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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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: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting stormno:
well my friend i hope you like crow and the answer to the african dust no its not going anyway anytime soon...in fact its supposed to increase and grow larger pools....


No, you are completely wrong, African dust does decrease in the peak months of hurricane season, and has bigger outbreaks in June and July, so this is typical of any other season, also you do not need Cape Verde Hurricanes to make it a bad season, in fact 2005 only had 1 cape verde type storm. But, you are certainly wrong, and I am putting you on ignore.
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Quoting Drakoen:
95E showing some good spiral banding:



i think we now have TD 4E soon too be the next name storm
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Quoting Acemmett90:

even weather 456 said to watch it so i going with him on this one


There is no intimidate threat of development from that wave. The chance of it developing maybe slightly higher when it gets in the Western Caribbean in 4 days if conditions are better there by then. But even then I highly doubt it.
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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.

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Quoting Acemmett90:

ok then if the covention goes away i will eat crow


Again,
The convection is not being caused by the wave itself.
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Quoting TexasHurricane:
so is the "dust" and "shear" suppose to lessen any anytime soon? or is this going to be typical throughout the whole season?


Just wait and See
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so is the "dust" and "shear" suppose to lessen any anytime soon? or is this going to be typical throughout the whole season?
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
Portion of the discussion from Houston/Galveston NWS...

By the weekend...the trough shears out leaving a weak inverted trough over the eastern Gulf. The 12z NAM/GFS/ECMWF solutions take this weak low across the Gulf towards the Yucatan
and Bay of Campeche. The GFS is a little farther north than the other solutions and actually tries to bring in precipitation to the Upper Texas coast on sun despite having high pressure and subsidence in the surface to 700mb layer. The NAM/European model (ecmwf) keep this low far enough away that southeast Texas is not expected to see any precipitation chances due to the ridge being strong.
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what are the chances of something spinning up off the tail end of the stalled out front in the gom?
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Quoting Acemmett90:

you might be wrong


Wrong? LOL!!!

The convection on that Rainbow Map you have there is not being caused by the wave. Its being caused by diffluence. Which has nothing to do with TC Genesis.

Also, Go look at a map and see how strong the Wind Shear is in the Caribbean, Go look at how strong the Easterlies are too and tell me again that I'm wrong.

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726. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Joint Typhoon Warning Center

Tropical Cyclone Warning #1
=============================
At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Depression FIVE (NONAME) located at 18.5N 122.3E or 510 NM east-southeast of Hong Kong, China has sustained winds of 25 knots with gusts of 35 knots. The depression is reported as moving west at 14 knots.

Significant wave height associated with 05W is 8 feet
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 46910
95E showing some good spiral banding:
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Guys,
The wave entering the Eastern Caribbean has no threat of developing. At least for the next 4 Days. Conditions are just way too hostile in the Caribbean at this time.
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Quoting stormno:
i dont think anyone will have much of a blog here this hurricanes season...this season will go down as one of the most peaceful seasons on record..it just dont look good for hurricane activity with all these things coming down the pipe..dr gray will have to lower his frecast to no more then 6 storms for this year.well thats great news for the people on the gulf coast and in florida...bad news for the guys who like to chase these storms like myself...you have to take the good with the bad though....


bold - now that's where your wrong. The season is quiet thus far, and I have much to discuss.

Also, I need a link to the model which shows activity in August/September, becuz I cant find any model which shows activity during the peak of 2009.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
717. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
(Earlier today........)

Philippines Atmospherical Geophysical Astronomical Services and Administration

Tropical Depression "GORIO" has accelerated as it continues to threaten Extreme Northern Luzon.

Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #2
========================
At 11:00 PM PhST, Tropical Depression Gorio located at 18.3N 124.0E or 230 kms east of Aparri, Cagayan 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.Isabela
5.Kalinga
6.Apayao
7.Mt. Province
8.Abra
9.Ilocos Sur
10.Ilocos Norte
11.Batanes

Additional Information
=======================
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 5AM tomorrow.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 46910
When will it stop raining in Central Florida? Never? Please I hope they don't scrub STS-127.
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stormno = stormkat.
Flag, ignore, repeat.
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Quoting hurricane23:
I really don't put to much stock in long range forecasts for hurricanes; except for the El Nino factor.If I had to make an entry in a long range forecast betting pool, I would go with an average to slightly below; with the season basically normal until late Sept, early Oct, where it might just end early.

But if the season only had 6 storms, it would not surprise me.And if the season had 13 storms, that would not surprise me either.



Based on current and forecast parameters across the Atlantic Basin, I would be mildly surprised by 13 named storms. Could still be interesting if we get the right timing of system development and periodic blocking across the NW Atlantic. The Southern and Eastern Gulf along with the NW Caribbean area is likely to produce 1-2 storms that will have an impact.
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in the el nino years what has been the least and most amount of storms to form? and intensity?
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
Quoting TexasHurricane:


where is that? in the pacific right?

yep it on WU
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CFS from Earl Barker
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Blog Update
Reflector site for those at work, which includes Weather456, daily updates


AOI

AOI
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26516
where are you seeing the models at? Just curious...
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
2009 the year of

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Obviously not including me.
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


i really doubt it, its too far south, and if it
does get picked up to the north dry air would kill it



to find 95 E, look at the very bottom tip
of the baja peninsula on mexico, and then follow the line downwards..

another thing to note is that the whole state of hawaii is under 60 knots of wind shear.. even if it does make it to hawaii it wont be anything more than a thunderstorm imo. ask the expert for back up bc i could be wrong



Yeah, you're probably right...I was just curious because Iniki (not to drop names or say this will turn out anything like that) followed a somewhat similar path across the Pacific and stayed relatively far to the south, and then curved north suddenly after the ridge over Hawaii weakened. Although the shear and dry air probably weren't present at that time.
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I'm tellin ya, you guys have got to see the GFS results at 9720 hours. Late next August (2010) looks like it will be rough.

(This above statement is indeed a joke about getting excited about long range forecasts. If the GFS were actually run for that long the soil moisture in the Everglades and around Phoenix would probably swap in model land. Everything weather coming from a dynamical model further than 7 days should be treated as absurd, because it likely is.)
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And that's why people shouldn't have access to the CFS.

Including you?
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we now have El Nino

Link
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Quoting Drakoen:


Any body got a year 3000 forecast.


LMBO...nope, but how about a model forecast for the evening of April 8th, 2010 (6648 hrs out) Link
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Quoting all4hurricanes:
The computer models are taking invest 95 all the way to cat 2 with 96 mph


where is that? in the pacific right?
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811

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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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