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2015-12-19
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El Nino and Hurricanes: Opposite Effects in Opposite Oceans

         The Atlantic and Pacific hurricane seasons officially are over, but they could hardly be more different. The Atlantic season, as predicted, stayed below normal while the eastern and central Pacific seasons were above normal shattering all-time records, says the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

         The Atlantic season produced 11 named storms including four hurricanes, two of which became major hurricanes. Although no hurricanes made landfall along a U.S. coast, two tropical storms did: Ana struck the northeastern coast of South Carolina and Bill landed along the Texas coast. NOAA scientists credit El Niņo with producing strong vertical wind sheer suppressing the formation of storms in the Atlantic.

         The eastern Pacific saw 18 named storms including 13 hurricanes, nine of which became major. This is the first year since reliable record keeping began in 1971 that the eastern Pacific saw nine major hurricanes, NHC says. The central Pacific season produced 14 named storms including eight hurricanes, five of which became major. NOAA reports El Niņo fueled the eastern and central Pacific seasons by producing the weakest vertical wind sheer on record.

         Hurricane Patricia was the strongest hurricane on record in the Western Hemisphere in terms of maximum sustained winds (200 mph) and lowest air pressure (879 millibars). Patricia formed on October 22, 2015, and made landfall along the western coast of Mexico on October 23.

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