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Weather Wise

published: May 29th 2020
by: Brian Bledsoe

La Niña development update

    While we were pretty sure about some of the signals, ENSO forecasting this time of year is always tough. Models struggle in the spring, and this is affectionately called the "spring predictability barrier". We've seen ENSO events show up in the modeling only to disappear as we enter into summer. However, the signals I talked about months ago are still there.
    The chart below shows how the equatorial upper oceanic heat content has fallen off a cliff during the past month.


    Looking deeper into the ocean, we are seeing the same thing:


    The animation above shows the erosion of the warm anomalies that were present in the Central Pacific that were responsible for Modoki El Niño conditions last fall and winter. 
    The replacing of those warm anomalies with colder anomalies is a continuation of my thinking from early this year, and that is that La Niña is going to make an attempt this year.  Much of the latest modeling suggests this too:


    While not all of the above models are on the same page, many of them drop the Niño 3.4 SST Anomaly below -0.5 toward late summer. Looking at the current sea surface temperature anomaly map, there's still a considerable amount of work to do, but it appears as though that work is being done. While some lingering warm anomalies are still in place across the ENSO region, as we saw above, cooling is underway at the surface and sub-surface, so we'll watch to see how that evolves in the coming months. Here are the latest anomalies:

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