El Nino mystery

Computer models and the scientists who consult them still favor the development of  El Nino, the widespread anomalous warming of waters in the tropical Pacific.

Monday’s update from the Climate Prediction Center listed an 80 percent likelihood of El Nino during the fall and winter.

But so far the behavior of sea-surface temperatures out that way has been puzzling, and readings in a key El Nino region actually were slightly below normal.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology – and El Nino is a very big deal Down Under – isn’t as bullish as the climate center.

Last week the Australians noted that although the Pacific was “primed” for El Nino during the first half of the year, “the atmosphere has largely failed to respond … hence the ocean and atmosphere have not reinforced each other.”

They see a 50 percent chance of El Nino.

The future of El Nino is of more than passing interest to Atlantic and Gulf Coast residents and property owners.

Typically, the upper-air winds from the west that are generated by the warming have a dampening effect on potential hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin.

The last time El Nino coincided with the hurricane season, in 2009, only three hurricanes formed, about half the normal number.

Of those, only one, Danny, made landfall in the United States, and that as a minimal Category 1 storm. The only major hurricane that year, Erika, was a fish storm that came nowhere near land.