What’s going on with the El Niño?

On Sept. 15, the National Hurricane Center announced that an extremely rare El Niño event has developed in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Using detailed models, models predict that a freakishly active hurricane season is…

What’s going on with the El Niño?

On Sept. 15, the National Hurricane Center announced that an extremely rare El Niño event has developed in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Using detailed models, models predict that a freakishly active hurricane season is on the way, with the Atlantic already seeing several rare storms forming during November. These models project a near record strength season, with near-normal frequency of tropical storms.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season is scheduled to end on Nov. 30. If the 2016 Atlantic season were to repeat this year, we would see a record storm total of ~35 named storms, with a maximum intensity of ~17 tropical storms. That would push this year’s storm totals close to the average of ~21 storms/hurricanes for the 1981-2010 average.

An El Niño event develops during the autumn, bringing increased ocean temperatures to the tropical Pacific. The cool water in the tropical Pacific combined with abundant precipitation can start cycles of storms. Generally, a record or near-record hurricane season can follow an El Niño event. Most recently, the 2002 season was the ninth-busiest on record.

Predictions for season strength are based on current models. However, the actual intensity of each season will be impacted by many factors, such as the state of the underlying El Niño or La Niña conditions and other factors beyond the control of any individual system.

In the event that the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season repeats this year, the season total would be 33 named storms, with 8 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes.

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