Thursday, October 18, 2012

NOAA Winter Forecast Challenging To Decipher

The long range prediction branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Climate Prediction Center (CPC), released its winter outlook today. Upon analysis, I find it hard to correctly decipher.

The CPC did account for the lack of an El Nino, clearly stated in this quote from the article, which you can find here:

Forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center say a wavering El Niño, expected to have developed by now, makes this year’s winter outlook less certain than previous years.
“This is one of the most challenging outlooks we’ve produced in recent years because El Niño decided not to show up as expected,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “In fact, it stalled out last month, leaving neutral conditions in place in the tropical Pacific.”

The CPC has indicated that the El Nino is not coming to at the moment. Mike Halpert, deputy director of the NOAA CPC, also indicated that we are 'stalled' in a neutral ENSO situation. Recall that a neutral ENSO scenario presents cold in the North and wet in the East, as is shown below:

During a neutral ENSO winter, the subtropical jet stream is confined to the south while the Polar jet stream gives way and brings arctic air to the Northern US. These two jet streams merge in the Southeast, bringing a wetter than normal area to that region. The South in general is warmer than normal.

However, upon comparison to the typical Neutral ENSO winter and the NOAA forecast, the two are completely opposite. In fact, they are much closer to an El Nino solution, which dictates below normal precipitation in the Northwest and wet conditions along the Gulf Coast and East Coast. Temperatures do also partially resemble an east-based La Nina, which includes a warm West and cool East.

I have always been skeptical of the Climate Prediction Center- I find too many instances of above normal temperatures and/or 'Equal Chances' zones across the nation in their forecasts. Much like The Weather Channel, I have immense respect for the meteorologists at the CPC, but disagree with some of their content.

Personally, I find that there should be a cooler than normal section in the East, as the positive AMO will lead to increased instances of a -NAO/-AO (essential for cold weather in the East). You can find the rest of my winter thoughts at my Final Winter Forecast by clicking here.

Summed up, I disagree with the CPC's outlook. They seem too cautious and flip-flopping on what they want to do as for ENSO stages. Time will indeed tell, but I'm just a bit too skeptical for this forecast.



Anonymous said...

Andrew you and I are definitely in agreement over this lates mystery that NOAA has put out. But if you think about it they don't really call it a forecast. It is simply a PROBAILITY map, which in itself makes no sense. I have not put any faith or trust in anyhting NOAA puts out for a long time but I think it is a very interesting sign that they have changed dramatically over what they had out as recently as Sept. This tells me that NOAA may be seeing something like the Winter Firecast you have put out and stand behind.

Anonymous said...

Andrew...thanks for making this post... I too, found the NOAA winter forecast a tad bit goofy. Especially with the current cycle setting up... Unless there's a complete flip flop of how weather pans out this winter, the NOAA folks are gonna have to make some adjustments. Thanks for what you and your team do!

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that NOAA is very conservative with their products. They dont really care about taking any chances in an attempt to "call it right" long term unless they have certainty, they just discuss what their models are showing. The models run out of certainty pretty quickly and they revert to discussing trends which arent very interesting.

Your forecast, which made a lot of sense to me, relied heavily on the oscillations, which can flip back and forth unpredictably. But since they all seemed to be in harmony, I thought your forecast was reasonable. Would I bet money on it? I am thinking.

mike paulocsak said...

I agree with Andrewe and all the postsabove me.NOAA needs to consider what is going on right now.We have been getting system after system moving through producing copious ammounts of precip.over portions of the country right now.As for going long term forecasting as they do,that is crazy.The further you predict,the less accurate the forecast usually is.Keep up the SUPERB work,Andrew!We all stand behind you!!!!!!!!