The MJO in the national news!

Although I don’t consider to be the most reliable source for news, I was surprised to find a recent article by Dan Vergano that discusses the warm weather we saw in the US during December 2015.

Real Winter Is Coming (In About Four Weeks)

The thing that really surprised me was that he talks about the MJO! Normally people dont talk about the MJO for a few reasons.

  1. The MJO is hard to define
  2. The MJO is hard to “see” in real-time weather maps
  3. Attribution of the MJO’s impacts is very difficult

For these reasons the news generally stays away from discussing it, which is probably a good thing most of the time. They will most likely muck it up and it could turn into the next “Polar Vortex“.

Anyway, I was impressed by the job this reporter did of explaining the MJO accurately.

The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), a cycle of tropical winds and rains that regularly play ping-pong between the Indian and Pacific oceans, will probably strengthen in coming weeks, according to a separate NOAA analysis released on Monday. The MJO is heading eastward and promises to return winter to normal in North America.

I also like the tone of uncertainty when talking about what the presence of the MJO might mean for weather in the US.

In the past, a stronger MJO has delivered more rain and snow to the West Coast during wintertime. And for snow-starved Easterners, the MJO most often means cold air outbreaks in the Eastern United States. Its effects are usually felt on a time scale of a few weeks, L’Heureux said, with a switch back to its promised colder winter likely manifest around the end of January. “I wouldn’t give up on snow just yet this winter.”

Phrases like “…the MJO most often means cold air outbreaks…” make me happy. He could have easily inflated this statement to something like “The MJO means cold air outbreaks!” that could fuel MJO hysteria… but he didn’t. My faith in the media is partially restored!

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