Quiet hurricane season could mean payback this winter

Stronger odds for El NiƱo to bring changes to Florida storm pattern

By Mark Collins - Meteorologist
Climate.gov figure from CPC

Surface and subsurface tropical Pacific sea temperature have warmed in the eastern tropical Pacific. The vertical axis is depth below the surface and the horizontal axis is longitude.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A global weather pattern shaping up to quell hurricanes this summer could spell stronger storms this winter across Florida.

You may have heard about the news of warmer sea temperatures in the Pacific equatorial area. This feature called El Niño can have both good and bad impacts on our weather around north Florida.

The chance that El Niño conditions will be in place across the tropical Pacific by the winter is nearly 70 percent, according to an update by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC).

For starters, it is currently slightly above average and hopefully we are seeing its impact resulting in a quiet Atlantic hurricane season. The remainder of July looks quiet as dry air and strong high pressure takes over.

This is the good news.  El Niño acts like a bodyguard for residents in the southern United States by blocking storms through hostile upper levels winds. 

CPC scientists always talk about seasonal climate outlooks in terms of "odds," "chances" or "probabilities," not guarantees.  But the odds are high at 70 percent that by wintertime we could be dealing with its wet and cool aspects here in the southeast.

But El Niño also carries a dangerous side especially here in Florida from turbo charged Gulf storms which tend to be stronger when they track across Florida.

Many of the states tornado outbreaks happen during these scenarios in the winter. 

Predicting a specific weather event months in advance is not likely, but forecasting an El Niño during the winter means we can often anticipate certain weather trends ahead.

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