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Less is more when it comes to La Nada years in Florida

12:28 PM, Aug 23, 2012   |    comments
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We have heard so much about La Nina or El Nino having a huge bearing on how busy a hurricane season will be. But many have not heard of this year's phenomenon that will be shaping the forecast.

It is called La Nada! It is Spanish for "nothing" and means we have near-average water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific.  We know that the ocean-land circulations all across the globe make a huge impact on our weather.

During the last 30 years, La Nina years have produced 43 percent of our named storms. Compare this to only 24 percent during El Nino years. Interestingly, La Nada years produce 1 out of every 3 named storms, or a robust 33 percent.

So what about this year's forecast of fewer than the average of 6 hurricanes in the Atlantic basin? It means put your guard up even more. The more you look at the numbers here on the First Coast, the more concerning they become.
 
What you may not realize is that during El Nino and La Nada seasons, tropical systems are more likely to intensify and impact the Sunshine State compared to a typical year when we average about 1 to 2 storms making landfall.

We all remember how Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida in 1992 in an El Nino year with Category 5 wind speeds. Unfortunately, Florida's most devastating year, which was in 2004, took place during a La Nada season that was transitioning into an El Nino, like this year.

The warmer Atlantic temperatures and lower pressures in the tropics overcame the additional wind shear from the Pacific Ocean.  The Ferocious Four, known as Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne, caused an unprecedented $42 billion in damage. If that doesn't get your attention, 2005, which was a La Nada year, saw the busiest season on record with 27 named storms, including Hurricane Katrina.
 
This drives home the point that no matter what the seasonal forecast, preparation is what really matters most each and every hurricane season. The good news is we have better technology than ever to keep your family safe. We not only have the two-minute advantage but mobile technology that has been proven to save lives.

During Hurricane Ike, which hit Texas in 2008, one of the most important things folks listed as making that traumatic event more bearable was having text alerts. Text alerts were listed as the most reliable form of communication when folks needed help or lost power.

The text alerts not only stayed active the longest ahead of the storm, but returned to service the quickest. Make sure you add signing up for First Coast News text alerts to your hurricane checklist and if you have been debating whether to purchase a smart phone, this may help make your decision that much easier.

Our news and weather team will also keep you updated via Twitter and Facebook before, during and after the storm to keep you and your family safe. That is what it is all about, no matter what the numbers tell us. Stay safe and stay tuned on and off the tube!