FLORIDA — NOAA forecasters have released their latest update on the current climate pattern known as La Nińa. This climate pattern has a large impact on our hurricane season here in Southwest Florida.
La Nińa is one of the climate parameters that meteorologists look at in forecasting hurricane season is the ENSO index, or the El Nińo Southern Oscillation Index. Enso is the interaction between the atmosphere and ocean in the tropical pacific and determined based on above or below normal water temperatures. This winter, we have seen below normal water temperatures in this region, resulting in La Nińa conditions.
Forecasters are expecting this La Nińa to stick around for at least while longer, with a transition back to near neutral conditions not likely taking place until late spring. NOAA says there’s 77% chances that La Nińa conditions lingers until may, followed by a 56% chance it moves towards neutral between June and August.
If ENSO returns to neutral again this summer, it would be the third straight year. The previous two years saw the most active hurricane season in 2020 and third most active in 2021.
Both La Nińa and ENSO neutral would support the conditions associated with the ongoing high activity era, with predicted warmer-than average ocean temperatures in the Atlantic, weaker tropical trade winds, and most importantly weaker vertical shear. A strong wind shear can rip hurricanes apart keeping them weaker or preventing them from forming.
However, it is still too early to tell if there will be a three-peat of ENSO-neutral conditions, nor how active this summer’s season will be. The key to remember is it only takes one storm to devastate a community. We will get the first formal hurricane season forecast will be released on April 7th by Colorado State University.