NOAA scientists revise hurricane outlook

By: Martha Spencer
By: Martha Spencer

Hurricanes have active and quiet cycles, and these cycles can last dozens of years. While we are now in our 14th year of an active cycle, El Nino is the conflicting force of any significant Atlantic hurricane developments this year.

While the Pacific basin has seen multiple named storms this hurricane season, the Atlantic basin has stayed off the radar, with no named storms yet this summer.

El Nino is a phenomenon that increases water temperature near the equator in the Pacific, and creates hostel westerly wind shear in the Caribbean and Atlantic. Hurricanes need no wind shear environments to develop

Scientists have confirmed that a strong El Nino presence is hindering Atlantic storm development.

Clark Matthews, Houston County Emergency Management Director said, “Over the years there have been several hurricanes that developed even though El Nino was in place and they were very intense, even though we may not have as many we still have that possibility of very intense storms."

While hurricane season peaks in late August through October, the quiet start and presence of El Nino has lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to drop their out look to between seven and 11 named storms, 3-6 hurricanes, and 1-2 major hurricanes.

But while El Nino makes conditions more challenging for development, it doesn't eliminate them.

"Try to remember that it don't take but one storm and I think the forecasters will all tell you that there’s always that possibility at this time of year especially during the peak period, so my message to the public is stay prepared." said Matthews.

Some past hurricanes that have developed in El Nino cycles were Besty in 1965, Bob in 1991, Danny in 1996 and Lilly in 2002.

There was even an El Nino presence in early 1992, a year that's first storm, category 5 Andrew devastated south Florida on August 24th.

NOAA's lead senior forecaster Gerry Bell wants people to know that these projections are not hurricane landfall projections. When a tropical storm or hurricane comes close enough to impact land, short term, and local weather patterns become the influencing force on storms ability to reach land.

This year's first named storm when it develops will be named Ana.

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