The sea surface temperature and temperature anomaly animation from the Climate Prediction Center shows 3 interesting features. First, the current strong El Niño conditions in the Equatorial Pacific are clear. Second, the North Atlantic cold conditions between the UK and Canada are persisting. Last, the blob off the West Coast is slowly disappearing. Interesting animation.
I keep looking at the longer range forecasts, the GFS computer model and the Climate Prediction Center outlooks. It seems like the 6-10 day outlooks have a huge amount of variability. Last weeks snow was never clearly in any of them. One day the 6-10 would be dry. The next day it would be wet. Nothing solid. Yesterday everything had next weekend looking very wet. Today, Thanksgiving weekend looks dry.
I bet it is harder to run the models with the current conditions. There isn’t a great analog available between the Blob, El Nino and the very cold North Atlantic. So, hang on, it could be a rough ride with unexpected storms and dry periods.
The 3-month outlook from the Climate Prediction Center seems to have Flagstaff in the greater than 50% chance of above average precipitation. Southern Arizona could be even wetter.
And now, news from Munich, DE. We had our first snow on Saturday night. No real accumulation. We had an early dinner, then we went to an organ concert at Saint Peter’s Church near Marienplatz. When we came outside, huge flakes were falling. We walked across Marienplatz and went up to the Café Glockenspiel and watched the snow fall as we had dessert. It was beautiful.
The Christbaum on Marienplatz isn’t very healthy. It had a very dry summer that weakened it. It will be hard for it to make it through Christmas. The needles are falling off.
Yesterday the Flagstaff Airport reported 9.9 inches of snow which is a record for November 4. The old record was 5 inches in 1925. Also, the amount of water precipitation was a record at 0.71 inches.I think it is interesting that 10 inches of snow in early November is a record. I think it is in a range that we could easy expect with any fall storm.
Definitely a wet start to November, but I don’t think it will last. A drying trend is extending well over the horizon. Exceptionally cold temperatures are on tap for tonight.
CLIMATE REPORT...CORRECTED FOR SNOWFALL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FLAGSTAFF, AZ 827 AM MST THU NOV 5 2015 ................................... ...THE FLAGSTAFF AZ AIRPORT CLIMATE SUMMARY FOR NOVEMBER 4 2015... CLIMATE NORMAL PERIOD 1981 TO 2010 CLIMATE RECORD PERIOD 1898 TO 2015 WEATHER ITEM OBSERVED TIME RECORD YEAR NORMAL DEPARTURE LAST VALUE (LST) VALUE VALUE FROM YEAR NORMAL .................................................................. TEMPERATURE (F) YESTERDAY MAXIMUM 34 1227 AM 73 1975 55 -21 48 MINIMUM 24 1050 PM -1 1922 26 -2 31 AVERAGE 29 41 -12 PRECIPITATION (IN) YESTERDAY 0.71R 0.65 2011 0.06 0.65 0.00 MONTH TO DATE 1.64 0.23 1.41 0.60 SINCE SEP 1 6.61 4.27 2.34 4.39 SINCE JAN 1 25.03 18.46 6.57 17.23 SNOWFALL (IN) YESTERDAY 9.9R 5.0 1925 0.2 0.0 MONTH TO DATE 9.9 0.8 T SINCE JUL 1 9.9 2.3 T SNOW DEPTH 3
Today will start wet in Northern Arizona. Around night fall, maybe a bit later, the rain should change to snow and start our El Nino winter. Almost an inch of water could fall from the skies in various forms. As it is often the case for these early winter storms, timing of the switch to snow is everything. A fairly dry period will follow as the winter storm pattern continues to develop.
My current frame of reference is Munich. It’s been mostly foggy with cool clear nights cause the still relatively warm moist ground to product fog. But, rainfall and first snow have been on my mind.
3.68 inches of rain have fallen in Flagstaff in October. This is more than double the normal amount. Below is the rainlog.org picture for October in the Flagstaff Area. As always, there is much variability. Overall, it was a wetter than normal month for Flagstaff, but very far from a record. This make the 12 month precipitation total 27.39 inches.
My weather station here in Munich has measured 3.5 inches of rain. Munich’s average precipitation is 2.68 inches at the airport. So, both Flagstaff and Munich have had a wet October, but I think Flagstaff has been wetter.
I continue to be interested in the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation(AMO) impact of Flagstaff precipitation. It surprises me that there could be a link between the sea surface water temperatures in the North Atlantic and the rain and snow amounts on the other side of North America, in a desert.
I past posts, I have discussed the image below and the link of AMO and Flagstaff precipitation.
The basic summary is that if the Atlantic is cool (AMO Negative) and the Pacific is warm (PDO Positive), Northern Arizona should have a lower risk of drought. But, does the AMO alone have a noticeable effect on Flagstaff precipitation. Using the data from NOAA at their Earth Systems Research Library, and the precipitation data for Flagstaff since 1950, a potential match in the data sets appears. (I only use the data back to 1950 because the National Weather Service’s Flagstaff measurement location moved from downtown to the airport in 1950.) To help reduce short-term effects, I used the smoothed data for the AMO and last 12 months precipitation total. Here is the resulting graph:
Looking at the AMO data, I see three zones In the first zone, the AMO is mostly positive and ends around January 1963. In the second zone, it is mostly negative and goes through July 1995. In the last zone, it is mostly positive. Here is another graph with those zone highlighted.
Looking at the each of these zones, there also appears to be a difference in the 12 month precipitation amounts.The first and last zones have a lower average. But is that enough?
Looking at a histogram of the precipitation data shows the trend more clearly.
The first and last zones have their peaks at lower precipitation amounts. There is still plenty of overlap between the zones, but the 1963-1995 zone has a higher average and a longer tail at the higher amounts. The Atlantic sea surface temperatures seem to have an effect on Flagstaff’s precipitation.
One lingering point concerns me. The is a recent upward trend since about 2010. The AMO data above includes the entire North Atlantic, from the Equator to 70 degrees North. This view might not be the best. There has been a persistent band of cold water in the far northern region of the Atlantic for about the last two years. This matches a move to a higher average precipitation recently. A better subset of the North Atlantic might be worth considering.
Yesterday I occasionally watched the weather radar as events emerged across Arizona. I could tell Flagstaff was going to get an early morning wake-up call from Mother Nature. And Mother Nature did not disappoint.
I did miss being in Arizona to see it first hand. October storms like this are often some of the most interesting to me. To me, if not the data, October is often a drier month with lots of wind. The occasional storm is more fun than wind.
With the recent precipitation, October is well above average for precipitation. With 3.21 inches, Flagstaff is roughly double the monthly average since 1950. The Northland can expect more rain today, but then a drier trend is on the way with lower chances through Friday, and a clear fall weekend.
It’s been a while since my last post. This is all thanks to Apple. I bought a new laptop because using my big MAC in Germany isn’t practical anymore. We just don’t have the room for it. After a week of using the new laptop, the arrow keys broke. The first chance I had, I took it to the Apple Store to have it replaced or fixed. They wanted to fix it, but the part would take some time. I could still use the computer, but not easily. Then I took it back when the part came in. They said I would receive a message in 3-5 days. After a week I called. They told me it would be another week before they got to it. Sheesh. I feel like just gave Apple a loan of over a thousand bucks for a month! This is not Steve Jobs’ Apple!
Deep cleansing breath in…and out.
So, I missed blogging about the rain last week. With the airport receiving 1.27 inches of rain, Flagstaff is well on its way to an above average rainfall month. The average October precipitation in Flagstaff since 1950 is 1.54 inches. With the outlooks for the next few weeks, we should easily surpass the average.
I’ve taken the current 6-10 day, 8-14 day, 3-4 week, 1 month and 3 month outlooks and made an animated gif. This is below.Most of Arizona is comfortably inside the above normal chances for above average rainfall for all time periods. El Nino and the disappearance of the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge are driving this. I wonder when the first big snow will show up. It could be this month.
Also, the North Atlantic is colder than normal. This can also mean a wetter than normal winter. I plan to do some more on this topic when I get my laptop back. The spreadsheets are on the laptop.
In the last two months, the Climate Prediction Center has not been very accurate with their 1-month precipitation outlooks. July and August precipitation amounts were close to average. September’s precipitation amount is running well below average. On the other hand, they we right about April, May and June. The long-range outlooks continue to show a strong, El Niño winter.
They have now released an Experimental 3-4 week Outlook. This was a gap in their forecasting portfolio. On their home page, They had outlooks for 6-10 days, 8-14 days, 1 month, 3 months, Hazards and Drought. Below is the current 3-4 week precipitation outlook.
Looks very wet. However, in their discussion they state:
Following ensemble prediction system forecasts from the CFS, ECMWF and JMA, the forecast for the week 3 and 4 period favors above-median precipitation for the Southwest region extending eastward across Texas into parts of Louisiana. This is somewhat consistent with statistical forecasts based on El Niño, however this tool does not appear to have great skill for precipitation forecasts under El Niño conditions at this time of year, indicating the probable influence of additional climate variability on the precipitation pattern.
So, we will have to wait and see. I think late September through November are the toughest months for forecasting Northern Arizona’s weather.
It appears the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge and the related Pacific Blob are going away. Deep details are at The California Weather Blog. The Ridge created the Blob, which reinforced the Ridge, which reinforced the blob, and so on. The ridge is breaking down. The Blob should also disappear over the winter. This is very good news for California and may help reinforce a strong El Niño winter for Arizona.
One last thought, the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation is continuing to look like it has shifted. This could be a strong long-term signal for wetter conditions in Arizona.
The start of next week may be very wet! Also, the 1 and 3-month outlooks are wet. Just so you know.
But, after posting a link on Facebook to Scientific American article (How This Year’s El Niño Compares with the Past), I got a challenging question from MN about the winter of 1992-1993. In deed, this was probably one of the wettest winters in the last 60ish years. In December of 1992, Flagstaff received 6.78 inches of liquid water precipitation. In January and February of 1993, Flagstaff received 9.55 and 10.05 inches of precipitation. Also, these months were part of a longer term wet period. In the 12 months before the end of February 1993, Flagstaff reached over 48 inches of water. That more than double our typical one year normal. This peak is clear in the chart below.
It looks like the winter of 1992-1993 must have been an El Niño year. In 3 months, about 27 inches of water. Must have been….
The winter of 1992-1993 was not a El Niño winter. But, it overwhelmingly surpassed the so-called Great El Niño of 1997-1998. It was about as close to La Nada, neither El Niño or La Niña, as it could get.
Maybe because of my recent readings, the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) came to my mind. This is a very long-term change in Atlantic Ocean temperatures. I covered it a bit in my last post. With neutral Pacific conditions, perhaps the AMO was in the driver’s seat.
The AMO went from nearly positive to considerably negative in the time leading up to that winter. So, I think at least from a non-expert, looking at a couple of charts point-of-view, the Atlantic could have been an important factor in the winter of 1992-1993 for Flagstaff.
Also, notice that was the last hurrah for wet conditions. After that winter, the AMO started to switch to a persistent positive mode. From my last post, there is a linkage between positive AMO conditions and drier conditions for the American Southwest.
One more note. Many of the people who are my age and grew up in Flagstaff in the late 1960s through the early 1990s, have a profound impression of Flagstaff having been much wetter growing up. On the other hand, some of the people who grew up before that time frame, seem to remember a drier time that was more like today. Completely anecdotal, but interesting.