La Niña Likely to Return for Hurricane Season

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10 Feb 2024 11:45 PM

Hurricane season is a little over 100 days away, but there are signals that the 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season could be a strong one. New guidance from the Climate Prediction Center [CPC] on February 7th, indicated high confidence in a shift back to La Niña by the peak of Hurricane Season in August and September. Right now, we are in an El Nino pattern (which only started in the Spring of 2023) so a quick shift is not unheard of, but unusual.

Dr. Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University highlighted that the change to La Niña by the middle of the Hurricane Season could lead to multiple waves of energy moving off the coast of Africa. Our most recent La Niña Hurricane seasons were 2020, 2021 and 2022. All three were above average for hurricane activity.

The reason we typically see elevated hurricane activity in the Atlantic tropics during La Niña events is because the temperature profiles and interactions between the ocean surface and atmosphere lead to less shear over the tropical Atlantic ocean. Shear rips apart hurricanes, so the less of it, generally the better the environment is for storms to develop and be sustained.

The other factor in hurricane development and sustainment is ocean temperatures. Right now, in early February sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic (between the Caribbean and Africa) are as warm as they would be on June 7th. Below is a post shared by a hurricane and ocean researcher at the University of Miami highlighting sea surface temperatures of about 2.5°F above average.

Hurricane season is still a ways away and things can change, and he overall pattern is only guidance, not a forecast. Stay with WeatherNation for the latest as the tropical season draws nearer.

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