The sun has been rather quiet in recent weeks despite the fact that we are slowly approaching the expected solar maximum of solar cycle 24 sometime during the latter half of 2013. There is, however, a rather large looking sunspot that has just recently rotated into view on the sun, and it will continue to rotate into a position that more directly faces the Earth over the next week or so. Given its size, this sunspot will need to be monitored as it continues to move around the sun.
Back on Earth, the transition continues in the tropical Pacific Ocean from a La Nina to an El Nino pattern with above-normal sea surface temperatures now appearing off the west coast of South America near the equator. It appears that this developing weak El Nino in the tropical Pacific Ocean could persist into the upcoming winter months before it likely fades away later next year. Meanwhile, the northern Pacific Ocean continues to be generally in a cold phase at the same time the northern half of the Atlantic Ocean remains above normal with respect to sea surface temperatures. As the Atlantic tropical season begins to wind down from a climatological mid-September peak, we’ll have to monitor the possibility for some “home grown” systems that could form over the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean Sea rather than near the African west coast as this region “closer to home” tends to become more active during late September or October compared to the eastern Atlantic.