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The El Niņo - Hurricane Connection
Reference
Wilson, R.M.  1999.  Statistical aspects of major (intense) hurricanes in the Atlantic basin during the past 49 hurricane seasons (1950-1998): Implications for the current season.  Geophysical Research Letters 26: 2957-2960.

What was done
Statistical aspects of intense hurricanes occurring in the Atlantic basin from 1950 to 1998 were investigated relative to the existence of different modes of the El Niņo-Southern Oscillation cycle.

What was learned
When the weather during the Atlantic basin's typical hurricane season was classified as El Niņo-related, the study revealed that the probability of having three or more intense hurricanes was on the order of only 14%.  When the hurricane season was classified as non-El Niņo-related, however, the probability of having three or more intense hurricanes was on the order of 53%.

What it means
Highly publicized claims that global warming will lead to more El Niņo-type weather and more intense Atlantic basin hurricanes cannot be correct; for the latter two phenomena are inversely related to each other.  Like the proverbial cake you cannot both have and eat, one cannot, over the long term, have more El Niņo-type weather and more intense Atlantic basin hurricanes at one and the same time.


Reviewed 1 February 2000