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What is El Niño and How Will It Affect Hawaii

We are now beginning a transition to warmer than average sea surface temperatures in the equatorial regions of the Pacific Ocean, known as El Niño conditions.

For a few years now, we have had cooler than average sea surface temperatures near the equatorial regions of the Pacific, better known as La Niña. The last El Nino event from 2018 to 2019, was a weak one, yet it still produced a relatively active hurricane season for the Central Pacific in 2018. But since then, no tropical cyclones have formed in the Central Pacific.

Hurricanes thrive off of warm sea surface temperatures, especially with the absence of wind shear, which is the change in direction of winds in the atmosphere. El Niño conditions produce both of these very important factors.

So what does that mean for Hawaii? For the answer to that, I went to the University of Hawaii and spoke to Pau Shin-Chu, a professor of climatology as well as Hawaii’s state climatologist.

“According to my previous studies, we show that during an El Niño, that the number of hurricanes can be double compared to the number of hurricanes during the La Niña years. So this means that we expect to see a more active hurricane season this year.“

Not only are we transitioning back to El Niño conditions, but climatologists are also predicting that by  the end of this hurricane season, there is a 40% chance of a strong El Niño, similar to the El Niño we had in 2015 and 2015 was the most active hurricane season on record.

Source : Khon2