PS…Congrats to Doug Wolkon from San Diego for figuring out that today is PI Day  IE 3.14.15…..9   You get the Dweeb Award!



The Good, Bad and the Ugly…….

First the Ugly…I visited one of my favorite eatery establishments last night, and as I walked from the parking lot to its front door, I was approached by a rather frantic young lady who said “Is it true what you said”…that we are going to have another drought next winter?  I told her no. That based upon my understanding of the science, there is no one on earth that can accurately predict the weather on a climate time scale like next winter at this time.  I know that the Old Farmers Almanac likes to manipulate the data and say that they do the Summer before. Once in a while they get it right, However, you can be right for all the wrong reasons.  I think that CCM Jann Null did a study on the accuracy Old Farmers Almanac and found that their actual performance was less than acceptable with what you and I would base our winter plans on, two or three months ahead of time. Remember they go to press in the Summer I believe.

Metaphorically Thinking….

I think that one needs to look at climate prediction for the next Winter, like your favorite Fruit Pie. Mine is Banana Cream. This pie is never cut evenly. There are small pieces of the pie and big pieces of the pie. There are most likely pieces that have not been discovered yet.  I find that the pie is most difficult to resist for forecasting purposes when the big pieces are so large that the smaller pieces are dwarfed in comparison. Since the pie cooks very slowly, you must let it bake all summer and most of the fall. This is because during baking, the pieces change in there size through the process. So for a successful climatic forecast for next winter you need to be able to see and examine all the pieces of the pie, only taking it out of the oven until mid to late Fall. That is why NOAA does not come out with their seasonal forecast for the winter until November.

The Pieces:

An example of a piece of the pie that could potentially be huge is a “strong warm” ENSO Signal. If climate scientists have strong proof that the SSTA’s were going to be +1.5C  to +2.5C in the NINO 3.4 to 1+2 region in Dec, Jan and February, A forecast for much above normal rainfall over much of California would be reasonable.  That would be a piece of pie that would be so large it would make you sick!  And….although there might be other pieces that were just as tasty, including the ones that are unseen, you might want to go with the big ENSO piece and a few of the others just to make sure.  So with pieces of the pie metaphorically and collectively so big, you could go to the bank with a pretty good forecast of a wet winter for most of CA during those three months. Climate scientist’s like “Strong El NINO”s as it make their forecasts much easier for much of California and the southwest. But predicting one significant enough 6 months out, is another story.  It should be acknowledged that most winters are not big ENSO years. So you have a lot of smaller or moderate sized pieces of the pie to make a decision upon. The smaller collectively the pieces are, the bigger the chance of a bust for California or for that matter the CONUS.

Other prominent pieces of the pie in addition to ENSO are (teleconnections) or atmospheric anomalies that have either a linear or non linear relationships to specific areas 1000s of miles away. Teleconnections like the +/- PNA, AO, NAO, PDO, AMO, EPO, WPO, the solar cycle and many other oscillations can have an effect upon the planets weather or climate.  There are several other factors that involve Air-Sea coupling, ocean gyres and anomalous SSTs over key areas of the oceans that have a teleconnecting effect over other various regions of the earth in addition to ENSO.  Did you know that the great mountain ranges of the earth can cause a frictional effect upon the wind systems the can add or subtract Atmospheric Angular momentum at various Latitudes. That is because the earth is spinning, and the equator is spinning faster than the northern/southern latitudes.  Yes there are plenty of pieces of the pie as well as the relationships between all the pieces….. So  the next time you hear a rumor about what next winter is going to be like 6 or 9 months ahead of time…..just know what’s involved and smile… 😉


The Bad:

As poor as the amount of natural snow we received this winter, I have spoken with both skiers and boarders that have had a great time this winter.  Mammoth Mt has an average elevation of close to 10,000 feet especially from the Main Lodge to the Summit. That is why we have faired better then most if not all California Ski Resorts this winter as far as coverage. Many resorts have already or are getting ready to close. Mammoth Mt has been able to keep it going, with their snow making and occasional natural snowfall.

The three biggest contributing factor in this years drought year was, 1. The Record high positive PDO where we have so much warm water along the entire west coast up into the Gulf of AK, 2. The warm but now cooling Atlantic Multi decadal Oscillation 3. The weak warm ENSO where most of the warm water is centered near the equator and central pacific and cooler waters over the Eastern Tropical Pac.   IE. (Modoki)  Those 3 pieces of the pie are deadly to the California West Coast for rainfall. Especially with out the aid of a strong warm full basin ENSO signal.

Drought stricken CA will have to deal with yet another severe fire season; very low water reserves and a continuing depleting ground water supply.


The Good….

It is still Winter but shortly Spring… there is likely to be at least a few more storms this Spring.  Then there is what may happen with ENSO.  Once again there is chatter about a possible strong EL Nino next winter.  As we know from last Summers hype, there is no guarantee…. The “possibility” of a strong El Nino for the following winter is just a guess based upon some scientific evidence.   You are going to hear and read a lot about that this summer….One is based upon conditions that may lead to a strong Warm Event, rather than a warm event actually in process. The latter is much better…..

So here are some interesting curiosities….

1. There are several eastward moving down welling events in process. One moving into the eastern pacific with quite a warm pool beneath the surface. And another behind it.

The Strong MJO event now in progress has already spawned a few typhoons, both in the southern and northern hemispheres. There is an area with significant westerly winds bursts pushing warm water from the western pacific to the central pacific then possibly into the eastern pacific. The MJO itself is expected remain very strong the next week with a sigma of +4 in phase 7, IE. well into the Central Pac, then weakening into the eastern pacific, where areas with cooler water have less convective potential compared to where it is today. The MJO is an air sea coupled system that can be associated with very strong thunderstorms and twin anti cyclones at 850MB that can move a lot of warm water from west to east.  It is suggested theoretically that the MJO is possibly related to initiating a warm ENSO event or at the least assisting it its development. That and the kelvin wave could work together to add anomalous warmth to the Nino basin.  I would say that right now is a very intensive operational period for oceanographers and climate scientist to see if indeed this latest MJO and current strong westerly wind burst, jack starts a strong warm ENSO event.  It is unfolding RIGHT NOW!!!!

This is very exciting news….but still no guarantee of a strong El Nino Event for next winter…..


Remember the proof will be when the pie comes out of the oven……



More later………:-)