Modiki El Niños and Atlantic hurricane activity

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:48 PM GMT on July 08, 2009

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It's an El Niño year, which typically means that Atlantic hurricane activity will be reduced. But not all El Niño events are created equal when it comes to their impact on Atlantic hurricane activity. Over the past 150 years, hurricane damage has averaged $800 million/year in El Niño years and double that during La Niña years. The abnormal warming of the equatorial Eastern Pacific ocean waters in most El Niño events creates an atmospheric circulation pattern that brings strong upper-level winds over the Atlantic, creating high wind shear conditions unfavorable for hurricanes. Yet some El Niño years, like 2004, don't fit this pattern. Residents of Florida and the Gulf Coast will not soon forget the four major hurricanes that pounded them in 2004--Ivan, Frances, Jeanne, and Charley. Overall, the 15 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 6 intense hurricanes of the hyperactive hurricane season of 2004 killed over 3000 people--mostly in Haiti, thanks to Hurricane Jeanne--and did $40 billion in damage.

A new paper published in Science last Friday attempts to explain why some El Niño years see high Atlantic hurricane activity. "Impact of Shifting Patterns of Pacific Ocean Warming on North Atlantic Tropical Cyclones", by Georgia Tech researchers Hye-Mi Kim, Peter Webster, and Judith Curry, theorizes that Atlantic hurricane activity is sensitive to exactly where in the Pacific Ocean El Niño warming occurs. If the warming occurs primarily in the Eastern Pacific, near the coast of South America, the resulting atmospheric circulation pattern creates very high wind shear over the tropical Atlantic, resulting in fewer hurricanes. This pattern, called the Eastern Pacific Warming (EPW) pattern, occurred most recently during the El Niño years of 1997, 1987, and 1982 (Figure 1). In contrast, more warming occurred in the Central Pacific during the El Niño years of 2004, 2002, 1994, and 1991. The scientists showed that these Central Pacific Warming (CPW) years had lower wind shear over the Atlantic, and thus featured higher hurricane activity than is typical for an El Niño year. One of the paper's authors, Professor Peter J. Webster, said the variant Central Pacific Warming (CPW) El Niño pattern was discovered in the 1980s by Japanese and Korean researchers, who dubbed it modiki El Niño. Modiki is the Japanese word for "similar, but different".


Figure 1. Difference of Sea Surface Temperature (SST) from average during the peak of hurricane season, August-September-October, for seven years that had El Niño events (except for 2009, when the SST anomaly for July 1 - 3 is plotted). On the left side are years when the El Niño warming primarily occurred in the Eastern Pacific (EPW years). On the right are years when the warming primarily occurred in the Central Pacific (CPW years). Shown on the top of each plot is the number of named storms (NS), hurricanes (H), and intense hurricanes (IH) that occurred in the Atlantic each year. Atlantic hurricane activity tends to be more prevalent in CPW years than EPW years. An average hurricane season has 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. Image credit: NOAA/ESRL.

What, then, can we expect the current developing El Niño event to do to 2009 hurricane activity? Kim et al. note that in recent decades, the incidence of modiki CPW El Niño years has been increasing, relative to EPW years. However, the preliminary pattern of SST anomalies in the Pacific observed so far in July (lower left image in Figure 1) shows an EPW pattern--more warming in the Eastern Pacific than the Central Pacific. If Kim et al.'s theory holds true, this EPW pattern should lead to an Atlantic hurricane season with activity lower than the average 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. There is still a possibility that the observed warming pattern could shift to the Central Pacific during the peak portion of hurricane season, however. We are still in the early stages of this El Niño, and it is unclear how it will evolve.

Jeff Masters

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593. Seastep
5:19 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
reedzone - you must be looking at a really long term gfs.

12Z shows a quite a little bugger out there in a week.

Link

Member Since: September 9, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 3414
592. Patrap
5:14 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
NexSat East Atlantic and West Africa
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129853
591. CaneWarning
5:11 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Was it Al Roker on the weather channel CaneWarning?


No, last time I saw Al on tv he was talking about a doughnut he had eaten. I don't watch TWC anymore hardly.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
590. Cavin Rawlins
5:11 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
The Cape Verde Season is fast approaching...

Recurving Vs Landfalling Cape Verde Hurricanes
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
589. reedzone
5:10 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
You can see the wave to the right, in Africa, that's the wave the GFS wants to form then dissipate as it heads westward. It has good structure though.

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/eumet/eatl/rb-l.jpg
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7437
588. Patrap
5:09 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Worth watching thru to the end,where the first Man on the Moon Stands and Holds hands High with the Last Man to walk on the Moon.

Neil Armstrong speaks at the dedication of the new 'Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering' at Purdue. Attending are most of the astronauts that graduated from Purdue as well as Gene Cernan.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129853
586. Cavin Rawlins
5:09 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Quoting CaneWarning:
Was the season cancelled?


By some, yes. But don't worry though, becuz those same ones will running back the first news break that Ana has arrived.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
585. CaneWarning
5:08 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Quoting Seastep:


Nope. Just a dry delay.


I just saw a report on tv that El Nino has arrived.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
584. Seastep
5:07 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Quoting CaneWarning:
Was the season cancelled?


Nope. Just a dry delay.
Member Since: September 9, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 3414
583. CaneWarning
5:05 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Was the season cancelled?
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
582. nrtiwlnvragn
5:00 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 15 Comments: 11343
580. atmoaggie
4:51 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Hey...maybe Al Roker IS Barney. Certainly just as round. I can envision him purple if I saw him on an older TV set. Hmmm.



And here he is doing the weather on location:
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
579. hahaguy
4:51 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
So I see that it's official that we have the niño lol
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
578. SSideBrac
4:49 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
I am always a little amused about the Forecast numbers and resultant "discussions/arguments" as, in reality, if u live in a Hurricane Zone, u should get prepared whatever the "expert" forecast is.
It is little blessing to have a Forecast of 3 Hurricanes in the Season and then u are unfortunate enough to get hit by one that may be Cat 3 and above - it only takes one to "ruin your day" (and many more days thereafter). I suppose in a quiet period it provides subject for discussion and overall keeps those statisticians happy - for me - I want zero Hurricanes anywhere this Season.
Member Since: September 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 320
577. SavannahStorm
4:48 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
12Z GFS once again drops the robust wave in the CATL.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 18 Comments: 2343
576. kmanislander
4:48 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Good day all

El Nino conditions are now firmly in control in the EPAC with water temps 1.8 degrees above normal. This could mean an August start to the season shaping up as the El Nino is forecasted to strengthen further.

El Nino returns
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15948
575. Greyelf
4:46 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Well this defeats the purpose of ignore. Stop quoting BenBlogger, just ignore.


Can I make a suggestion? For all of you that get your panties in a bunch about someone whom you've ignored being quoted - change your avatar to be a screen capture of your ignored list. That way we'll ALL know who you've ignored and we will still quote people whom we want to anyway. But -- at least you'll know you've done all you can and not have to make yet another post about it.

(Crap. I'll probably get yelled at now for quoting someone on someone else's ignore list.)
Member Since: June 5, 2007 Posts: 18 Comments: 838
574. SavannahStorm
4:43 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
July 31st, 1963, another Arlene:

Link
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 18 Comments: 2343
573. SomeRandomTexan
4:43 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Sorry CTeddy!
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1857
572. atmoaggie
4:42 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
I wuv you, you wuv me, we're expecting severe storms. We'll tell you about your nado warning right after these commercials for the handy hanger.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
571. JRRP
4:41 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Quoting Weather456:


Cape Verde Hurricanes, a very unique term as it does not consider tropical storms.

Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6213
570. SavannahStorm
4:41 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Quoting JRRP:

Anna 1969
Link


1967- Arlene didn't form until August 28th!

Link
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 18 Comments: 2343
569. Cavin Rawlins
4:39 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Quoting JRRP:

Anna 1969
Link


Cape Verde Hurricanes, a very unique term as it does not consider tropical storms.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
568. atmoaggie
4:38 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Quoting bjdsrq:
Just saw on TWC that the biggest jerk in TV weather AL ROKER, is coming to do morning show at the weather channel. NBC bought a big stake in TWC last year and is now pushing their vomitous 'talent' into their programming.

Is that somehow going to make TWC any less useful than it already is? They could have Barney on and it wouldn't change my current opinion of it.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
567. JRRP
4:37 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Quoting Weather456:
A question was ask on my blog: list of first named storms that were cape verde:

Alberto 2000
Andrew 1992
Allen 1980

Anna 1969
Link
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6213
565. JRRP
4:36 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Quoting scott39:
Do not write this off as being a slow season.there wasnt a named storm in 2004 until aug. 1st.

and 1998...1969 as well
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6213
564. Cavin Rawlins
4:36 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
As crazy the GFS is, I'm sure that most of us would welcome it.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
563. CybrTeddy
4:35 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Well this defeats the purpose of ignore. Stop quoting BenBlogger, just ignore.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24576
562. Cavin Rawlins
4:34 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
A question was ask on my blog: list of first named storms that were cape verde:

Alberto 2000
Andrew 1992
Allen 1980
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
561. scott39
4:34 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Do not write this off as being a slow season.there wasnt a named storm in 2004 until aug. 1st.
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 6912
560. SomeRandomTexan
4:28 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Quoting BenBIogger:


Well I am going to stick with this one throughout the season


I will respect your opinion as long as you stick with it and aren't always changing it... remeber what you just said..
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1857
559. hurricane556
4:26 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
12z GFS very bullish with the tropical wave.
http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/carib/gfs/12/model_l.shtml
Member Since: July 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 253
558. bjdsrq
4:24 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Quoting SavannahStorm:


Yea, I saw that. What's worse is his sidekick will be Stephanie Abrams. I'd rather watch a cable-access weather show than that duo.


Abrams and Roker. Talk about an *obnoxious* way to wake up in the morning. BLECH! Roker is going to be a big embarrasement to the real mets that work there.
Member Since: July 26, 2003 Posts: 3 Comments: 428
557. JRRP
4:23 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Quoting A4Guy:


How can you only have 3 named storms if you are calling for 5 hurricanes? You need 5 named storms at a minimum.

i know :P
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6213
556. SavannahStorm
4:20 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Quoting bjdsrq:
Just saw on TWC that the biggest jerk in TV weather AL ROKER, is coming to do morning show at the weather channel. NBC bought a big stake in TWC last year and is now pushing their vomitous 'talent' into their programming.


Yea, I saw that. What's worse is his sidekick will be Stephanie Abrams. I'd rather watch a cable-access weather show than that duo.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 18 Comments: 2343
555. BenBIogger
4:19 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Quoting SomeRandomTexan:


LMBO!

It's not a prediction if it changes daily


Well I am going to stick with this one throughout the season
Member Since: March 19, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1421
554. scott39
4:19 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
is the wave at 55 west toast too?
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 6912
553. Michfan
4:18 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Member Since: September 7, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1747
552. atmoaggie
4:18 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Quoting A4Guy:


How can you only have 3 named storms if you are calling for 5 hurricanes? You need 5 named storms at a minimum.


JRRP knew exactly what he/she was doing.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
551. bjdsrq
4:18 PM GMT on July 09, 2009
Just saw on TWC that the biggest jerk in TV weather AL ROKER, is coming to do morning show at the weather channel. NBC bought a big stake in TWC last year and is now pushing their vomitous 'talent' into their programming.
Member Since: July 26, 2003 Posts: 3 Comments: 428
Quoting atmoaggie:

Yeah. And I am hereby forecasting that most Atlantic hurricanes will have a counter-clockwise rotation, will form between 5 N and 90 N, and almost all hurricanes will have wind speeds of at least 64 knots. Oh and very few, if any, tropical systems will have a cold core.

One more, but this is a reach...all TCs will have clouds.


LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
549. A4Guy
Quoting JRRP:

my prediction now is
3 name storm
5 hurricane
4 major hurricane


How can you only have 3 named storms if you are calling for 5 hurricanes? You need 5 named storms at a minimum.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
14/7/3

That's my count, a (2004) like season, except more action either on the east Coast, or just west of Bermuda.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7437
Quoting BenBIogger:
Alright since El Nino has been declared. I'm going back to my old prediction.

4 named storms
1 hurricane
0 major hurricane








LMBO!

It's not a prediction if it changes daily
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1857
You've gotta love the tap-dancers and number changers. There's still a long road ahead...


The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 18 Comments: 2343
Quoting JRRP:

my prediction now is
3 name storm
5 hurricane
4 major hurricane

Yeah. And I am hereby forecasting that most Atlantic hurricanes will have a counter-clockwise rotation, will form between 5 N and 90 N, and almost all hurricanes will have wind speeds of at least 64 knots. Oh and very few, if any, tropical systems will have a cold core.

One more, but this is a reach...all TCs will have clouds.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
544. JRRP
Quoting Orcasystems:


That would not be a pretty picture.
I assume you are counting on CV storms?

i am just kidding
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6213
Ben you do realize what Alicia did to Texas?

Why are people changing their numbers on July 9th? We are not even near the peak of the season yet, look at weathersp's chart you are changing your frequency of storms on the slowest part of the season??? That makes no sense to me.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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