El Niño may help a less active Atlantic storm season

The official hurricane season begins this Thursday in the Atlantic basin with forecasts indicating that the number of cyclones may be within the average and the unknown of how the presence of the El Niño climate phenomenon will affect it.

After five years absent, El Niño is going to develop in the Pacific from now on and continue “quite pronounced” for the rest of the year, Anthony Reynes, a meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) told EFE. Its acronym in English) of the USA, on which the National Hurricane Center (NHC) depends.

In general, this means “weather conditions that become less favorable for the development of cyclones (in the Atlantic), not only for their formation, but also for them to maintain a higher intensity during the season,” he adds.

That is a reason for hope for the inhabitants of the countries bordering the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Bermuda and the southern and southeastern states of the US who spend six months waiting for weather bulletins and have suffered in the last five years very active seasons.

That of 2020 set an absolute record, with 30 named storms, of which 14 became hurricanes and of these, 7 were major hurricanes, that is, with maximum winds of 111 miles per hour, which is equivalent to 178 km/ h.

THE CHILD ON THE THRESHOLD

The hurricane season in the Atlantic begins this June 1 and runs until November 30 and NOAA has predicted that this year there will be at least 12 named storms, of which between 5 and 9 will become hurricanes and of these one could be a major hurricane

There is a 40% chance of a “near normal” season, a 30% chance of an above normal season and a 30% chance of a below normal season, according to NOAA.

Reynes believes that the El Niño phenomenon may contribute to a near-normality or even a below-normal season, but warns that this opinion is based on statistics and projections and not on “exact data.”

El Niño tends to produce an increase in Pacific water temperatures in the tropical area, near the Equator, and “this increase, although in terms of numbers is not very large, has a significant impact on the atmosphere.”

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“This changes the pattern of winds and generally means that here in the Atlantic area we can have high-level winds that become less favorable for cyclone development,” he says.

The meteorologist indicated that, in any case, the important thing for the start of the season is that people are prepared for what may come.

DON’T BE AFRAID ONLY OF THE WIND

In this sense, Reynes called on the population to pay attention not only to the forecasts of the strength that their winds will reach when a storm or hurricane is announced, but also to those that refer to rain and storm surge, which can be equally or even more dangerous.

“We have to start changing the mentality of the general public so that they stop being focused on the scale of winds,” he stresses, indicating that Hurricane Ian, which devastated a large area of ​​Florida in 2022 with its catastrophic storm surge, left a important lesson.

“If you are in an evacuation area, if you are in danger of storm surge, leave your home and follow all instructions from the authorities so that you and your family can be saved,” says Reynes.

Ian made landfall on September 28 in southwestern Florida with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph (250 km/h) and a storm surge of 17 to 20 feet (5.1 to 6 meters).

Of the 156 people who died as a result of the passage of this hurricane, which before the US touched Cuba, 55 drowned due to the rise in sea level, which entered the land and devastated everything

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