Climate Factors: Stratospheric Warming and Transient MJO

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The East Pacific is El Nino warm BUT the atmosphere is not reacting. So other climate factors govern the pattern. A strong stratospheric warming event mid-month could trigger new arctic air while a transient MJO favors warming mid-month before the next cold outbreak later in December.

El Nino trying but failing…

El Nino warm waters are here but the coupling of the atmosphere to produce an El Nino climate is not happening.

I haven’t seen this for this long before – we’ve had the El Nino warmth for 2-3 months.

You can tell the atmopshere is not cooperating by looking at a satellite photo and seeing no clouds along the East Pacific equator.

Models say the El Nino climate will eventually develop but remember…models have built-in memory and rare events are not as easy to forecast.

What does this mean to markets? See no. 3.

Fig. 1: No clouds along the equator in the East Pacific as El Nino is struggling.


Once an El Nino becomes developed the MJO will shut off.

Why? All the anomalous warm water is in the equatorial East Pacific feeding convection which stagnates, there is not transient (MJO) character.

As mentioned above El Nino HAS NOT become established so we need to watch the MJO closely.

The current MJO forecast indicates a VERY transient nature – returning to the Indian Ocean the next 1-2 weeks then eastward toward the West Pacific.

Initially, the pattern descibed supports a cold U.S. climate which is indicated the next 10 days.

As MJO shifts east toward the West Pacific the U.S. turns warmer and that regime is also indicated by models days 11-15.

So…excellent support for model forecasts the next 15 days and the MJO is part of the driver of the indicated climate.

Fig. 2: MJO is progressive the next 2 weeks.

Stratospheric warming…

As described by the Bureau of Meteorology/Australia a Rossby Wave has formed northeast and north of Australia.

Rossby Waves turn upward into the stratosphere and pole ward with time and is the reason for a stratospheric warming event in 15 days over northern Canada.

All models have this event.

If correct, the warm stratospheric event triggers new arctic air which unloads on the U.S. later in December.

So…it looks like the warming in the 10-20 day period could reverse sharply colder.

Fig. 3: 12Z GFS depiction of a stratospheric warming event over North America in 12-13 days.