An El Niño climate pattern, which happens roughly every two to seven years, began in June. Typically, it brings wind shear that suppresses hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean. This year, however, temperatures in the North Atlantic are so hot that they’re alarming scientists and could counteract El Niño.
The mid-June mean temperature was 73.1°F this year, compared to 71°F between 1982 and 2011, per the Sun Sentinel. That’s a big deal because warm water fuels hurricanes. This warming “is a one-in-a-quarter-million-year kind of thing,” Ben Kirtman, IDSC Deputy Director and University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science Professor, tells Axios. “It’s out of bounds. We were hoping that because we had an El Niño, that hurricane season would be below-normal,” says Kirtman, whose team provides data that underpins forecasts by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). But with the Atlantic hot, “the risk of an active hurricane season has gone up.”