April 12, 2010

El Nino Weakening; Possible Ending This Summer

El Nino, a contributor to the active winter and last summer`s low hurricane activity, is starting a slow fade. It could be gone just in time for the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane season; a bad sign for residents living in the Caribbean and along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.

A moderate El Nino is occurring over the tropical Pacific Ocean, says the latest forecast by the government’s Climate Prediction Center. This is weaker than the strong El Nino seen over the winter and this weakening trend is expected to continue through the spring. El Nino, the abnormal warming of the Pacific Ocean off South America`s west coast, alters climate patterns around the world and causes shifts in North America`s jet stream, the high altitude winds that steer storms. El Nino`s intensity guides the severity of these shifting weather patterns.

El Nino was likely a leading factor in the relatively quiet 2009 Atlantic Hurricane Season compared to the hyperactive years seen over the last half decade. Past hurricane seasons with a weak to moderate El Nino have seen lower hurricane activity as increased wind shear in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea slows tropical system development. Wind shear had been a common problem affecting tropical development in 2009. For the 2010 season, El Nino diminishing conditions will mean that the Atlantic Hurricane basin could return to its above-average activity seen over the last decade.
By WeatherBug Sr. Meteorologist, James West

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