El Niño may fade as hurricane season picks up

Transition to neutral over next month or two could boost storms

By Mark Collins - Meteorologist

Warm water in Pacific reduces Atlantic hurricanes. SSTs were near-to-below average near Indonesia and in parts of the eastern Pacific and Atlantic.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla - A primary atmospheric regulator on hurricane activity shows signs of fading just as the hurricane season begins to spark up.

The ongoing El Niño, which typically suppresses the intensity of the Atlantic hurricane season, shows signs of fading in the coming months which may favor increased activity, according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

Warm water in the Pacific known as El Niño alters the atmospheric flow of winds around the world resulting in unfavorable high altitude winds which hamper Atlantic tropical cyclone activity. 

During Niño, fewer hurricanes and major hurricanes develop in the deep tropics from African easterly waves. 

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says a transition from El Niño to a weaker neutral phase is expected in the next month or two which could last through fall and winter. The effect is so critical to hurricane patterns that NOAA’s seasonal hurricane prediction puts a great amount of emphasis on the seesawing Pacific cycle. 

NOAA’s latest seasonal forecast called for near-normal Atlantic hurricane activity due to predicted El Niño activity.

But if it ends sooner, more hurricanes could form in the deep tropics from African easterly waves which coincide during the busier August through October months.

These systems have a much greater likelihood of becoming major hurricanes and of eventually threatening the U.S. and Caribbean Islands.

The chances for the continental U.S. and the Caribbean Islands to experience a hurricane increase substantially during La Niña and decrease during El Niño.

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