Atlantic Ocean surface temperatures ideal for hurricane season

Tracking the Tropics

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Hurricanes are one of nature’s wonders. They form over the warm ocean waters in the summer simply because sea surface temperatures are warm.

We are in peak hurricane season, and the oceans are primed to fuel storm development. While temperatures are just one factor that influences hurricanes, they are a fair predictor of the readiness of the ocean to sustain them.

Normally, areas of low pressure form off the coast of Africa and follow the warm, moist column of water across the Atlantic Ocean towards the United States. In order for the ocean to be able to sustain and intensify hurricanes, meteorologists generally agree temperatures must get above 82 degrees.

Looking at the latest meteorological information, it’s pretty clear there’s a lot of red on the Atlantic Ocean maps that meteorologists use to track tropical systems. Those maps indicate surface temperatures are above that threshold needed for hurricanes to thrive.

Currently, there’s a finger of warm water running up the East Coast that is known as the Gulf Stream. It runs parallel to the US and aids in hurricane development. Water temperatures near Beaufort, North Carolina, for example, are at 85 degrees.

There is a bit of good news with this. Although temperatures are warm, they are not expected to get as hot as they were during last year’s record-breaking season. Still, NOAA’s mid-season update predicted 15-18 named storms, with 3-5 major hurricanes. So far we have seen eight named storms in the Atlantic, with six of those making landfall and many more areas of interest continuing to pop up daily.

Even though North Carolina hasn’t seen any direct impacts from tropical systems so far this season, don’t forget hurricane season doesn’t officially end until Nov. 30. It’s important to remain weather aware and prepared until then.

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