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In a follow up to the recent article on the current El Nino, the following two charts offer an interesting yet subtle element to ponder. It was predicted that the Mercury retrograde motion near Hawaii starting in the last days of October would tend to stop the flow of warm water into the west coast of South America thus slowing down the current El Nino.
In the first chart for October 30, 2006 the area circled that is against the coast of Peru is a dark red mass representing very warm Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs). This area is the source of the warm plume of water moving out to the west from the circled area. This plume is a typical El Nino signature. The eddies and waves of warm water can be seen streaming out to the west while to the north cold water sits above the tropics between Hawaii and the West Coast of the US. It can be seen that the area in the white circle is a dark red with no intrusion of moderate yellow much less cooler blue temperatures. This was the chart that was issued by the government agencies that supported the ongoing deepening of the current El Nino.
This chart for November 4, 2006 is the image most recently published depicting the changes in SSTs since the onset of the Mercury retrograde motion near Hawaii. It can be seen in this second chart that the same area circled off of the Peruvian coast is now decidedly less intense, signaling a shift in the warming pattern. Not only is the red less intense but just below the red along the coast at several places the emergence of cooler waters can be seen breaking against the coast. The normal pattern for this section of the coast at this time of year is for cool water to form as a coastal upwelling. The opposite condition where warmth is upwelling is the classic El Nino signature for this area of the eastern Pacific. The emergence of cold pools of water here is significant in the middle of an El Nino sequence. Further it can be seen that even the warm tongue extending to the west out into the Pacific now contains several pools of cool water. Finally, the cold water to the north between Hawaii and the West Coast of the US is also breaking up with cold pools descending towards the warm tongue. Are these subtle cues an indication that Mercury is just beginning to shift the SST dynamic along the equator in the eastern Pacific? Or has Doc Weather been spending too much time at the computer? Let's watch for the next bulletin.