Whether you believe in climate change or not there is a cyclical weather pattern that comes and goes with regularity. It is called the El Nino and La Nina. El Nino means the little boy in Spanish. La Nina means little girl in Spanish. How does that affect us?
El Nino ushers in warmer water. Warmer water is what helps hurricanes to form and grow. El Nino years usually translate into more active hurricane seasons.
La Nina keeps the water colder. Cold water stops hurricanes in their tracks. As such, years where La Nina is present mean fewer hurricanes are likely.
According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) there is a sixty percent (60%) chance that we will welcome El Nino sometime between May and June of this year (2023). The National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) concurred with this prediction and said there was a ninety percent (90%) it would stick around through 2024.
Another contributing factor to our weather patterns and hurricane forecasts is what meteorologist call the ENSO Cycle 101. What this is, and does, has everything to do with the trade winds from the Pacific Ocean. Typically, the trade winds blow west along the equator. This brings warmer water from South America closer to Asia replacing the normally cooler waters there. This is termed upwelling and can affect major storm formation.
Trade winds are weaker during El Nino. This creates less upwelling which means warmer surface waters and the possibility of more and stronger storms.
NOAA states that El Nino and La Nina transpire about one time every two to seven years. However, that pattern has become somewhat more erratic over time and as such so has the water temperatures that can impact the ENSO cycles.
NOAA has been tracking these patterns for a long time and the intensity of these storms will be directed according to how much warmer the water becomes. This past April registered the highest global sea surface temperatures ever recorded. That does not bode well for El Nino.
The warmer water moves the jet stream southerly of its neutral position. When this occurs it means more tropical depressions and hurricanes are possible in North America. East Coast states may experience less rainfall than the southern states during the El Nino. Southern states may see more rainfall and flooding.
What can you do? Watch the Weather Channel or your local news channel. Be aware of where the storms are and where they are predicted to make landfall. If the storm is slated to land near where your home is board up and stay inside.
What should you do personally? Stock up on water, flashlights and batteries, and canned foods in the event you have no water or power. If asked by the local authorities to evacuate please heed the warning and do so for you and your family’s safety.