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Washington Voices

El Niño keeps hurricanes on calm side

Thu., Sept. 3, 2009

The 2009 tropical storm and hurricane season has been relatively uneventful thus far. Over the next few weeks, we will reach the peak of this period, which began on June 1 and will end on Nov. 30.

As of early Monday, there have only been four named storms with one becoming a hurricane (Hurricane Bill) in the Atlantic Ocean. During a typical season, the eastern Pacific Ocean will see more tropical storm and hurricane development. In fact, one hurricane may bring some much-needed rainfall to Southern California.

We don’t usually hear much about the Pacific hurricanes. The ones in the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean receive more media attention because they pose a bigger threat to land.

Thanks to El Niño, the warmer-than-normal sea-surface temperature near the equator, I still expect the number of named storms and hurricanes to be near or below normal. The overall average is 10 named storms with six becoming hurricanes.

Although El Niños are warm, the upper-level circulation creates wind shear that often inhibits the formation of tropical storms. However, that doesn’t mean we won’t see a strong hurricane threatening the U.S. coast over the next four to six weeks.

In our area, I’m still expecting a rather wet and cool fall followed by a winter with far less snowfall than during the last two record snowy seasons. Showers should become more numerous after Labor Day.

The warm El Niño in the tepid waters of the Pacific Ocean should keep us milder and drier than usual this winter as much of the moisture moves southward into drought-parched and fire-ravaged California. I’ll have more details in the upcoming weeks.

Contact Randy Mann at randy@longrange

Tags: weather

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