Thursday, July 15, 2010

La Nina And Hurricane Season

If Dr. Jeff Masters is right, and La Nina is here, we’re in for a doozy of a hurricane season. Just what is La Nina?

According to Dr. Masters, it is well-known that both the number and intensity of hurricanes in the Atlantic tend to increase during La Niña events. However, as I discussed in a post last month, since 1995, neutral years (when neither an El Niño or La Niña are present) have had Atlantic hurricane activity equal to La Niña years.

The last time we had a strong El Nino event followed by a La Nina event in the same year, in 1998, we had an Atlantic hurricane season 40% above average in activity, with 14 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and 3 intense hurricanes.  The season was relatively late starting, with only one named storm occurring before August 20.  I am thinking this year's season may be similar, though four more or more intense hurricanes are a good bet due to the record warm SSTs.

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars, and upon earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring.  Luke 21:25
Both El Niño and La Niña events have major impacts on regional and global weather patterns. For the remainder of July and August, we can expect La Niña to bring cloudier and wetter than average conditions to the Caribbean, but weather patterns over North America should not see much impact (Figure 2.) Globally, La Niña conditions tend to cause a net cooling of surface temperatures. Thus, while the past twelve month period has been the warmest globally since record keeping began in 1880, it is unlikely that the calendar year of 2010 will set the record for warmest year ever. Source

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