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La Nina a no-show so far
The phenomenon could increase hurricane activity. But we're not out of the woods yet.
By CASEY CORA
Published July 14, 2007
TAMPA - The weather condition known as La Nina, predicted to arrive this summer in the Pacific Ocean, was widely heralded by forecasters as bad news for the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season.
But La Nina has a been a no-show so far, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center says.
And that's good news for Florida - for now, anyway.
During La Nina, more storms tend to form in the deep tropics from systems that move off Africa, according to the prediction center.
But the fact that La Nina hasn't arrived doesn't diminish the hurricane threat, said Josh Linker, a Bay News 9 meteorologist.
Linker said favorable storm conditions like warm surface temperatures and low sea-level pressure in the Atlantic still exist.
And with two named storms already, Linker said, "we're quite a bit above average so far this season."
Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.
If conditions finally develop into a strong La Nina, it could increase hurricane potential later in the year, said Mike Halpert, the NOAA prediction center's head of forecast operations.
"Should it develop during the fall, its greatest impact might be to extend the hurricane season longer than it typically does," Halpert said.
La Nina is the opposite of El Nino, a warm current of water that appears every three to seven years in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
With El Nino, trade winds weaken, allowing warm surface water in the Pacific to slough back to the east. This tends to produce strong upper-level winds that shear the tops off Atlantic Basin hurricanes.
With La Nina, water in the Eastern Pacific stays cooler, reducing upper-level winds, which means less shearing effect over the Atlantic. Hence more hurricanes.
Halpert said the outlook should clear up in August. A new hurricane forecast will be issued, including predictions on the number of named storms, the number of hurricanes, and "certainly a rationale for why changes have been made."