How El Nino Will Affect the 2012 Hurricane Season

Today, June 1st, marks the beginning of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.  Experts are predicting a less active season and the arrival of El Niño could have something to do with it.

La Niña, associated with creating Atlantic Hurricane favorable conditions, dissipated during April 2012 and has transitioned to ENSO (El Niño – Southern Oscillation) neutral condition. Experts now estimate that El Niño, the atmospheric force that suppresses storm formation, will most likely fully develop by this summer.

Typically, El Niño is associated with stronger vertical shear across the tropical Atlantic, creating conditions less conducive for storm formation. In general, warm El Niño events are characterized by more tropical storms and hurricanes in the eastern Pacific and a decrease in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

The El Niño, which is the opposite of the La Niña, is characterized by strong warming of the central South Pacific Ocean waters, with this warming causing changes in the atmospheric circulation in this area. The changes are so dramatic, it causes regional changes in atmospheric circulation and storm development around the globe.

When it comes to Atlantic and Caribbean hurricanes, when an El Niño forms, the general atmospheric circulation becomes less favorable for tropical storms as winds at high altitude become strong westerly instead of a more easterly light circulation. This causes shear in the atmosphere, which is basically lower level easterly winds being sheared by strong upper level westerly winds. Thus when and El Niño occurs, shearing inhibits the formation of tropical cyclones such as hurricanes and tropical storms.

With either ENSO-neutral conditions or even El Niño on its way, it is highly probable that the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season will be less threatening and result in less water damage and land threat.


Nevertheless, even with El Niño having the ability to suppress hurricane development, you should always be prepared for a hurricane. Make sure you have an emergency kit ready to go. Also, if you have any questions on protecting your home from storm damage, contact the experts at us. We are standing by for you 24/7.