In July NOAA issued a La Nina Watch. So what does that mean and how can it affect me? Well for starters La Nina is a weather patter centered along the equator in the Pacific just west of South America. When that water is cooler than normal, we call it La Nina. When it’s warmer than normal, we call it El Nino. It’t not quite that simple as it does include wind pattern shifts in the Pacific, but the warmer or cooler waters are easy to see. A Watch means that it is possible that it develops and NOAA gives it a 50-55% chance that it will with many models suggesting that it forms August through November.
Now how does this affect us. La Nina and El Nino actually affect weather patterns around the world . They essentially shift weather patterns affecting rainfall and temperature for many areas. In the winter time here in Florida, a La Nina usually means warmer and drier conditions. An El Nino in the winter for us can mean more rain and a better chance for severe weather.
Now how does this affect us in the summer? Hurricanes! A La Nina usually means we have LESS wind shear over the Altantic basin where hurricanes form. Because of this, we tend to see MORE active hurricane seasons during La Nina’s. In fact, most hurricane forecasts are calling for a busier than normal season because of the La Nina possibility along with warmer than normal water temperatures. El Nino seasons tend to produce more wind shear and wind shear can make it hard for storms to form as the wind can shear the tops of the storms apart. El Nino hurricane seasons tend to have fewer storms.
So while we wait to see how things pan out in the Pacific, we will keep a close eye on our tropical Atlantic waters. So far it’s been relatively busy as we have already seen six named storms, but none of them have been very strong. Now as we enter August, the season really gets going. I always say the meat of the season is August through Halloween so now is a good time to make sure you have your kit and plan together.