FORT MYERS, Fla. - This year forecasters at the Colorado State University say we should have a below average hurricane season.
The forecasters are calling for nine tropical storms, three hurricanes and one major hurricane.
One of the factors for the predicted decreased activity this year is because of a weak to moderate El Niño.
El Niño occurs when there are warmer than average ocean temperatures in the eastern and tropical Pacific Ocean. In an El Niño, we tend to see the atlantic subtropical ridge strengthen. If the pressure in this area is higher than normal, trade winds in the Atlantic become stronger, enhancing ocean mixing and upwelling, causing cooler sea surface temperatures.
Since warm water provides energy tropical storms need to build, below normal water temperatures help suppress storm development.
Hurricane formation also requires the winds to be fairly uniform throughout the atmosphere. An El Niño, however, creates strong vertical wind shear in the atlantic basin, also suppressing development of storms.
From 1970 to 2008, the number of storms during an El Niño summer decreases drastically from that of a neutral or a La Niña summer.
However, it's important to note that strong storms have formed and have impacted Florida and the United States during El Niño years. Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne all struck the United States in 2004, an El Niño year.