It’s official: NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says La Niña is back

As we reported on WUWT on August 24th, La Niña is now officially “back” with this press release from NOAA. Hopefully NOAAwatch will finally move the ENSO meter they produce (in the WUWT sidebar) from neutral to something that reflects the press release.

UPDATE: Commenter ChrisY adds:

James “Handcuffs” Hansen ‘nails’ another one of his climate predictions that he made in March 2011.

“Based on subsurface ocean temperatures, the way these have progressed the past several months, and comparisons with development of prior El Niños, we believe that the system is moving toward a strong El Niño starting this summer. It’s not a sure bet, but it is probable.”

Time to hoist the “Mission Accomplished” banner in front of the NASA GISS building.

See also Bob Tisdale’s response.

Contact:  Susan Buchanan                                                     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

301-713-0622, ext. 121                                            September 8, 2011

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center: La Niña is back

La Niña, which contributed to extreme weather around the globe during the first half of 2011, has re-emerged in the tropical Pacific Ocean and is forecast to gradually strengthen and continue into winter. Today, forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center upgraded last month’s La Niña Watch to a La Niña Advisory.

NOAA will issue its official winter outlook in mid-October, but La Niña winters often see drier than normal conditions across the southern tier of the United States and wetter than normal conditions in the Pacific Northwest and Ohio Valley.

“This means drought is likely to continue in the drought-stricken states of Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center. “La Niña also often brings colder winters to the Pacific Northwest and the northern Plains, and warmer temperatures to the southern states.”

Climate forecasts from NOAA’s National Weather Service give American communities advance notice of what to expect in the coming months so they can prepare for potential impacts. This service is helping the country to become a Weather Ready Nation at a time when extreme weather is on the rise.

Seasonal hurricane forecasters factored the potential return of La Niña into NOAA’s updated 2011 Atlantic hurricane season outlook, issued in August, which called for an active hurricane season. With the development of tropical storm Nate this week, the number of tropical cyclones entered the predicted range of 14-19 named storms.

The strong 2010-11 La Niña contributed to record winter snowfall, spring flooding and drought across the United States, as well as other extreme weather events throughout the world, such as heavy rain in Australia and an extremely dry equatorial eastern Africa.

La Niña is a naturally occurring climate phenomenon located over the tropical Pacific Ocean and results from interactions between the ocean surface and the atmosphere. During La Niña, cooler-than-average Pacific Ocean temperatures influence global weather patterns. La Niña typically occurs every three-to-five years, and back-to-back episodes occur about 50 percent of the time. Current conditions reflect a re-development of the June 2010-May 2011 La Niña episode.

NOAA’s National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA’s National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy. Visit us online at weather.gov and on Facebook.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook , Twitter and our other social media channels.

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49 thoughts on “It’s official: NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says La Niña is back

  1. James “Handcuffs” Hansen ‘nails’ another one of his climate predictions that he made in March 2011.

    “Based on subsurface ocean temperatures, the way these have progressed the past several months, and comparisons with development of prior El Niños, we believe that the system is moving toward a strong El Niño starting this summer. It’s not a sure bet, but it is probable.”

    Time to hoist the “Mission Accomplished” banner in front of the NASA GISS building.

  2. On the one hand they state that La NIna ‘results from the interactions between the ocean surface and the atmosphere’ and then say it contributes to extreme weather around the globe. The description seems like a covariance, how does it contribute to anything as opposed to being a result of many dynamics and therefore an indictor of what’s to come?

  3. “La Niña also often brings colder winters to the Pacific Northwest and the northern Plains, and warmer temperatures to the southern states.”

    Emphasis added. I have not done the seasonal break downs, but unless the sign of the effect reverses strongly in the non-winter months in that region, I’ve found typically above average temps during La Nina years in that region:

    No mention seems to be made of the fact that the Entire East Coast tends to be warm during La Nina years, not just southern states, or the fact that some of the Coastal Southwest, not just Pacific Northwest, is colder than normal during La Nina years. NOAA is inaccurately describing the La Nina pattern as far as I can tell. I have used La Nina years that rank in the top twenty when adjusted for long term variation and changing variances. What years do they used for comparisons to get their patterns? I use ENSO years going back to 1895, which is when the US data for temperature and precipitation NOAA publishes starts.

    “La Niña winters often see drier than normal conditions across the southern tier of the United States and wetter than normal conditions in the Pacific Northwest and Ohio Valley.”

    This seems more accurate, for the most part:

    However, I note a few differences:

    When they say dry in the Southern US, this is mainly true of those climate divisions which hug the southern boundaries of the US. Tennessee and Kentucky are “Southern” (one even old Confederacy!) but are if anything wet, not dry. Also, the dry conditions tend to extend somewhat into the plains states North of Texas. By far the strongest relationship of precipitation to ENSO is found in Southern Texas and South Florida (where I live :( ) however. Wet conditions also cover much of the Coast Mid-Atlantic, and substantial parts of New England, except for Massachusetts.

  4. Ferd says: September 8, 2011 at 10:45 am
    The report states that exreme weather is on the rise. Is that actually accurate?

    The U.S. has had 10 extreme weather events with 2 billion plus costs of damages so far in 2011. The previous record was 9, tied once. That’s what I heard on MSNBC, someone correct me if I’m wrong. This sure isn’t good news. The moves up or down have become larger since 2007. So this move down may not bottom for a while. Could even go deeper than the last bottom.

  5. “Based on subsurface ocean temperatures, the way these have progressed the past several months, and comparisons with development of prior El Niños, we believe that the system is moving toward a strong El Niño starting this summer. It’s not a sure bet, but it is probable.” James “Jimbo” Hansen, 2011.

    Yet another high quality Climate Product ™ from NASA/GISS :)

  6. “Climate forecasts from NOAA’s National Weather Service give American communities advance notice of what to expect in the coming months so they can prepare for potential impacts. This service is helping the country to become a Weather Ready Nation at a time when extreme weather is on the rise.”
    ===========
    1) Define “extreme weather”.
    2) Show me some data to support the claim: “extreme weather is on the rise”.
    3) I have a brand new snow shovel, 4×4 SUV, 150 foot high-tension tower/lightning rod within about 130 feet of my home, and flood waters have stayed 6-8 feet below my elevation for the past 48 years. Tornadoes are a cause for concern, but I have a crawlspace.
    I have at least 4 radar/weather websites bookmarked which I check religiously, lest I miss some exciting weather.
    Does this qualify me to be part of your “Weather Ready Nation” ?
    Please ?

  7. That will make 3 out of the past 5 winters feature a big La Nina. All of the preliminary winter forecasts released so far are for an exceptionally cold, snowy winter in the Northwest, Upper Midwest, Great Lakes and Northeast. The highlights of the last 4 winters (the coldest winter in 30 years last year, heavy snow all years, 2nd place 71% Snow cover in U.S. last year, -50F temperatures, frequent freezing down to Mexica and Florida, ice dams on roofs, wind, blizzards, etc.) will continue this winter? Deep solar minimum continues to create a cooling Earth, and natural 30 year Ocean cycles have moved to the downward temperature trend. Next in the news: 600 mb. temperatures are scary cold.

  8. Twiggy says: “On the one hand they state that La NIna ‘results from the interactions between the ocean surface and the atmosphere’ and then say it contributes to extreme weather around the globe. The description seems like a covariance, how does it contribute to anything as opposed to being a result of many dynamics and therefore an indictor of what’s to come?”

    There are many persons who misunderstand ENSO and trreat it as an index, including some climate scientists. It is a process. Refer to:

    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/enso-indices-do-not-represent-the-process-of-enso-or-its-impact-on-global-temperature/

  9. Glad NOAA decided to catch up to the rest of us.

    Though we’re in La Nina territory, this will be a mild one IF the trade winds don’t pick up and the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) doesn’t reach the heights of earlier this year. Currently it’s just above neutral.
    If the winds do pick up, we’re in for another strong one.

    Usually during La Ninas, warm Pacific waters are pushed up against the coasts of Australia and Papua New Guinea. Currently there is very little warm water near the Aust. Coast. A strong La Nina accompanied by strong trade winds may push cooler waters through to the Indian Ocean.

    No chance of an El Nino now until at least the middle of January 2012

    My opinion only

  10. That sidebar meter isn’t likely to change anytime soon, at least not if it’s based on the CPC’s ONI, which came out this week pegged at 0.0 for a second month in a row; won’t be another update to the ONI until October. The weekly values are still shifting from neutral to negative:

    Niño 4 …… -0.2°C
    Niño 3.4 … -0.6°C
    Niño 3 …… -0.5°C
    Niño 1+2 .. -0.7°C

    The monthly values, posted at the beginning of each month for the preceding three month intervals are:

    Jul … -0.2
    Aug .. 0.0
    Sep .. 0.0

    Again, this is all thrashed out in:

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf

  11. “La Nina is a naturally occurring phenomena”

    Is that because no one has yet managed to link it to CO2?

    Why can’t climate change also be a naturally occurring phenomena?

  12. >> Ed Mertin says:
    September 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    That’s what I heard on MSNBC, someone correct me if I’m wrong. <<

    Listening to MSNBC is very very wrong.

  13. Congrats on the forecast, all who got it right! I must say, I didn’t think La Nina would pull of the hat-trick.
    As one of those who lives in the Pacific Northwest, (BC) i think it will be nice to get a white Christmas. Living on the coast here doesn’t bring much variation in weather or climate, so I’m looking forward to the good ol’ white stuff. Now driving in it is another matter.

  14. Of course, this means they’ll continue to heap praise and awards on Hansen; they do that for people who are consistently wrong, as long as they’re attempting to spell doom.

  15. I think it is only necessary now to refer to James Handcuffs. Hilarious … no need for the redundant “Hansen”.

  16. As a follow on to my earlier comment, NOAA has updated the ENSO meter … today. So I’m guessing that it’ll sit firmly at 0 for another month.

  17. With the development of tropical storm Nate this week, the number of tropical cyclones entered the predicted range of 14-19 named storms.
    NOAA Press release

    One might wonder, then, about this graph:

    . . . that seems to suggest the high end (19) could be way low.

  18. scarletmacaw says: September 8, 2011 at 3:20 pm >>
    That’s what I heard on MSNBC, someone correct me if I’m wrong. << Listening to MSNBC is very very wrong.

    Yep, I know what you are saying… It was CNBC, not MSNBC, oops

  19. @Phil Jourdan: La Nina DOES threaten life and property. Heavy snow and deep cold are deadly. Collapsed roofs, heart attacks while shoveling, power outages, hypothermia.

    Came damn close to killing me in 2008.

  20. If indeed we are due for another round of La Nina, this is more opportunity for additional heat storage in the Pacific warm pool, meaning of course, more potential heat to be released in the next El Nino (winter 2012-2013?). And any heat not fully released then may very well slosh back west in an ensuing El Nino Modoki.

  21. chris y says:
    September 8, 2011 at 10:58 am
    James “Handcuffs” Hansen ‘nails’ another one of his climate predictions that he made in March 2011.

    You might say he is hoisted by his own petard of CO2.

  22. R. Gates says:
    September 8, 2011 at 7:06 pm
    If indeed we are due for another round of La Nina, this is more opportunity for additional heat storage in the Pacific warm pool, meaning of course, more potential heat to be released in the next El Nino (winter 2012-2013?). And any heat not fully released then may very well slosh back west in an ensuing El Nino Modoki.”

    Or we could have yet another La Nina after this one! Of course, that is just unfounded speculation, like your 7:06pm ‘may very well’ conjecture.

  23. Strange are the arguments between La this and El that. Do you really care that much over such acclamations??!

    20 years ago a prediction for this year would have been suicidal. Predicting 2012-2013 is not much different. Predicting next month matters not, nor tomorrow.

  24. R. Gates,

    Check out the history of the La Nina’s of the 1950′s on page 24 at

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf

    Everyone seems to think the second dip of a double-dip La Nina must be weaker, however the April 1954 to January 1957 La Nina not only had a stronger second dip, but it was also a triple dipper.

    You are likely expecting a rebound such as the hefty El Nino which occurred April 1957 to June
    1958, but please notice that was followed by a solid five years where the index stayed mostly on the negative side of neutral, without ever quite achieving La Nina status (except for a short, weak one in 1962.)

    Forgive me for cherry picking, but the period from January 1952 to June 1963 represents 137 months, only 14 of which had “official” El Nino conditions.

    My guess would be that the “heat storage” you refer to works differently when the PDO is cold.

  25. I’m sure we still have more to learn about what switches El Ninos to La Ninas, and La Ninas to El Ninos. However it does seem La Ninas get stronger during the northern winters. What is the current explaination for this?

  26. NOAA were fast out the holster to report weakening la nina ~ strengthening el nino. Funny that their auto update breaks down when la-nina strengthens.
    Maybe they never thought to program that in. El-nino can only strengthen in a world of run away global warming.
    Their system has crashed. Microsoft blue screens etc with engineers at a loss to figure out whats gone wrong. They’ll never figure it out. And any staff that suggest it’s because la-nina has strengthened will get the sack. xD

  27. >>Ecotretas says September 8, 2011 at 10:41 am
    >>Gosh,
    >>That probably means that the Horn of Africa will not get the promised
    >>IPCC rainfall. A lot of people is dying, and many more are going to die there.

    Mainly because they trebled their population over the last 50 years. It is not the West’s duty to feed the Third World, if they cannot control their populations. Why should the responsible continually prop up the irresponsible?

    .

    Regards the La Nina, the last one seemed to push Europe’s weather systems 700km further south.

    Thus the summer storms over the very north of Scotland are now running through northern Europe, giving wet and windy summers. But these low-pressure systems always drop south in the winter. So now the winter storms over the UK end up in the Mediterranean, and the UK gets high pressure systems and very cold winters.

    Standby for another cold winter in N Europe.

    .

  28. Caleb says:
    September 9, 2011 at 12:10 am

    I’m sure we still have more to learn about what switches El Ninos to La Ninas, and La Ninas to El Ninos. However it does seem La Ninas get stronger during the northern winters. What is the current explaination for this?

    Time to dig in my archive. This might be a good start for you to understand:

    http://www.john-daly.com/sun-enso/sun-enso.htm

    http://bourabai.narod.ru/landscheidt/links.htm

    Not published, but despite, El Ninos are calculatable from Sun activity.

    In my opinion, Theodor Landscheidt was a great man, who was able to think logically and kept all things in perspective without models. His documentations are good and easy stuff to read.

    I continued his work for my private purpose and actual SOI graph can be found here

  29. @polistra says:
    September 8, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    It does not in and of itself do those things. it causes those things to happen. But there is no set time for the effects to take place, so unlike a hurricane, tornado or blizzard, having a “watch/warning” system for La Nina or El Nino seems to be a bit hysterical. Having them for the effects of La Nina or El Nino is another matter entirely.

  30. Ferd says:
    “The report states that exreme weather is on the rise. Is that actually accurate?”

    Perhaps they meant to write “the observation and/or proclamation of extreme weather is on the rise”

    It’s akin to the old “tree falling in the forest” koan.

  31. Seriously, NOAA has been very bad in their pre-season forecasts of hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin for the last three years. I wouldn’t take much stock in their predictions now!

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