El Niño: Where Is Southern California’s Rain

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Good morning Weather2020 bloggers,

The warm weather pattern continues for the next few days and there are big changes showing up by the weekend. In today’s blog entry we will discuss El Niño and some uncharacteristic things already happening in this weather pattern. We will take a look into this weekend’s storm, and the next two storm systems to follow as a series of storm systems is setting up.

We are currently moving into the winter season with one of the strongest El Niño’s in history. The Climate Prediction Center has stated and shown that typical El Niño results are likely. And, one of the big characteristics is for it to be drier farther north along the Pacific northwest coast, and possibly wetter across Southern California where they really could use some rain. Thus far, it has been the exact opposite. Let’s take a look at this developing pattern.

3The flow aloft is zonal today. Zonal flow means west to east. The flow is about to buckle big time in the next three to four days. Between now and then this will lead to the big warm-up that has been in progress this week.

There are a few things to notice on this map, and in the developing weather pattern between now and Christmas.

  • The first thing is that zonal flow
  • The second thing to notice is the lack of any blocking. You can see this in the stream of flow tracking over the far northern territories of Canada near the North Pole.  This is another symptom of the Arctic Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation staying mostly in the positive.

The buckling begins within the next two days. Take a look at the 72 hour forecast valid Friday night:

1Again, by Friday night there is a northern stream, no blocking, and a huge dip in the flow developing over the southwestern United States. In our winter forecast we described this type of pattern as the dominant pattern #1 in this year’s winter forecast, which will also have huge impacts next spring.  This trough developing by late Friday night will produce the conditions for a wet storm system. Yesterday, one of the models had enough cold air to produce a strong winter side of this storm, but the trend on the models has been for it to not be cold enough for any snow with this first storm. It is still something to monitor closely, but some very warm and humid air will be drawn in from the Gulf of Mexico.

The other thing to notice is the rainfall forecast for the next 15 days. Where is the rain in Southern California? Are you ready for this? Look at the rainfall amounts since the rainy season began in October in Los Angeles:

  • October rainfall:  0.45″
  • November rainfall:  0.01″
  • December rainfall:  0.00″

This was not supposed to be happening and I have concerns. Central California has been getting some rain and snow, and Lake Tahoe has been getting some decent early season snow, but there seems to be a rain shadow just south of Monterey Bay.  Take a look at this rainfall forecast for the next 15 days leading into Christmas Day.  In a typical El Niño it supposed to be drier than average over the Pacific Northwest, and this is not happening at all. The pattern has set up to blast the Pacific Northwest Will it continue through this winter, or will the jet stream shift south in January and February? It may depend on the blocking that is lacking.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 6.54.10 AM

In Kansas City we are still waiting for our first inch of snow. I will update our forecast for chances of the snowflake contest ending between now and Christmas on tonight’s weathercasts on 41 Action News, which you can watch streaming live on www.kshb.com during our newscast times. Last night I showed that there was just a 20% chance of it ending by Monday, but an 80% chance of it ending before Christmas Day. There is a series of storm systems that are cycling through the flow during these next two weeks.

2The models have been just horrible at predicting this pattern in the past few days. Why? The models will always have a difficult time forecasting when the flow will buckle, and then how the energy, the strong and powerful jet stream energy that continues to increase, will dive in and out of the less zonal and more meridional (North/south) developing flow. The GFS model now predicts that a piece of this first storm will close off and take a track that would usually produce a major snowstorm near KC. It appears that it will be too warm. And, then as you can see on the left, the flow continues to buckle near the west coast.

4This next map on the right shows the flow at day 10. This is the GFS model showing the two stream joining forces. The European model has been hinting at something similar. That is a big ridge forming off the west coast. I doubt it will last that long, but it should create the conditions for at least some build-up of Arctic air and some of it could push south. Analyzing this closely, however, I still see very little blocking, and the AO and NAO indexes may dip just to below neutral into negative territory before rising back up again.

Overall, we are about to have significant changes. El Niño is very strong. How is all of this going to impact winter? Winter officially begins in less than two weeks.

Have a great day. Thank you for participating in the  LRC Forecast Experience Blog. We will discuss the trends in the comments section of this blog.

Gary

 

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Alex Pickman
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Alex Pickman

Based on the latest Euro output, the Snowflake Contest could end by 3 AM Monday morning. Would be a close call, though if it verified. 3 inch totals across northwest Missouri. There is hope! Lol, though we know how terrible the models have been so far this season

Morgan
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Morgan

Pretty clear cold signal in the extended around Christmas with snow on the 23rd-24th. A looong ways away but just trying to grasp on to anything at this point. Weekend system will be a rain event and the one on its heels looks a little south. At least it’s starting to get active around here.

CRW
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CRW

It always seems like the cold is 10-14 days away.

Mike
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Mike

I like it. I sure hope the storm track is far enough South. Bring on some snow. Watching the Chiefs game in snow would be fun.

Alex Pickman
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Alex Pickman

Gary, Do you think El Nino will begin to loosen it’s grip later this Winter, and if so would there be a higher chance of that cold air potentially being able to plunge south? I am still sticking with my forecast I made a few weeks ago of 17 – 20 inches of snow across the area. I have a feeling the majority of our snow will come in late Jan through February. There are too many storm systems to not see accumulating snow from some of them. With our location lying within the transition zone, Not only will rainfall… Read more »

Heat Miser
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Heat Miser

P.S. Don’t tell my brother I said I want snow. His big frozen head might get even bigger.

MMIke
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MMIke

Heat,

Your brother melted due to this warm weather….sorry.

We will likely need sand bags this winter to control the flood waters rather than snow shovels to shovel snow.

Can anyone guess what will happen when we do get a cold air mass in here???

Heat Miser
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Heat Miser

Eh, as active as it’s going to be we’ll get some snow…as we usually do.

HEAT MISER
Guest
HEAT MISER

Sniff…I hadn’t heard about my brother….

Heat Miser
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Heat Miser

Well, after reading all of the comments on the blog, all have to say is as follows – rain = boring…not interested, snow = awesome, very interested. Wake me up when a real snow is approaching. After last winter’s pathetic snow output, I’ve become a bit cynical and have come to the conclusion that Old Man Winter is a pathetic wimp. ZZZZzzzzzzzz

Mr. Pete
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Mr. Pete

The next ten days still look very warm to me (at least for this time of the year)

LS Mike
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LS Mike

Lets make it four Mike’s … Lee’s summit Mike here!!

f00dl3
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f00dl3

We were in the perfect spot with the storms during the winter of 2011 as well. Problem is, it was the perfect spot for rain, not snow. We had several very strong winter storms move through that just produced rain – and some upwards of 5″ in spots. But it just never really got cold enough for us to see any real snow. And then as the pattern persisted in the warm trend, we got into a major drought in Spring 2012 that lasted until the leftovers of a hurricane gave us 4-5″ of rain in August, and then a… Read more »

terry mercer
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terry mercer

Winter of 2010/11 was a strong LA Nino that winter had over 36.0 inches of snow and we was in a good spot and the winter of 2011/12 was weak LA Nino and we just had 3.9 inches of snow and most of it fell February 13th if i’m right that pattern that year was bad?

This winter and we are in or close to the right Spot this winter.Alls We need and we will have enough cold air to get a few good snowstorms this winter we just have to be patient and it will come

Terry

Dale
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Dale

Calm down Terry. I am worried that MMike and you aren’t going to make this Winter alive. You need to calm down, compose yourself, proofread your comments, and allow others to make opinions without feeling the need to rebuke them.

terry mercer
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terry mercer

I’m on commenting on FoodI3 comment not on MMike comment! I am addressing what I know about those year’s.

Alice
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Alice

lol
How many Mikes do we have on here ??
MMike, Mike L, and now another Mike
Must be a Mike day for the blog

Rockdoc
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Rockdoc

It’s “Mike” kind of day:)

Mike
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Mike

Please be patient. The models are going to change on every run until Sunday morning. Enjoy the ride.

Alice
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Alice

Mike,
Thank you, but I could not see anything on the NWS site that says forecast models……?

At any rate, looks like a lot of rain this weekend ? According to NWS Kansas City on their facebook page just now….

“Moderate to heavy rain on its way for this weekend. Expect most areas to get 1 to 2 inches with some areas, mainly south of I-70, to see 2 to 3 inches of rain through Sunday.

Thankfully temperatures are warm enough for all rain; otherwise this would be one baaaaaad winter storm.”

craig
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craig
MMike
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MMike

MikeL,

The Sunday storm is so close…nice track on the storm. maybe we get lucky there.

You are right, the rest of the long range outlook doesn’t have any snow in it…cooler, but no real cold air to be found.

The LRC forecast is for an 80 percent chance of the snowflake contest ending by Christmas…the 20% it doesn’t happen might win. I sure hope not.

MikeL
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MikeL

Yeah MMike (lots of Mikes on the forum!), could be close. Maybe we could get the fat heavy wet flakes…that would be fun. Sure beats the boring mid-30s rain we seem to get so often.

MikeL
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MikeL

In the model trends, I’m seeing rain for the Sat-Sun storm and the Tue-Wed storm heading way north with nothing in our area. Not too promising in the near term.

terry mercer
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terry mercer

I dont think the models big changes coming the next few days so there for it would think that the storm System is way off now.

MMIke
Guest
MMIke

Kathy,

Darn it….the latest GFS has a nice track on the ULL…but not cold enough…so no snow. But, it does look like it may rain most of the day. It’s possible we might get the rain/thunderstorms Saturday night into Sunday morning, then a break, then the second wave of moisture late in the day.

Anyone else see it that way??

Alice
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Alice

Mike,
Can you give a link to the gfs that you use ? I have never looked at one….but would like to. I probably will not even know what I am looking at/ for, but so many of the bloggers on here use them. I would like to see what everyone else is seeing, from run to run. Thanks

MMike
Guest
MMike

Alice,

You can go to the NWS and click on forecast models….but, like you said, if you don’t know what you’re looking at, it might be useless to you.

I understand enough to look at them, but don’t know everything I’m looking at. A few bloggers on here know far more than I do when they look over the model data.

Gary Lezak knows a little about them….HA!

Kathy
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Kathy

My takeaway from your blog today is that (1) Southern CA is not getting much relief from this powerful El Nino and that most of the storms are hitting the NW part of the country; and (2) we will probably have a cold, miserable rain at the Chief’s game. It also appears that this LRC is impacting areas east of here not nearly as much as it did in previous years which makes me very happy. I was so tired of storms “maturing east of us”. Anxious to see what this pattern holds for the central plains this spring. Thanks… Read more »

MMike
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MMike

Kathy,

I’m thinking the rain may get out of here by game time. Rain, maybe a few thunderstorms late Saturday into Sunday morning. I’m not sure this event is going to be a 24 hour steady rain deal…..I could be wrong.

Kathy
Guest
Kathy

Mike, I hope you are right. I will be watching from the comfort of my home. However, I have a feeling a lot of people will be at Arrowhead and I would hate to see them get soaked. Sun or rain: GO CHIEFS!!!

Bill in Lawrence
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Bill in Lawrence

Gary: Good Morning to you sir!!! I am going to sound like a broken record but that has never stopped me before!!  To me the most interesting part about the next 2-3 weeks is the fact that there is now pretty consistent forecast that the AO is indeed going to go negative around the 16th of December and is currently beginning that dip. Some ensembles have it going as low as negative 2.5 and one even as low as negative 3. There are some ensembles that have it just going neutral and then heading straight back to positive, but… Read more »

terry mercer
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terry mercer

Gary you’re talking about a serious storms before like 3 storms before Christmas and are chances of snow are likely. Do you still expect a big storm between Christmas and New Years and even a bigger storm after the new year?

AW
Guest
AW

I always pick the 3rd Saturday of December cause, I don’t know why, but we usually get snow around that weekend. The last time it didn’t happen was 2011, I believe.