ARCTIC SEA ICE –El Norte Nina–

Bob Tisdale posted this animation over at WUWT., at this post:

Something to Keep an Eye On – The Large Blue Ribbon of Below-Normal Sea Surface Temperatures in the North Pacific

The animation shows how the cold air draining off the Pole into Siberia didn’t only move west to Europe, but also spilled east into the North Pacific, dramatically cooling the waters over the past month.


You can see the modest La Nina extending off the west coast of South America, and also the “Warm Blob” shrinking and being pressed up against the coast of Alaska. However the cold water hasn’t been named, so I’ll call it the La Nina of the North, or “El Norte Nina”.

It will be interesting to see how long El Norte Nina lasts. I imagine it is a wrench in the works of long term winter forecasts, likely based upon the “Warm Blob”. If it persists it will likely represent an end to the “warm spike” in the PDO, and a return to a cold PDO, just as I forecast.  I forecast it two years ago, and it didn’t happen, and I forecast it last year, and it didn’t happen, but now, at long last, the blind squirrel finds the nut.

(Actually there was a warm spike in the cold PDO of the 1950’s, and I was imagining the current warm spike would behave the same way, and last the same length of time. Fail. The current situation is unique, and the warm spike was far more powerful and lasted longer.)

The El Norte Nina fits nicely into my idea that we can’t have all the mild air rushing north to fuel the low pressure “Ralph” at the Pole, without having an exit route for all that air, bringing cold down to sub-polar regions. This year Eurasia has experienced a bitterly cold autumn, “unprecedented” in some places. I’ve been waiting for this autumnal pattern to flip into a winter pattern, but so far it is hanging tough. The map below shows the cold over Eurasia, with the cold pouring east into the Pacific over Japan. Of interest is the slot of warmth in the upper left. It is due to the latest incarnation of Ralph, which formed off the northeast tip of Greenland and crossed the Pole on the Atlantic side, finally crashing down into Eastern Russia. It’s odd when the “mild” air comes from the Pole, but that is how topsy-turvy  the pattern is.


Looking ahead to next Tuesday, Mongolia gets a respite, but the cold  gets incredible over central Russia, with temperatures forecast to be 35 degrees below normal. It looks like cold air is continuing to spill east over Japan, which likely would continue to fuel El Norte Nina.


To me this suggests another surge of mildness should be heading up to the Pole. So we first look at the current GFS anomaly map (produced by Dr. Ryan Maue over at the Weatherbell site [week free trial offered]).


Things indeed are mild up there, but not as mild as they are forecast to be next Tuesday.


Indeed, just as temperatures are 35 degrees below normal down in Siberia and Kazakhstan, they are 35 above at the Pole. In a few cases they may even be a bit above freezing, and I expect that will generate the usual hoop-la from the usual suspects. The DMI temperature-north-of-80°-latitude map will likely show yet another up-spike, perhaps even higher than the last one.


There will be further hoop-la about such a spike, and I feel there should be, but not because I feel the planet is warming. I feel it demonstrates our planet is spending heat like a drunken sailor, and will face one heck of a hangover in the morning, (the “morning” being midwinter.)

The next surge of warmth will come from the Atlantic and in some ways will be a repeat of where we left off last time I posted. Back then (November 7) an Atlantic-to-Pacific cross-polar-flow was bringing a spike of milder temperatures north of Greenland. (Ralph’s “signature”)

Besides creating a wrong-way-flow in Fram Strait, the rising mild air fueled yet another incarnation of Ralph himself.

Rather than heading up to the Pole, Ralph headed over to the Kara Sea, and I was thinking maybe the pattern was changing a little, and Ralph was merely a North Atlantic storm that happened to be displaced way, way, way to the North. I watched for high pressure to build at the Pole.

The high pressure did build, but the flow in Fram Strait remained a wrong-way flow, and that can lead to the reappearance of Ralph’s “signature.” And indeed today’s map shows a weak signature north of Greenland, and a weak Atlantic-to-Pacific cross-polar-flow starting, right where I was thinking high pressure might build. And….what is that dent of low pressure over the Pole? No! Not the ghost of Ralph, haunting me!

This really is a remarkable pattern, and a lot of fun to watch. I was expecting a pattern flip, and I guess El Norte Nina fits the bill. Not that I was expecting it to happen so quickly, (though I did say it would happen quickly, back in 2014), but I’ll call it a correct forecast, because I’m not able to say I’m right all that often, and even a blind squirrel wants a pat on the back every once in a while.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 98 years ago, the guns stopped shooting and silence descended over Flanders Field. People really did believe men had fought the war to end all wars, and mankind would never be so foolish ever again. Alas, Hitlers arise, and some men must leave warm homes to defend us. May God bless them, and may God save us from ourselves.



8 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA ICE –El Norte Nina–

    • Caleb’s fascinating writing always absorbs me. But, too many blind squirrels, nuts, blobs, and the esoteric “drunken sailors” hasten my confusion.

      Somehow I agree, more cold and snow for NE this winter, possibly spilling into the midwest and south.

      (Everyone should have a snow shovel before the price goes up.)

      Don’t ask any questions….

      • More often than not, my attempted humor fails to be humorous!

        Absolutely no criticism intended, so please keep the “mixed metaphors” coming, as well as all your other clever phraseology.

        (I especially liked the “Colorado Rocky Mountain low”, below.)

    • If the “Warm Blob” had remained as strong I think it would have built a ridge up the Rocky Mountains, and a trough would have dug in the east, and the east coast would have faced some murderous cold. (This would have happened last year, but the strong El Nino overpowered its effect, except for a couple very cold spells.)

      However “El Norte Nina” changes the equation (or “re-deals the cards”, to continue mixing my metaphors). Rather than a Rocky Mountain ridge deflecting Pacific air north to Alaska, The cold water in the North Pacific may encourage the jet to cut underneath, crashing Pacific air right into the Rocky Mountains. If this undercutting happens to the north, a Chinook descends on the east side of the Rockies, milder air floods out onto the Canadian plains, and the east coast of the USA can get surprisingly mild northwest winds.

      However if the jet undercuts further south we will get a storm track I’m not all that familiar with, giving Northern California rain and then reforming as a Colorado, Rocky Mountain low, and then heading east. If Colorado lows remain the primary storm, mild air floods up the east coast, but if they form a secondary, then the east coast can get coastal blizzards.

      At this point I’m expecting the east coast to flip-flop back and forth between warm southwest surges and thaws, and coastal lows with arctic blasts behind them. A sloppy, gloppy winter.

      The problem is, some of the Warm Blob remains, both along the coast of Alaska and along the coast of the Pacific northwest. This involves subtlety and nuance (and is a “fly in the ointment”, to throw in a metaphor), and is why I often run off to see what Joseph D’Aleo and Joe Bastardi are seeing, over at the Weatherbell Site.

  1. Very interesting! The strangeness continues. This is really neat to watch unfold. Once again,too, the DMI Greenland ice sheet accumulation continues to grow way above the mean. And to use my new grade school level Spanish, you could call the cold blob ‘ La ninita del norte ‘which translates to The little girl of the north. But as I look again it’s actually kinda fat, so maybe ‘La gordita del norte’, roughly ‘Little fatty of the north’. Thanks for another great post!

    • I think I like “La Ninita Del Norte”. (Over the years I’ve learned it is unwise to call any woman “fatty”.) Anyway, it looks long and thin to me.

      Joe Bastardi posted an interesting comment last week about how warmer air holds considerably more energy than colder air, and using temperatures alone fails to take the total amount of energy involved into consideration. (In other words, ten degrees above normal at the Pole involves less energy than one degree above normal at the equator.) I can’t say I fully understand his reasoning, but I get the gist of what he is saying.

      Also the map’s projection makes a square mile look bigger to the north.

      In any case, the La Nina has more “weight” than whatever we call the chill to the north, so it is wise to call the northern chill a “little girl.”

      My question is whether it will persist, or fade as quickly as it appeared. If it persists, the web will come up with a name for it we’d never think of.

      The Greenland snows (or ice-mass-balance, or whatever), continues to raise my eyebrows. It is just further proof the pattern is no run-of-the-mill weather. Expect the unexpected.

      Enjoy your springtime. Now is when I envy the Southern Hemisphere.

  2. The GFS is showing an unusual and powerful coastal storm next weekend, mostly from DC south. Potentially flooding rains around DC, but some possibility for snow in places like the western Carolinas and unusual cold all the way down to FL. Meanwhile very mild in the rest of the country.

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