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# Friday, November 07, 2014

SST NINO Region Anomalies from the CPC ENSO Diagnostic Discussion 11/6/2014. Click
SST NINO Region Anomalies
From the CPC ENSO Diagnostic Discussion 11/6/2014.

One thing is very clear; we have a lot to learn about the atmosphere's response to anomalously warm equatorial Pacific SSTs. It's difficult to imagine a better scenario for El Niño development than the conditions seen in the equatorial Pacific earlier this year.

After being negative for 42 out of the previous 43 months, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) index turned positive in January 2014 and has remained positive through the summer. Beginning in January and ending in late June the downwelling phase of a very strong Kelvin wave propagated across the Pacific, with upper ocean area-averaged heat content anomaly between 180 and 100W peaking at the end of March. Since January there have been westerly wind bursts and periods of increased low-level westerly zonal wind anomalies of variable duration and extent.

The Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) jumped from -0.5 in the FMA season to -0.1 in MAM, and then to +0.1 in AMJ. During that same period the Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) jumped from a rank of 35 in MARAPR to 59 in APRMAY -- a value that put it on the doorstep of a strong El Nino ranking. Which all looked supportive of at least a moderate El Nino developing.

But it didn't. After climbing up to 0.6 °C in late May, Nino 3.4 region SST anomalies dropped to below 0.0 °C in late July. Since then a more modest downwelling Kelvin wave has restored some of the basin heat content and Nino 3.4 anomalies have rebounded back to 0.6 °C.

So what's next? While El Nino development still appears to be possible this Winter, it would be one of the two latest developing El Ninos in the record from 1950 to the present -- the other being 1952-53. One possibility is that this year's vacillations are the precursor to the EARLY development of an El Nino event next year.

One worrisome detail is that the Global Wind Oscillation (GWO) has been behaving similarly to the failed El Nino of 2012. Compare this plot of the GWO from June 1 to October 31 of this year to the plot of the GWO from June 1 to October 31, 2012. In both 2014 and 2012 the GWO has shown a neutral or weak La Nina-like response. The GWO for the period June 1 to October 31, 1997 is an example of a definitive atmospheric response to strong El Nino conditions.

On a more positive note, a relatively strong, but fast-moving Pacific cold front and trough resulted in rain and snow in California over Halloween. In the Los Angeles area rainfall amounts generally varied from around 0.3 inch to 0.75 inch or so with isolated amounts as high as about 2.0 inches in the mountains. Here are some tabulated rainfall amounts from around the area from the NWS Los Angeles/Oxnard and NWS San Diego.

The 1981-2010 climate normal average rainfall for Downtown Los Angeles in November is 1.04 inches. Month to date we're about average for the date, and water year to date we're ahead of last year, but about 0.6 inch below normal.

Based on the current GFS and ECMWF forecasts those deficits are probably going to increase over the next two weeks, but it is way too early in the rain season to attribute the dry weather to a continued dry pattern. El Niño or not; dry November or not; the switch from a cold Pacific to a warm Pacific is a significant change and one that some guidance suggests should increase our rainfall. We'll see!

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

 

Friday, November 07, 2014 2:18:36 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Saturday, November 01, 2014

Warm Pacific/Warm Atlantic Composite Precipitation Anomaly Click
Warm Pacific/Warm Atlantic Composite Precipitation Anomaly
Based on JUL-SEP PDO Index and AMO Index.

The "PDO minus AMO" composite precipitation anomaly maps prepared by Dr. Klaus Wolter of CIRES as part of an experimental seasonal forecast for the California DWR last year were consistent with the below average precipitation observed in California in the water years Oct 2012 - Sep 2013 and Oct 2013 - Sep 2014.

As referenced in Dr. Wolter's 2013 DWR presentation, Schubert et al. (J. Climate, 2009) found that five global climate models produced the least precipitation in the continental U.S. when the Pacific is cold (Pc) and the Atlantic warm (Aw). Conversely four of the five models produced the wettest conditions when the Pacific is warm (Pw) and Atlantic cold (Ac). As shown in this figure, all combinations with the Pacific cold (PcAw, PcAn, PcAc) produced below average precipitation and all combinations with the Pacific warm (PwAw, PwAn, PwAc) produced above average precipitation.

While the development of the 2014 El Nino has waxed and waned over the past several months, there has been a definitive change that might significantly impact the weather in California and the U.S. -- the Pacific has warmed. For five of the past six years the JUL-SEP PDO has been negative. This year the PDO has been positive since January.

To get an idea of how the change to a warm Pacific might affect precipitation in the U.S. the PDO index and AMO index values for JUL-SEP for the past 115 years were ranked and then divided into tercile classes, producing nine PDO/AMO states.

The NOAA/NCDC Climate Division Mapping and Analysis Web Tool was then used to generate composite precipitation maps for October to September and December to January for the six combinations of Pacific warm and Pacific cold states: PwAw, PwAn, PwAc and PcAw, PcAn, PcAc.

The PwAw composites show much more precipitation in Southern California and the Southwestern U.S. than the PcAw composites. It might be argued that it is the El Nino years in the PwAw composites that produce the wet signal in Southern California. However, if the El Nino years are removed from the PwAw composites for Oct-Sep and composites for Dec-Feb, a wet signal persists.

Of course there are many factors that can influence the amount of precipitation in a particular locale in a particular season or water year. Composites are not forecasts any more than monthly climate normals are forecasts; but both can provide useful guidance. In the PwAw case 7 of the 12 selected years in the composite were wet in Southern California and two-thirds of the years had near normal or above average precipitation. We'll see what happens in 2014-2015.

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

 

Saturday, November 01, 2014 12:58:59 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    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 and continuing into Sunday, 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  |   | 
# Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Downtown Los Angeles Rainfall for the Driest Calendar Years from 1878-2013. Click
Downtown Los Angeles Rainfall
Driest Calendar Years 1878-2013.

Since January 1 Downtown Los Angeles has recorded only 3.60 inches of rain, making it the driest calendar year since recordkeeping began in July of 1877. The previous record of 4.08 inches was set in 1953 and 1947. Downtown Los Angeles averages about 15 inches of rain in a calendar year.

Precipitation composites for years with comparable PD0-AMO indices constructed by Dr. Klaus Wolter of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado appears to have anticipated this year's drought in Southern California. While Oct-Dec anomalies for Southern California were -0.5 to -0.7 SD below the 1895-2000 Longterm Average, Jan-Mar anomalies were -0.1 to -0.3 SD below average. Assuming the anomaly maps to be correlative the drought's stranglehold on Southern California may weaken somewhat over the next three months.

To get an idea of how the precipitation anomaly might vary over the next three months, the US Climate Division Dataset Mapping Page was used to recreate the standardized Oct-Dec precipitation anomaly and Jan-Mar precipitation anomaly maps using the same years as Dr. Wolter's composites. Then standardized composite precipitation anomaly maps were constructed for the months of January, February, and March. Based on these composites some lessening of the severity of the drought in Southern California is suggested throughout the period Jan-Mar with the biggest improvement indicated in March -- except for coastal Southern California. A map showing the composite precipitation anomaly in inches for the period October to March was also generated.

While today's medium range forecasts and 6-10 day and 8-14 day precipitation outlooks aren't particularly encouraging there are some straws to grasp. The AO Index, which has been positive for most of the rainy season is now negative and the Global Wind Oscillation (GWO) is in its first full orbit into positive AAM territory in several months. Whether these changes eventually result in rain for Southern California we'll just have to see.

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

 

Wednesday, January 01, 2014 1:44:12 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Sunday, December 15, 2013

Experimental PSD Precipitation Forecast Guidance Click
Experimental PSD Precipitation Forecast Guidance
Issued November 19, 2013.
Prepared by Klaus Wolter, CIRES & NOAA-ESRL PSD

An experimental PSD forecast issued November 19, 2013 for the period December 2013 through February 2014 prepared for the California DWR by Dr. Klaus Wolter of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado shows a significantly increased chance of less than normal precipitation in most of Southern California and the Central San Joaquin Valley. The forecast guidance shows the shift in tercile probabilities for precipitation, similar in concept to the NOAA CPC precipitation outlooks.

According to Dr. Wolter the statistical forecast scheme integrates as many of the known influences on California's climate as possible, using data from 1950 onwards. In the absence of El Nino and La Nina influences considerations such as the status of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), or recent Alaskan temperatures can be evaluated through statistical models to make a forecast.

Dr. Wolter also produced composite precipitation anomalies for the periods October-December and January-March for years with comparable PD0-AMO indices. In Southern California the Oct-Dec anomalies were -0.5 to -0.7 SD below the 1895-2000 Longterm Average and the Jan-Mar anomalies were -0.1 to -0.3 SD below average.

Since October 1 precipitation in California, Oregon and Washington has generally been well below normal. As of today the precipitation recorded at Downtown Los Angeles is at about 30% of normal for the water year (July 1-June30). If Los Angeles doesn't record more than 0.58 inch of rain over the remainder of December, 2013 will rank as the driest calendar year on record.

A wildcard in the California precipitation outlook is the occurrence of atmospheric rivers such as those that occurred at the end of November 2012 and during December 2010. An analysis of all winter ARs in California during WY1998–2011 presented in the paper The 2010/2011 snow season in California's Sierra Nevada: Role of atmospheric rivers and modes of large-scale variability by Bin Guan, et.al., found that atmospheric river frequency is increased during negative phases of the Arctic Oscillation (AO) and the Pacific-North American (PNA) teleconnection patterns.

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

 

Sunday, December 15, 2013 3:34:32 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  |   | 
# Monday, April 30, 2012

NCAR NEXRAD Composite Regional Radar Image from Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 9:57 pm PDT Click
NCAR NEXRAD Composite Regional Radar Image
Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 9:57 pm PDT

Judging from this NEXRAD regional composite radar image last week's system might have been much wetter. As has happened a couple of times this season, much of the heavier rain appears to have remained offshore. Even so, this compilation of rainfall totals from around the area by the NWS Los Angeles/Oxnard lists some respectable rainfall totals for a late season storm in Southern California.

Downtown Los Angeles (USC) recorded 0.49 inch for the storm, increasing April's rainfall total to 1.71 inches. This is almost double April's normal of 0.91 inches. The water year total rainfall for Downtown Los Angeles now stands at 8.68 inches; which is about 60% of normal at this point in the water year. The water year extends from July 1 to June 30.

In a "normal" season Los Angeles would be expected to record another 0.35 inch of rain by June 30. Both the 6-10 Day Precipitation Outlook and 8-14 Day Precipitation Outlook from the CPC are indicating a better chance of below normal precipitation in Southern California than of normal or above normal precipitation. The CPC Monthly and Three Monthly Temperature and Precipitation Outlooks are indicating an equal chance of above normal, normal, and below normal precipitation in Southern California. We'll see!

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

Monday, April 30, 2012 1:38:49 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Thursday, March 29, 2012

NRL GOES-15 Visible/IR Satellite Image from Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm PDT Click
NRL GOES-15 Visible/IR Satellite Image
Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm PDT

Low pressure "alow and aloft" and associated surface boundaries resulted in some higher than expected rainfall totals Sunday. Gauges in the Santa Monica Mountains generally recorded from 2-3 inches of rain, Valleys and the Metro area 1-2 inches, and Los Angeles County mountains 1-2.5 inches. Here are some preliminary rainfall totals from around the area compiled by the NWS, and a snapshot of a Ventura County Watershed Protection District Google Map with some additional rainfall totals.

Downtown Los Angeles (USC) recorded 0.95 inch for the storm, bringing the 2011-2012 water year total to 6.93 inches. This boosts the water year total to 51% of normal. The wet weather the last two weekends makes March the wettest month of the rain season to date at Los Angeles. It may have taken the edge off a very dry rain season for the moment, but rainfall totals the past 30 days have still been below normal in much of Southern California and additional rainfall would really help.

The good news is it looks like the current progressive pattern of West Coast troughs will continue into April. While at the moment it appears the next trough in the series won't produce more than a smattering of rain south of Pt. Conception, the ECMWF has been relatively consistent in bringing in a system similar to our last storm weekend after next. That's a long way out, and the GFS and GEFS don't agree with the ECMWF, but we'll see!

Update 04/02/12. Saturday's system produced a little more rain than expected south of Pt. Conception. Downtown Los Angeles (USC) recorded 0.04 inch for the storm, bringing the 2011-2012 water year total to 6.97 inches. Here are some rainfall totals from around the area compiled by the NWS. At the moment it looks like a disturbance rotating around a large Gulf of Alaska low will probably not elongate and deepen the low enough to produce rain in Southern California, but will result in cooler temperatures Wednesday and Thursday. Higher pressure is forecast to build in behind the trough, with a warming trend forecast through Easter weekend.

According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology ENSO Wrap-up, issued March 27, the 2011–12 La Niña event has ended, with key indicators returning to neutral levels.

The IRI/CPC mid-March plume of forecasts made by dynamical and statistical models for SST in the Nino 3.4 region suggest ENSO Neutral conditions will persist through boreal autumn 2012. However, as climatologist Klaus Wolter points out, all ten of the two-year La Niña events between 1900 and 2009 either continued as a La Niña event for a third year (four of ten), or switched to El Niño (six of ten), with none of them becoming ENSO-neutral.

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

Thursday, March 29, 2012 10:32:16 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Tuesday, March 20, 2012

GOES-15 Water Vapor Image from Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm PDT Click
GOES-15 Water Vapor Image
Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm PDT

Updated 03/29/12. Edited to include the rainfall total from October 5 in the Downtown Los Angeles rainfall comparison.

Although there were scattered showers throughout much of Southern California Sunday morning, the Los Angeles Marathon beat the 70/30 odds for measurable rain and stayed dry. Given the cool and breezy conditions, I'm sure runners were glad the precipitation forecast worked out on the dry side!

According to KCQT data Downtown Los Angeles (USC)recorded 0.76 inch for the storm, bringing the water year total to 5.98 inches, which is 46% of normal for the date. This was less than the 1.15 inch recorded Downtown on October 5, the 0.90 inch recorded on November 20, and the 0.96 inch recorded December 12-13, but in some areas Saturday's storm was wetter than any of these storms.

Because of the very strong southwesterly inflow that accompanied the storm, upslope precipitation enhancement produced some impressive totals in the foothills and mountains. For example, West Fork Heliport recorded 3.82 inches, OPIDS Camp 4.49 inches, Mt. Baldy 3.76 inches, and Nordhoff Ridge 5.32 inches. Here are some preliminary rainfall totals from around the area compiled by the NWS, and a snapshot of a Ventura County Watershed Protection District Google Map (PDF) with some additional rainfall totals.

Here are a NEXRAD regional radar image, water vapor satellite image, IR satellite image and RAMDIS visible satellite image of the system at noon Saturday. The parent low north of Pt. Conception is beautifully structured and there is strong convection associated with the frontal boundary south of the Los Angeles.

On a run in the Santa Monica Mountains Sunday morning, I found melting graupel in the Santa Monica Mountains at an elevation of about 2300' along Castro Mtwy about a mile east of Castro Peak. This cell that appears to be the best candidate for the producing the graupel is shown in this KVTX NEXRAD radar image from about 9:00 am PDT Saturday morning.

Both the GFS and ECMWF medium range models show a trough evolving into an upper level low just off the Central California coast this weekend. It's too early to put much credence in the forecast, but some precipitation in the Saturday to Monday timeframe looks like a possibility. We'll see!

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 8:55:59 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Friday, March 16, 2012

WRF Ensemble Precipitation Forecast from 03/16/12 12z Click
BUFKIT Display of WRF Precipitation Forecast
03/16/12 12z

Updated 03/29/12. Edited to correct the date for the most rainfall in a day this season (through March 16) at Los Angeles.

It's been a bleak rain season. So far the most rainfall Los Angeles has recorded in a day this season was in the record-setting early season storm October 5, when Downtown recorded 1.15 inch of rain. As of today Los Angeles' water year rainfall total stands at a meager 41% of normal.

If current forecasts verify, the rainfall total at Los Angeles for this weekend's storm might exceed last October's storm. Maybe. BUFKIT display of WRF ensemble precipitation forecast shows a spread from 0.4 inch to about 1.1 inch at LAX, and from about 0.65 inch to 1.6 inch at Van Nuys. The 18z WRF/NAM run was wetter than the 12z run producing about 0.95 inch at LAX and 1.1 inch at Van Nuys. A strong southwesterly inflow of around 35-40 kts is forecast and could produce higher precipitation amounts on foothill and mountain slopes which have a southerly to westerly aspect.

The Los Angeles Marathon is this Sunday, and after last year's record-setting Marathon day rainfall, many are wondering about the weather on Sunday. Last year of 19,798 runners that completed the race, more than 10,000 were on the course for longer than 5 hours and nearly 2000 were out there for longer than 7 hours. The Elite Men and most of the runners start at 7:24 am, so the majority of runners will finish after noon.

Check with the NWS for the latest official information, but as it looks now the bulk of the rain is forecast to occur on Saturday and the Marathon will be run after the cold front has passed through the area. This is a different weather scenario than last year, but one that can produce cold, showery, blustery conditions with strong winds out of the northwest. In the unstable conditions that typically follow a cold front heavy showers, gusty winds and even a thunderstorm are possible. The HPC 6-Hour Probabilistic Precipitation Guidance for the periods ending 10:00 am Sunday morning and 4:00 pm Sunday afternoon indicate a high probability of at least 0.01 inch of rain in the Los Angeles area. We'll see!

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

Friday, March 16, 2012 2:15:36 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    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.

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