Ocean temperatures are changing in the Pacific and that could have implications for our weather in eastern North Carolina. El Nino developed in the equatorial Pacific Ocean last summer and continued through the winter. Basically, ocean temperatures become warmer than normal near the Equator when we have an El Nino. In eastern North Carolina, it typically means less tropical storm activity in the summer and fall. In addition, it usually gives us a wet and chilly winter. Over the last year that is exactly what happened.
Now we're seeing a reversal to La Nina in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. In this case ocean temperatures drop below normal in the Pacific Ocean and it creates different issues for our weather. During late summer and fall we tend to see higher numbers of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin. It would certainly put us at greater risk this year than last. As we head into winter, we should see much less rainfall than last year along with somewhat milder temperatures. Of course, the details of how all of this works out is impossible to determine at this time. Nevertheless, meteorologists should be able to test their theories about how weather patterns change as ocean temperatures go up and down.