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Arrival of El Nino could mean below average hurricane season this summer

The 1997 El Nino seen by TOPEX/Poseidon
The 1997 El Nino seen by TOPEX/Poseidon
NASA (public domain)

Good news at last. Now that winter finally seems to have given up its grasp on the nation, forgoing bitter cold and snow for warmer temperatures and rain storms, researchers at Colorado State University are predicting a rather quiet hurricane season, with only “3 out of 9 tropical storms reaching hurricane status. Of these, they predict that only 1 will reach category 3, 4, or (possibly) 5 status. The general average for hurricane season, which runs between June 1-November 30, is 12 named storms, with slightly more than half developing into hurricanes, and 2 reaching category 3 or higher winds.

The reason for this year’s calmer expectations are due to a “50% likelihood that El Nino will make an appearance during the summer or 63% that it will arise during the fall, combined with a cooling down in the southern Atlantic Ocean according to further “guessing” by the Climate Prediction Center and International Research Institute for Climate and Society. Still, no matter how hard they try, meteorologists warn that there are no guarantees when it comes to weather prediction, noting that despite forecasts calling for an “above average” hurricane season in 2013, they were (thankfully) wrong.

Note: For those who are uncertain about what El Nino actually is, the term refers to a warming of the ocean temperatures and high surface air pressure off the Pacific coast of South America which causes changes in weather patterns such as fluctuating droughts, floods, and crop yields in varying regions of the world. On the opposite side of the spectrum, La Nina refers to a colder phase resulting from low air surface pressure arising in the same region.