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El Nino Continues Stormy, Atypically Cold

By Joe D'Aleo
Monday, January 11, 2010

In the Pacific we are battling between a moderate El Nino but with the warmth displaced more towards the central tropical Pacific with cold water off the South American coast and a negative PDO pattern which mimics La Nina patterns and keeps Pacific air entering western North America colder. The result has been colder weather than in a typical El Nino. This year the cold north Pacific water extends to the waters northwest of Hawaii where it was found in some of the colder El Ninos as in 1976/77.


In the arctic, we have been dealing with a top 3 blocking event since 1959, the strongest (negative 5.6 standard deviations) for December and third strongest for winter (behind January 1977 and January 1970). This too has resulted in more cold and also storms that have behaved badly, stalling for days in the Mid-Atlantic, nation’s midsection, and then the northeast.

Average JFM storm track frequency difference for (top panel) strong El Nino (ONI greater than or equal to 1.5) minus Neutral conditions and (bottom panel) strong La Nina (ONI less than or equal to -1.5) minus Neutral conditions. (CPC)

Notice El Nino storms tend to be confined to the immediate Gulf Coast and east coast (we have seen some of those for sure) while La Ninas are stormy further north.

Snow in the central states is deeper than in most El Ninos. We may see Gulf States snow the next few weeks.

The latest storm actually has backed up west while developing hybrid (hints of warm core) characteristics, not uncommon in explosive deepeners. Earlier model forecasts had pressures dropping to low 950s mb.



The easterlies have picked up again in the tropics, which should maintain that colder east, warmest central and west configuration.

The El Nino peaked in late October at depths of 155 meters in the central, in November at 105 meters a little further east and December at 55 meters between 90 and 100 degrees longitude.

All dynamical and statistical models show a slow decline in intensity as we move from winter to spring to fall. The faster the decline, the warmer will be the summer. Should a La Nina develop by summer, a hot summer (like 1966, 1977, 1988, 1998) would occur.


If it stays weak El Nino to neutral as models suggest, a more normal spring and summer (though not as cool as last year) would likely follow. Soil moisture will have a lot to say about that and will have to be monitored.


Meanwhile a lot more winter and interesting weather.

The pattern is very similar to the composite we have been showing for the east QBO, low solar, El Nino winters.

This is the ‘best match’ analog anomalies. No global warming here.



Sunspot number of 10.6 in December, first time in two years above 10 with 9 spotless days.

2009 ended up in 5th place on the list of the most sunspotless days with 260, right behind 2008 with 265. 771 days so far this minimum. Thus far we have had 32 months with less than 10 sunspot number in the transition from cycle 23 to 24, the most since cycle 10 in the middle 1800s.

Welcome to the new Dalton (Eddy) Minimum. Note in this story how the UK Met Office and the UK media has finally been forced to admit it is cold and snowy, maybe the harshest winter in 30 perhaps even 100 years.