GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The water temperature off the coast of South America can influence weather around the globe and happens to be our best climate predictor. Here’s how El Nino and La Nina work
Trade winds that blow across the Pacific move warm water off the coast of South America into the western Pacific. This causes cold water to well up off the coast of South America. This is called La Nina or the little girl.
The cold water pushes the jet stream northward, leading to warmer and dryer conditions across the southern US, including the Carolinas. La Nina usually means a more active hurricane season due to weaker winds interfering with hurricane formation in the Atlantic.
Sometimes these trade winds weaken, and the warm water moves back off the coast of South America. This is called El Nino or the little boy. El Nino shifts the jet stream to the south, and its impact on the US is mostly apparent between October and March.
it brings wetter conditions to the US gulf coast, dryer conditions to the Ohio Valley Region and a warmer winter to the northern US. During El Nino years, the hurricane season is usually quieter because of reduced instability and stronger interfering winds in the Atlantic.
This year is an El Niño year but the National Hurricane Center is predicting an average hurricane season due to the record warm Atlantic sea surface temperatures.