Beware La Niña

From the September 1998 Trumpet Print Edition

What could possibly be worse than our most recent clash with El Niño? Experts warn La Niña could bring more devastation to this world than her brother. The most costly natural disaster in United States history was the category 4 hurricane Andrew which struck Miami in 1992. Leaving in its wake over $30 billion in damage and 160,000 people homeless, Andrew could be a mere foretaste of what is just ahead.

Some computer models predicted severe changes with La Niña, but no one expected the precipitous drop in sea-surface temperatures that occurred in June. In one month, equatorial waters in the Pacific cooled over 15 degrees Fahrenheit—five times the normal rate of cooling. Climatologists have never seen anything like this before. If the cooling trend continues at its current rate, we can expect a prolonged hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean.

Hurricanes feed off the warm tropical ocean water and the blustery equatorial atmosphere. Easterly trade winds push the storms from the west coast of Africa across the Atlantic and slam them into the eastern U.S.

La Niña creates conditions ideal for hurricane development by essentially blocking the strong sub-tropical jet-stream. This allows Atlantic storms to build into the atmosphere to heights of 50,000 to 60,000 feet. The enormous storms gain strength as they glide through the balmy equatorial waters toward the United States.

By the end of August, Hurricane Bonnie careened into the U.S., causing widespread damage.

The real strength of the hurricane season begins in August and can last through November. As worldwide climate patterns fluctuate, we had better prepare for phenomena the likes of which we have never seen before!