Thanks to an Eastern Pacific hurricane and very strong northerly storm track, the next couple weeks will be very dry in Arizona.
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.
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.
I think I mentioned several times last summer NOAA’s GFS model predictions of the monsoon season impressed me.They seemed remarkable accurate. I say seemed, because I don’t think I ever did or saw any statistical analysis to prove it. We will see how they do this year.
For now, the model has the season walking slowly up to the season. If you remember last summer it started in earnest. This year, I think we will start to some thunderstorm action at the end of this week, but probably not the real start until closer to the 4th of July. This is normal.
The current El Nino conditions and the warm blob off the coast of California continue to cause me some concern. The image below is the most recent global sea surface anomaly picture from NOAA. There is plenty of warm water to generate the moisture needed for a strong monsoon season. I still worry that jet stream winds might not cooperate One of the reasons there are few strong Atlantic hurricanes in El Nino conditions is due to the high level winds that shear the tops of the clouds off as storms develop in the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico. Could these winds impede our monsoon season?
I don’t know. Also, I don’t think there is any clear data on any effect from El Ninos on monsoon precipitation. We will have to wait and see. For now, enjoy summer. The warm temperatures may not last long.
Through Sunday morning, we have received 1.14 inches of rainfall in June. This is a whopping inch over normal. While that is large rainfall for June, 1955 and 1956 are still well in the lead at 2.92 and 2.79. This is for the record since 1950. We could still beat these amounts depending on how the end of the month goes.
The next week or so isn’t going to help. Get ready for typical June weather. Sunny, warm days dominate the model outlook for the next week to 10 days. In Weather Underground’s outlook does not predict the dew point to drop much below 20. or fire conditions.
After 10 days, it’s hard to tell exactly what will happen. It looks like the annual moisture surge from the south will begin. There is plenty of warm water for drawing moisture. The Western Pacific Blob is remaining in place off the California Coast. El Nino conditions continue to strength around the Equator. If we can obtain and maintain the monsoon pattern we could have a wet season.
I laugh quietly to myself with that headline. It’s not even Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving will be beautiful. We have a bit of time before we should expect snow. But only a bit. I wonder what price we will pay for a beautiful Thanksgiving?
I don’t think we will have a foot of snow next week. But it might be pretty close. A large, strong Alaskan storm system will drop south to the California coast, then take off towards the east. The NoGAPs image below shows the storm drawing plenty of tropical moisture towards Arizona. All of the forecasting websites I check are very well aligned around a storm next week. For now, I think accumulations will stay below a foot of snow for most of Northern Arizona. Depending on temperatures, we may start with rain. Keep in mind, it is still over a week away. Everything can change, but the current alignment is remarkable.
This storm is right on plan with the new 1 and 3 month precipitation outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center shown below. I think we are a bit beyond whether this winter will be an El Nino winter or not. These outlooks predict above average precipitation for us.
Or, will we see rain Friday night.
Over the last week, the homegrown forecast at Wunderground.com has included a 30-40% chance of rain for Friday. No place else has been as consistent. All of the computer models(GFS, NoGAPs, NAM) have not shown rain until today. I can not remember another time where this has been the case. Yesterday, the National Weather Service predicted a 10% chance. This morning they have accelerated that to 30%.
So, we will see. Did Wunderground get it right? Are they ahead of the pack?
I usually shoot for the end of September to write my first post for the winter. Historically, this is because Arizona Snowbowl was dependent on natural snow. Now, they make their own snow. As a result, making the early decision about buying a season pass at a discount doesn’t matter so much.
As early as last spring, the media started to hype an oncoming “Monster El Nino.” A body of warm water moved across the Pacific Ocean from west to east, deep below the surface. To many it looked like a sure bet that this would be the first of many such warming events. I watched and waited.
There are two key components to having a successful El Nino. First, you need the warmer than normal water in the equatorial Pacific. Second, you need the equatorial trade winds to shift from their normal westerly direction to the east. The equatorial waters did warm. The trade winds did not shift. I’m going to go a bit deeper. If you want to go much deeper I strongly recommend Bob Tisdale’s 2014-2015 El Nino Series. He goes into deep detail and you can watch the entire evolution. I am going to use Anthony Watt’s ENSO Page at WattsUpWithThat site for a data source. He has collected a great deal of data from around the world that is difficult to find.
The equatorial Pacific has warmed. Occasionally, it has warmed above the El Nino threshold of 0.5 degrees above normal in the ENSO 3.4 region. The map below shows this region.
The warm water did arrive over the summer. The 3.4 region temperature anomaly did turn positive. The graph below from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology shows the anomaly. Over the summer, the anomaly barely crossed above the half degree line. It then fell almost all the way back to zero.
The problem causing the fall was that the trade winds did not reverse to support full El Nino conditions. As summer went on, more warm water arrived and the temperature trend reversed again.
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) monitors the difference in surface air pressure between Darwin, Australia and Tahiti. From this data, they calculate the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). The pressure difference is indicative of which direction the winds are blowing. A negative value of the SOI indicates that the winds have shifted to support El Nino conditions. The threshold for El Nino conditions is -8. A graph below shows the SOI over the last 5 years. In the last 3 months shown, the SOI has been negative and at least close to -8. (August -11.4, September -7.5, October -8)
It looks like the winds may have finally shifted. The sea surface temperatures are shifting. But, is it sustainable. Keep in mind that El Nino means the boy, and refers to the Christmas celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth. The warm waters would be recognized around Christmas time. There is another body of warm water transiting beneath the surface of the Pacific. This should arrive before Christmas. It could be the icing on the El Nino cake. Before you get your hopes too high, most of the outlooks are for weak El Nino conditions at best.
I’ve struggled the last few days with a broken internet connection, malfunctioning iPhone and a rainy weekend. The weekend struggle was the wonderful malaise that can hit Arizonans when it rains all day. Nonetheless, the Climate Prediction Center issued new outlooks for October and the 3-month period October to December.
The outlooks point to El Nino developing. I’m still not sure this is a reasonable expectation. Last spring and early summer, the sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean near the equator appeared headed for a strong El Nino. Unfortunately, the trade-winds did not shift to support it and the sea surface temperatures fell. There is another burst of warm water headed towards Peru now. If the winds shift, we will have El Nino conditions and a high likelihood of a wet winter. If they don’t shift, we will see La Nada neutral conditions(I think this is what will happen). Here is NOAA’s narrative about the outlooks:
CURRENT ATMOSPHERIC AND OCEANIC OBSERVATIONS ARE CONSISTENT WITH ENSO-NEUTRAL CONDITIONS WITH THE LIKELY TRANSITION TO EL NINO CONDITIONS IN AUTUMN AND WINTER. A WEAK EL NINO EVENT IS MOST PROBABLE, HOWEVER THERE IS A CHANCE OF EITHER A MODERATE EVENT OR CONTINUED ENSO-NEUTRAL CONDITIONS INTO WINTER. A STRONG EL NINO EVENT IS NOT LIKELY TO OCCUR THIS YEAR. MOST DYNAMICAL AND STATISTICAL MODEL FORECASTS OF EAST-CENTRAL EQUATORIAL PACIFIC SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES (SSTS) IN THE NINO 3.4 REGION (170W TO 120W LONGITUDE AND 5S TO 5N LATITUDE) INDICATE A WEAK EL NINO (+0.5C TO +0.9C) WITH PEAK ANOMALIES IN THE EARLY WINTER.
Here are the outlooks: