Is El Nino Still Coming By The 2014-15 Winter?

El Nino has continued to be the big talk among meteorologists for most of this year, and just when El Nino seems to be making an appearance, it backs off just enough to keep us below the El Nino classification. To keep things simple, El Nino is simply the warming of waters across the central and eastern Pacific. More specifically, sea surface temperatures have to be at least 0.5 °C (0.9 °F) above average over the east-central tropical Pacific Ocean for a given period of time for an El Nino to be considered in effect. This can have profound effects on the weather around the globe, particularly during the winter months.

What one must realize is that when the El Nino or La Nina events stay weak, there are other variables that can strongly drive the pattern that shapes what the winter will be like. In other words, you can’t just average out all of the weak to weakly moderate El Nino winters and expect to get an accurate forecast for this upcoming winter. One must take into account the placement of warmer waters across the equatorial Pacific and the strength of this event along with other variables that I have discussed in previous articles.

We can take the cold winter of 2013-14 as an example. Water temperatures stayed slightly below average across the central and eastern Pacific this past winter, but the northeastern Pacific warm pool influenced temperatures much more significantly than most meteorologists and forecasters anticipated. My point is that it’s important not to get too hung up this winter on whether or not we’re technically in an El Nino, especially since it’ll likely remain on the weaker side. When I put out my early winter forecast in July, I accounted for a weak to weakly moderate El Nino Modoki, and I still hold to those predictions. In other words, my forecast hasn’t changed much since my original forecast was put out in July.

All regions across the central and eastern Pacific are experiencing above average sea surface temps.

All regions across the central and eastern Pacific are experiencing above average sea surface temps.

Waters across the central and eastern Pacific have consistently remained above average since late spring with the exception of the central Pacific (Nino 3.4 region) very briefly experiencing below average water temps. The atmosphere has had a difficult time responding to these warmer waters this year and hasn’t really induced further warming. It’s still been a struggle even as we get closer to October, but most models still are holding onto the prediction that we will be going into a weak El Nino by this winter. It could even strengthen throughout this winter.

Most models are predicting a weak El Nino by this winter.

Most models are predicting a weak El Nino by this winter.

I will continue to monitor everything closely through the month of October and will be putting out my final 2014-15 winter forecast in late October or early November. I’ll have a specific release date in a couple of weeks. Please follow Firsthand Weather on Facebook to get daily updates on the latest information regarding El Nino and this upcoming winter.

Firsthand Weather's Preliminary 2014-15 Winter Forecast

Firsthand Weather’s Preliminary 2014-15 Winter Forecast

Brutally Cold 2014-15 Winter Shaping Up For The United States

Jamstec model predicting above average temperatures sea surface temps to persist through winter. Courtesy Jamstec website

The 2013-14 winter was a season that I will never be able to forget simply because of the kind of cold Arctic outbreaks that occurred throughout that year. What’s even more remarkable is that the 2013-14 winter became known as that winter that simply would not end, and even this summer, we have seen times when the mid and upper level pattern strongly resembled what would be typical of a winter pattern. We had pretty severe Arctic outbreaks in both 2009-10 and 2010-11 winters but for entirely different reasons than last winter. The main driver of last winter was the warm pool of above average waters over the northeastern Pacific, and this warm pool is still there! It is to blame for a lot of the volatility that we have seen this year in our temperatures across the United States.

You hear a lot about the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO) particularly during the winter months as those indices are very important to monitor each winter and can be the difference between a cold winter in the central and eastern United States and a very warm winter. Last year, it didn’t matter whether we had a positive or negative NAO/AO, and for those of you that followed my forecasts last winter, you may remember me telling you to ignore all the forecasts being put out that were predicting a big warmup simply because the AO/NAO wasn’t negative. It’s rare that you would hear me say something like that, but the reason that it didn’t matter was because of the warm pool in the northeastern Pacific. It led to a more volatile pattern, and even the regions further south and southeast that didn’t necessarily lock into a cold pattern experienced below average temperatures for a good portion of the winter because of the frequent Arctic blasts.

The 2014-15 winter could also be strongly influenced by the warm pool in the northeast Pacific if it persists going into the winter months, and based on some of the things that I have been looking at, chances are good that it will. This would likely lead to another brutally cold winter in the central and eastern United States while the western U.S. would have above average temperatures, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. The good news is that I think central and southern California will receive above average precipitation, and that is due to a developing weak El Nino that will not necessarily be the main driver of this winter but will have some influence. This also means more precipitation across the southern states including the Southwest through the Southern Plains to parts of the Southeast. The regions where the cold air will be in place will have an increased chance at seeing more wintry weather this season, even in locations that typically don’t get any snow/ice.

Jamstec model predicting above average temperatures sea surface temps to persist through winter. Courtesy Jamstec website

Jamstec model predicting above average sea surface temps in NE Pacific to persist through winter. Courtesy Jamstec website

When there is a warm pool of above average sea surface temperatures over the northeast Pacific/Gulf of Alaska, you get ridging to develop up over Alaska and the western U.S. and troughing over the central and eastern United States. This can persist throughout the entire winter (just like last winter) if this warm pool remains in this same place throughout the season. This is what is considered a negative EPO (eastern Pacific oscillation) pattern and typically brings cold air over a large portion of the United States. Due to some other factors that I will explain in a future article, I have reason to believe that the cold air could be more focused in the eastern third of the nation this winter.

There are still a lot of unknowns about this winter, and I am going to monitor everything closely through September and October before I put out a final 2014-15 winter forecast in late October or early November. There have been a lot of bogus forecasts being put out on this upcoming winter, and you just have to ignore them. I strongly believe that this could be another brutally cold winter, and if anything changes my mind, you’ll be the first to know. Remember, there are sites that call for brutally cold winters EVERY SINGLE YEAR just to get high views, but as most of you know, if I think something is going to happen, I tell you WHY.

Here are two links for you to check out: this one here will take you to my region-by-region breakdown on this upcoming winter, and this one here will take you to my detailed winter forecast that gets more into the meteorology behind the forecast. Also, be sure to like Firsthand Weather on Facebook, where I will be putting out updates on this upcoming winter and other weather events.

Firsthand Weather's Preliminary 2014-15 Winter Forecast

Firsthand Weather’s Preliminary 2014-15 Winter Forecast

Major Cool Down On The Way For The United States

This Saturday!!

Summer finally decided to kick in just as we were transitioning from the meteorological summer to the meteorological fall. For many, this summer has been on the cool side, and even back in July, most of us got to experience a pattern that was very atypical of a summertime pattern in the U.S. I understand that some of you have had to deal with the summer heat, but this heat wasn’t anything that set in the entire summer. As most of you know, we’ve had way worst summers in the past.

Just as we’ve started to heat up, things are about to cool off dramatically for a large portion of the United States. The colder air will be more aggressive further north; however, below average temperatures can be expected even in the Deep South behind the cold front that will be pushing through by next weekend.

We’re moving into the time of year where the weather gets a little more exciting. Even though it’s typically still a bit early in September to be getting these kinds of outbreaks of colder air, I do expect these wild swings in temperature to continue through this month and beyond.

Many of you up North will be seeing your first deep freeze this week, while those further to the south will be experiencing much cooler temps and less humidity by this upcoming weekend.

Here are the expected temperature departures from average for September 7th-12th:

Temperature Departures from Average (Sept. 7th-12th)

Temperature Departures from Average (Sept. 7th-12th)

As you can see, the cooler air spreads southeast (Sept. 12th-17th):

Temperature Departures from Average (Sept. 12th-17th)

Temperature Departures from Average (Sept. 12th-17th)

Later in the month, the cooler temps fade; however, the temps will be much cooler even in the Deep South (Sept. 17th-22nd):

Temperature Departures from Average (Sept. 17th-22nd)

Temperature Departures from Average (Sept. 17th-22nd)

Just to give you a snapshot of what this weekend will look like, here is a temperature anomaly map (departures from average) for Saturday morning!

This Saturday!!

This Saturday!!

There is a mid-week severe weather threat that I am currently keeping a close eye on, which I mentioned yesterday. I’ll have more updates on that in a day or so, along with additional updates on the Facebook page. Be sure to like the Facebook page if you haven’t already!

Have a great Sunday afternoon!!

Man-Made Global Warming: What’s Your Take?

Man-made global warming and mad-made climate change are two topics that are frequently discussed and have been the cause of countless heated debates particularly over the last decade. When I began Firsthand Weather in 2010, I was typically one of the ones that was most argumentative when this topic was brought up, but over the last couple of years, I have changed my approach in a dramatic way. I have learned a lot in the fields of meteorology and climatology over the last several years, and I will openly admit that I still have a lot to learn. We ALL do! 

In most cases, we are presented with two extremist views on this subject: 1) that man has no influence on global temperatures and the climate or 2) that we are going to become victim to a runaway greenhouse effect that will have catastrophic effects on this planet. Rarely do you find anyone that points out that man-made CO2 emissions may have caused SOME (not all) of the warming while natural variations in the climate may have also caused some of the warming. The big question is how much warming has been caused by man and how much has been caused by natural variations in climate. 

Those that argue on both sides of this debate are usually wrong. It’s easy to manipulate or cut off data to make your argument seem valid, but that doesn’t necessarily make the argument right. I’ve heard man-made global warming deniers claim that a cold-spell in the winter is proof that it’s all a hoax, while I’ve heard man-made global warming alarmists claim that a heatwave in the summer further proves their theory. Both arguments are not valid, and I’ll tell you why when I go into detail on this subject in a future article. 

Now that I have probably made both sides mad, I need to clear something up that is a common misconception. Man-made global warming IS NOT the same thing as man-made climate change. Man-made global warming would be the cause and man-made climate change would be the effect that you would get as a result of artificially warming the planet. Essentially, warming the planet alters the climate. 

Now my argument for years has been that all of the warming that has occurred over the last century has not all been caused by man. There are natural variations in climate that have caused at the least some of the warming. Just as much money should go into studying the natural variations in weather and climate as goes into studying man-made global warming and climate change. 

I’m not going to give my take on man-made global warming and climate change in this article. I want to know what YOU think. I believe that it is extremely important to discuss this topic openly despite our varying opinions and biases. Most people don’t feel comfortable talking about this subject, and I want Firsthand Weather to be a place where you can give your opinions without feeling uncomfortable. This is something that we need to talk about!

I have two polls that I would like you to answer, and they are completely anonymous. 

The first question is simply asking you what you think about man-made global warming. You may think that there is no evidence that man has altered the climate at all, or you may think that there is evidence that the effects of man-made global warming are imminent and are currently taking place. Some of you may think it could be a combination of man-made and natural influences. 

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The second question asks you if you want Firsthand Weather to talk about this topic further. I’m willing to give my opinion and provide you with the resources to come up with your own stance on this subject. I could probably provide all of this info by writing several articles on the site this month.

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Now that you have answered these questions anonymously. Please consider commenting below on why you hold your position. Whether you know nothing about this subject or know a lot about it, please take a minute or two to voice your opinion. Be sure to also follow Firsthand Weather on Facebook, where we will be also discussing this topic in the coming days.