Less hurricanes”El Niño normally reaches peak intensity and coveragein thewinter,” Paz said. “The first impact felt in the SoutheasternU.S. has been the relatively inactive hurricane season. In spiteof predictions to the contrary, 2006 has been a quiet tropicalseason so far, and many are blaming the developing ElNiño.”El Niño is known to create an environment of high shear(windschanging with height) over hurricane formation regions in theAtlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, Paz said. This hindershurricane development.”With El Niño continuing to grow and the hurricaneseason morethan half over,” he said, “we expect below-average activity theremainder of the hurricane season.”The decrease in tropical activity combined with the ElNiño willactually bring drier-than-normal weather to Florida, southernAlabama and southern Georgia in September and October, Paz said.The El Niño is not expected to influence the temperaturesduringthese months.The climate in the Southeast would be fairly dry in the fallwithout the impact of a tropical system. More rain, colder tempsBut from November to March, SECC experts say the ElNiño maybring more frequent storms, excessive rainfall and coolertemperatures to Florida and coastal Alabama and Georgia.The increased rainfall and cloudiness associated with El Niñowill cause average temperatures to be cooler than normal duringthe winter, Paz said. However, the El Niño should actually reducethe risk of severe cold outbreaks in the Southeast.”The cooler temperatures should result in greater chillaccumulations over the course of the season,” he said. “But thestrong subtropical jet stream that is typical of El Niñoblocksthe intrusions of cold Arctic air masses.”To view detailed SECC climate forecasts, see the consortium’s Website at www.agclimate.org. Started in July, will last through winterThe condition began in July, when unusually warm sea surfacetemperatures appeared along the equator around the InternationalDate Line, Paz said. It has since spread all the way to the coastof South America.Over the past two weeks, Paz said, the spread of unusually warmwater has taken on the traditional El Niño pattern.”It’s very likely that the current El Niño willintensify furtherand last through the winter of 2007,” he said.So how will this El Niño affect the Southeasternclimate? By Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaThe return of an El Niño climate pattern in the PacificOceanwill make the Georgia, Florida and Alabama weather colder andwetter this fall and winter, says University of Georgiaagrometeorologist Joel Paz. But residents of these states willfight fewer hurricanes.Paz tracks climate patterns as a member of the Southeast ClimateConsortium, offering advice on neutral, El Niño and LaNiñaclimate phases. The SECC also includes UGA state climatologistDavid Stooksbury and his Florida State counterpart David Zierden.The SECC’s fall climate outlook for Georgia, Florida and Alabamais based on an El Niño that has returned for the firsttime since2003, said Paz, a UGA College of Agricultural and EnvironmentalSciences faculty member.