A study conducted by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration revealed that a strong EL Nino in future could imperil the U.S. east coast with rising sea levels and more destructive storm surges.

NOAA conducted the study in response to the unusual number of storm surges along the east coast during 2009-1010. Reports in the United Press International state that the study examined water levels and storm surge events during the 'cool season' of October to April for the last 50 years at four representative sites of the east coast - Boston, Atlantic City, N.J., Norfolk, Va., and Charleston, S.C.

People's Daily Online reports that the study discovered that from 1961 to 2010 in strong EL Nino years, these coastal areas experienced nearly three times the average number of storm surge events. When this happened, waters in those areas saw a third-of-a-foot elevation in mean sea level above predicted conditions.

People's Daily also reported that Bill Sweet, from NOAA's Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services said, High-water events are already a concern for coastal communities. Studies like this may better prepare local officials who plan for or respond to conditions that may impact their communities. For instance, city planners may consider reinforcing the primary dunes to mitigate for erosion at their beaches and protecting vulnerable structures like city docks by October during a strong El Nino year.

El Nino is a quasi-periodic climate pattern that occurs across the tropical Pacific Ocean approximately every five years and is characterized by variations like warming or cooling in the temperature of the surface of the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean, states the Wikipedia.

El Nino has significant implications for global weather patterns and cause above average wetter and cooler temperatures across much of the South.