Cumberland Times-News

Editorials

April 28, 2014

El Nino

Not as many hurricanes expected this year

Finally, some good news about the weather.

Climate scientists expect a particularly strong El Nino this summer, leading to fewer hurricanes in the Atlantic. There is a 20 percent probability that at least one major hurricane will make landfall along the East Coast this year, down from the average of 31 percent over the last century, according to a report by Colorado State University.

Capital News Service said it did research and found that, on average, there were four fewer hurricanes in years classified as having a strong El Nino than years without El Nino.

El Ninos occur when abnormally warm water moves under the surface of the Pacific Ocean. El Ninos have varied effects based on how they move jet streams, fast-moving air currents that stretch around the globe.

Even though fewer hurricanes are expected, there is still danger. Ed McDonough, public information officer for the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, told Capital News Service Maryland still could encounter a hurricane. “It really doesn’t matter how many hurricanes we have in a season. If we have one hurricane, it’s a bad season,” he said. “I don’t worry so much about the forecast; it doesn’t really change how we prepare.”

The West Coast also will feel El Nino’s effect. Increased rainfall is expected there, which would be helpful in minimizing droughts and wildfires in California. But particularly strong El Ninos can still have damaging effects, including floods.

While the experts speculate about the weather, Mother Nature will have the final word. After a particularly harsh weather in our region, a quiet hurricane season would be most welcome.

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