Modiki El Niños and Atlantic hurricane activity

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

Share this Blog
6
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 793 - 743

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23Blog Index

Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Today was my date for first storm. Those cyclogenesis rays from Mars need to get started!


Nope, not on WU :)

StSimonsIslandGAGuy,12,7,3,0,7-12
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
BTW the wave the EURO and GFS wants to develop and destroy in days lol, it look pretty good on satellite :)

Would not be surprised to see a storm like Debby (2006) form, where it forms then weakens, although it won't move as far north as Debby did.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting help4u:
What is the latest date of the first storm.Look's like their will be none in july.Have we ever went through August without a storm?


September 14th, that happened in the slowest season on record, 1914
What is the latest date of the first storm.Look's like their will be none in july.Have we ever went through August without a storm?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
789. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
kind of slow everywhere in the northern hemisphere

Pacific East - 4 cyclones
Atlantic - 1 cyclone
India - 3 cyclones (2 named)
Pacific West (JMA) - 4 cyclones, (JTWC) - 5 cyclones, (PAGASA) - 7 cyclones
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting reedzone:
I think we should pay attention to the GOM next week if the EURO keeps developing this, first run so far.. EURO is pretty good on these things. Oh and for the downcasters, shove it! You will all be wrong and we will have about 14 storms, probably 5-7 hurricanes, and 2 or 3 of them could be major.


what is suppose to be in the gulf? going where?
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
And the funny thing is, ENSO is not even affecting the Atlantic currently, since the atmopsheric component is not established.

LOL, no ones wants that. For some is either now or never. Impatience is growing each and every day and leading to some of the most ridiculous speculations. July 10 is 2mr which is the average date of the 1st named storm. By Monday ppl will be leaving for good with one or 2 left by the end of the month.

July makes me 4 years here, been here since the blogs started. This is the first year I have seen this on the blog. Interestingly, this is the first time on the blogs the season started so late. People's perception of a normal hurricane season have been damaged severely by recent years.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
About 8% of all named storms to form have formed before this date, 8%

think about that
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Maybe cyclonebuster has secretly deployed his tunnels to prevent the hurricane season....


Possible... lol
Member Since: May 18, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 1042
I smell them too Taz....they smell like bacon...

:)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting BurnedAfterPosting:
For those who are lurking, these people who are making these predictions of 4 named storms are only doing it, to get people riled up, they are using no evidence to back their predictions up.



Wise
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I think we should pay attention to the GOM next week if the EURO keeps developing this, first run so far.. EURO is pretty good on these things. Oh and for the downcasters, shove it! You will all be wrong and we will have about 14 storms, probably 5-7 hurricanes, and 2 or 3 of them could be major.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting AllStar17:
Acemmett90

Just another troll.......ignore.

Troll city today on this blog.


no BeBIogger should be a troll. I wouldn't count off the season. It's only july people. Show some patience. I know it's hard to be patient but the time will come. We're what? not even a quarter of a way through the season. And you guys are already impatient. Just wait, perhaps come august this blog will be an anthill. The time will come, just show some patience.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
For those who are lurking, these people who are making these predictions of 4 named storms are only doing it, to get people riled up, they are using no evidence to back their predictions up.

am forcasting 90 name storms 70 hurrianes and 50 cat 3 or stronger hurricane
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114760
777. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
heh

maybe this is the year that the Atlantic hurricane season starts in August.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
4 storms 0 hurricanes top wind speed 50 miles an hour and a fish storm to top it off.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
i small trolls
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114760
772. IKE
Quoting stormno:
the ssp are high everywhere and the sst are at best normal with all this wind shear in the gom and caribbean i just dont see anything happening major in the us...im not saying storms wont develop off the african coast and then become fish storms...guys that is basically what you are looking at this season...Stormno


I know who you are...hey stormtop.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting scott39:
Why are some of pulling a # out of your..... and trying to forcast how many storms there will be? ITS ONLY JULY 9TH I REPEAT ITS ONLY JULY 9TH. YOU SOUND LIKE COMPLETE MORONS!!!!


LOUDER!!!!!!!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
769. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
lol

how many of us has lost the game, already?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Why are some of pulling a # out of your..... and trying to forcast how many storms there will be? ITS ONLY JULY 9TH I REPEAT ITS ONLY JULY 9TH. YOU SOUND LIKE COMPLETE MORONS!!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
763. DDR
Quoting Weather456:
One thing I hope for the future is Regional Weather Service for the Caribbean.

True, radar would be helpful right about now,i think were going to get a pretty nasty squall line within 2 hours.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
762. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)


A fast system must be late for some appointment. =P

the next advisory at 3:00 am may be the last advisory, LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
One thing I hope for the future is Regional Weather Service for the Caribbean.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The EURO wants to develop and really tighten up a small tropical cyclone in the GOM then race it towards the Carolinas
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Acemmett90:

2004


2004 had more than 6 Storms. lol
Member Since: May 18, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 1042
Quoting AllStar17:
Acemmett90

Just another troll.......ignore.

Troll city today on this blog.


I agree.
Member Since: May 18, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 1042
Acemmett90

Just another troll.......ignore.

Troll city today on this blog.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting AllStar17:


Why do you say that?


Jim Cantore busting out the door like a boxer going into the ring with his poncho and microphone....Lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Acemmett90:

2004


2004 type season will not happen




Member Since: Posts: Comments:
754. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Philippines Atmospherical Geophysical Astronomical Services and Administration

Tropical Depression "GORIO" has slightly accelerated and is now crossing the Babuyan Group Of Islands.

Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #3
========================
At 5:00 AM PhST, Tropical Depression Gorio (05W) located at 19.3ºN 121.0ºE or in the vicinity of Calayan Island has 10 minute sustained winds of 55 km/h (30 knots).

Signal Warnings
=================

Signal Warning #1 (30-60 kph winds)

Luzon Region
1.Cagayan
2.Calayan group of Islands
3.Babuyan group of Islands
4.Kalinga
5.Apayao
6.Abra
7.Ilocos Sur
8.Ilocos Norte
9.Batanes

Additional Information
=======================
Public Storm Warning Signal elsewhere now lowered.
TD "GORIO" is expected to enhance the southwest monsoon and bring rains over the western section of Luzon and Western Visayas.

Residents in low lying areas and near mountain slopes are advised to take all the necessary precautions against possible flashfloods and landslides.

The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions and watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 11 AM today.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting leftovers:
weather channel has really stepped it up this yr their hurricane coverage should be good


Why do you say that?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
there are some idiocrats who are on here who everyone should just ignore... they are here for one reason and one reason only... to get people riled up... They act like they know everything about TC formation but in fact they are less knowledgable than what they call the newbies... so please ignore him
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1837
Looks like season will be a bust.Ukmet office say's 6 very weak storms or less.Will this mean next season will pick back up?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
748. DDR
Good evening,
Heavy thunderstorms are just east of Trinidad and tobago at this moment,looks nasty...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Obviously not including me

Why not? You are "people" like the majority of folks on this blog. There are just a few experts or mets who carry a degree.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
746. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
wow Gorio is accelerating will it make to tropical storm before landfall near Hong Kong. O_o
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting AllStar17:
Invest 95E certainly looking like a developing cyclone. Good spiral banding, good circulation, some deep convection. On it's way to being TD 4-E, and probably even a Tropical Storm. We also now have Tropical Depression Five in the WPAC, will probably become a Tropical Storm.

Models also being very bullish, making 95E a Category 2 'cane.



I can see it as a cat 1, maybe a 2. depending on how fast its moving towards the dust, it looks like its going to be moving right in between the two areas of dry/stable air. but it will still probably suck the dry air in.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Weather456:


LOL, no ones wants that. For some is either now or never. Impatience is growing each and every and leading to some of the most ridiculous speculations. July 10 is 2mr which is the average date of the 1st named storm. By Monday ppl will be leaving for good.


This is the first year I have seen this on the blog. July makes me 4 years here, since the blogs started. Interestingly, this is the first time on the blogs the season started so late. People perception of a normal hurricane season have damaage severly by recent years.


I agree 100%, the overactivity of the last few years has really clouded their judgement
Quoting 2010hurricane:


Just wait and See


LOL, no ones wants that. For some is either now or never. Impatience is growing each and every day and leading to some of the most ridiculous speculations. July 10 is 2mr which is the average date of the 1st named storm. By Monday ppl will be leaving for good with one or 2 left by the end of the month.

July makes me 4 years here, been here since the blogs started. This is the first year I have seen this on the blog. Interestingly, this is the first time on the blogs the season started so late. People's perception of a normal hurricane season have been damaged severely by recent years.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 793 - 743

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Light Rain
60 °F
Light Rain Mist