Monday, June 29, 2009

Watching the Pacific Ocean. Why?

During a time of above average temperatures and relatively quiet tropical activity, I'm spending the afternoon reviewing current global atmospheric weather patterns. Tomorrow will end a very warm month for us in the Pine Belt, but I'm also noticing sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean warming as well. Why look to the Pacific when we are so far away? Global trends like El Nino and La Nina are important oscillations to follow for long-term forecasting, and the Pacific water temperature is a major variable in determining these phases. For nearly the whole past year we have been in a neutral phase, but the last few months have showed us a trend. The El Nino Southern Oscillation neutral phase is transition into an El Nino phase in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Since May 2009 the sea surface temperature anomalies have increased across the equatorial Pacific. Increasing anomalies refers to warming ocean water. What would an El Nino pattern mean for us? The effects of El Nino during June-August include an increase in tropical activity in the eastern Pacific and a decrease in tropical activity in the Atlantic Basin. The transition into an El Nino trend may be an added reason why the long-term tropical forecast seems relatively quiet in the Gulf, but we are technically still in a "neutral" phase until El Nino anomalies have been maintained for atleast 3 months. All in all, it's another two cents to put into the tropical outlook. Please email if you have any added questions!

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