RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s been an active hurricane season and western North Carolina especially has felt the impacts of tropical storms this season.
Even though the waters off our coast are warmer than normal, it’s what’s going on in the Pacific Ocean that could impact the rest of the 2021 hurricane season.
Checking in off the coast of South America, ocean temperatures are cooler than normal, which is an indicator of La Niña trying to develop.
So what is La Niña? La Niña is a climate pattern that develops when trade winds are stronger than normal. These strong winds churn up the waters in the Pacific causing upwelling, which brings up cooler waters from deep in the ocean toward the surface. This creates a pattern that keeps the weather over the eastern Pacific Ocean relatively calm.
The stronger winds end up allowing more active, rainy weather to develop in the western Pacific.
While it seems La Niña has more of an impact on the Pacific, it creates a circulation that translates to the Atlantic as well, creating less wind shear. Strong wind shear can tear apart tropical systems, so when we have less or weaker wind shear, more storms have the potential to develop.
We’ve already had an active hurricane season, and if La Niña continues to develop the last few months of hurricane season will likely stay active.