Saturday, January 6, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, January 6, 2001

El Nino weather staging a comeback

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Science Writer

The Pacific is moving out of a two-year La Nina cold spell and may be entering a new El Nino period, which could mean a more active hurricane season and a dry winter, according to the National Weather Service.

"Sometime in the March-to-June time frame we’ll start to have a warming situation in the ocean temperatures near the equator," which is one of the features of an El Nino, said Jim Weyman, meteorologist in charge of the weather service’s Honolulu office.

Long-range forecasting models disagree on how strong the warm cycle will be, or how quickly it will develop.

"When we went from the last El Nino to La Nina, it was very rapid. We’ll have to see what will happen this time. We’ll have more definite knowledge as we progress into the season," Weyman said.

During an El Nino, a massive pool of warmer-than-normal water moves west to east across the equatorial Pacific, changing rainfall and wind patterns as it goes. A La Nina event occurs when those waters are cooler than normal.

Within the last few months, two-year cooler temperature trends headed back to normal, according to the weather service’s Climate Diagnostics Center.

El Nino conditions can be associated with increased tropical storm and hurricane activity in the Hawaii region, and by drier-than-normal winters, although forecasters are being cautious in framing their predictions about the impact of the coming warming trend on Hawaii weather.

"It could possibly have an impact on tropical cyclones, and if the El Nino were to strengthen, we should look at drier conditions for the next winter," Weyman said.

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