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El Niño fading, ‘good chance’ of La Niña to follow says atmospheric physicist

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Natural phenomena dictating weather patterns. The El Niño of 2023-24 is described as ‘strange’, possibly due to some extent to the Tonga undersea volcanic eruption of 2022.
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Wild weather has been roiling North America for the past few months, thanks in part to a strong El Niño that sent temperatures surging in 2023, says The Conversation (via

The climate phenomenon fed atmospheric rivers drenching the West Coast and contributed to summer’s extreme heat in the South and Midwest and fall’s wet storms across the East.

That strong El Niño is now starting to weaken and will likely be gone by late spring 2024.

So, what does that mean for the months ahead—and for the 2024 hurricane season?
. . .
What to expect from El Niño in 2024
While the 2023-24 El Niño event likely peaked in December, it is still strong.

For the rest of winter, forecasts suggest that strong El Niño conditions will likely continue to favor unusual warmth in Canada and the northern United States and occasional stormy conditions across the southern states.

El Niño is likely to end in late spring or early summer, shifting briefly to neutral. There’s a good chance we will see La Niña conditions this fall. But forecasting when that happens and what comes next is harder.
. . .
Summer and the hurricane risk
Among the more important El Niño effects is its tendency to reduce Atlantic hurricane activity.

El Niño’s Pacific Ocean heat affects upper level winds that blow across the Gulf of Mexico and the tropical Atlantic Ocean. That increases wind shear—the change in wind speed and direction with height—which can tear hurricanes apart.

The 2024 hurricane season likely won’t have El Niño around to help weaken storms. But that doesn’t necessarily mean an active season.

During the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, El Niño’s effect on the winds was more than offset by abnormally warm Atlantic waters, which fuel hurricanes. The season ended with more storms than average.

The strange El Niño of 2023-24
Although the 2023-24 El Niño event wasn’t the strongest in recent decades, many aspects of it have been unusual.

It followed three years of La Niña conditions, which is unusually long. It also emerged quickly, from March to May 2023. The combination led to weather extremes unseen since perhaps the 1870s.

La Niña cools the tropics but stores warm water in the western Pacific. It also warms the middle latitude oceans by weakening the winds and allowing more sunshine through. After three years of La Niña, the rapid emergence of El Niño helped make the Earth’s surface warmer than in any recent year.

Full article here.
[Image – Typical winters under El Niño and La Niña. Credit: NOAA]


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