4 Warn Weather

Most of the time, Warm for the Remainder of August; & the Latest on El Nino

August 13th, 2015 at 10:34 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

Longer range global model averages favor above normal temperatures much of the time for the next 2 weeks. There may be occasional brief cooler periods, as was the case on the 12th and 13th, but warmer high pressure aloft will favor readings running above normal for this time of the year for the majority of the remainder of the month. The period from Friday the 14th into next week will be a warm one, with maybe a hint of minor cooling midweek, next week, but then warming is likely to resume later next week. Odds also weakly favor above average precipitation in the Great Lakes, but these indicators are hazier and less well defined than those indicators for temperatures.

The warm period we’re about to enter is not connected in any measurable way with our currently vigorous el nino. El nino’s impacts in the summer months tend to produce wind shear and sinking air over the Atlantic hurricane basin, and reduced tropical cyclone activity. A summer el nino has little known effect on our weather in this part of the country. El nino’s main impacts occur in the late autumn and winter, if it is a strong el nino. Although most models which deal with ENSO, the El Nino Southern Oscillation,  project a strong el nino to be likely in the late autumn and winter, some of us (myself included!) have been overly confident of the likely impacts here and in the far west.

In fact, there are quite a number of other variables in the atmosphere and in the interface between the Pacific surface and the atmosphere which can change the impacts of even an unusually strong el nino. While odds favor a dent being made in the terrible CA drought by Pacific storms, a strong el nino in the winter of 1965-66 did not produce that heavy rainfall. And, while odds favor milder temperatures in the north central and NE U.S. during a strong el nino, there are other oscillations over both the eastern Pacific and the North Atlantic which can lessen those impacts, too. At this time, I would say probabilities of a milder winter this coming season than during the last 2 very harsh winters are higher, but far from conclusively high.

A detailed explanation appears in the article below written for informed laypeople. We have to communicate uncertainty where we know it to exist. To knowingly hide uncertainty is just plain bad science:


“Clickable” link appears in 1st comment below.

Below Average Temps hang in for awhile, but this doesn’t signal an Early End to Summer

August 3rd, 2015 at 9:46 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

With the advertised cooler than average pattern setting in for this week, I’ve already seen a few Facebook comments  complaining we’ve had no summer. Yes, June was disappointing with above average rainfall and below average temperatures (after a warmer than average May). July, however, has not mirrored June in any way. Buffalo’s average temperature for July was about normal (-.1 degree), and rainfall was .81″ below average.

As for the cool pattern which will dominate this week, nothing about it is extreme. There are indications temperatures will be close to normal again by early next week, with a little moderation during this weekend. (The average high this time of year is about 80.) In other words, readings currently look to be comfortable next week, and milder than this week.

We have reached the season when Lake Erie can act as a heat “source” (it emits energy) rather than a heat “sink” (it absorbs energy). That means that with the lake at 75, there will be occasions in which the lake’s warmth combined with an upper level disturbance and a low level SW flow will produce lake effect rain if the air above the lake going up to a mile or so is cool. At the time of this posting–Monday evening–there may be favorable conditions Tuesday night for some limited lake effect RAIN showers. Nothing surprising about this–it happens every year, without exception.

El nino continues to hold steady as vigorous and likely to remain strong into the winter. If that verifies, that favors milder temperatures in our part of the country and makes a winter like the last 2 unlikely. Ties to snowfall are weaker, especially for the east coast. A strong el nino would also favor the extreme drought in the west, especially California, to take a needed hit. Unfortunately, there may be a price to pay. Denuded hills from wildfires can be prone to destructive mudslides. Some Pacific storms favored in a strong el nino can produce major land and property damage. We’ll keep you updated.

The Heat Won’t be Hanging Around for TOO Long

July 27th, 2015 at 9:49 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

As hot as we are, and as hot as we’ll be through midweek, some relief (for those who don’t like it) will be coming in stages beginning later this week. We haven’t hit 90 officially since July 16, 2013. But we’ve got a good shot at meeting or exceeding that mark by Tuesday and/or Wednesday this week. We made it to 89 on Monday, tying for the hottest day this year with a day in early May. With a warm ridge of high pressure stacked up in the atmosphere, a little further heating will occur along with a gradual increase in humidity. One positive: the humidity is unlikely to reach such an oppressive level such that the NWS would have to issue a Heat Advisory, let alone a Warning. It will be hot and humid to be sure, but not the stickiest airmass of the season. One negative: Ventilation will be quite poor. Surface winds will remain light into Wednesday, so there will be little in the way of a helpful breeze. Please keep an eye on the elderly, infants and pets the next few days. If you must work outside, drink water BEFORE you feel thirst. Dehydration can set in quickly in the heat. By the time thirst increases you could already be headed for trouble if you’re perspiring heavily. Cool water is the best fluid you can drink in most cases. Alcohol (read Beer) is a diuretic, and you will lose more fluid than you take in.

As for that relief, a weak cold front will cross our region by early Thursday, accompanied by just a few showers & tshowers. Rainfall will be in short supply this week into the weekend, so watering your garden is highly advised. Behind this cold front, temperatures will slip back a few degrees, and humidity will drop off to moderate levels. But high temperatures will still be a little above average  (the average is 80) by a few degrees even behind the front. A stronger cold front will be approaching on Monday.

Extended range computer guidance shows good agreement on a cooler than average pattern for the Great Lakes to set up and strengthen for at least several days after August 4th out to about 2 weeks.

Mostly Midsummer Warmth rather than a heat wave

July 21st, 2015 at 10:48 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

As I post this on a Tuesday night, we’re feeling the effects of a seasonably cool and dry ridge of high pressure which will gradually give way to seasonable warmth during the upcoming weekend. Temperatures will run a little below average until Friday and then climb a little above average Saturday into early next week. Deterministic/operational models show poor agreement on timing and impact from a disturbance which will bring some scattered convection to the region, probably beginning late Saturday night into parts of Sunday. Behind that disturbance, readings will remain seasonably mild on Monday. In the ensembles, upper level high pressure may briefly bulge toward the Ohio Valley next Tuesday and Wednesday bringing fairly typical midsummer warmth/heat. We haven’t had a 90 degree day at the airport in a little more than 2 years, and there are no 90s in my line of sight over the next 2 weeks. Those ensembles show the upper level ridge rebuilding to the west the following week, which would return a more NWly steering flow across the Great Lakes. That would cut us off from any true heat, but there are no signs of temps falling much below average at that time.

In the meantime, the stretch lasting into Saturday evening will be one of the longer dry periods we’ve had since at least June, and give muddy yards and fields some drying-out time. Lake Erie is at 71, 1 degree below average. The average highest temp for the lake is 73, with records going back to 1927. Of course, the lake temps has gone quite a bit higher some years, having hit 80 a couple of times. But at this stage of the game, unless we get a major pattern shift we are unlikely to see significantly anomalous warm lake temps this summer.

El Nino continues to strengthen and there is good agreement among many models that el nino will be strong late this summer into the winter. That would, as I’ve posted a number of times, make another colder than average winter unlikely in this part of the country. In fact, a strong el nino in the late autumn and winter would increase probabilities for above average temperatures. The tie to snowfall is more tenuous, especially along the Atlantic seaboard, so I won’t be speculating on that at this time.

Some Summer Mugginess drops back midweek and likely returns this Weekend followed by some cooling next week

July 6th, 2015 at 11:56 am by under 4 Warn Weather

A cold front preceded by some showers and tstorms Tuesday night will usher in a more comfortable airmass Wednesday. (Some of those tstorms may contain downpours and gusty winds). A more comfortable airmass will filter in on Wednesday, with a chance of some tstorms Thursday depending on the track of a disturbance reaching the southern Great Lakes. By this weekend, a warm ridge of high pressure will briefly build toward Kentucky & the lower Ohio Valley sending some warmth and humidity back into our region. At the time of this posting (Monday AM), there are hints some spotty thundershowers may develop during afternoon heating this weekend, but the signals for that are not clearcut. So, it appears both days for the Taste of Buffalo will be warm and on the muggy side. Next week, around Tue-Wed, a trough will redevelop near the Great Lakes bringing a somewhat cooler NW flow aloft, and taking temps below the average high of 80-81 for several days. A NW flow can bring disturbances triggering occasional showers & tshowers every few days. However, it’s early to speculate about any timing for disturbances which don’t exist yet.

In the tropics, tropical development remains unlikely in the Atlantic hurricane basin. Sea surface temperatures are below average off west Africa and the environment is quite unfavorable in the east Atlantic at this time. Saharan dust is also being carried in tropical easterlies which further degrades that environment well west. Finally, moderate el nino conditions continue and such an el nino produces winds aloft over the tropical Atlantic which make organized tropical systems much less likely.

No midsummer heat in sight, but temperatures like last weekend’s aren’t in sight, either

June 29th, 2015 at 10:31 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

I’ve seen some long range outlooks issued in the private sector which seem to give the impression the rest of this summer will tend to be a write off. I think some of what I’m seeing is overstated and oversimplified. The MEAN for July, when tabulated, will probably show a tendency toward some troughing in the east and more ridging in the west. But the mean is a broad brush set of values which mask the details of our shorter term weather patterns.  For example, the 32 day European 500 mb ensemble mean shows some periods during July in which heights rise in the east, and some warmer temperatures would be likely to return, particularly later in the month. The CFS has somewhat similar tendencies in the extended range. I’m not seeing signs of a return to a strong, lasting eastern ridge as we experienced for a large part of May, true. And so I have no reason to see a flip flop over to an extended period of hot weather in our region. (I will not speculate on August & September). That there are tendencies for a western ridge/eastern trough to rebuild over time is not to be denied at this stage. For example, the European mean shows a deep trough returning to the east in mid-July, toward the 17th. But it also shows rising 500mb heights starting to develop later in the month. As for precipitation, troughing in the east does favor more episodic short wave passages. But the location of the axis of that troughing and its amplitude will be key to how much rainfall occurs and how often. This last weekend was a truly unusual event for this time of the year, statistically…a rarity even with the western ridge/eastern trough tendency.

As for ENSO, moderate el nino conditions persist, with nino region 3.4 again showing a positive anomaly of 1.4 degrees…no intensification in the last 2 weeks. The MJO is active and expected to strengthen even more over the next 1-2 weeks. CPC feels the greatest impact from the MJO will be an increase in SW and NW Pacific tropical cyclone activity. The propagation to the east is likely to stop. The MJO is still considered to be interfering with the impact of el nino at this time, not that el nino would have a major impact in the summer in our region.

A More Active Pattern Continues, and More on El Nino

June 15th, 2015 at 10:26 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

I suspect all but Rip Van Winkle have noticed we’ve been in a more active pattern with more frequent rounds of convection crossing parts of the region. There is more to come into at least this weekend, with less clarity showing for next week. The nature of the convective beast is uneven coverage, uncertain intensity, and different timing and pathways between the number of high resolution models in play. Global models have improved resolution from a few years back, but they are not a substitute for the high-res mesoscale/close-in models when you get closer to each event. Later this week, the moisture surging into SE TX and SW LA from a vigorous tropical disturbance (as of Monday evening) in the NW Gulf will curl around the warm SE ridge and move toward the Ohio Valley. Current indications point to this main surge staying south of our region, after producing potentially serious flooding in parts of the western Gulf states and Miss Valley. We can be grateful for that trajectory. In the mean over the next couple of weeks, the 500mb flow will be more zonal than not. Short waves embedded in that flow will be difficult to discern more than a few days in advance. There are signs that this week and coming weekend will be wetter than at least the first half of next week. There are no signs of any unusual cooling, but heights may lower over the Great Lakes for a few days early next week, bringing some cooling. Average high as of June 15 is 75 and the average low is 57. Lake Erie has slipped to 59, which is -2. June temps thus far are not far from average.

As for ENSO, el nino continues to be at moderate intensity currently. Key region 3.4 has a positive anomaly of 1.3 degrees having slipped to 1.2 degrees the previous week. More models are now pointing toward a potential Strong el nino, with 90% confidence of el nino continuing through the rest of the year, and 85% confidence it will continue through next winter. Duration is less uncertain than intensity, even with more models leaning toward moderate to strong, and more toward strong than in at any time in this recent cycle. In general, the amplitude/strength of el nino is expected to increase by mid and late summer from where it is now. A strong el nino is often associated with warmer than average temperatures across the northern tier of the lower 48. Precipitation is less certain. Some of memories of the destructive Pacific storms focus on the el ninos of 82-83 in CA, and again in 97-98. That part of the country desperately needs rain. The destructive aspects of a strong el nino are far from a given, as no 2 el ninos are the same…and no 2 Strong el ninos are the same. So, a moderate to strong el nino increases probabilities for a wetter and perhaps stormier winter in CA & the SW, but does not make such a pattern inevitable. An el nino as strong as the extremely anomalous 97-98 event would increase those odds. At this point, only one outlier model out of many is showing such an extreme solution.

What I can say at this early point is that if el nino remains at its current intensity or strengthens further (as is favored in many models), the probability of having extreme cold winters in our part of the country as per the last 2 winters goes down sharply. Snowfall projections are more difficult, and a warmer winter than the last 2, if realized, does not guarantee a big snow drought here or along the NE coast.

Finally, the el nino of moderate or greater intensity lessens the likelihood of a busy Atlantic hurricane season, while it increases activity in the eastern and central Pacific. As I pointed out in an earlier thread, however, killer Hurricane Andrew occurred during a vigorous el nino.

The Warmth will be Winning into mid-June

May 25th, 2015 at 9:31 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

After Saturday morning (May 23) frost vanished, the warmth began to arrive on Sunday. It will hang around much of the time well into June, with only occasional interruptions. Looking at the overall distribution of atmospheric heights/pressure at the 500 mb level in ensemble means over the next 14-16 days, there are no signs of a fundamental, lasting pattern shift going back to a western ridge/eastern trough. The strength of ridging in the east will certainly weaken at times, and not measure up to mid-summer heights much of the time. However, we will have above average temperatures all this week, with a brief but very noticeable interruption later Saturday night into Sunday. With a prevailing SW flow much of the week, the metro area will be a little cooler than areas farther inland or closer to Lake Ontario (typical late spring climatology for a SW flow). A stronger cold front will cross the region Saturday into Saturday night, giving us our best opportunity for more widespread showers & tshowers. The models are not in very good agreement over how much drying will occur on Sunday or when the drying will occur. The ensembles point to some rebuilding of heights beginning all over again the following week.

Soil moisture is deficient north of the southern tier. As of Monday, May 25th, rainfall at the airport (which is fairly representative of the Niagara Frontier) was only .73″ with the average/normal being 2.01″. For the year, we are also more than 1/3 below average.  Coverage for the work week’s convection looks spotty to me, and sparse at times. If we fail to pick up much in the way of widespread showers with the weekend cold front, conditions for growers will continue to deteriorate without irrigation.

Brief Cooldown, Another Warmup, Another Cooldown…and so on

May 12th, 2015 at 10:38 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

As of this posting–Tuesday night, May 12–we are in the midst of a fairly sharp cooldown from the sultry conditions we had for several consecutive days,  including the 88 degree record highs last Friday and Saturday. There will probably be some patchy inland frost and even some light freeze conditions  Wednesday night, with the freeze confined to areas Well S & SE.  But another gradual warmup will return by Friday into next Monday, followed by another cooldown (probably not quite as sharp as this cooldown). In other words, ups and downs. The downs will tend to be of shorter duration than the ups, and the next few ups do not currently appear to be quite so warm as what occurred late last week and this past weekend.

Until Tuesday of this week, May had been a Much Warmer than average month, with well below average rainfall. The extended range computer guidance suggests after another strong ridge develops Sunday into Monday ahead of the next cold front, the amplitude of the coming ups and downs will be a little flatter over the next couple of weeks. Part of that flatter tendency shows up because what we call ensembles of computer models (many runs of the same model, but each with slightly different initial conditions in each run because we can never “know” the precise initial condition of the atmosphere) tend to smooth the many individual runs of each model into a lower amplitude mean solution. (i.e., the European model ensemble–the most sophisticated of any global model–has 51 runs, compared to 21 runs for the American and Canadian model ensembles…much more supercomputer crunch power.)

Still, if I were a gambling man, I’d bet May will end up warmer than average, as was April. But we may not have as long a stretch of warm days as we had during the first 11 days of May.

El Nino conditions continue, currently showing characteristics of a Moderate el nino. One longer range US model and its ensemble projects a Strong el nino to develop by June-July and into the autumn and early winter. There are a number of meteorological pundits who have been trumpeting that a strong el nino tends to produce a cooler and wetter than average summer in the NE. Yet when I scour the data and climate records, I find only weaker evidence to support this–especially the wetter part. We do know that a moderate to strong el nino tends to disrupt the development of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic. Some experimental longer range models do suggest periods of cooler weather for parts of June and July, along with warmer periods. In other words, more ups and downs. El nino’s main effects are in the cold weather months,  and not nearly so much in the warm weather months.

Not Summery just yet, but some Genuine Improvement is unfolding.

April 27th, 2015 at 10:33 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

Bottom line, if you don’t want to wade through all the esoteric stuff below is this: After a chilly Monday April 27, temperatures will be more seasonable and occasionally warmer than average this week and next week. Cloud cover and precipitation chances are much more uncertain later this week and early next week. But the overall pattern seems to be evolving to one in which colder Canadian air will tend to stay farther north most of the time. Now the esoteric stuff for my fellow weather nerds, and for courageous folks who want to try wading into a semi-technical discussion with model acronyms and the like.

In general, a far from foolproof pattern is in the works for this week, especially later on in the week, as far as cloud cover and minor precipitation goes. Models show fairly poor agreement on seemingly minor features in our region. The operational GFS is hypersensitive to spotty light rainfall in recent runs, and is pessimistic to that extent. The ECMWF has its problematical periods as well, but is not as pessimistic overall as is the GFS, nor is the GEM.

All those smaller uncertainties aside, there is decent agreement of seasonable temperatures (average high is now 60 as of the 27th) and occasionally above average temperatures holding sway most of the time into next week. We’re not yet looking at a return to mid and upper 70s in the near future. But there should be highs of 60 or higher most days, once you get away from the cooler lakeshores. There may be some days where upper 60s could be reached. Cold fronts will usher in only Pacific air with the arctic connection now lost. Ensemble means are showing less persistent ridging in the Canadian west, and less troughing near the Great Lakes, out to 16 days.

In the longer term, the ECMWF 32 day ensemble mean still has some ups and downs, but fewer downs in today’s run than in last week’s runs. The CFS v2 also has more ups than downs.

El Nino showed more strengthening this past week. For the first time this year, key Nino region 3.4 reached a positive anomaly of 1.0 degrees. If the anomaly held at 1.0 over an extended period, what has been classified as weak el nino conditions would be considered moderate conditions. 6 of 24 dynamic and statistical ENSO models now project several months of strong el nino conditions later in the summer. The CFS is the most robust, keep a strong el nino through late summer into the winter, though some weakening increases late in the year. Based on SSTs and near sfc temps (0-300 meters), the structure of the warming does not seem tied so much to the downwelling/warm phase of a Kelvin wave. Wind anomalies seem to be playing more of a role, and Kelvin waves less at this particular time, although the feedback mechanisms into these directional wind anomalies is another topic for another day.

As many of you know, a moderate to strong el nino would increase wind shear over the Atlantic hurricane basin and lessen hurricane probabilities (while east Pacific conditions would be more favorable for hurricanes). A strong el nino has been associated with milder than average temperatures during the late fall and winter in our region, and would likely increase the chances for strong Pacific storms to move into California and the west at that time.

This continues to be VERY speculative on my part, since verification of ENSO phases that far out in time often does not work out well. Please keep that in mind.