This year, we have seen the development of a moderate El Nino in the Eastern Pacific that may be affecting the overall climate in the United States by the fall of 2002.
Hurricane activity in the Atlantic is not expected to be as active as in the past few years. However, the most notable change in tropical activity that was brought about by the development of the El Nino event has been the increased activity in the Western Pacific.
While the Western Pacific usually has about 20 storms per year, there have been a number of strong and powerful storms including a number of super typhoons. This is in addition to the early start that the Eastern Pacific has had with four named storms and a hurricane.
Late last year, forecasters, scientists, and climatologists all indicated that a moderate El Nino would develop in the Eastern Pacific. Evidence supported that as a more stormier than normal winter so far in Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and Argentina so far this year.
Stronger than normal upper level winds in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean have suppressed tropical development in those areas so far this season. The El Nino is not expected to become as strong as the last El Nino episode, which was the strongest El Nino in recorded history.
Nevertheless, the event spelled the end of normal climate behavior for the past year, and meant increased danger for those along the Pacific Rim from the West Coast of Mexico to Hawaii to the Far East.
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As a result of the new El Nino, the Western coast of South America from Ecuador to Chile has experienced a great deal of storminess. Heavy rains and powerful snowstorms have gripped Chile in particular so far this year.
In the Eastern Pacific, there is a great deal more of tropical activity so far this season. This season, there have been four named storms, and one hurricane, which almost reached hurricane status, and we are only in July.
In the Atlantic, there have been a lot of clouds and showers, but upper level winds have been hostile. The last time that had occurred was back in 1997 during the last El Nino event. That year, only one storm formed in August, and there were seven named storms with only one major hurricane.
Finally, the biggest turn around has been in the Western Pacific. Typhoons are usually the norm during the summer months in the Northern West Pacific, but this year, we have already seen three super typhoons including one currently north of Guam with winds of 160 mph.
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As previously mentioned, the 2002 El Nino Episode is expected to be weak to moderate. However, tropical activity in both the Eastern Pacific and Western Pacific will be bolstered by the higher sea surface temperatures. Meanwhile, the Atlantic may have some problems with the strong upper level winds generated, but the sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Basin have been very conducive to development, and the effects of the current El Nino isn't expected to affect the United States and Atlantic Basin until later this year.
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