La Niña may develop by fall, could mean active and intense hurricane season ahead

A La Niña often results in above average hurricane activity in the Atlantic
Hurricane season is just two months away, and it could be an active, intense year for hurricanes(WWBT)
Updated: Mar. 31, 2020 at 12:16 PM EDT

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins in two months on June 1, and it could be a busier year than average for tropical storm and hurricane development.

Forecast model guidance shows a La Niña developing by late summer and fall of 2020. La Niña happens when the sea surface temperatures near the equator in the eastern Pacific Ocean become cooler than average. It is the opposite of El Niño, which refers to warmer than average waters in the eastern Pacific.

La Nina is an area of cooler than average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific near the equator.(NOAA)

In the Tweet below, Dr. Michael Ventrice (PhD in Tropical Meteorology) highlights how this year’s La Niña has potential to be the strongest since 2010.

The development of La Niña in the Pacific Ocean can have implications on the weather pattern in other parts of the world.

A La Niña pattern in summer/fall can result in reduced wind shear in the tropical Atlantic. Wind shear creates a hostile environment for tropical development by shearing apart/disrupting the development of low pressure (tropical storms/hurricanes) in the Atlantic. Therefore, a reduction of wind shear caused by La Niña can lead to more tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic. Reduced wind shear can also allow the tropical storms and hurricanes that develop to become stronger.

La Nina typically results in more hurricanes in the Atlantic due primarily to less wind shear.(NOAA Bell)

All that being said, it is far from a guarantee that La Nina will actually develop. La Niña/El Nino is notoriously difficult to predict. NOAA says there is a 35 to 40% chance of La Nina developing this fall.

The best thing you can do right now is to prepare for hurricane season - have an emergency preparedness kit and plan ready to go, especially if you live near coastal areas of Virginia.

You can also download the NBC12 First Alert Weather app to help you be ready for whatever mother nature throws our way.

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