The big news heading into the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season is the imminent arrival of what we think will be a significant El Niño event, the first such event since 2009.
Executive SummaryA significant El Niño event is expected to develop over the next few months, and the associated atmospheric impacts will likely result in reduced tropical activity in the Atlantic basin this season—and a reduced risk of landfalling hurricanes.
An El Niño event is a periodic warming of the surface water in the eastern and central tropical Pacific Ocean, the result of which drives significant changes to the atmospheric circulation throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere.
The image below details the sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies during the August-October 1997 period, as one of the strongest El Niño events in history was maturing. Note the anomalously warm water (denoted as reds and yellows) located along the equator and to the west of South America, which is the hallmark of an El Nino event.