# Friday, November 20, 2009

AHPS Observed Precipitation For 30 days Ending 11/20/09 Click
AHPS Observed Precipitation
For 30 days Ending 11/20/09

Drier than average weather in the Southwestern U.S., and wet weather in the Pacific Northwest in recent weeks has some folks wondering if the 2009-2010 El Niño is going to be another one of the quirky, underachieving El Niños we've been seeing this decade.

For much of September and October, the primary area of equatorial convection in the Eastern Hemisphere was in the Central Pacific, just west of the dateline. Convection was suppressed in the Indian Ocean. Such a pattern is consistent with El Niño.

Enhanced convection centered at about 160E in early October may have helped to extend the Pacific jet following an East Asian mountain torque event around October 5. This in turn may have contributed to an atmospheric river precipitation event in California October 13-14, 2009.

At that time it looked like we might finally be off and running with a "real" El Niño event. Particularly because during October equatorial Pacific SSTs and heat content anomalies increased dramatically. Theses increases were the result of of a strong Westerly Wind Burst (WWB), an associated downwelling Kelvin wave, and diminished tradewinds,

However -- and I think I hear Ed Berry's Rottweiler growling -- beginning in mid October, strong convection developed in the Indian Ocean. This essentially neutralized El Niño, and perhaps contributed to the La Nina like precipitation pattern we've been experiencing along the west coast of the U.S.

Indicative of the ocean-atmosphere issues, relative Atmospheric Angular Momentum (AAM) has been negative since early September, and the Global Wind Oscillation (GWO) has remained on the La Nina side of the GWO phase space.

Does this mean we've had an El Niño false alarm?

I wouldn't put away my rain gear just yet. Although November rainfall for Downtown Los Angeles is about 0.6 inch below normal, we usually only get about an inch of rain in November. And don't forget, because of the big storm in October, we are still about 0.6 inch ABOVE normal rainfall for the water year.

Update November 24, 2009. Current equatorial heat content anomalies are about the same as in 2006, not greater. See this composite TAO/TRITON section plot comparing equatorial heat content in 2006 and 2009.

And there are some positive signs. Equatorial Pacific SST and heat content anomalies are much greater than in the short-lived 2006 El Niño, and are more along the lines of those observed in the 2002-2003 El Niño. In addition, a strong MJO has developed. It has remained coherent, and is propagating eastward into the Western Pacific. It already appears to be helping to enhance convection in the Western and Central Pacific, and could kick-start the El Niño engine over the next week or two. We'll see!

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

Friday, November 20, 2009 7:32:56 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Thursday, October 15, 2009

AHPS Observed Precipitation For 7-days Ending 10/15/09 at 5:00 a.m. PDT Click
AHPS Observed Precipitation
For 7-days Ending 10/15/09 at 5:00 a.m. PDT

A potent early season Pacific storm carrying the remnants of West Pacific typhoon Melor has hammered California, setting numerous rainfall records, increasing stream flows, and producing heavy snow at the higher elevations of the Sierra.

Several stations, including some in Southern California, recorded precipitation totals exceeding 10 inches. In Santa Barbara County, San Marcos Pass recorded 10.32 inches. In Ventura County Nordoff Ridge recorded 10.04 inches and White Ledge Peak 10.87 inches. Precipitation amounts in Los Angeles County generally ranged from 1 to 3 inches, with orographically favored foothill and mountain locations receiving the higher amounts. Little rain fell in Palmdale and Lancaster because of a pronounced rain shadow effect. Downtown Los Angeles (USC) received 2.03 inches. Here's an archived copy of a NWS Los Angeles/Oxnard Public Information Statement with some rainfall totals for the storm from around the area.

A number of rainfall records for October 13 and 14 fell to the storm, including those for Paso Robles, Santa Maria, Santa Barbara Airport, WFO Oxnard, Burbank Airport, Pierce College in Woodland Hills, LAX, Santa Monica Pier, San Gabriel, and Long Beach Airport. Many of the records broken were set in 1957 and 1968 -- both El Niño years with above average rainfall at Los Angeles.

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

Thursday, October 15, 2009 7:39:30 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Saturday, October 10, 2009

UW-MAD GOES-11 WV Satellite Image Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009 12:30 p.m. PDT Click
UW-MAD GOES-11 WV Satellite Image
Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009 12:30 p.m. PDT

An unseasonably strong Pacific storm system, primed with the remnants of Typhoon Melor, and powered by an extended Pacific jet, is expected to pound California early next week with high winds, heavy rain, and heavy snow at the higher elevations of the Sierra.

Medium range model forecasts suggest that the northern two-thirds of the state will see the highest rainfall totals, but over the last couple of days, the GFS has been trending wetter in Southern California. Significant rainfall in the Los Angeles area, and recently burned areas in the San Gabriel Mountains, appears to be a possibility. Forecast details should become more clear as we move closer to the event and into the forecast window of the high resolution models.

 

The Aug-Sep Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI), decreased from 0.978 to 0.754, however other El Niño signals appear to be rebounding. In the last two weeks low level equatorial westerly anomalies have increased significantly. The reduction in the strength of the trade winds, and a downwelling Kelvin wave resulting from a very strong westerly wind burst already appear to be increasing upper ocean heat content in the central equatorial Pacific. The 30 day moving Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) is still positive, but is dropping, and should return to negative territory over the next week or so.

The foci of recurring equatorial westerly wind bursts and enhanced west-central Pacific convection has been slowly migrating eastward. The most recent round of enhanced convection was centered at about 160E. This is consistent with a developing El Niño, and may have helped to extend the current Pacific jet following an East Asian mountain torque event. However, total and relative AAM remain negative, and are lower than is generally the case during a developing El Niño.

Moderate El Niños come in many flavors and have varying impacts. Under the guise of such El Niños Los Angeles experienced its second wettest water year on record in 2004-2005, when 37.25 inches of rain was recorded; then in 2006-2007 had its driest water year on record, when only 3.21" was recorded.

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

Saturday, October 10, 2009 7:43:02 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Tuesday, September 29, 2009

GOES-11 IR Satellite Image Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009 1:30 p.m. PDT Click
GOES-11 IR Satellite Image
Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009 1:30 p.m. PDT

The frontal band associated with the first Pacific upper level low system and trough of Autumn 2009 is producing some showers in Central California. Some snow showers could occur at the higher elevations of the Sierra. A strong onshore flow has dramatically cooled temperatures throughout the state.

Today's cool temps are a welcome respite from several days of hot weather. Wednesday and Thursday of last week, Downtown Los Angeles (USC) recorded a high of 100°F; and Saturday, Woodland Hills (Pierce College) reported a high of 107°F. Temperatures are expected to rebound Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, but are forecast to cool again over the weekend.

Similar to what occurred in July there has been little change in equatorial Pacific SST anomalies, the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has switched from negative to positive, the Aug-Sep Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) value is not expected to significantly increase, and the Global Wind Oscillation (GWO) has dropped its orbit to a lower relative AAM state.

On the plus side, a large area of enhanced convection has redeveloped in the West Central Pacific from about 150E to the dateline, and another of a series of Westerly Wind Bursts (WWB) is occurring -- the strongest observed so far during this ENSO transition. This WWB will likely be followed by another eastward propagating downwelling Kelvin wave, which could help increase upper-ocean heat content anomalies in the equatorial Pacific.

Moderate El Niños come in many flavors and have varying impacts. Under the guise of such El Niños Los Angeles experienced its second wettest water year on record in 2004-2005, when 37.25 inches of rain was recorded; then in 2006-2007 had its driest water year on record, when only 3.21" was recorded.

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 7:54:15 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Thursday, August 06, 2009

Global Wind Oscillation Phase Space - May 7, 2009 vs August 4, 2009 Click
Global Wind Oscillation Phase Space
May 7, 2009 vs August 4, 2009

After spending the last week of May and most of June on the positive relative AAM (El Niño) side of the Global Wind Oscillation (GWO) phase space, the GWO slipped back into negative relative AAM territory the last week of June and stayed there most of July. Following the lead of the atmosphere, development of the current El Niño also slowed in July.

During July there was little change in equatorial Pacific SST anomalies; the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) became strongly positive; and the June-July Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) value, reported August 5, increased by only 0.05.

However, during July, enhanced tropical convection shifted from the western Indian Ocean to the west central Pacific, extending from about 140E to the dateline. This was followed by the development of a strong Westerly Wind Burst (WWB) in the western Pacific. Coincident with the WWB was a dramatic reduction in the SOI, and an an orbit of the GWO to a somewhat higher global relative AAM state. These events are consistent with a developing El Niño.

According to the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion issued August 6 by the Climate Prediction Center/NCEP/NWS, "current conditions and model forecasts favor the continued development of a weak-to-moderate strength El Niño into the Northern Hemisphere Fall 2009, with the likelihood of at least a moderate strength El Niño (3-month Niño-3.4 SST index of +1.0°C or greater) during the Northern Hemisphere Winter 2009-10."

How often are Summer temps hotter in Seattle than the San Fernando Valley? From July 26 to August 3, 2009, the Seattle area suffered through a heat wave that broke numerous records, including several "all-time" temperature records. On July 29, 2009 Sea-Tac reached 103°F, Bellingham 96°F, and Seattle WFO (Sandpoint) 105°F, the highest temperature ever recorded at these stations.

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

Thursday, August 06, 2009 8:14:57 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Thursday, July 09, 2009

Click for Animation Click
NOAA/NESDIS 50km Global SST Anomaly
July 3, 2008 vs July 2, 2009
Click for Animation

Los Angeles Temps Continue Below Normal.

Downtown Los Angeles (USC) ended the water year on June 30th having recorded 9.08 inches of rain, which is 6.06 inches below the 1971-2000 norm of 15.14 inches. Some additional water year rainfall totals:

Santa Barbara 10.12" 60%
Camarillo 6.61" 42%
Burbank 10.65" 61%
Palmdale 5.24" 71%
Sandberg 10.68" 85%

According to the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion issued July 9 by the Climate Prediction Center/NCEP/NWS, "During June 2009, conditions across the equatorial Pacific Ocean transitioned from ENSO-neutral to El Niño conditions." According to the report, El Nino conditions are expected to continue to develop, and last through the NH Winter.

The May-June Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) value, reported July 6, has increased by 0.51 to +0.85. As was the case last month, the 3-month rise of the MEI (since February-March) is the 4th highest on record for this time of year, and was last exceeded by the strong El Niño of 1997. According to the MEI's originator, Dr. Klaus Wolter, "the combination of already border-line moderate El Niño conditions along with such a big rise in the MEI at this time of year has always been followed by continued El Niño conditions through the remainder of the calendar year, at least in the modern MEI record (since 1950)."

However, as the truncated 2006-07 El Niño event demonstrates, an El Niño is more than just warm Pacific equatorial SSTs. Through complex forcing and feedback mechanisms, the atmosphere and oceans have to cooperate on a global scale. As climate scientist Ed Berry cautions in his July 3rd Atmospheric Insights post, "Should total AAM departures become comparable to that observed during this past January and February, my concerns of an El-Nino 'false alarm' for the weather-climate dynamical system will be significantly raised."

Generally speaking, the momentum of the atmosphere increases when there is an El Niño, and decreases during a La Niña. Over the past 40 days the Global Wind Oscillation (GWO) has retreated from the higher AAM (El Niño) side of the GWO phase space to the lower AAM (La Niña) side. One concern is that two areas of tropical forcing (Indian Ocean and Pacific) may interact in such a way as to quash the El Niño engine. We'll see!

Closer to home, although temps in Southern California have recently been more seasonable, particularly in the Valleys, the last time the average daily temperature in Downtown Los Angeles was above normal was back on May 21 -- 48 days ago.

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

Thursday, July 09, 2009 8:20:43 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Saturday, June 06, 2009

NRL GOES Visible/IR Satellite Image June 5, 2009 8:00 a.m. PDT Click
NRL GOES Visible/IR Satellite Image
June 5, 2009 8:00 a.m. PDT

Instability and moisture associated with a very late season upper level low produced more rain in Southern California Friday, setting a record for June rainfall at Santa Barbara Airport.

Downtown Los Angeles (USC) recorded a total of 0.13 inch of rain Friday. The rainfall increased the water year precipitation total for Los Angeles to 9.08 inches, which is 6.05 inches below normal. Santa Barbara Airport recorded 0.51 inch, setting not only a new record for the date, but for any day in June, as well as for the total amount of rain in June. Here's an archived copy of a NWS Public Information Statement with some preliminary rainfall totals from around the area as of 5:00 p.m. Friday.

The April-May Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) value (released today) has increased by 0.54 to +0.34. As discussed by MEI originator, Klaus Wolter, the 3-month rise of the MEI since January-February is the 4th highest on record for this time of year, exceeded last by the strong Niño of 1997. According to Dr. Wolter, if next month's MEI rank is at least the same as this month (37th), "it would be unprecedented for it to drop below that high-neutral ENSO-phase range by the end of 2009, virtually excluding a return to La Niña, based on the MEI record since 1950." We'll see!

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

Saturday, June 06, 2009 8:24:30 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Thursday, June 04, 2009

Aqua Modis Satellite Image June 3, 2009 2:15 p.m. PDT Click
Aqua Modis Satellite Image
June 3, 2009 2:15 p.m. PDT

Unusual weather for June. Not so much that there were thunderstorms, but that the thunderstorms were in part the result of an unseasonably strong jet embedded in the base of an offshore upper level low.

It's a bit of a stretch, but an argument could be made that these storms were a calling card of an increasingly energetic atmosphere, and a developing El Niño.

Downtown Los Angeles (USC) recorded a total of 0.02 inch of rain Wednesday. The rainfall increased the water year precipitation total for Los Angeles to 8.95 inches, which is 6.16 inches below normal.

It's not often that a trace of rainfall sets a record, but that was the case at Camarillo Airport and Palmdale, which had not previously recorded precipitation on June 3. The 0.03 inches recorded at Sandberg was also a record. Here's a CNRFC graphic with some 24 hour rainfall totals in Los Angeles County.

Several factors point to an increased probability of El Niño conditions developing over the next few months. Among them, Equatorial Pacific SSTs have increased, and the subsurface heat content is the highest it's been since the El Niño of 2006-07.

But as the short-lived 2006-07 El Niño event demonstrates, an El Niño is more than just warm Pacific equatorial SSTs. Through complex forcing and feedback mechanisms, the atmosphere and oceans have to cooperate on a global scale. Generally speaking the momentum of the atmosphere increases when there is an El Niño, and decreases during a La Nina.

And it looks like the atmospheric momentum may be increasing. Orbits of the Global Wind Oscillation (GWO), a measure of atmospheric momentum, have been shifting upward, in the direction of more energetic values usually associated with an El Niño.

However, an El Niño is not a done deal. The climate system is just leaning in that direction. As climate scientist Klaus Wolter has previously pointed out, in a similar situation in 1973-1975, the climate fell back into a La Niña for another year. But at this point it appears we may be diverging from that analog case. (See June 6 Weathernotes.) We'll see!

Update 06/05/09. Unseasonably strong 110+ kt jet overhead as upper low center moves onshore in Central California. At 7:15 this morning, Intellicast composite radar showed most of the shower activity occurring to the north of Los Angeles, but there has been scattered showers in the Los Angeles area as well, with measurable rain recorded at a number of stations. Here's an archived copy of a NWS Public Information Statement with some preliminary rainfall totals as of 5:00 p.m.

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

Thursday, June 04, 2009 8:28:22 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Monday, May 04, 2009

Intellicast.com Composite Radar - May 1, 2009 6:15 p.m. PDT Click
Intellicast.com Composite Radar
May 1, 2009 6:15 p.m. PDT

An unseasonably strong, late season Pacific storm system brought rain to much of California Friday and Saturday, including some areas of Southern California.

Los Angeles basin and valley areas generally recorded a trace of precipitation, but some stations in the Ventura mountains recorded as much as 0.3 inch. Here is an archived copy of a NWS Public Information Statement, with some precipitation totals from around the area.

Heavier rain occurred in Central California. A new rainfall record for May 1 was set in Sacramento, and higher elevations of the Sierra received about a foot of snow. Enhanced southwesterly, sub-tropical flow, and enhanced convection associated with the phase 7 MJO may have contributed to the strength of the system.

SSTs have warmed in the equatorial Pacific, and at least for the moment, orbits of the GWO have shifted to a more ENSO neutral stance. Some longer term ENSO forecasts are now predicting warm ENSO conditions to develop by next Winter.

A warming trend is expected in Southern California over the next several days, with high temperatures in the valleys near 90 by mid-week.

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

Monday, May 04, 2009 8:32:27 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Friday, April 10, 2009

GOES-11 IR Image Friday, April 10, 2009 6:30 a.m. PDT Click
GOES-11 IR Image
Friday, April 10, 2009 6:30 a.m. PDT

Upper low off the coast of Southern California this morning is forecast to track into Northern Baja by Saturday, and then continue east into Texas Easter Sunday. There's a chance of a shower, or possibly a thunderstorm, over much of Southern California today, diminishing tonight. Tomorrow is expected to be partly cloudy, with mostly sunny skies forecast for Easter Sunday.

Downtown Los Angeles (USC) recorded at total of 0.03 inch of rain Tuesday into Wednesday as a weak front associated with an upper level low moved through the basin. The rainfall increased the water year precipitation total for Los Angeles to 8.93 inches, which is about 5.5 inches below normal. Here is an archived copy of a NWS Public Information Statement, with some precipitation totals from around the area.

A warming trend is expected over the next several days, with high temperatures near 90 by the end of the week.

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

Friday, April 10, 2009 8:36:58 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Thursday, March 12, 2009

AHPS Observed Precipitation October 1, 2008 to Date Click
AHPS Observed Precipitation
October 1, 2008 to Date

Compared to last week, GFS and ECMWF runs this week have been much drier in Southern California, with most of the activity focused on the Pacific Northwest. No significant rain is forecast here next week, and both the 6-10 and 8-14 day forecasts project below average precipitation for Southern California.

Recent runs of the GFS show the East Asian jet pumping up a huge, high amplitude ridge in the central Pacific around the dateline, but the resulting downstream trough, jet energy and storm track are forecast to remain above about 40°N.

Model performance has not been the best in recent weeks, and generally suffers during seasonal transitions. However, if the 12z GFS forecast is on the mark, March rainfall for Downtown Los Angeles (USC) would fall well below the 3.14 inch norm. Since normal April rainfall is 0.83 inches, and May only 0.31 inches, beyond March it becomes increasingly unlikely that a big rain event will significantly boost our rainfall total.

Since November 1, Downtown Los Angeles has recorded 8.80 inches of precipitation. This is consistent with the mean November-March precipitation for coastal Southern California during 9 La Niña events from 1948 to the present. (See the composite precipitation map in Weathernotes for October 31, 2008.) The water year total for Los Angeles is now 3.32 inches below normal.

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

Thursday, March 12, 2009 7:40:32 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Friday, March 06, 2009

GOES-11 Water Vapor - Tuesday, March 4, 2009 2:30 p.m. PST Click
GOES-11 Water Vapor
Tuesday, March 4, 2009 2:30 p.m. PST

The precipitation total for Downtown Los Angeles (USC) for February was a little above normal, but not enough to offset January's dry weather. We started out March with a water year rainfall total about 2.4 inches below normal, and as of today we're about 2.73 inches behind.

Tuesday's frontal passages helped a little. Here's a GOES-11 water vapor image from 2:30 in the afternoon, and an Intellicast.com composite radar image from 2:45 p.m. Downtown Los Angeles (USC) recorded 0.25 inch of rain for the storm, and rainfall totals generally ranged from about 0.25 to 0.50 inch. Here is an archived copy of a NWS Public Information Statement listing some rainfall totals.

It looks like our rain season may not be over. Recent runs of the GFS have been hinting at some rain in the 8-10 day timeframe, with a series of systems following. This is consistent with Ed Berry's Atmospheric Insights post today. In response to increased subtropical westerly wind flow, he suggests the possibility of an extended East Asian jet in the week 2-3 timeframe, with possible western USA impacts. We'll see!

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

Friday, March 06, 2009 8:42:53 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   |