NewsFlashNOAA sees La Nina hurricane risk

02 April 2007 19:57  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Hints of La Nina weather patterns could mean a higher chance for US Atlantic hurricanes in 2007 than in 2006, a government source said on Monday.

A meteorologist from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service said now that El Nino has officially ended, there are signs that weather patterns may be giving way to its opposite, La Nina.

“The El Nino weather pattern has abated and there are indications that a La Nina is developing,” Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist with NOAA, told ICIS news.

El Nino events, which occur every few years and vary in intensity, involve warmer than normal surface sea temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, while La Nina events reflect cooler than normal sea temperatures.

The meteorologist said colder Pacific water temperatures suggest a trend, and if the trend continues over the next few months, the presence of La Nina will be made official.

“There tends to be a greater-than-normal number of Atlantic hurricanes and fewer-than-normal number of eastern Pacific hurricanes during La Nina events,” Feltgen said.

There was talk in recent weeks by US chemical producers that an El Nino to La Nina transition could have been responsible for the 2005 hurricanes Katrina and Rita, according to global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing.

The NOAA meteorologist believed that was not the case.

“The 2005 hurricane season, which included Katrina and Rita, was a neutral year, having neither an El Nino or La Nina present,” Feltgen said, adding that the last La Nina episode was from mid-1998 to mid-2000.

Although weak El Nino conditions appeared by mid-August 2005 it never became established, NOAA spokeswoman Carmeyia Gillis added.

The official US hurricane season is from 1 June-30 November.  NOAA will issue its outlook for the 2007 hurricane season on 22 May.

By: Heather McGuire Doyle
+1 713 525 2653

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