canary islands

Scientists: higher risk of hurricane hitting Canary Islands this year

Exceptionally warm waters in the North Atlantic have put scientists on alert regarding potential impacts on the Canary Islands, including hurricanes.

Meteorologist José Miguel Viñas from the Meteored platform has reported an increased likelihood of tropical storms or hurricanes affecting the Canary Islands or the Iberian Peninsula this year, attributed in part to unusually warm North Atlantic waters.

The Atlantic hurricane season, spanning from June 1 to November 30, is predicted to be exceptionally active. Early forecasts suggest it could potentially set a new record for activity. According to Meteored Mexico, expectations include the formation of 25 tropical cyclonic systems in the Atlantic, featuring fourteen hurricanes of category 1 and 2, and six of category 3 or higher.

Scientists: higher risk of hurricane hitting Canary Islands this year

A critical factor influencing cyclonic activity is the phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). In June 2023, an El Niño event commenced and grew stronger during the autumn and winter, though it now shows signs of weakening. Typically, El Niño years correlate with quieter Atlantic hurricane seasons, in contrast to the more turbulent La Niña years.

As the season approaches, the current El Niño is anticipated to transition into a neutral phase, with a probable shift to La Niña later in 2024. This transition is expected to diminish upper-level wind intensities over the North Atlantic, thereby promoting the development of tropical storms and hurricanes.

Scientists: higher risk of hurricane hitting Canary Islands this year

Additionally, the past year has recorded exceptionally warm anomalies in Atlantic waters, the causes of which are still being analyzed. Some climatologists suggest these conditions might signify a critical turning point in climate system behaviour, potentially encouraging more frequent extreme weather events.

Consequently, the risk of tropical storms or hurricanes impacting regions such as the Canary Islands, Madeira, the Iberian Peninsula, or the southern British Isles is elevated this year compared to previous ones. However, Viñas notes that while a major hurricane directly hitting Spain is unlikely, the region should prepare for potential impacts from depressions, tropical storms, or post-tropical cyclones.

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