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Keep Watch on the Bully in the Room and the Storms at Sea

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Aug. 7 (Bloomberg) -- While the world’s oceans churn with tropical cyclones, there are a couple of weather updates scheduled for today that may influence the natural gas market and many others.

At 9 a.m. New York time, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center will provide its outlook for what may be the most talked-about El Nino in history that hasn’t formed yet.

The chatter could be chalked up to hype, although considering the power an El Nino can unleash, that may not be a fair assessment. A strong El Nino can be the bully in the weather room and make its influence felt across several continents.

Given the impact that weather can have on the energy, transportation and retail sectors, as well as our daily lives, the fuss about El Nino is understandable.

If an El Nino develops later this year in the Pacific, the jet stream across the U.S. could change this winter, meaning more rain and storms across the South while the Northeast may trend a little warmer.

Around the world, El Ninos have been known to soak southern Brazil, dry out Southeast Asia and bring havoc to Australia. In the short term, it may even mean an early end to the Atlantic hurricane season by increasing the amount of wind shear across the basin.

Spinning Cake

If you think of a hurricane, or tropical storm for that matter, like a spinning wedding cake, then wind shear is like your drunk uncle trying to grab the microphone to give an inopportune toast. Lunge goes Uncle Shear and off goes the top of the cake onto the floor.

Something like that happens to storms that encounter the winds, which are blowing at different speeds and/or directions at various altitudes.

You can see why that would be a problem.

And speaking of Atlantic hurricanes, the second piece of news coming out of the Climate Prediction Center today is an update on the storm season at 11 a.m.

In May, before the start of the season, the agency called for eight to 13 named storms, three to six of them becoming hurricanes.

A storm gets a name when its winds reach 39 miles (63 kilometers) per hour, which is also the threshold for when it officially becomes a tropical storm.

The 30-year average is for 12 storms to form in the Atlantic from June 1 to Nov. 30. So far this year, there have been two, both of which became hurricanes, meaning their winds reached at least 74 mph.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at bsullivan10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Marino at dmarino4@bloomberg.net Charlotte Porter

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