2015 Hurricane Forecast

Tomorrow (June 1st) marks the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season, which will continue through November 30th. On average, there are around 12 named storms (tropical storm or stronger), 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. From a numbers standpoint, I generally agree with the majority of forecasts that call for a below average number of storms this season, but one must not focus entirely on numbers. Some of the seasons in the past that brought the highest number of storms had a very low impact to the U.S. and vice versa. As you always hear, it only takes ONE storm. You must always be prepared.

In this forecast, instead of focusing on numbers I want to focus more on the regions in the Atlantic that could have a heightened chance of tropical development and the regions along the U.S. coast that could have the highest chance of being impacted. Sea surface temperatures remain above average in the Gulf of Mexico and along the East Coast, while temperatures are below average in the main development region (from the African coast to the Caribbean). It is important to point out that just because a region has higher sea surface temperatures doesn’t automatically mean there will be more tropical development there. IF the atmosphere cooperates and favors tropical development, then warmer water temperatures can provide the needed “fuel” and help strengthen these systems.

Due to a developing El Nino and the cooler water temperatures across the main development region, there will likely be less activity overall. Even if the water temperatures were to warm up more than expected between now and the active part of the season, a highly sheared environment across the area will likely result in many systems not surviving on the journey from the African coast to the western Atlantic. This year, the atmosphere has responded particularly strong to the warmer waters that have continued to develop across the central and eastern Pacific. Because of this atmospheric response, this has continued to further reinforce El Nino and will likely continue to do so through the summer and into the fall. This development will likely create a more-sheared environment in the main development region along with stronger trade winds at the surface. Overall, the atmosphere could be a bit more stable with a subsiding (sinking) airmass over the region.

The Gulf of Mexico and along the East Coast are the two regions that need to be monitored particularly close this season for potential development, which doesn’t contradict most of the forecasts that have already been put out by the U.S government and private forecasting companies. Even with fewer named storms, the chances of having a few landfalls this year is definitely not out of the realm of possibilities, despite the lull in U.S. impact from tropical systems in the last decade. Again, this reiterates my point that the focus shouldn’t be on actual numbers but instead on development regions/possible impact locations. The areas that could have the highest chance of impact will be the Carolina coast, the western coast of Florida, and Texas/Louisiana. Any tropical system that develops off the East coast will have the tendency to curve out to sea, but the Carolina coastline will be target zone for systems that do manage to get close enough for impact. The two main potential tracks for any system that develops or moves into the Gulf of Mexico will likely be towards Texas/Louisiana or the Florida coast. Any areas along the coast that I didn’t mention also need to monitor this season closely. Despite the more hostile environment that is expected in the main development region, any tropical wave that manages to survive its journey across the Atlantic could organize and strengthen farther west in an environment that could be slightly more favorable.

2015 Hurricane Forecast

I included the map above to help you to visualize everything a bit more clearly. The map doesn’t include how many times a particular region could get hit, but instead, it indicates what areas have the highest chance of getting hit at least once with a tropical storm or hurricane. This excludes Ana that already impacted the Carolina coast in early May. I must mention that early season hurricane forecasts tend to vary in accuracy from year to year. Conditions can quickly change over the course of just a few months, so an update to this forecast may be necessary around August. Regardless of the outcome of this season, it’s always best to have a plan in place if you live in a hurricane-prone zone.

Deadly Flooding Will Get Worse Before Getting Better

If you’re located in a state like Texas or Oklahoma, then you may be witnessing one of the biggest floods in modern history. Since I cover a lot of the “big-picture stuff,” I haven’t taken the time to see who has actually reached or who is close to reaching an all-time monthly record of rainfall, but I’d say it’s getting close for quite a few areas. There can be times where the damage that a flash flood has caused may require the assistance of a Cary water damage restoration company (if you live in and around this area) to help correct the effect the water has done on the home. In a situation like this, there is nothing wrong in asking for a helping hand.

Discussion:

Another piece of energy (a shortwave) is currently rounding the base of a trough in the Southwestern U.S., which means more heavy rain will develop across Texas tomorrow and spread eastward into the same areas that have already gotten copious amounts of rain. In the upper-levels of the atmosphere, a strong sub-tropical jet stream (fast-moving winds) is extending across Mexico and curving northward into the Central U.S., which is transporting very moist air into the region.

Deadly Flooding Possible Tomorrow/Tomorrow Night:

Cities that need to be on high alert for dangerous flooding tomorrow into tomorrow night will be Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Little Rock, Shreveport and all areas in between. Below is my Memorial Day Forecast that I put out the other night, and if you’re in the “Flooding Rains/Stormy” zone, take notice. There could also be a tornado threat in these areas, but notice that I’m stressing the flooding situation even more. This flooding event will likely extend a bit farther east than previous events over the last few weeks. If your house has been effected by this awful flooding then you might want to visit a website like https://water-damage.us/flood-cleanup/ where they are available 24/7 for any flood cleanup needed.

Memorial Day Forecast

Flooding Rains Will Spread East Into Tuesday:

These flooding rains will eventually spread farther east on Tuesday into the Mississippi Valley. Areas that particularly need to be watched are Mississippi, parts of Alabama/Tennessee and extending northward all the way up through the Great Lakes. These regions have not gotten nearly as much rainfall as areas to the west, but that doesn’t mean flash flooding can’t or won’t occur.

Projected 48-Hour Rainfall Totals From The Latest GFS:

Flooding GFS

Heat Ridge Will Build Along The East Coast:

Residents in the East Coast states need to get ready for hot temperatures for Memorial Day and beyond, with the greatest departures from normal being in the Northeast. Bermuda high pressure will build onto the coast, along with upper-level ridging extending up through the Northeast. This Bermuda high is going to begin wrapping very moist air into the Southeastern U.S. and up the East Coast. Heavy thunderstorms will definitely be possible across the Southeast and extending up the coast (will impact inland regions), especially beginning Monday night and beyond. The regions directly on the coast will have the greatest chance of avoiding any type of thunderstorms, since high pressure will probably suppress thunderstorm development. The humidity will make temperatures seem warmer than they are.

Something To Watch In The Eastern Pacific:

I noticed today that the European model has a tropical system developing in the eastern Pacific and moves the system far enough north to get pulled farther north by a developing trough in the western U.S. This may end up being nothing, but it is something to keep an eye on. If it makes the connection and gets pulled north, this could be another flooding situation in the beginning of June, on top of what may occur before that. The other model guidance isn’t as impressive, but I do think the eastern Pacific is about to have an active hurricane season. As a side note, residents in Hawaii need to take this season a bit more serious than most years.

Eastern Pacific Tropics

Memorial Day Forecast

As promised, I have put together a Memorial Day forecast. The map and forecast doesn’t include this weekend, and if you’re wanting to know about this weekend, check out my article from the other day. Hopefully some of you have been able to get out and enjoy some of the cooler weather, because it’s about to warm back up for some of you.

Memorial Day Forecast Map:

Memorial Day Forecast

Discussion:

Another trough is currently digging into the Southwestern U.S. while a ridge will begin building and amplifying in the eastern third of the nation by Monday. This is the same relentless pattern that has brought cooler temperatures in the Southwest U.S., record-rainfall to the Southern Plains, and warmer/drier weather to the eastern U.S. This is the overall pattern that will be in place on Memorial Day, bringing more of the same weather. There are a couple additional things to point out, however.

Surface high pressure is going to be moving off the East Coast this weekend and will be merging with the Bermuda high in the Atlantic. With the upper-level ridge in place, this should keep things quite warm and reasonably dry along the East Coast on Memorial Day. Isolated storms will still be possible in places.

The Bermuda high pressure will linger close enough to the coast on Monday to pump in low-level moisture across the Southeast states, and this will also bring with it warmer temperatures across the region. The overall flow from the trough out West and ridging over the East Coast will move very moist air all the way up to the Great Lakes. Flooding could definitely be a big issue on Monday across portions of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Any surrounding regions that have already been hit hard with flooding rains should also keep an eye on things.

Surface low pressure will be moving over the Northern Plains in response to the trough currently in place. This will generally keep all of the Plains unsettled, although there could be some exceptions to that in between.

Farther west over the Rockies into the Southwest, it will remain cool. Some places will get rain, but many won’t. The Pacific Northwest will probably end up being the exception in the western U.S. that actually ends up with above average temperatures on Memorial Day.

Again, this forecast is for Memorial Day only and doesn’t include this weekend. I hope everyone has a safe holiday!

JAMSTEC Model Makes Bold 2015-16 Winter Forecast

Special Update (July 7th, 2015): Firsthand Weather’s early 2015-16 winter forecast will be released on Sunday, July 19th at 2 pm ET on this site. Please come back to check it out, and sign up for the newsletter for the latest updates.

If you have been following Firsthand Weather for any amount of time, you know that I am not a big fan of long-range/seasonal forecasts that are based entirely off of the output of a long-range/climate forecast model. Model guidance is extremely important to a meteorologist, but forecast models should only be used as tools to get an idea of what the future state of the atmosphere could look like.

I have been following the JAMSTEC model for a couple years now, and from time to time, I share its latest output on Firsthand Weather. The model itself is called the SINTEX-F model (JAMSTEC is the agency that maintains the model), and it is a ocean-atmosphere coupled general circulation model. You’re probably asking yourself, what does that even mean? Simply put, the JAMSTEC model tries to accurately predict months in advance how the changes in ocean temperatures will impact the weather around the globe. For example, the Gulf of Alaska warm-pool has had major impacts on the last two winters in the United States, and more recently, El Nino has started to be a bigger influence.

What is the JAMSTEC Model Prediction for the 2015-16 Winter?

In its May update, the JAMSTEC model is calling for another cold winter in the United States. As with any model, I have my agreements and disagreements with the placement of the colder temperatures. I don’t release my early winter predictions until later in the year, so I won’t be sharing an actual winter forecast for some time.

2015-16 Winter Forecast

The model strengthens the El Nino especially across the central Pacific and maintains the warmer sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska and extends those warmer water temperatures down the West Coast of the U.S. On the other hand, it really cools the central Pacific. Because of this configuration in sea surface temperature anomalies in the Pacific, this is likely why the model is predicting a colder central and eastern United States winter.

SST 2015-16 Forecast

Don’t confuse a temperature anomaly map with an actual temperature map. Just because the model shows above average temperatures in Canada/Alaska and below average temperatures in the U.S. DOESN’T mean it’s predicting that the overall temperatures will average out warmer in Canada/Alaska than here.

How Good of a Job Did The JAMSTEC Model Do in Predicting The 2014-15 Winter in the U.S.?

It actually did a decent job in predicting both U.S. temperatures/precipitation and the placement of warmer sea surface temperatures in the Pacific. Of course, variations in output occurred each month, but that’s to be expected.

Below is a comparison between what the JAMSTEC model predictied this time last year (May 2014) for the 2014-15 winter verses what actually happened.

Predicted Temperature Anomalies (Above/Below Average Temps) For 2014-15 Winter:

2014-15 Winter Forecast

Predicted Precipitation Anomalies (Above/Below Average Precip) For 2014-15 Winter:

Precipitation Forecast 2014-15

Predicted Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies (Above/Below Average SST’s) For 2014-15 Winter:

SST Forecast 2014-15

Actual Temperature Anomalies (Above/Below Average Temps) For 2014-15 Winter:

2014-15 Winter

Actual Precipitation Anomalies (Above/Below Average Precip) For 2014-15 Winter:

Actual 2014-15 Precip

Actual Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies (Above/Below Average SST’s) For 2014-15 Winter:

Actual 2014-15 SST

As you can see, it pretty much nailed the placement of below average temperatures in the U.S. It was too wet on the West Coast, but everywhere else was reasonably close. Keep in mind that the forecast for Canada didn’t come out to be as accurate. Also, this model updates monthly, so there were monthly changes in the forecast through 2014.

Again, this is just a model!! If this model were not to line up with my predictions for this upcoming winter, I still wouldn’t change my forecast, but I always keep an eye on the forecasts models that tend to outperform. This model didn’t do too bad last year, so we’ll have to see how it does this year.

Brief Cool Spell On The Way For Most Of U.S.

Many across the United States are about to get a brief break from the heat, and when I say brief, I’m talking very brief. The core of the cooler temperatures this month have extended from the Northern Plains down into the Rockies and Southwestern U.S. Farther east from the Gulf Coast states, Tennessee/Ohio Valley, and along the East Coast have been very warm. Through June, I expect this overall setup to persist although the main trough out West could shift slightly east with time, which I discussed in my summer forecast that came out the other day.

Discussion:

A trough is going to continue digging southward into the Great Lakes and over much of the eastern U.S through the rest of this week into early this weekend. Along with this strengthening trough, Canadian high pressure is currently building over the Northern Plains and Rockies, which will continue to move south and east, eventually exiting off the East Coast this weekend. This feature, combined with the trough to the east, will bring with it a very nice break from the heat that many regions in the east have been experiencing lately.

While all of this is happening, another trough is going to be digging into the Southwestern U.S., which will eventually pump up another ridge downstream into the eastern U.S. by later in the weekend. In other words, enjoy the nice weather because it’s going to get hot again in the eastern U.S. Those in between all of this (the Southern Plains and extending northward) will get MORE rain! I’ll talk specifically about that topic in another update.

3-Day Rainfall Forecast from WPC:

3 Day Rainfall Forecast

Timeline and Locations:

Temperatures have already cooled off quite nicely over a large area of the Plains into the upper Mississippi Valley/Great Lakes region. This cooler air will continue to seep south and eastward through tomorrow and Friday, reaching as far south as the Southern Plains, Southeast, and East Coast. The extreme southern Gulf coastal regions and Florida will be the least impacted by this cool spell, and the Northeastern U.S. will likely be the most impacted, with records possibly being broken. The last bit of colder air will be felt along the East Coast on Saturday, before everything is all said and done.

Expected Temperature Departures from Normal for Early Friday Morning:

Friday Morning Cold

Expected Temperature Departures from Normal for Early Saturday Morning:

Saturday Morning Cold

By Sunday, the warmth will begin building again over the eastern United States, while the area just west of the Plains will remain quite cool with the exception being across portions of the Pacific Northwest.

On a side note, I’m keeping an eye on a potential isolated severe weather threat tomorrow along parts of the SC/NC coast. If I feel it’s something worth discussing further, I’ll post something on Facebook tomorrow.

I am currently in the process of putting together a Memorial Day Forecast, including a map. I plan to post that on Friday.

Firsthand Weather’s 2015 Summer Forecast

I want to begin by explaining what a seasonal forecast is, and what I’m trying to accomplish by putting out this seasonal forecast for this upcoming summer. A seasonal forecast is NOT a day-to-day forecast but is meant to give you an overview of what to expect over a given timeframe. My goal is to give you an early heads up on what kind of weather could be on the way this summer, and I will be breaking down each weather event and/or pattern change as the summer progresses. Also, there will be fluctuations in temperatures/precipitation during this forecasting period, meaning you will not likely experience non-stop cooler/warmer weather for the entire 90-day period.

For this outlook, I broke it down into two periods, one being for June and the other being for July through August. Technically, the June map includes the second half of May also, even though I just labeled it June. All you need to do is look at the two maps, find your region (which is numbered), and then find your forecast discussion below. There will be two local forecast discussions for your region, along with the main discussion below.

Summer 2015 Discussion:

El Nino has continued to develop through this past winter and spring and is forecasted to strengthen through this fall. While the main focus has been on this developing El Nino over the last few weeks, I don’t believe that El Nino conditions will be as prevalent across the United States later this summer. However, after this summer, the typical El Nino conditions should begin to really take hold.

While I’m not saying that we won’t approach moderate to strong El Nino conditions by this fall, I think that the climate models are way overdone on how strong this El Nino becomes. Most likely, the waters will actually begin to cool off near the coast of Peru later this year and warm across the central Pacific. Keep in mind that the spring models wrongly predicted an El Nino event last year, and while I believe model guidance will be more right the second go-round, that doesn’t mean there won’t be fairly sizable errors.

As you will see in my outlook below, I do believe that many areas will experience a fairly hot summer, which goes against the majority of the forecasts that have been put out this year. Also, many of the areas that have been very wet will continue to be excessively wet through June, and then many of those same areas will dry out significantly in July and August. The majority of you will likely experience a variety of weather, which is why I broke it down into two periods instead of one.

June 2015 Forecast (includes the rest of May):

June 2015 Forecast

Region 1: This area will continue to experience the same kind of conditions that have pretty much dominated since this past winter. There could be several chances of rain/mountain snows especially in the areas away from the coast early on in the period. I put this area in reasonably dry conditions, although some areas may get lucky and get pretty close to average precipitation.

Region 2: I put this region in a warming up/drying out zone to express that the overall pattern will begin to change through this period. Anytime there is a transition period, you can almost always expect changing weather conditions. While conditions could initially remain cool/wetter at the beginning of this period, there will eventually be a shift to a drier/warmer pattern later in June. I’m not ruling out the possibility of parts of California getting some beneficial rains early in this period, but this will be far from a drought breaker. Drought conditions will likely strengthen and may temporarily get worse in some places as summer progresses.

Region 3: This region could be notably cooler during this period. Precipitation could end up being about average or maybe even above average in some places. Parts of the Rocky Mountains could see some late-season mountain snows and even parts of the Northern Plains could see some of the white stuff.

Region 4: This region is going to remain very wet and unsettled, especially in the southern regions. Since many areas across the Plains have already gotten excessive amounts of rainfall, flooding will continue to be an issue. As we head closer to the end of June, conditions could begin to improve. Overall, the pattern will be cooler, although humidity may make things seem a bit warmer, particularly in the South. The severe weather threat will continue, but this threat should shift east and north through this period.

Region 5: This region has been considerably drier over the last few weeks, but that will begin to change as we head into June. Along with an increase in precipitation, a heightened severe weather threat could develop. Conditions will be pretty warm/hot and humid through this period. Some of the northern areas in the zone could experience intermittent cooler conditions, but it shouldn’t be anything that lasts for a long period of time. Flooding could become an issue for many areas in this region later in June.

Region 6: The heat will continue to build over this region, and conditions should remain quite dry along the coast. Farther inland in the western parts of this region could receive some decent rainfall, but that is a bit questionable at this point. I’m still keeping an eye on Typhoon Dolphin in the western Pacific to see whether or not that will bring about a cooler pattern downstream over this area. Although this could bring cooler temperatures, I believe this would be temporary enough not to effect the overall forecast for this period.

Region 7: This entire region will probably become wet and quite hot/humid, especially west. Flooding could particularly become an issue over the Mississippi Valley region (which could become big news), and the severe weather threat will probably increase through this period especially farther west. Although cooler conditions will be possible at times, this should only be temporary. The humidity will be what makes things seem that much hotter!

July – August 2015 Forecast:

July - August 2015 Forecast

The regional discussions for this period are VERY brief.

Region 1: A cooler pattern should begin to emerge during this period. Precipitation should be about average, but given that places like California typically do not get a lot of rain during the summer, drought conditions will persist. Fall/winter will be different though. 🙂

Region 2: This region will become wetter throughout this period and should end up being slightly cooler than average.

Region 3: This region is really going to begin warming up, but precipitation should be about average or maybe even above average in places.

Region 4: This region should experience a temporary dry-out period during these two months, and conditions will be hot (above average temps)! This will be sandwiched between a very wet period that is ongoing right now, and a wetter period that will start back up this fall/winter. I didn’t take into account possible tropical activity along the coastal regions during this period, which I will discuss more later this month.

Region 5: Conditions will begin drying out during this period, and this region will experience the typical summer warmth. There may be some variability in the temperatures, but nothing that should be too noteworthy. Southern Gulf coast regions could get more precipitation than areas farther north.

Region 6: This is the region that I’m a little more uncertain about. I’m more confident that this area will remain dry, but the temperatures are where I’m a bit more uncertain. I went with cooler than average temperatures for reasons that I will discuss as we get closer to this period.

Region 7: This region should really dry out with the exception possibly being along southern Gulf coast regions. Temperatures may be slightly below average during this period, and the humidity shouldn’t be as bad as earlier in the summer.

Region 8: Much of Florida should be wet/humid. They may even end up a good bit wetter during this period than earlier in the summer.

Conclusion: Again, this outlook is meant to give you a look at the big picture. Don’t confuse this seasonal forecast with my medium and long-range forecasts that cover a few weeks at a time. Last winter, I realized just how much a seasonal forecast can be misinterpreted. December 2014 was warm overall, but January and especially February 2015 ended up being very cold in the eastern U.S., verifying the overall forecast. The weather is always changing!

If you combine my June and July/August forecasts together, you will quickly come to the conclusion that I am expecting a true summer for the majority of you. Yes, there could be cool periods in between as I tried to explain in the discussions, but overall this summer should be different than the summer many of us experienced last year. There will, of course, be exceptions to that.

Be sure to follow Firsthand Weather on a daily basis as I will be breaking down each individual weather event and pattern change throughout this summer. Also, follow Firsthand Weather on the different social media platforms, where I put out multiple updates a day.

El Niño: What Does All Of This Mean?

By now, I’m sure many of you have heard all the talk about the developing El Niño, and how much of an impact it will have around the globe. It most certainly will be a big player this year, but this El Niño is weird. When I say weird, I mean that the Pacific is behaving in a way that doesn’t necessarily reflect what has happened in the past, at least since records have been kept. Before I elaborate, let me briefly explain what El Niño is for those of you who may be curious.

What is El Niño?

Various weather agencies have a different set of criteria that must be met before they will officially declare an El Niño or La Niña. For NOAA to declare an El Niño, the 3-month sea surface temperature average has to be 0.5 °C above average or greater for 5 consecutive months in the Niño 3.4 region. I posted a map below to show you exactly where the Niño 3.4 region is located, instead of trying to describe it. They also like to see that the atmosphere is responding to the warmer temperatures over this region, which further reinforces El Niño.

nino region 3.4

Winds typically blow from east to west across the equatorial Pacific, but when the waters warm up across the central and eastern Pacific, this can cause these winds to significantly slow down or even reverse in some places. This acts to further enhance and strengthen El Niño. The El Niño phenomenon is A LOT more complicated than what I just described, but on Firsthand Weather, I won’t go into anymore detail than that.

How Is This El Niño Any Different Than The Others?

Weak El Niño conditions were in place this past winter, which have continued to strengthen through the spring. While rare, 2-year El Niño events have occurred in the past, but what could make this El Niño event almost unprecedented would be if the El Niño conditions were to steadily strengthen from now until the fall/winter (considering that weak El Niño conditions were present this past winter also). Given that almost all forecast models strengthen El Niño and that water temperatures are well above average fairly deep below the surface across the equatorial Pacific, I have no reason to believe that we won’t be into a full-blown moderate (maybe strong) El Niño by this fall.

el nino forecast

Analogs and Implications for the 2015-16 Winter:

This is NOT a winter forecast for 2015-16. I start doing a lot of my research for the upcoming winter in the spring and summer when I’m putting together my forecasts for spring/summer. Keep in mind that my research is different than me putting out an official seasonal forecast. For example, my 2015 summer forecast is coming out this Sunday at 2 pm ET, and that is what I consider an official Firsthand Weather forecast.

For those of you wanting to do further research on this upcoming winter, I’m going to share with you a few time periods/previous winters to study. The periods that El Niño conditions persisted non-stop through two winters were 1968-70 and 1986-88. Keep in mind that the first winter in both of these periods had a much stronger El Niño than what was in place this past winter. Also, the El Niño died off towards the end of the second winter in both periods. Hopefully this makes sense.

One of my analogs that I am strongly taking into account is the 1957-58 period (this could very well change in the future), which could favor what next winter will look like. El Niño conditions developed early in 1957 and strengthened throughout the year. A fairly strong warm-pool in the northeastern Pacific and warmer waters along the West Coast was also prevalent by the 1957-58 winter. The sea surface temperatures were highest above average in the central equatorial Pacific but were above average across all Nino regions.

As you can see from the images I shared below, the core of the cold overall ended up being from the southern U.S. up through the East Coast during the 1957-58 winter. Even though these regions have been cold the past two winters, they haven’t gotten the brunt of the cold like northern parts of the U.S have. Florida was an area that was hit particularly hard in 1958 with a historic freeze that cost millions. On the other hand, from the Northern Plains westward and even in the northern half of the Northeast ended up having above average temperatures that winter, which wouldn’t surprise me either for this upcoming winter.

2015-16 winter forecast

Although the more persistent cold may have been confined to southern and eastern parts of the U.S. through the 3-month period, February 1958 was brutal for a large area of the U.S. This looks very similar to what happened this past winter with a warm December and a very cold February. Again, the biggest difference is that the core of the below average temperatures are across the South and not the Northeast. This wouldn’t be particularly shocking with a moderate to strong El Nino in place this winter.

february 2016 winter forecast

sea surface temps winter 1957-58

Again, this is just ONE winter that is starting to look similar to what could come this winter, but I have only considered a couple factors. There is much more to consider when putting together a winter forecast. Anyway, I hope some of you can have fun with this and do some of your own research before I come out with my preliminary winter forecast in July. Another recent El Niño winter to check out is 2009-10, but it is not as strong of an analog at this point.

Don’t forget!! My 2015 summer forecast will be coming out this Sunday, May 17th at 2 pm! Don’t miss it!

Tropics, Severe Weather/Tornadoes, and a Snowstorm

There is going to be A LOT to talk about through tomorrow/this weekend into next week. We’re currently in a pattern that is going to cause all sorts of weather including severe weather/strong tornadoes and flooding in the Plains, a snowstorm in the Rockies, and a sub-tropical/tropical system off the Carolina coast (which btw will probably be named Ana tonight or tomorrow).

Believe it or not, the pattern that is going to trigger a mulit-day outbreak of severe weather/tornadoes in the Plains beginning tomorrow going through Sunday is also responsible for the strengthening of the area of low pressure off the Carolina coast.

A long-wave trough is currently building into the western United States, which is going to continue to pump a ridge up over the northeastern United States into Canada. With this kind of setup, the low pressure system off the Carolina coast is going to get stuck because there will be nothing to steer it up the coast and eventually out to sea. Until that trough can get far enough east to pull the storm away, it’s just going to sit there and meander.

Tropical Storm Ana

They flew out into the storm earlier today and found tropical storm force winds; however, they didn’t find one distinct closed circulation. As the system continues to organize, it’ll likely acquire the name Ana. What makes this forecast a bit tricky is trying to determine how strong this storm is going to get, which depends on where it sits. If it’s slightly farther west, it’ll be over the colder shelf waters, but if it’s a bit farther east, it’ll be over the warm Gulf stream and could strengthen more than expected. Forecast models are likely not handling this well as they never do in a blocking scenario like this.

Areas particularly on the Carolina coast need to watch this closely. Depending on track, you could get heavy rain, high surf, and even tropical storm force winds.

The same trough that is creating the block farther east is going to be responsible for probably one of the largest multi-day severe weather events since 2011 across the Plains. Saturday looks to be the biggest day for severe weather; however Friday and Sunday could be big days also. I plan to write up a forecast (tomorrow hopefully) on this severe weather situation once I study things a bit more tonight/tomorrow. In the meantime, I’ll be putting out some smaller updates on Twitter.

This same system will also be responsible for a snowstorm in the Rockies and maybe even some snow up near the Great Lakes closer to the U.S./Canadian border. Even southern California may get some rain/mountain snows out of this over the next couple of days!

So that’s your brief update for tonight! As you can see, all of this weather is connected, and it’s a pretty awesome science! Stay tuned for future updates.

Tropical Storm Ana (Or Sub-Tropical) Could Be Born This Week

Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to write a detailed discussion today, but at the least, I want to share some different graphics with you. You can read my previous forecasts on the site on the tropical/sub-tropical system that will likely develop later this week. If you’re just simply needing to know what to expect, this article should suffice.

The first graphic is just a visible satellite image. If this were to be put into motion, you’d notice a very broad circulation just east of Florida near the Bahamas. This area of disturbed weather should continue to organize throughout the week, eventually developing into a sub-tropical or tropical low that could be named Ana.

visible satellite

Invest 90L is simply the low pressure area that is currently being investigated, which could be what eventually becomes Ana. The next graphic shows you the sea surface temperatures, and as you can see, there’s a narrow stream of very warm waters being pulled up by the Gulf stream just off the East Coast. This could be responsible for enhancing development; however waters are cooler on the immediate coast, which might weaken the storm once it approaches land especially if it becomes fully tropical.

gulf stream

The next graphic shows you where the various forecast models have this system going. As you can see, most of the guidance moves this near the Carolina coast, which I currently agree with.

invest 90l projected path

The next graphic shows you how strong each model has this system getting. If the lines move into the lightly shaded grey region, that indicates tropical storm force winds. Some models strengthen this system quite nicely while others don’t.

tropical storm ana

Anyway, the regions most impacted will be along the SC/NC coast and possibly felt as far south as the GA coast later this week/weekend. The main threat will be heavy rainfall and in some regions, possible tropical storm force winds with higher than normal storm surge. Keep in mind that if this storm becomes fully tropical, the strongest winds will be more concentrated around the core of the storm, and if it remains sub-tropical, the winds will be a bit more spread out from the center but weaker.

What You Need To Know About The Tropics

I must admit that this possible tropical/sub-tropical system definitely has my attention, and if everything comes together just right, we could have our first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season later this week. This is definitely NOT something to panic about, but this is a system that has a decent shot at becoming something notable.

I broke down some of the meteorology the other day, and I am going to attempt to further explain the situation currently at hand. If you look at the satellite image below, you can see the broad area of disturbed weather over Cuba and the Bahamas, which is due to an upper-level trough digging over the region. This is creating favorable conditions for cloudiness/storminess over the area, and eventually, a surface low should begin to develop and pull northward. That will be the storm to watch.

satellite image

A trough is currently moving over the western United States, which will really begin to dig into the southwestern United States and Baja California this week. In response to this building trough out West, a ridge is going to build and strengthen farther east over the eastern half of the U.S. into Canada. The reason why this is important to note is that this ridge is going to trap that low pressure area off the Georgia/South Carolina/North Carolina coast and not allow it to quickly slide north/northeast.

tropical storm

I mentioned the other day that there is a tongue of very warm waters being pulled up along the East Coast by the Gulf stream, and since this storm is going to get trapped, it will likely sit over those warmer waters for several days. Given that the environment will be conducive for the further strengthening of this system, I wouldn’t be surprised if we have Tropical/Sub-tropical Storm Ana on our hands by mid to late week, meandering barely off the Carolina or Georgia coast.

sst anomalies

The main threat right now will be very heavy rainfall along the coastal regions from Florida to North Carolina later this week. While the forecast models diverge on how strong this system could get, I can’t rule out the possibility of tropical storm force winds along parts of the Carolina coast.

As the trough out west pushes eastward, this storm could eventually get pulled into the coast, bringing heavy rains and gusty winds farther inland later in the week into the weekend.

If you’re located anywhere from the eastern coast of Florida through South Carolina/North Carolina, keep a close watch on everything. Again, there’s no need to panic by any means; however, this current weather situation will likely require me to put out future updates on the site. The overall pattern DOES favor sub-tropical/tropical development off the Southeast U.S. coast this week, and I will do my best to put out additional updates.