Modiki El Niños and Atlantic hurricane activity

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:48 PM GMT on July 08, 2009

It's an El Niño year, which typically means that Atlantic hurricane activity will be reduced. But not all El Niño events are created equal when it comes to their impact on Atlantic hurricane activity. Over the past 150 years, hurricane damage has averaged $800 million/year in El Niño years and double that during La Niña years. The abnormal warming of the equatorial Eastern Pacific ocean waters in most El Niño events creates an atmospheric circulation pattern that brings strong upper-level winds over the Atlantic, creating high wind shear conditions unfavorable for hurricanes. Yet some El Niño years, like 2004, don't fit this pattern. Residents of Florida and the Gulf Coast will not soon forget the four major hurricanes that pounded them in 2004--Ivan, Frances, Jeanne, and Charley. Overall, the 15 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 6 intense hurricanes of the hyperactive hurricane season of 2004 killed over 3000 people--mostly in Haiti, thanks to Hurricane Jeanne--and did $40 billion in damage.

A new paper published in Science last Friday attempts to explain why some El Niño years see high Atlantic hurricane activity. "Impact of Shifting Patterns of Pacific Ocean Warming on North Atlantic Tropical Cyclones", by Georgia Tech researchers Hye-Mi Kim, Peter Webster, and Judith Curry, theorizes that Atlantic hurricane activity is sensitive to exactly where in the Pacific Ocean El Niño warming occurs. If the warming occurs primarily in the Eastern Pacific, near the coast of South America, the resulting atmospheric circulation pattern creates very high wind shear over the tropical Atlantic, resulting in fewer hurricanes. This pattern, called the Eastern Pacific Warming (EPW) pattern, occurred most recently during the El Niño years of 1997, 1987, and 1982 (Figure 1). In contrast, more warming occurred in the Central Pacific during the El Niño years of 2004, 2002, 1994, and 1991. The scientists showed that these Central Pacific Warming (CPW) years had lower wind shear over the Atlantic, and thus featured higher hurricane activity than is typical for an El Niño year. One of the paper's authors, Professor Peter J. Webster, said the variant Central Pacific Warming (CPW) El Niño pattern was discovered in the 1980s by Japanese and Korean researchers, who dubbed it modiki El Niño. Modiki is the Japanese word for "similar, but different".


Figure 1. Difference of Sea Surface Temperature (SST) from average during the peak of hurricane season, August-September-October, for seven years that had El Niño events (except for 2009, when the SST anomaly for July 1 - 3 is plotted). On the left side are years when the El Niño warming primarily occurred in the Eastern Pacific (EPW years). On the right are years when the warming primarily occurred in the Central Pacific (CPW years). Shown on the top of each plot is the number of named storms (NS), hurricanes (H), and intense hurricanes (IH) that occurred in the Atlantic each year. Atlantic hurricane activity tends to be more prevalent in CPW years than EPW years. An average hurricane season has 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. Image credit: NOAA/ESRL.

What, then, can we expect the current developing El Niño event to do to 2009 hurricane activity? Kim et al. note that in recent decades, the incidence of modiki CPW El Niño years has been increasing, relative to EPW years. However, the preliminary pattern of SST anomalies in the Pacific observed so far in July (lower left image in Figure 1) shows an EPW pattern--more warming in the Eastern Pacific than the Central Pacific. If Kim et al.'s theory holds true, this EPW pattern should lead to an Atlantic hurricane season with activity lower than the average 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. There is still a possibility that the observed warming pattern could shift to the Central Pacific during the peak portion of hurricane season, however. We are still in the early stages of this El Niño, and it is unclear how it will evolve.

Jeff Masters


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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Ben you do realize what Alicia did to Texas?

Why are people changing their numbers on July 9th? We are not even near the peak of the season yet, look at weathersp's chart you are changing your frequency of storms on the slowest part of the season??? That makes no sense to me.
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Quoting JRRP:

my prediction now is
3 name storm
5 hurricane
4 major hurricane


That would not be a pretty picture.
I assume you are counting on CV storms?
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Quoting JRRP:

my prediction now is
3 name storm
5 hurricane
4 major hurricane


???
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540. JRRP
Quoting BenBIogger:
Alright since El Nino has been declared. I'm going back to my old prediction.

4 named storms
1 hurricane
0 major hurricane







my prediction now is
3 name storm
5 hurricane
4 major hurricane
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IMO this hurricane season is going to look like this
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Oh cmon play nice now. Its not even lunch time yet.
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534. FLWeatherFreak91

Coming out of lurk to say you hit on the head Freak. It only takes one. Back to lurking.
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Don't quote BenBlogger please, he's a troll. He really needs to be banned. Just trying to rall us up.
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I would just like to remind everyone that Andrew occurred during an el niño, and it was the A storm all the way in Aug
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i understand what u were saying wunderkid........hurricanes are exciting to watch, exciting to track. i live for hurricane season. the rest of the year is boring to me.....i can't wait until june 1st rolls around. of course, i don't want people to die, of course i don't want people to lose everything they have.........it's the thrill of watching mother nature do her thing.......that's all.
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4 named .. that's exceptionally low. I really don't see that happening even with El Nino. It would take another depreciating factor or ten that we don't see yet for that to happen IMO.
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Quoting BenBIogger:
Alright since El Nino has been declared I going back to my old prediction

4 named storms
1 hurricane
0 major hurricane







El Nino has been declared many weeks before, even that will change nothing to forecasters.
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Quoting atmoaggie:


Except Linux. I have my finger on which ports any particular machine allows incoming traffic on...and that usually does not include those used for http traffic.


You are ahead of the game with Linux. The outbound traffic from the botnet is what is flooding the targeted sites.

They say most are in S. Korea, but they could be anywhere and folks don't know their PC is a tool for the bad guys.

This is not conflicker, it is said to be a MyDoom variant, but is basically how conflicker works. The PC's at work here number in the 60k range. Conflicker is estimated to have well over 10 million PC's at its beck and call to date.

Here is the conflicker eye chart if you want to see if you are at risk for that. Link

Q&A
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Quoting StormW:


LMAO!

Or the HWRF (when coupled with the GFDL...it gives Help With Rotational Formation)


And of course we can't forget our intensity model, the one, the only SHIPS! (Some How I Predict Storms). All jokes aside I do wish we could get an accurate look at 2 weeks from now. Wishful thinking, I know. Got a trip planned for Nags Head, North Carolina. Crossed fingers for sun and good fishing.
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Alright since El Nino has been declared. I'm going back to my old prediction.

4 named storms
1 hurricane
0 major hurricane






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Quoting StormW:


Yes "S"...that is the opposite of a negative NAO. Can you give me a link to that...please? Cause that conflicts with the CFS model. Now, the CFS is forecasting a mean of just slightly higher pressure in Aug, avg 1026mb. However, from September on, we should see a neagtive NAO.


Thank you very much Storm. :)
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I hope I can share this...

New paper about the application of QuikScat and it's known limitations:
Link.pdf

Specifically:
Limitations of QuikSCAT in NHC operations

The major limitations of QuikSCAT from the NHC
operational perspective include the following:

1) the inability to resolve the maximum winds in the inner core of most hurricanes due to insufficient retrieval resolution, instrument signal saturation (which limits the maximum retrievable wind speed, even in rain-free conditions), and attenuation by rain;

2) positive and negative biases in retrieved wind speeds, caused by rain contamination, that are difficult to distinguish and quantify without other collocated wind data;

3) the lack of collocated rain rate data to determine the influence of rain on the retrieved wind solution;

4) ambiguity removal errors that make automated QuikSCAT-derived TC center locations unreliable, which make the determination of whether a circulation center exists in incipient systems difficult, and that require the forecaster to manually analyze the ambiguities;

5) the low frequency of passes over any given region or weather system (at most two passes per day with a single satellite) and the largest gaps between swaths in the tropics; and

6) the time lag between the satellite overpass and data receipt at NHC."

Also has a discussion about QuikScat's algorithms being unable to show a closed circulation when one was deemed present by post-storm analysis. (For all of you that incessantly dog the NHC, now you can say that just because QuikScat didn't show a closed circulation doesn't mean it isn't there.)

Finally, another point of interest that caught my eye is that QuikScat (and algorithms) repeatedly places the center of systems to the SW of the actual center.
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Thank you StormW! A most accurate explanation of 3 major models. Perhaps we can incorporate the GFDL (Gotta Find Dem Lows) in the future if anything struggles up from the dry grip in the Atlantic. As you've stated though, unlikely.
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522. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Philippines Atmospherical Geophysical Astronomical Services and Administration

The low pressure area East of Northern Luzon has developed into a tropical depression and was named "GORIO".

Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #1
========================
At 5:00 PM PhST, Tropical Depression Gorio located at 18.3°N 125.3°E or 340 km east of Aparri, Cagayan has 10 minute sustained winds of 55 km/h (30 knots).

Signal Warnings
=================

Signal Warning #1 (30-60 kph winds)

Luzon Region
1.Cagayan
2.Calayan group of Islands
3.Babuyan group of Islands
4.Northern Isabela
5.Kalinga
6.Apayao
7.Abra
8.Ilocos Norte
9.Batanes

Additional Information
=======================
TD "GORIO" is expected to enhance the southwest monsoon and bring rains over the western section of Luzon and western Visayas.

Residents in low lying areas and near mountain slopes are advised to take all the necessary precautions against possible flashfloods and landslides.

The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions and watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 11 PM today.
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Developing El Nino Could Suppress Atlantic Hurricanes

El Nino weather anomaly has developed and it may not be as strong as the killer which struck more than a decade ago, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center said Thursday.

The CPC, an office under the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, said in a monthly update "conditions in the equatorial Pacific transitioned from neutral to El Nino conditions."

It said current trends favor development "of a weak-to-moderate strength El Nino into the northern hemisphere fall (of) 2009, with further strengthening possible thereafter."

This El Nino is developing just as the world struggles to emerge from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of 1929.

The last severe El Nino in 1997/98 killed more than 2,000 people and caused billions in damages to farms and infrastructure in countries from Indonesia to Peru.

El Nino means 'little boy' in Spanish. It causes an abnormal warming of waters in the Pacific which in turn would unhinge weather patterns in the Asia-Pacific -- spawning drought in Australia and Indonesia while causing floods in Peru and Ecuador.

The 1997/98 El Nino struck in the middle of the Asian financial crisis which roiled financial markets.

Some forecasters have said this El Nino may have played a role in delaying the arrival of annual monsoon rains in India which play such a critical role in its farm economy.

Drought would pose a major risk to Australian wheat production and damage palm oil output in Indonesia and Malaysia.

The CPC report said El Nino may also "help to suppress Atlantic hurricane activity by increasing the vertical wind shear over the Caribbean Sea and tropical Atlantic Ocean."

Storms sweeping in from the Atlantic or in the Gulf would threaten oil rigs in the area and menace crops from Mexico, the Caribbean and into the southern United States.

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New Invest in the East Pacific

EP 95 2009070912 BEST 0 95N 1090W 25 1009 DB
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519. beell
Thanks, atmo.
I guess we interpret this differently. If it's a circle, it would be about position. Not an artificial vortex.

Rather than inserting data corresponding to an artificial TC vortex ("bogusing"), the GFS relocates the globally-analyzed TC vortex in the first-guess field to the official NHC position. An assimilation of the available (real) data is then performed to create the initial state."
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Make sure I'm seeing it right ... the easern pacific equatorial region looks to have cooled significantly in the past week? Wonder if that will continue to be the case.
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Quoting beell:
I didn't know the GFS did vortex boggussing.


Hey, you're right, it doesn't, officially.

"All GFS runs obtain their initial conditions from a three-Dimensional Variational (3-D VAR) Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation (GSI), which is updated continuously throughout the day. Rather than inserting data corresponding to an artificial TC vortex ("bogusing"), the GFS relocates the globally-analyzed TC vortex in the first-guess field to the official NHC position. An assimilation of the available (real) data is then performed to create the initial state."
http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/modelsummary.shtml

Somewhat accomplishing the same thing, though. So the GFS is using the NHC position and the NHC is partly using the GFS for position...circular. Doesn't seem like a good idea...
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My Father down in Miami (82 years old) is a preparation "pro".......One the first storm threatens South Florida, and at his age, he puts the shutters up on the windows, and, leaves them up until the end of the season (also keeps the house cooler)......I usually drive down and help him take them down..
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Quoting Stormsabrewin:


Think of it as your own personal forum. You can't jump into Random Person B's forum and begin ignoring / banning people. Here you must take the good, the bad, and the dregs in stride.


never said I was doing that, I was just asking
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Quoting BurnedAfterPosting:
I am new here and I have a question

Does one have to create a blog to be able to ignore or ban people? (no one on here lol)

I dont see the options on my blog


Think of it as your own personal forum. You can't jump into Random Person B's forum and begin ignoring / banning people. Here you must take the good, the bad, and the dregs in stride. Speaking of which thats all the long-range GFS is giving us...ever gives us...
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Yes
You do not have to put anything in it, but you have to initialize it.


Thanks I got it
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Good Morning;

The Cape Verde Season is fast approaching...

Recurving Vs Landfalling Cape Verde Hurricanes
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Quoting BurnedAfterPosting:
I am new here and I have a question

Does one have to create a blog to be able to ignore or ban people? (no one on here lol)

I dont see the options on my blog


Yes
You do not have to put anything in it, but you have to initialize it.
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508. beell
I didn't know the GFS did vortex boggussing.
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I am new here and I have a question

Does one have to create a blog to be able to ignore or ban people? (no one on here lol)

I dont see the options on my blog
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Quoting Ossqss:
It would be wise to keep an eye on this storm that has not subsided. It could affect anything they point the botnet at right now.

Link


Except Linux. I have my finger on which ports any particular machine allows incoming traffic on...and that usually does not include those used for http traffic.
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Morning all! Yeesh, still early and we have the forum drama. Everyone just simmer, grab a cup and lets all enjoy some quiet tropics. Thank you Dr. Masters for the El Nino breakdown. Especially like the "???" for 2009.
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Blog Update
Reflector site for those at work, which includes Weather456, daily updates


AOI

AOI
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Ok I got a question. A little confused here. I read on another site that the Euro is forecasting high pressure and stronger than normal easterlies for the Atlantic during Aug. and Sept. And there would be upwelling of cooler water and all this would contribute to less hurricanes in the MDR. Isn't this the opposite of a negative NAO? Or am I totally lost here? Either one is a distinct possibility. :)
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Quoting Dar9895:

I'am not really agree with you. If they are, so the others are as well. The GFS is the main model in the U.S.


You are correct...all of the tools we have for genesis are screwdrivers.

GFS is a global model.

In a nod to the Japanese, once we get to an operational NICAM, we will have something useful. A global cloud-resolving model that can adequately track the MJO amplitude and phases is what is going to get us to a point where cyclogenesis can be effectively modeled.
http://nicam.jp/

Currently, our operational global models are too coarse to handle the clouds, ITCZ, MJO, and mesoscale, and smaller, convergence.

This is the same reason the GFS spins up an existing hurricane at only 3/4 of observed wind velocities, even with vortex bogussing.
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Hi Ossqss...Yes, that is worrisome. Speaking of which, I'm going back to work while I still have a job. Check backwichalater.
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Quoting Michfan:
Good morning all. I see things are quiet once again.
...you mean "still." There is a wave ~ 10Lat/55Long but no one is developing it into anything.
Link
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Good morning all. I see things are quiet once again.
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It would be wise to keep an eye on this storm that has not subsided. It could affect anything they point the botnet at right now.

Link
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If anything is coming your way, you will have at least 72 hours to put your hurricane plans in motion. That's why it's good to get as much as possible in place ahead of time. Those who have been through it, know how frantic it can get "out there" once the warnings are issued. You don't want to be in traffic or wondering where to go, what to do as the time bomb is ticking. That's how people get hurt. Every time I put up my hurricane panels or move them I think about what one of those would feel like coming down on someone's arm (think of a 4 x 6 foot blade!)...Prepare now, and you will do much better weathering an event later. The NHC and the models do a very good job once the systems are closer to land.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
I think the GFS is propagating the little area of convergence in Nepal to the Gulf as a tropical system (j/k, but not too far off from the truth)...y'all enjoy hanging on to every forecast cycle.

Some will say GFS did well last year, but GFS, honestly, is rather poor at cyclogenesis and always has been. Good for track forecasts of an existing TS or better without large intensity changes. You guys are driving framing nails with a screwdriver.

I'am not really agree with you. If they are, so the others are as well. The GFS is the main model in the U.S.
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Quoting Orcasystems:
GFS, finally appears to be calming down, but its still hinting at something around T=168

Good Day to you Ladies and Gentlemen.
If you are looking in the coast of Africa 4 to 6 days from now, they develop the CV wave.
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Quoting leftovers:
how about stay through the storm evacuate afterwards? not having power for a wk after fransis yu begin to worship that ac


I hear ya about the A/C. Didn't 2 hit you one after another in '04? If I got the wrong place I appologize. I saw a story about I think Francis and Jean hitting in the same place. It was an interview with the electrical workers where that happened. They were like " Come on! We just got it back up." I can't imagine taking a hit so soon after another like that.
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather