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Atlantic Hurricane Season Quieter, Thanks To El Nino

Mon., Dec. 1, 1997

The Atlantic hurricane season was a lot less windy than usual. El Nino is the reason.

Three hurricanes blew in from the Atlantic during a storm season that ended Sunday. Six is average.

El Nino, the periodic warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean, gave rise to furious storms off the coast of Mexico such as Hurricane Pauline. That storm struck the Mexican coast in October, causing flash floods and mudslides that killed 230 and left 300,000 homeless.

But El Nino had the opposite effect in the Atlantic, where it sent strong easterly winds into the upper atmosphere. Those winds helped dampen conditions for the formation and movement of hurricanes.

The National Hurricane Center chased only seven named storms in the Atlantic while watching a hefty 17 in the eastern Pacific.

Still, the Atlantic season, which runs from June through November, was not noiseless.

Hurricane Danny, which stalled over the Alabama coast in July, killed at least nine people and flooded parts of the Carolinas.

Hurricane Bill, which formed over the eastern Bahamas earlier that same month, did little damage.

Hurricane Erika killed two in Puerto Rico in September before turning north and dying out.

Tags: weather

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