Special Newsletter – Number 3

Before I get into what I’m going to talk about in this newsletter, let me assure you that this is only the third newsletter that I have sent out, and if you have gotten only two newsletters from me, that’s because I haven’t sent out any more than that. Since we are now going into the summer months, you can expect to get these newsletters on a weekly basis unless I announce otherwise. Once we move into June and July, the weather typically gets a little more boring, and that is the time that I usually take advantage of getting a lot of stuff done at Firsthand Weather. That is also the time that I really start doing my research on the upcoming fall and winter and the hurricane season. It’s already looking like to me that we’re going to have a lot to talk about later this year. Let me fill you in on a little bit of that.

As I’m sure many of you have heard, there are talks about a super El Niño event developing later this year and continuing into the winter. I have been researching this potential for several weeks now and took the time last night to look into this possible event even further. It seems to me that an El Niño event is likely, but the big question is how strong this El Niño will actually be. Media outlets have taken advantage of all the hype despite the fact that most meteorologists and climatologists acknowledge that there are still many uncertainties regarding the strength of this event.

An El Niño develops when trade winds in the Pacific weaken, which allows giant waves of warm water, known as Kelvin waves, to move eastward across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific from the west Pacific Ocean. These warmer waters eventually come to the surface, and when you have an extended period of time when these surface waters are warmer than normal, we go into an El Niño, which alters the weather patterns around the globe in a big way. The last strong El Niño event that occurred was in 1997-98, and since then, these events have been weaker. The reason for a lot of the media hype is the fact that the likely developing El Nino looks similar to the one that occurred in 1997-98. Just because there are similarities doesn’t necessarily mean that we are going into a strong El Niño, but I’m not going to rule out that possibility. A weak to moderate El Nino seems more reasonable to me at this point, but it is worth mentioning the possibility of a stronger-type event.

I have always said that meteorologists have depended on El Niño and La Niña way too much to dictate what their winter forecasts look like. It simply doesn’t work unless we’re in a stronger event. Think about all of the horrible winter forecasts that you have seen, taken to heart, and then it do the exact opposite. When you have weaker El Nino and La Nina events, there are other factors that can override what would typically be expected. And just look at this past winter, almost everyone missed their winter forecast because they didn’t have anything to go on. We were in a neural pattern, and they probably could have come up with a better forecast by randomly guessing. I say all of that to say that we have a long ways to go before we perfect these long-range forecasts, and I look at many other variables that some tend to overlook. If we were to enter into a moderate to strong El Nino later this year, that would make these fall and winter forecasts a little easier, because that would likely be the dominant factor that influenced global temperatures and precipitation.

Let me briefly talk about this upcoming hurricane season for the Atlantic. Typically during El Niño events, you do have less hurricanes in the Atlantic due to a more sheared environment in the deep tropics. Be very careful when disregarding this hurricane season though. I feel that everyone is focusing more on the fact that there may be fewer storms, but the few hurricanes that do develop could be doozies. If you look at a sea surface temperature anomaly map off the East Coast, you can see that sea surface temps are well above normal in this region. That is the area that I’ll be watching closely this year, where we could see more home-brew activity. Shear will likely be weaker in this region, so we could have several storms that try to develop and skirt the U.S. coast. Even the eastern Gulf should watch everything closely too. I’ll have an official hurricane forecast coming out on the site in the near future, but it’s always worth mentioning that fewer storms does not always mean that we won’t have a strong hurricane to make landfall on the U.S. coast. Take 1992 for example when Hurricane Andrew slammed Florida. It was a below-average season, but we all remember Hurricane Andrew.

One last thing. Many of you know that I am about to begin a t-shirt campaign to raise money for the mobile app that will start being developed this summer. This is going to be one of many fundraisers that I will be doing this summer, and my goal is to have all of the necessary funding by the end of this summer. How this works is that I’ll be setting a goal of how many shirts I expect to sell with this campaign, and if that many shirts get sold, everyone gets their shirts. The t-shirts will have our newly designed logo on them and will only cost around $19.95 per shirt. There will only be a very limited time that you’ll be able to get them, and if for some reason we were not to reach our goal, you would be refunded. And if you buy a shirt, I’ll send you some free Firsthand Weather stuff in the mail just to say thank you for your contribution. And guess what? If we get the necessary funding, we’re going to have an awesome app that you’ll get to use later this year! It’s a win, win! If you are wanting to get a shirt, please comment below on this post or on Facebook, and give me an idea of how many you think you may buy. You would not be making a commitment; you would just be giving me a general idea of how many shirts we’ll be selling.

I really do appreciate all of your support for Firsthand Weather. I have people tell me all the time that I have something special at Firsthand Weather and have a special connection with my audience. I never want that to change. The whole point of me doing all of this work is for YOU. There’s no telling where Firsthand Weather will be in a year, 5 years, 10 years, etc. from now! I can’t wait!!

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