RIP El Nino, we’ll miss your protection from storms

The powerful El Nino that protected Florida from hurricanes last year has died.

The Climate Prediction Center announced El Nino’s demise Thursday saying the globe has transitioned to a neutral state but is heading toward La Nina this fall.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

The Earth is under a La Nina watch, with a 75 percent chance of the climate event occurring August through October.

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“It wasn’t exactly a tough call,” said meteorologist and Weather Underground blogger Bob Henson. “The warm equatorial waters over the eastern tropical Pacific that have signaled El Nino’s presence for more than a year are pretty much gone.”

During El Niño, water across the eastern path of the Pacific Ocean warms, making radical shifts to rainfall patterns. Showers are suppressed over Indonesia and moved to the eastern part of the Pacific. There strong thunderstorms form, which influence wind patterns in the upper atmosphere, reducing wind shear in the Pacific and increasing it in the Atlantic.

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With La Niña, waters in the Pacific cool, rainfall retreats to the west, and the westerly winds wane. La Nina doesn’t necessarily invite hurricanes, but its not batting them away either.

NOAA researchers emphasized that La Niña historically follows El Niño, but NASA climatologist Bill Patzert was less convinced that the weather pattern would flip quickly.

Patzert nicknamed the El Niño of 2015-2016 “Godzilla” because of its strength.

“I am counseling caution about what comes next, especially at this time of year when hurricane forecasts are notoriously unreliable,” Patzert said. “This El Niño may linger a little longer or may bounce back on us.”

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