2300 EDT SEPT 15 2012
One of the best scenes at all the STAT TREK movies occurs in ST #6… titled The Undiscovered Country “. In this movie Captain Kirk …Captain Spock …. Scottie ….Dr. McCoy… Sulu etc have discovered a conspiracy between some Stra Fleet Federation officers and some Klingon officers who don’t want a peace treaty go through and are out to disrupt the peace conference. There is a prototype Klingon “bird of prey” starship that can also fire while it is invisible so while Kirk and the Enterprise are battling … or trying to battle …the invisible Klingon warship. The Enterprise is taking a real pounding so they come up with this idea to fire a Photon Torpedo that is altered so that it can track the heat energy coming from the Klingon warship exhaust. As Spock and McCoy feverishly work on this torpedo. Finally out of outrage or frustration Kirk calls out to to Spock … ” where is that Damn Torpedo?”…
As we leave the summer and move into autumn I am reminded of that movie because we keep looking for the photon torpedo - the damn El Nino– and it continues to not show up.
As has been discussed before and is well documented El Nino Summers and Autumns strongly correlate to Below Normal (and sometimes Much Below Normal) hurricane activity and Below Normal temperatures with Above Normal rainfall over portions of the Plains and the Midwest. Well you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way this is going….
We are experiencing another near record or above normal hurricane season and we have experienced a extreme widespread historic heat and drought across most of the country east the Rockies over the past 4 months. When we we each the “J” storm two weeks ago in the Atlantic ( Joyce) it was the second earliest on record that the the 10th named storm has EVER developed. Only exceeded by the historic 2005 hurricane season. So clearly all of the early Hurricane seasonal forecast for below or much below normal hurricane activity has NOT worked out. And of course we all are very well aware of the extreme heat and drought we saw over the Summer months. ( really the warm dry pattern took over last Winter and in the Spring).
So again the issue remains why hasn’t the El Nino developed as we thought …? And for you winter weather lovers and fanatics out there the correlation between Weak El Nino events and active and snowy winters over the central and eastern CONUS is well established . So the refusal of the El Nino to take over Has significant implications those of us who like and enjoyed the winter months.
In other words ” SPOCK!!! …. Where is that Damn Torpedo!?”……
The SOI tell us a lot . This chart from the Australians shows the plot of the SOI over the past two years. To briefly review this chart when the SOI — in this case it is a 30 day moving average– is at or lower than -8 to -12 El Nino conditions are about to develop and what it drops for sustained period of time below -12 EL Nino conditions are underway and should begin to develop within the overall atmosphere of patterns within next two weeks. When the SOI is in POSITIVE territory… at + 8 to +12 over a 30 day period… La Nina conditions are likely to develop and once it moves in a sustained +12… La Nina conditions are likely to take over.
As we can see from the chart since the beginning of the Spring 2012 the SOI has dropped to around -10 or so (the threshold for El Nino) only to SUDDENLY stop then Jump back “up” reaching either the neutral Line ( zero) or just barely reaching into positive territory . As I have highlighted in this graphic we can see that SOI has done this 3 times since APRIL 2012
This movement tells us a few things. First as long as the SOI is doing this there can be NO EL NINO. Yes in the technical sense the warm SSTAs in ENSO region 3.4 but the point here is that we are NOT seeing anything like El Nino weather patterns and we have NOT at any point since APRIL 1.
This movement of the SOI … bouncing Up and down like that …is happening for particular reason. It is not random and it is not noise. Something in the atmosphere is causing or suppressing the SOI and FORCING this sort of movement.
Without getting too technical the GWO — global wind oscillation– is essentially a index that has been developed by researchers which tells us where the main ” energy” is located in the earth’s atmosphere. This energy is refer to as the AAM or the atmospheric angular momentum . The atmosphere flows much faster at the equator and it does at the high latitudes and up towards a North Pole…. simply because the earth is much bigger at the equator that it is at the poles. However the existence of a large mountain ranges on the planet affects or altars this uniform flow of the atmosphere and these perturbations affects the overall weather patterns.
The GWO is similar to the MJO in some ways but there also some or differences. The MJO develops through tropical convection forcing which spreads energy out into the mid-latitudes from the equatorial regions. The GWO is based completely within the mid-latitudes and is not tropical.
This chart shows the recent plots or movement of the GWO. As you can see the GWO has been located since the SPRING 2012 over the bottom of the chart stuck in a repeating loop going back and forth from left to right. When the GWO is over on right hand side of the GWO plot ….the overall patterns across the world are much more favorable and supportive of El Nino. When the GWO is over on the RIGHT side of the chart… the pattern is much closer to what we would see during a La Nina.
This is the key to understanding WHY the SOI keeps bouncing up and down back and forth and never staying in the El NINO threshold. Because the GWO is stuck in this repeating loop…. Swinging from left to right and back from right to left… the SOI can never stay a located in the negative zone to trigger a El Nino type of weather pattern.
This chart shows a another way of looking at the GWO / AAM. If we were to take that long complicated twisting back and forth motion of the GWO… and pull out into one string…. we would have the AAM chart . Again without getting too complicated for North America the LOWER or more negative the AAM the warmer and drier the pattern is likely to be for large areas of North America.
Note that back in late JUNE and JULY of 2012 the AAM reached a extreme low value and that is why we had the extreme heat which dominated much of the country this past summer.
So to answer a question from Captain Kirk… “SPOCK where is that Damn El Nino.?..“…. until the AAM moves above the neutral line into positive territory… the GWO will continue to stay at the bottom of the chart and stopping a looping pattern back and forth from left to right and right to left. And as long as the GWO continues to do that… the SOI will NOT lock into a sustained negative values to Trigger El Nino pattern…. And without the SOI locking in…. the El Nino will NOT develop.
Of course this has SERIOUS implications for the Winter and any Winter 2012-13 seasonal forecast for North America. Most of these EARLY winter forecasts are based on the idea of WEAK El Nino developing. Based on that assumption a forecast for a colder than Normal and / or Snowier than Normal Winter 20102-13 for the central and eastern CONUS makes some sense . But to drive home the analogy… the GWO stuck in this current pattern ..is the Invisible Klingon BIRD OF PREY warship and we wont make it to the UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY – winter of 2012-23- without that damn Photo Torpedo. It is still early but do NOT blindly make this assumption the weak El Nino is coming.