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# Tuesday, July 28, 2015

NRL GOES E/W Composite VIS/IR (Day/Night) - Saturday, July 18, 2015 5:00 PM PDT Click
NRL GOES E/W Composite VIS/IR (Day/Night)
Post-tropical remnant low Dolores is west of Baja
Saturday, July 18, 2015 5:00 PM PDT.

Downtown Los Angeles (USC) ended the 2014-2015 rainfall year (July 1 - June 30) with 8.52 inches of rain; well below the normal of 14.93 inches. It was the fourth consecutive year of below normal rainfall in Los Angeles and much of Southern California.

To kick off the new new rainfall year two waves of moisture and instability associated with ex-hurricane Dolores, other tropical sources, and a strong monsoonal flow from Baja resulted in record-setting rainfall in Southern California from Saturday July 18 to Monday July 20.

Constructive interference of the El Nino base state by the active phase of the MJO resulted in negative 200-hPa velocity potential anomalies and enhanced convection in the Eastern Pacific during the first half of July. This appears to have contributed to the rapid development of Dolores from a tropical depression on July 11 into a Category 4 hurricane July 15. Anomalously warm SSTs in the tropical and sub-tropical Eastern Pacific also played a role, helping to maintain the strength of Dolores and increasing the amount of water vapor entrained by the system and transported into Southern California.

Many stations set new records, not only for the date, but for any day in July. Downtown Los Angeles (USC) set rainfall records for the date on Saturday and Sunday and tied Monday's record. Downtown Los Angeles recorded 0.36 inch of rain Saturday. This is more rain than any day in any July since recordkeeping began in 1877. That one day of rainfall even broke the monthly record for July in Los Angeles! Prior to this event the wettest July on record was in 1886, when 0.24 inch was recorded.

There was very heavy rain in the mountains on Sunday, with rain rates exceeding an inch a hour. From 5:15 p.m. to 5:25 p.m. a CBS Radio weather station on Mt. Wilson recorded a half-inch of rain in just 10 minutes!

Though the rain created its own problems -- including flash floods, debris flows and rock slides -- the soaking rains helped quell the Pines Fire near Wrightwood and the North Fire near Cajon Pass. Over the three day period from Saturday to Monday the Big Pines Remote Automated Weather Station (RAWS), near the Pines Fire, recorded 3.12 inches of rain. Several stations in the San Gabriels recorded more than three inches of rain, including Clear Creek and Opids Camp. Here's a NWS compilation of some rainfall totals in the Los Angeles forecast area and the San Diego forecast area.

After dawdling around for several months our on again, off again El Nino is finally firing on all cyclinders and could reach ONI and MEI levels not seen since 1997-98 and 1982-83. The Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) for May-June was 2.06. This was the third highest value for the season, exceeded only in 1983 (2.2) and 1997 (2.3). It is the second highest for the season during the development phase of an El Nino event. The 2015 April-May-June Oceanic Nino Index (ONI) value of 0.9 was higher than than in 1982 (0.6) and 1997 (0.6). Several dynamical models in the IRI/CPC ENSO Predictions Plume of forecast Nino 3.4 SST anomaly, released July 16, project Nino 3.4 SST anomalies in excess of 2.5°C this fall.

Analysis of correlations of CMAP Precipitation with globally integrated atmospheric angular momentum using ESRL/PSD's Linear Correlations in Atmospheric Seasonal/Monthly Averages tool suggests that precipitation in the southern half of California is more strongly correlated with atmospheric angular momentum (AAM) than with Nino 3.4 SST. For example, compare the correlation of CMAP Precipitation to AAM and to Nino 3.4 SST for Dec-Jan-Feb 1980-2012. Cyclical increases in relative atmospheric angular momentum are often associated with El Ninos. This can be seen in the plots of the Global Wind Oscillation in my El Nino Comparison Chart.

After being negative for 3 1/2 years, the PDO Index has been positive since January 2014. December's PDO value of 2.51 was the highest for that month on record since 1900. June's value of 1.54 was the 13th highest since 1900.

More information about Southern California weather and climate can be found using our WEATHER LINKS page.

 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015 8:07:55 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Wednesday, March 05, 2014

NRL Terra-MODIS Composite 02/26/2014 2150 GMT Click
NRL Terra-MODIS Composite 02/26/2014 2150 GMT
02/26-02/27 System Approaching Coast; 02/28-03/02 System West of 140W.

Extended by the active phase of the MJO, a strong Pacific jet provided the impetus for two Pacific storm systems to undercut a persistent ridge over the West Coast and bring much-needed rain to parched California.

Beginning Wednesday evening (Feb 26) and continuing into Sunday (Mar 2), the storm systems produced the most rain over five days in Los Angeles since December 2010, ending a nearly 14 month period with record-setting dry weather. Los Angeles experienced the driest calendar year on record in 2013, and until Friday had recorded less water year rainfall than in 2006-07 — the driest water year (July 1 - June 30) since recordkeeping began in 1877.

According to preliminary precipitation data, Downtown Los Angeles (USC) recorded 4.52 inches of rain over the course of the storms, increasing its water year total from a dessicated 11% of normal to a not-too-bad-considering 50% of normal. Downtown Los Angeles' water year rain total now stands at 5.72 inches. This exceeds last year's cumulative precipitation total on this date by more than an inch, but still leaves us with a deficit of nearly six inches. The storms increased February's rainfall total to near normal, and jump-started March with nearly half its normal amount of rain. Prior to these storms the most rain recorded at Los Angeles in a day this water year was 0.29 inch back in November!

Orographically favored foothill and mountain areas that faced into the storms' moist southerly flow recorded some impressive rainfall totals. According to this compilation of preliminary rainfall totals from the NWS Los Angeles/Oxnard, Opids Camp near Mt. Wilson recorded nearly 11 inches of rain, and several stations in the Ventura Mountains recorded double-digit rainfall totals. Here are a CNRFC map of Gridded QPE for the 7-day period ending March 3 at 4:00 am and a CNRFC map of 7-day Gridded QPE and 120 hr raw precipitation for stations recording over 4.0 inches.

With this recent rainfall 2013-14 will not be the driest water year in Los Angeles, but one good storm, or even two, "does not a rain season make." In the short term these storms have dramatically reduced the fire danger, provided crucial relief to plants and animals, and increased groundwater and reservoir storage. What happens in the longer term we'll just have to see. Over the next several days a series of systems are forecast to produce additional rain from Central California north into the PNW. While no rain is forecast in Southern California over the next week or so, and the 8-14 day outlook is for below average precipitation, as long as the Pacific weather pattern remains progressive there should be additional opportunities for rain in the weeks ahead.

It looks like El Nino is beginning to knock more loudly at the door. The third and strongest of a series of oceanic downwelling Kelvin waves continues to significantly increase subsurface equatorial heat content in the Pacific basin and another strong Westerly Wind Burst has occurred in the equatorial Pacific. The CFSv2 forecasts Nino 3.4 anomalies to reach El Nino thresholds in the May-June 2014 timeframe, however the IRI/CPC Plume-based and Consensus Forecasts released February 20 are less bullish, forecasting about a 40% chance of El Nino conditions developing in the MJJ season. We'll see!

More information about Southern California weather and climate can be found using our WEATHER LINKS page.

 

Wednesday, March 05, 2014 12:26:55 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Sunday, October 20, 2013

CPC Dec-Jan-Feb Precipitation Outlook Click
CPC Dec-Jan-Feb Precipitation Outlook
Released October 17, 2013.

Updated November 5, 2013. My mistake -- a spreadsheet range error -- thanks for the heads up Reg! The driest January 1 to November 1 for Downtown Los Angeles was in 1972 with 0.92 inch. Here are the driest ten years for that period:

1. 1972 0.92
2. 2002 1.62
3. 1984 1.93
4. 1961 2.37
5. 1971 2.39
6. 1947 2.45
7. 2013 2.78
8. 1894 2.89
9. 1953 2.89
10. 2007 3.37

An energetic upper level low brought the first widespread precipitation of the rain season to Southern California October 9, with rain at the lower elevations and some snow in the local mountains. Rainfall amounts varied widely, ranging from a trace in some areas to over an inch in the mountains.

Downtown Los Angeles (USC) recorded only 0.04 inch for the storm, bringing the water year rainfall total to 0.13 inch, which is 0.31 inch below normal. Downtown Los Angeles has recorded only 2.76 inches of rain since January 1. This is one of the driest January 1 - October 20 in Los Angeles over the past 135 years! To get out of the bottom ten for calendar year rainfall Los Angeles needs about 3.5 inches of rain by December 31. Normal rainfall for November is 1.04 inches and for December is 2.33 inches.

For months I've been monitoring climate data and forecasts looking for something on which to base a 2013-14 Winter precipitation Outlook. Historically ENSO has played the major role in Southern California rain season weather, with El Nino conditions generally producing wetter weather and La Nina conditions generally drier. But ENSO conditions are currently Neutral and are expected to remain so through the end of the year.

Most climate models forecast slow warming of SSTs in the equatorial Pacific (NINO 3.4 region) over the next several months, but at this time of the year it would be very unusual to have substantial warming. The CPC/IRI ENSO Forecasts from IRI's October Quick Look indicate the probability of an El Nino developing before the end of the year is less than 20% -- and 20% seems high.

One computer model that at times has been forecasting above average precipitation in Southern California this Winter is the Climate Forecast System version 2 (CFSv2). The CFSv2 is fully coupled ocean-atmosphere-land-sea ice model used to forecast parameters such as sea surface temperature, temperature and precipitation rate. While skillful at predicting tropical SSTs, the CFSv2 generally performs very poorly when forecasting precipitation over land, so forecasts such as this earlier one for Dec-Jan-Feb must be viewed somewhat skeptically.

Another glass half-full observation is that the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) has been relatively active this year and if this activity continues it provides recurring opportunities for enhanced U.S. West Coast precipitation. The downside is that it can result in periods of dry weather as well.

With the ocean and atmosphere neutral there's just not much on which to base a rain season forecast. As a result of the government shutdown the release of the official NOAA 2013-14 Winter Outlook has been delayed until November. The October CPC outlook is usually the basis of the initial official NOAA U.S. Winter Outlook. The U.S. Dec-Jan-Feb Precipitation Outlook, released October 17, calls for an equal chance of below average, average, or above average precipitation for all of California. We'll see!

More information about Southern California weather and climate can be found using our WEATHER LINKS page.

Sunday, October 20, 2013 3:31:26 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Saturday, September 29, 2012

In a post last June I mentioned that the atmosphere wasn't responding to warming Pacific equatorial SSTs. At that time normalized relative AAM values had dropped to around -2 sigma. Although El Nino-like SST conditions developed in the equatorial Pacific in July and persisted in August, the atmospheric component (AAM) did not follow suit. The average AAM for the period July-September was less than any other El Nino year going back to 1950. (See chart below.)

Following a relative rapid 2 sigma increase over a period of six months, the July/August value of the Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) dropped from 1.139 to 0.579, and its rank for the season dropped from just below a 'strong' El Nino to just below a 'weak' El Nino. Over the last month SST Anomaly in Nino Region 3.4 has dropped 0.6°C. A review of the ONI record reveals that a drop in the index, which is based on a 3 month running mean of Nino 3.4 anomaly, has not occurred before the Sep-Oct-Nov season during a warm episode.

As of mid September most models were still forecasting development of weak El Nino conditions. The IRI/CPC Plume-based ENSO Forecast puts the probability of El Nino conditions in the Sep-Oct-Nov season at a little over 80%! The probability of Neutral conditions is pegged at a little under 20%. The chance of returning to La Nina conditions is considered virtually nil. Going back to 1950, year two La Nina conditions almost always transition either back to La Nina conditions or to El Nino conditions. Depending on the climatology used there is either one (1985-86) or no cases of a transition to Neutral conditions from a second year La Nina.

Many dynamical model MJO forecasts are predicting a developing MJO signal in the Western Pacific, and that appears to be occurring. Velocity potential loops and Pacific Basin stitched satellite imagery show enhanced convection west of the date line, and today's MJO phase space plot from CAWCR/BOM shows a signal beginning to emerge. On the wind side, Mountain torques are over +4 sigma and Coriolis torque is at -2 sigma. Whether the (apparently) emerging MJO will help reboot our fading El Nino remains to be seen.

Update Friday, October 5, 2012. Eastward-propagating MJO-like signal didn't evolve as forecast by GFS (and several other models). Here's today's MJO phase space plot from CAWCR/BOM. Large swings in the magnitude of Mountain and Coriolis torques have continued. Relative AAM remains at about -1 sigma. The Early October CPC/IRI Consensus Probabilistic ENSO Forecast indicates an increasing chance of Neutral conditions developing over the next several months, but still gives an edge to El Nino conditions developing before the end of 2012.

Following is a chart comparing 2012-13 to warm ENSO episodes that have occurred since 1950. The warm episodes are based on the revised Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) based on multiple-centered 30 year base periods and are those specified in the CPC's tabulation of Cold & Warm Episodes by Season. A description of the parameters follows the chart. With the exception of years prior to 1957, a GWO phase space plot is included for each warm episode.

Year Jul-Sep
AAM
Nov-Mar
AAM
Peak MEI Peak MEI Season Peak
ONI
Peak ONI Season L.A. Rain GWO
Phase Plot
1951-521 -- -- 0.853 JULAUG 1.2 SON 26.21 --
1952-533 -- -- 0.840 APRMAY 0.7 MAM 9.46 --
1953-543 -- -- 0.522 AUGSEP 0.8 ASO,SON,OND 11.99 --
1957-58 -- 0.773 1.473 DECJAN, JANFEB 1.8 NDJ, DJF 21.13 Click for Nov-Mar GWO Phase Space Plot
1958-592 -0.919 -0.206 0.803 JANFEB 0.6 NDJ, DJF,JFM 5.58 Click for Nov-Mar GWO Phase Space Plot
1963-64 0.005 0.046 0.857 OCTNOV, DECJAN 1.4 OND 7.93 Click for Nov-Mar GWO Phase Space Plot
1965-66 -0.826 -0.748 1.483 JULAUG 1.9 SON,OND 20.44 Click for Nov-Mar GWO Phase Space Plot
1968-694 0.130 0.513 0.868 JANFEB 1.1 DJF, JFM 27.47 Click for Nov-Mar GWO Phase Space Plot
1969-704 0.358 0.413 0.644 OCTNOV 0.9 SON,OND 7.77  
1972-73 -0.096 -0.239 1.886 JUNJUL, JULAUG 2.1 OND,NDJ 21.26 Click for Nov-Mar GWO Phase Space Plot
1976-77 0.284 -0.828 1.027 AUGSEP 0.8 OND,NDJ 12.31 Click for Nov-Mar GWO Phase Space Plot
1977-78 -0.646 1.008 1.007 SEPOCT, OCTNOV 0.8 OND, NDJ 33.44 Click for Nov-Mar GWO Phase Space Plot
1982-83 0.938 2.337 3.037 FEBMAR 2.2 NDJ, DJF 31.25 Click for Nov-Mar GWO Phase Space Plot
1986-875 0.232 0.019 2.122 APRMAY 1.3 JFM 7.66 Click for Nov-Mar GWO Phase Space Plot
1987-885 1.153 1.000 1.951 JULAUG 1.6 JAS, ASO 12.48 Click for Nov-Mar GWO Phase Space Plot
1991-92 -0.008 0.808 2.271 MARAPR 1.6 DJF 21.00 Click for Nov-Mar GWO Phase Space Plot
1994-95 -0.422 0.764 1.434 SEPOCT 1.2 NDJ 24.35 Click for Nov-Mar GWO Phase Space Plot
1997-98 1.811 1.481 3.001 JULAUG,AUGSEP 2.4 OND 31.01 Click for Nov-Mar GWO Phase Space Plot
2002-03 0.047 0.324 1.184 DECJAN 1.3 OND,NDJ 16.49 Click for Nov-Mar GWO Phase Space Plot
2004-05 -0.020 0.747 1.018 FEBMAR 0.7 JAS-NDJ 37.96 Click for Nov-Mar GWO Phase Space Plot
2006-07 0.143 -0.322 1.289 OCTNOV 1 OND, NDJ 3.21 Click for Nov-Mar GWO Phase Space Plot
2009-10 -0.103 0.303 1.520 JANFEB 1.6 NDJ,DJF 16.36 Click for Nov-Mar GWO Phase Space Plot
2012-136 -0.951 0.296 1.139 JUNJUL 0.6 SON 5.85 Click for Nov-Mar GWO Phase Space Plot

1. AAM and AAM tendency anomaly data for 1951-52 not available.
2. AAM anomaly is average for Jan-Mar 1958.
3. Continuous warm episode from DJF 1952/53 to JFM 1954.
4. Continuous warm episode from JAS 1968 to DJF 1969/70.
5. Continuous warm episode from JAS 1986 to JFM 1988.
6. Data as of May 8, 2013.

Jul-Sep AAM & Nov-Mar AAM: The mean of the global relative atmospheric angular momentum anomaly for the periods July 1 to September 30 amd November 1 to March 31 of the following year. Data is from the GWO phase space data file linked on the Global Synoptic Dynamic Model page of the PSD Map Room Climate Products. Reference Weickmann and Berry, 2008.

Peak MEI: The peak seasonal value of the Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI). Reference Wolter and Timlin, 1993, 1998. MEI values are normalized and may change as new data is added.

Peak MEI Season: The peak bi-monthly season(s) for which the MEI is computed.

Peak ONI: The peak Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) based on SST anomalies in the Niño 3.4 region. Reference Climate Prediction Center Cold & Warm Episodes by Season (Multiple centered 30-year base periods.)

Peak ONI Season: The peak tri-monthly season(s) for which the ONI is computed.

L.A. Rain: The water year precipitation total in inches for Downtown Los Angeles (USC). Reference NWS Los Angeles/Oxnard Downtown Los Angeles Climate Page, 1921-2006 Water Year Rainfall.

GWO Phase Space Plot: Plot of global relative atmospheric angular momentum anomaly vs. global relative atmospheric angular momentum tendency anomaly for the period November 1 to March 31 of the following year. Data is from the GWO phase space data file linked on the Global Synoptic Dynamic Model page of the PSD Map Room Climate Products. Reference Weickmann and Berry, 2008.

Saturday, September 29, 2012 3:15:07 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Sunday, February 26, 2012

ESRL/PSD Analog 8-14 Day Probabilistic Precipitation Forecast Click
ESRL/PSD Analog 8-14 Day Probabilistic Precipitation Forecast
Probability of more than 25mm precipitation from 03/04/12 to 03/10/12.

Wednesday Downtown Los Angeles' water year rainfall total fell below 50% of normal for the date. With only 5.22 inches of rain in the bucket it looks like we're headed toward the driest rain season since the record-setting dry water year of 2006-2007, when a meager 3.21 inches was recorded. If Los Angeles ends the rain year (June 30) with less than 7.16 inches of precipitation, the 2011-2012 water year would be one of the ten driest on record.

It's been dry throughout most of Southern California and much of the state. According to data compiled by the NWS Burbank's water year total now stands at a paltry 34% of normal; Long Beach 49% of normal; Camarillo 42% of normal; Santa Barbara 56% of normal; and Paso Robles 49% of normal. Southernmost California has fared a little better with San Diego at about 79% of normal for the date. Central California rainfall is also well below average with San Francisco at 35% of the normal, San Jose at 26% and Sacramento at 40%.

I received an email recently from a reader asking if I thought a March Miracle was likely this year. Keeping in mind the chaotic nature of weather, and that low probability events do sometimes occur, the short answer is that I don't think it's likely we'll see higher than normal rainfall this March.

In a post in early October I discussed what the impact of a second year La Nina might be on 2011-12 Winter precipitation in the continental U.S. For a selection of seven second year La Ninas the coastal Southern California climate division recorded about 5 to 6 inches less precipitation than normal for the period November through March. If we take a look at March rainfall in that same selection of second year La Ninas, four of the seven recorded less than 0.5 inch rain in March, and only one was well above average -- 4.83 inches in March 1975.

Current outlooks are not favorable for higher than average March precipitation. The Climate Prediction Centers 6-10 Day Precipitation Outlook, 8-14 Day Precipitation Outlook, and One Month Precipitation Outlook all indicate below normal precipitation in Southern California. The ESRL/PSD Analog Probabilistic Precipitation Forecast is also dry in the 6-10 and 8-14 day outlook period, and the PSD Ensemble Spread does not look encouraging.

On the climate side of things the active phase of the MJO has been stalled in the Indian Ocean, but the 15-day ensemble ECMWF and several models forecast increased amplitude and eastward propagation. As a result of strong negative East Asian and Tropical torque events, relative atmospheric angular momentum is dropping like a rock, with the GWO taking a big dive into La Nina territory. Should the MJO continue to propagate and AAM increase over the next 2 weeks, perhaps we'll see the scenario necessary to generate an extended Pacific jet strong enough to impact the West Coast.

Monday its looking like we may get a little rain and possibly some lower elevation snow. Goes soundings and model data indicate the Pacific system is moisture-starved, but it is quite cold and is forecast to have strong dynamics. A GOES sounding near the systems core showed a 500mb temp of -30°C. Precipitable water values in the circulation around the low were around 0.6 inch. With such cold air aloft, and strong system dynamics, strong convection is a possibility. We'll see!

More information about Southern California weather and climate can be found using our WEATHER LINKS page.

Sunday, February 26, 2012 3:37:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Friday, January 20, 2012

HPC 5-Day Precipitation Forecast Issued Friday Afternoon, January 20, 2012 Click
HPC 5-Day Precipitation Forecast
Issued Friday Afternoon, January 20, 2012

Last Sunday's upper level low resulted in a little rain, mostly south of the L.A. basin, but Southern California and much of the West has been dry, dry, dry. How dry? Take a look at this plot of percent of average precipitation for the past 90 days from the Western Regional Climate Center.

Downtown Los Angeles (USC) has not recorded measurable rain for more than a month. The last measurable rain was on December 17 when 0.01 inch recorded. The water year precipitation total for Los Angeles has been stuck on 3.76 inches, which is about 2.5 inches below normal. The Sierra has been especially dry. The Statewide Summary of Snow Water Content for January 18 reported the snowpack at 10% of normal. Remarkably, Mammoth Mountain recorded no natural snow between December 5 and January 19!

The good news is the very stubborn West Coast ridge has finally relented, opening the door to a more zonal flow and a sequence of shortwave troughs. The change in pattern is forecast to produce significant rain and snow over most of the West Coast the next few days. The HPC 5-day Precipitation Forecast indicates up to about 5 inches of precipitation in some areas of the Sierra and North Coast, and over 9 inches in some areas of the Pacific Northwest.

The change in pattern isn't forecast to produce much rain south of Pt. Conception, but at this point just about any amount would be helpful. BUFKIT analysis of WRF Ensemble forecasts for Van Nuys indicate precipitation amounts ranging from about 0.1 inch to 0.5 inch, beginning sometime this evening and ending midday Saturday. The 18z NAM precipitation forecast for Van Nuys projects about 0.25 inch for the storm. Some mountain areas could see somewhat higher precipitation totals, particularly those with a west-facing aspect.

Another shortwave is forecast to move through the area Monday. Model projections differ, but we could get a little rain out of that system as well. We'll see!

Update January 25, 2012 8:00 am PST. Precipitation totals across the area from Monday's system generally ranged from about 0.3 inch to 0.75 inch. Downtown Los Angeles (USC) recorded 0.62 inches for the storm. This combined with the 0.68 inches from Saturday's system boosted the water year total for Los Angles to 5.06 inches, which is about 75% of normal for the date. The medium range models have been all over the place. Yesterday the 12z GFS forecast for Monday morning depicted an upper low and trough on the West Coast, while the ECMWF indicated some ridging. Here's a GFS/ECMWF comparison from San Jose State University Meteorology. Given the recent Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW) and rejuvenation of the MJO there's plenty of uncertainty in the medium range. The ECMWF seems to like the idea of a relatively fast-moving trough affecting the West Coast sometime around February 1. We'll see!

Update January 21, 2012 1:30 pm PST. Perhaps because its jet stream dynamics were more favorable than expected, this first system was a little stronger and held together a little better south of Pt. Conception than suggested by the models. Rainfall totals tabulated by the NWS generally ranged from about 0.2 to 0.7 inch in the Los Angeles area, with somewhat higher totals recorded in Ventura County and Santa Barbara County. Model projections have varied on the strength of the system forecast to move through the area on Monday. The 12z NAM projected about 0.4 inch for Van Nuys; the 18z NAM about 0.3 inch, and the 12z GFS about 0.5 inch. The system appears similar to today's, but it looks like the shortwave trough and vortex max may track more directly into Southern California.

More information about Southern California weather and climate can be found using our WEATHER LINKS page.

Friday, January 20, 2012 3:33:43 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Click
GOES-11 Water Vapor Image
Sunday, November 20, 2011 - 11:30 am PST

For the past two years Los Angeles has recorded above normal rainfall over the first six months of the water year (Jul. 1 to Dec. 31). So far this year is following suit.

After a record-setting storm in early October in which Downtown Los Angeles (USC) recorded over an inch or rain, a series of upper level troughs have continued to bump up the rainfall total. The systems have tended to be amplifying upper level troughs that split, typically transforming the southern half of the trough into a difficult-to-forecast cut-off upper level low. The resulting cut-off lows have then tracked over, along, or off the Southern California coast producing varying amounts of rain.

Sunday's system was the fourth to produce measurable rain in Los Angeles this November. A strong cold front produced very heavy rain, resulting in flooded streets and highways and resulting in a host of other weather-related problems. In the middle of it all runners in the PCTR Santa Monica Mountains 9K, 18K, 30K and 50K were running distances up to 31.5 miles on the trails of Pt. Mugu State Park.

Downtown Los Angeles (USC) recorded 0.90 inches for the storm, bringing the water year total to 2.75 inches. This is 1.11 inch above the new 1981-2010 normal for rainfall from July 1 through November 22. Here are some additional (preliminary) precipitation totals from around the area, compiled by the NWS Los Angeles/Oxnard. More than an inch above normal sounds like a lot, but as of today only guarantees Los Angeles precipitation will be above normal through December 12.

Back on July 1 NOAA released the new 1981-2010 climate normals, replacing the 1971-2000 normals that have been used this past decade. Normals serve as a 30 year baseline average of climate variables such as monthly and annual maximum, minimum, and mean temperature; and monthly and annual total precipitation. For example, Downtown Los Angeles' new normal annual precipitation total is now 14.93 inches, down from the 15.14 inches we've been using.

After dropping to -0.503 for July/August, and then to -0.772 for August/September, the September/October value of the Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) has dropped a bit more to -.968 sigma. This is well within La Nina territory, but almost one sigma less than last year's September/October value. Plots of the Global Wind Oscillation (GWO) for July 1 to November 19, 2011 and the same period last year illustrate the year-to-year difference in the atmosphere's response to La Nina conditions. So far, this year's response is consistent with a more active MJO and a shift toward a more neutral ENSO state.

While there's still a chance of rain in Southern California Thanksgiving Day, the forecast is looking better than it did a few days ago when rain was considered likely. The difficulty in the forecast is yet another upper level trough splitting into a cut-off upper level low. The 12z NAM forecasts the low to remain offshore on Thanksgiving Day, and move into Northern Baja by the late afternoon. The 09z SREF puts the probability of more than 0.01 inch of rain in coastal Southern California for the 12 hours ending 4:00 pm Thursday at 10% - 30% and the chance of more than 0.10 inch of rain at around 10%. A shift in the track of the low toward the coast would significantly increase the chance of rain. We'll see!

More information about Southern California weather and climate can be found using our WEATHER LINKS page.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 8:47:53 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Saturday, October 08, 2011

Click
GOES-11 Water Vapor Image
Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - 11:30 am PDT

An unseasonably deep upper level low, unusually strong 170+ kt Pacific jet, and associated cold front combined to produce record-setting rainfall in Southern California Wednesday, October 5. Rainfall totals exceeded 1.0 inch in many areas.

Downtown Los Angeles (USC) recorded 1.15 inches, setting a new record for the date, and kick-starting the area's rainy season to 0.78 inch above normal. Rainfall records for the date were also set for LAX, Long Beach, Camarillo, Santa Barbara and several other locations. It was the first measurable rainfall at Los Angeles since June 17. Here are some preliminary precipitation totals from the NWS Los Angeles/Oxnard,NWS San Joaquin Valley/Hanford and NWS San Diego.

Enhanced convection in the Western Pacific associated with active phase of the MJO, and an extension of the North Pacific Jet caused by a positive East Asian mountain torque event appeared to have contributed to the unseasonable amount of rainfall. As observed by Ed Berry (Atmospheric Insights, Dec. 30, 2007), "...the MJO itself does not generate enough extratropical westerly wind flow to allow the East Asian jet to impact the USA west coast. A strong positive East Asian mountain torque needs to be involved, on average."

The increase in relative AAM shown by the GWO not withstanding, La Nina conditions appear to be consolidating in the equatorial Pacific. This four month sequence of Pacific Ocean Equatorial Temperature anomaly cross sections shows substantial subsurface cooling from July 11 to September 11. The Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) has dropped from -0.5 for July/August to -0.8 for the August/September season. This drops the MEI from a rank of 16th last month to 13th this month, just above the quintile definition of a moderate La Niña ranking. Last year the MEI for August/September ranked 1st in the record since 1950. This TAO time-longitude plot of SST and SST anomaly shows less cooling than last year on this date.

To get an idea of what the impact of a second year La Nina might be on 2011-12 Winter precipitation in the continental U.S., the ESRL/PSD US Climate Division Dataset Mapping Page was used to construct a map of US composite precipitation anomalies for November to March for year two La Ninas since 1949. The years included were based primarily on MEI rankings, and include 1950-51, 1955-56, 1962-63, 1971-72, 1974-75, 1999-2000 and 2008-09. The base period was 1971-2000.

For this selection of years the coastal Southern California climate division recorded about 5 to 6 inches less precipitation than normal for the period November through March. The percent of normal water year rainfall recorded at Downtown Los Angeles (USC) ranged from a low of 47% (1971, 7.17"), to a high of 106% (1955, 16.00"). The average rainfall at Los Angeles for these years was 70.5% of normal, or 10.7".

More information about Southern California weather and climate can be found using our WEATHER LINKS page.

Saturday, October 08, 2011 2:05:22 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Thursday, January 20, 2011

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Extended Pacific Jet and Resulting Mega-Ridge
GFS Forecast for Sunday Afternoon

Over the next two weeks, the MJO signal currently propagating across the western Pacific is forecast to destructively interfere with the La Nina base state, suppressing convection in the Indian Ocean and Indonesia and enhancing convection near the dateline. This is forecast to result in a transition from upper tropospheric anomalous cyclones to anticyclones near the dateline, and an extension of the East Asian/Pacific jet. These circulation changes may eventually lead to a retrogression of our persistent West Coast ridge, or perhaps a breakthrough of the westerlies underneath the highly amplified ridge.

The key word here is eventually. Over the next week or so, the extending Pacific jet is forecast to reamplify the ridge over the West Coast. But at some point, perhaps near the beginning of February, destructive interference in the Western Pacific will dwindle and convection in the Indian Ocean will strengthen. This should result in retraction of the Pacific jet, and possibly, a West Coast trough. The 240 hr forecast of the 12z ECMWF hinted at this possibility, as did the 18z GFS. We'll see!

After starting out cold and wet, the weather this January in Southern California, and much of the state, has been warm and dry. Monday, Pierce College in Woodland Hills hit a high of 88°F, and Downtown Los Angeles (USC) 84°F. So far this January, only 0.58 of rain has been recorded at Downtown Los Angeles (USC), which is a little less than one-third of normal for the month. However, because of our prodigious December rainfall the water year total at Los Angeles is currently 6.5 inches above the normal for the date of 5.78 inches.

Earlier this month I photographed these mid-level mammatus clouds over the western San Fernando Valley. They were produced by the moisture and dynamics associated with a closed upper level low that was about 390 miles WSW of Los Angeles. To see how the clouds evolved and more about the scenario at the time, see this post on PhotographyontheRun.com.

More information concerning Southern California weather can be found using our WEATHER LINKS page.

Thursday, January 20, 2011 7:25:42 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Saturday, October 23, 2010

RAMDIS GOES-11 Water Vapor Image October 19, 2010 at 2:30 p.m. Click
RAMDIS GOES-11 Water Vapor Image
October 19, 2010 at 2:30 p.m.

Sunday evening through Wednesday afternoon, another energetic cutoff upper level low spun showers and thunderstorms into Southern California, increasing water year rainfall totals for many stations to near or above normal. Precipitation amounts varied widely, with some stations recording a few hundredths of an inch or less, and some as much as an inch or more. As was the case with the upper low at the end of September, this system produced a number of strong thunderstorms. A severe thunderstorm warning was issued as a result of a cluster of strong thunderstorms in the Antelope Valley Tuesday evening.

Downtown Los Angeles (USC) was one of those stations that didn't have its rain bucket in the right place. The station recorded only 0.08 inch from Sunday evening to Wednesday afternoon, bringing its water year rainfall total to 0.51 inch, which is about 0.16 below normal. Here is an archived Public Information Statement (PDF) from the NWS with some rainfall totals from around the area.

The Aug/Sep value of the Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI), released October 6, dropped another 0.18 sigma to -1.99. This is the lowest value of the MEI since Jul/Aug of 1955, and ranks the current La Nina as the strongest in the MEI record for the Aug/Sep season. Equatorial SST have continued to cool, and this plot of 5-day TAO/TRITON SST shows anomalies of -2.0°C or greater extending west to nearly the dateline.

Cooling of SSTs in the Central Pacific appears to have been enhanced by strong 850mb easterly winds associated with an MJO which propagated into the Western Pacific over the past 2 weeks and slowly diminished in amplitude. Divergence aloft associated with the MJO appears to have enhanced typhoon and tropical storm development in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific. CIRA TPW loops show a lot of tropical moisture being injected into an extending Pacific jet. This could amplify rainfall amounts along the west coast of the U.S. the next few days.

There's been some drizzle and light rain in the Los Angeles area this morning. BUFKIT analysis of 12z NAM data for Van Nuys and LAX generates about 0.1 inch of rain late Sunday afternoon and evening. The bulk of the precipitation is forecast to occur in the northern two-thirds of California and into the Pacific Northwest. We'll see!

More information concerning Southern California weather can be found using our WEATHER LINKS page.

 

Saturday, October 23, 2010 10:26:24 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Monday, March 08, 2010

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GOES-11 IR Satellite Image
March 6, 2010 - 3:00 p.m. PST

As forecast, an energetic upper low skirted the Los Angeles area yesterday on its way south into northern Baja, Mexico. As the low moved south, a vorticity lobe spinning around the low arced into the Southern California coast, producing rain, thunderstorms, waterspouts, and blustery winds.

Rain amounts were variable, generally ranging from about 0.25 inch to 0.75 inch around the Los Angeles area. Indicative of the convective nature of the precipitation, Downtown Los Angeles (USC) recorded 0.42 inch, while a few miles away LAX recorded only 0.18 inch for the storm. The water year total for Downtown Los Angeles now stands at 14.66 inches -- only 0.48 inch less than the annual norm of 15.14 inches. Here is an archived copy of NWS Public Information Statement with some more rainfall amounts for this rain event.

Reflecting the enhancement of El Niño by the MJO at the end of January, the Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) for January-February has increased to 1.5. As discussed by Klaus Wolter, MEI originator, this is the highest value of the Jan-Feb MEI since the strong El Niño of 1997-1998, and the fifth highest MEI value for Jan-Feb since 1950. This places the El Nino of 2009-10 in the top 10% of MEI rankings for the season since 1950, and above the "strong" El Niño threshold, as measured by the MEI. Here is a chart comparing the current El Niño to others since 1950.

The increase in the MEI corresponds to the increase in relative AAM since mid January and underscores the potential role of the Global Wind Oscillation (GWO) in assessing the response of the atmosphere to El Niño. It also reinforces the notion that the El Niño phenomena is more than just warm SSTs in the central equatorial Pacific. As we've seen several times in recent years, warm SST anomalies in the Niño 3.4 region alone are not sufficient for evaluating an El Niño and its potential impacts.

More information concerning Southern California weather can be found using our WEATHER LINKS page.

 

Monday, March 08, 2010 9:05:26 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Thursday, February 25, 2010

GOES-11 Water Vapor Image (UW-MAD) February 25, 2010 - 7:00 a.m. PST Click
GOES-11 Water Vapor Image (UW-MAD)
February 25, 2010 - 7:00 a.m. PST

A weakening frontal band produced some light rain in Southern California yesterday afternoon and evening. Precipitation amounts in the Los Angeles area ranged from a trace to a few hundredths of an inch. Amounts were higher to the north, closer to the surface low. A few stations in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties recorded more than 0.5 inch and some recorded more than an inch. Here is an archived copy of a NWS Public Information Statement with some precipitation totals from around the area.

Today, a much stronger Pacific storm system begins to impact the West Coast, with the highest precipitation totals forecast for Northern California and the Sierra Nevada. BUFKIT analysis of this morning's 12z NAM data for Van Nuys generates about 1.3 inch of rain, beginning late Friday night and continuing into Saturday afternoon. The 18z NAM run starts the rain a little earlier Friday night, and extends the period of precipitation into Saturday evening. It produces about 1.8 inch of rain at Van Nuys over the period. Today's 09z SREF indicated a probability of about 50%-70% that precipitation in the Los Angeles area would exceed 0.5 inch for the 24 hr. period ending Saturday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. Precipitable water values approaching an inch and strong southerly low level inflow could produce higher rain rates and precipitation totals on south to southwest facing foothill and mountain slopes.

Since being reinforced by a strong MJO at the end of January, El Niño convection has remained active in the Central Pacific (animation). In terms of relative atmospheric angular momentum (AAM), the atmosphere's response is the strongest since the El Ninos of 1997-1998 and 2004-2005. Average AAM for our rain season (November to date) has increased from -0.046 at the beginning of the year to 0.341 as of February 23. This El Nino Comparison Chart shows how this El Niño compares to others since 1950.

So far this rain season, Downtown Los Angeles (USC) has recorded above average rainfall every month, except for November. And November's rain came early -- in October.

More information concerning Southern California weather can be found using our WEATHER LINKS page.

 

Thursday, February 25, 2010 8:26:22 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   |