A little more about El Nino’s global impacts

By Meteorologist Mike Skurko

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NOAA recently announced it’s prediction for the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season.  At the top of the list of influences on this year’s forecast was the presence of El Nino.  How is it that the warming of waters in the Pacific can lead to a quiet hurricane season in the Atlantic?  Further, how does it influence a wide variety of dramatic weather changes around the world?

An article published this week by NOAA’s climate.gov website explains this phenomenon.  A lot of it is a cause-effect chain that continues influencing the next event.  Here is a summary:

El Nino develops when the ocean waters in the Pacific near the equator become warmer than normal (when they are cooler than normal, it’s referred to as La Nina).  These warmer waters promote more thunderstorm activity in this region with more of this warm air available.  This rising warm air also warms the upper-levels of the atmosphere more than normal, not just the sea surface temperatures.

This warmer air in the upper atmosphere gets carried away from the tropics by the Hadley Circulation.  With an abundance of warmer air available to be carried away, the Hadley Circulation intensifies, which causes changes in large-scale jet stream and other climate patterns.

For some areas, these changing patterns cause much drier weather.  For others, it’s a rainy season.  For the Atlantic tropics, it’s a quieter hurricane season.  Etc. Etc.

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Click here for the full NOAA article regarding El Nino’s global impacts: http://www.climate.gov/news-features/blogs/enso/how-enso-leads-cascade-global-impacts

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