We knew El Niño was coming, and on Thursday Mike Halpert, Deputy Director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, made it official.

“2015’s El Niño now ranks third behind 1997 and 1985.”

It was in the winter of 97-98 that 42 Floridians were killed by tornadoes and severe weather produced more than a half billion dollars in damage.

NOAA image released September 5, showing above normal sea surface temperatures (red) across much of the Pacific Ocean.

NOAA image released September 5, showing above normal sea surface temperatures (red) across much of the Pacific Ocean.

Peter Wolf, Meteorologist from the National Weather Service, says an El Nino displaces the jet stream, the river of air that steers storm systems, during the winter months,

“It tends to favor a more southern storm track from California across the Deep South, the Gulf of Mexico and into Florida. And so we tend to become in an area more favorable for severe storms and tornadoes in the early spring.”

And while severe weather is too difficult to predict much further than a couple of days ahead of time, he says there is an even larger long term concern that could affect many more Floridian residents,

“The most significant impact we generally see in Florida is above-normal wintertime precipitation, even the potential for flooding-type rainfall amounts, and we’ve seen that in some of the other past strong El Nino events.”

The Florida Public Radio Emergency Network will continue to monitor the latest developments on the current El Niño and will pass along more information on how it could affect you or your business in the coming weeks.


Meteorologist Jeff Huffman

Meteorologist Jeff Huffman is no stranger to just about every type of weather. Growing up in Missouri, he developed a passion for understanding thunderstorms, tornadoes, and winter storms. Several personal experiences at a young age put him dangerously close to these incredible forces of nature. Upon graduating from the University of Missouri, he continued tracking the extreme weather for 8 years as the Morning Meteorologist for the ABC and FOX22 affiliates in Mid-Missouri. In 2011, he couldn't resist the challenge to head south and take on tracking tropical storms. He accepted a position with the University of Florida's Multimedia Properties as the Chief Meteorologist. He first developed a 24-hour weather, news, and sports channel whereby students can gain real-world experience on their journey to becoming broadcast meteorologists. In 2013, Jeff worked with stations all over the state to build the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network, a collaborative effort by all public media in the state to keep their audiences informed of hazardous tropical weather. In his free time, Jeff enjoys playing tennis, working out, exploring nature, and occasionally sleeping.