El Niño and SUPERCELL (the novel)

Tornado_Damage_BirminghamLast week I blogged about El Niño and its connection, or lack thereof, to wintry weather in the Deep South.  This week I’ll take a look at El Niño and its influence on severe storms–supercells and tornadoes–in the same region.

There’s a late-winter/early-spring climatological maximum in Dixie of severe storms (before the focus of the turmoil shifts to the Great Plains), so that’s the season I’ll examine. 

Most people will be happy to learn that El Niño-influenced weather patterns have a damping effect on violent storms at that time of year in the South.  That is, there are fewer slam-bang thunderboomers around as compared to, say, a La Niña year.


andrewraThe 2015 hurricane season forecasts are out (see  Weather Channel graphic below) and the consensus is that activity in the Atlantic Basin (Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico) is going to be an underachiever.

So, what’s that mean for you if you live along or plan on visiting the Atlantic or Gulf Coast this summer?

Not much, it turns out.  The number of hurricanes and tropical storms that blossom in the Atlantic Basin has very little, if any, correlation to the number that actually hit the U. S.


Things are looking a bit better for Florida and Georgia this afternoon vis-a-vis Hurricane Irene. The same strengthening factors as mentioned in yesterday’s blog remain in play today, while at the same time the models seem to have stabilized their shifting tracks of the past few days.

That means that after Irene blasts through the Bahamas, she’s expected to turn a bit more toward the north and place her laser targeting dot on the Carolinas, most likely extreme eastern North Carolina.


It appears now that the core of Hurricane Irene, as it churns toward the WNW, will remain just north of Hispaniola. That’s not good news. That means the mountains of the Dominican Republic won’t get a chance to knock the stuffing out of the storm.

But there’s worse news. Irene is about to be fertilized with Hurricane Miracle-Gro… from both above and below.

Irene is churning relentlessly toward warmer ocean waters, premium fuel for hurricanes, in the Bahamas and off the southeast coast of the U.S. Not only are the waters warm, they’re warmer than normal. Ouch.


For what was predicted to be an active Atlantic hurricane season, 2011 so far has been stumbling along like a drunken sailor.

To be sure, we’ve had five named systems, but they’ve been pretty flabby specimens. And you’ve gotta think that behind the scenes at The Weather Channel there’s some gnashing of teeth and rending of garments.

I know. I’ve been there. It’s not that the channel dwellers wish ill on anyone. They don’t. Quite the contrary, they’re there to warn and calm. It’s just a fact of life that big storms are the network’s big draw.