Joe’s Weather Blog: The slow El Nino fade away (TUE-4/12)

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Good morning…a LOT of sunshine is expected over the next few days and one has to wonder IF we’ve seen the last of the freezing temperatures in the KC metro area as warmer days will start to become more common and overnight lows will also be above freezing for the foreseeable future. There were morning lows today in the 20s in a few areas outside KC it appears…but in town the lows were basically near to above 32°. Some very(!) nice weather is on tap for the region to finish off the week.


Today: Sunny and pleasant with highs around 60-65°

Tonight: Clear skies and not as chilly with lows closer to 40°

Wednesday: Sunny and warmer with highs near 70°

We’ll stay dry through Friday at least…if not into the weekend..although Sunday still may offer at least some rain nearby


I don’t really want to write too much about the next storm for early next week. There are still major issues with what form the storm will be in by the time it pushes far enough towards the east to directly affect us locally. The GFS model backed off a bit last night in the eastward progress of the storm…and while it’s still a HUGE rain producer out west…it really struggled to get a lot to the state line area. Meanwhile the EURO is still decent with rain locally…again we’ll deal more with that potential later in the week.

I did want to touch on the fading El Nino. Yesterday marked the beginning stages of El Nino dropping from the “strong” ranking to the “moderate” ranking. As a matter of fact it’s the weakest now since it was building strength last July I believe.

El Nino, for those who may not know…is a warming of the equatorial Pacific waters. This happens every few years and typically after some of the stronger ones, there is a transition to La Nina conditions which is the opposite of El Nino, a cooling of those same waters.

Here is a look at the Pacific Ocean temperature anomalies…in particular look at the area between 5°S and 10°N…close to the equator…


via WeatherBell

Now believe it or not…those “warmer” waters have actually “cooled” down quite a bit over the last few months. This is happening because cooler waters below the surface are working their way upwards and “chewing” away at the warmer water at the surface.

You can sort of see this process unfolding by looking at the animation below…showing the darker red areas (representing the warmest water anomalies) fading away

Here is a closer look into the region in question…

Again notice how the red colors have almost totally faded away…these are weekly updates. This is for the ocean surface…but IF we go deeper down into the ocean..w.e can see cooler than average waters working their way towards the surface.

Also notice how that cooler weather is expanding from the eastern hemisphere (140°E) towards the western hemisphere 180°W [dateline] and farther eastwards…again this is below the ocean surface. As that water continues to cool and move upwards towards the surface the warmer water above will slowly cool off as well…and that has been happening for the last few months.

Forecast models are more and more suggestive of this…and I do expect La Nina conditions to develop out there over the summer months


What is a question is just how strong the La Nina becomes. For what it’s worth, and perhaps it may be overdone…but the Scripps Institute of Oceanography is going “all in” on a “strong” La Nina developing heading towards the fall this year.

and it gets “stronger” heading into the winter of 2017

As we saw during those images which many posted as average El Nino weather effects…there are different things happening in the atmosphere. Southern CA is still waiting on the big rains that will never come from the current El Nino. They happened farther north into central and northern CA. So the next graphic…will not be a perfect forecast and should be used more as perhaps something to look for but odds are there will be many twists in what happens later this year and to start 2017…


Typically for the Plains we’re more along the dry and mild aspect of things for the winter. Here is a look at the previous La Nina years/winter seasons…



Again there are questions about just how strong this La Nina will be but for the sake of the blog…let’s just say this coming La Nina ventures into the “strong” category…just out of curiosity what happened snow-wise during those 3  winters…

1973-74: 13.9″

1975-76: 21.8″

1988-89: 6.9″ (gulp…not again snow-lovers)

I don’t want to get too deep into the weeds on this…that will be reserved for later in the summer months or fall when the “strength” of La Nina is more into focus…

Also another thought…think about the summer of 1988 when we were setting up for La Nina…remember how hot it was? It was our 17th hottest and just a few tenths away from the summer of 2012…and we remember that summer for the drought and the heat right? I’m not saying that this summer will be a repeat…obviously many other factors come into play but it’s something to file away in the recesses of your mind as we watch the rain trends over the next 2 months…

Have a great Tuesday. Odds are I’ll take a blog day off on Wednesday.



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  • Jason

    Joe, you mentioned in your blog that during strong El Nina plains would be in for mild and dry winter. We had that this year it felt like for the El Nino. Why during both would we experience dry and mild winters? I am ready for some good snows again!

    • Joe Lauria

      Hi Jason…with La Nina there is a tendency (emphasis) that the NW part of the US gets more moisture but we have a tendency to be more in NW flow…which isn’t conducive for bigger snows locally. Also unless that flow amps way up into Canada…we may not be that cold either. Obviously this is all speculation. JL