La Niña is officially gone. What does that mean for hurricane season?

El Nino favored by the peal of hurricane season

ORLANDO, Fla. – La Niña’s three-year run officially ended Thursday. The Climate Prediction Center officially designated ENSO-neutral conditions.

ENSO, or El Niño Southern Oscillation, is the recurring climate pattern that involves changes in the temperature of the water in the central and eastern tropical Pacific.

When the temperature anomaly is cooler than .5 degrees Celsius, a La Niña is present. When it is greater than .5 degrees Celsius an El Niño develops. When it’s neither, the state of ENSO is considered to be neutral.

Why does this matter?

The state of ENSO has worldwide weather ramifications. La Niña, in hurricane season typically promotes a higher-than-normal frequency of storms. El Niño on the other hand tends to promote a quieter season in terms of number of storms.

El Nino and hurricane season

The main reason for this is increased wind shear in the tropical Atlantic. Wind shear prevents tropical systems from organizing efficiently.

The Climate Prediction Center is favoring an El Niño to develop by the peak of hurricane season (August, September, October).

ENSO forecast. Credit: NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

El Niño, however, isn’t the only driving factor for hurricane season.

The last time El Niño was around for hurricane seasons was 2018 and 2019. Even with El Niño being present, the 2019 season was above-average and produced two Category 5 storms, Dorian and Lorenzo. 2018 was slightly above-average and produced category five Hurricane Michael which brought catastrophic impacts to the Florida panhandle.

Remember, even during a below average season in terms of number of storms, it only takes one to make it a bad season.

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About the Author:

Jonathan Kegges joined the News 6 team in June 2019 as the Weekend Morning Meteorologist. Jonathan comes from Roanoke, Virginia where he covered three EF-3 tornadoes and deadly flooding brought on by Hurricanes Florence and Michael.