Usually, people on the West Coast don't pay much attention to Pacific Ocean hurricanes. But this could be the year the West also needs to worry about hurricanes.
"Watch for [El Niño's] effects on hurricanes, and an active season in the Pacific, especially the central and eastern Pacific," said Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
El Niño alters wind patterns in the eastern Pacific so that wind shear lessens, helping create additional tropical storms. Hints of this effect already turned up with Hurricane Amanda, an early bird tropical storm that formed May 23. Amanda became the Pacific's first 2014 hurricane and the strongest May hurricane on record. And during the last strong El Niño, in 1997-1998, several tropical storms trundled north toward California, flooding the state with several inches of rainfall.
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