Sea surface temperatures are above average across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center says the chance of El Nino is 70 percent during the northern hemisphere summer and reaches 80 percent during the fall and winter.
The high probability of El Nino developing is one of the reasons most seasonal hurricane forecasters are calling for near or below normal tropical cyclone activity this year. The El Nino usually results in stronger than normal wind shear over the deep tropical Atlantic.
This sounds like good news. However, does anyone remember 2004? That was an El Nino year and Florida was struck by powerful and destructive Hurricanes Charley (Category 4), Frances, (Category 2), Ivan (Category 3) and Jeanne (Category 3). And don’t forget Category 3 Hurricane Betsy that struck South Florida in 1965. That was also an El Nino year.
Hopefully, the numbers of tropical storms and hurricanes over the Atlantic Basin will be decreased if the El Nino develops as expected. But it is still wise to be prepared. It only takes one hurricane over our community to make for a bad year.