so I decided to go on research on net on how to get lost lover back. At hot mail blog that was how I saw a lady who testified the great things which Dr.AYO did for her after reading I was convinced to give a try to Dr. AYO to see if he can help me also. So that was how I contacted him greatayosolutiontemple@gmail.com and told him my problem. So when I told him my problem he just told me not to worry that I will have James back within 48hours, I was so surprised, I he call me and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened,. I was so surprised and was short of words cause I could not believe what I was hearing. So that was how James came to me and now we are living happily than ever before. My friends out there who needs help I will advice you contact Dr. AYO for help.You can reach him via: greatayosolutiontemple@gmail.com…..

  • Marisa James

    my name is Marisa James,i am From GERMANY I never knew I could be happy again cause my life turned in a mess by my ex boy friend named James, cause the love I had for him was incomparable, I loved him with all my heart but he dumped me just because of other girl, ever since then I have never been my self cause I love James and think of him every seconds of my life so I cant just let him go like that cause I think he is the love of my life, so I decided to go on research on net on how to get lost lover back. At hot mail blog that was how I saw a lady who testified the great things which Dr.AYO did for her after reading I was convinced to give a try to Dr. AYO to see if he can help me also. So that was how I contacted him greatayosolutiontemple@gmail.com and told him my problem. So when I told him my problem he just told me not to worry that I will have James back within 48hours, I was so surprised, I he call me and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened,. I was so surprised and was short of words cause I could not believe what I was hearing. So that was how James came to me and now we are living happily than ever before. My friends out there who needs help I will advice you contact Dr. AYO for help.You can reach him via: greatayosolutiontemple@gmail.com……