Hurricane season 2016 is well underway, and while we’ve avoided a hurricane to this point, more could be on their way – thanks to the Gulf of Mexico’s “hot tub”.
The hot tub in question is unfortunately unlike the kind that many of us have on our patios. Rather, it’s a term referring to higher-than-average sea surface temperatures in the Gulf. The water in the Gulf is just under two degrees Fahrenheit above the usual temperature for this time of year, which is problematic because warm water gives hurricanes strength.
The concern is that this tub of warmer water will help fuel storm formations, which could turn storms into tropical storms and tropical storms into hurricanes – right at our doorstep.
Hurricane specialists have discovered that surface temperatures from June 1 (the beginning of hurricane season) to July 17 were the warmest ever recorded, dating back to 1982 when record-keeping began. Much of the reason the water is so warm is because land temperatures around the Gulf of Mexico have been well above average. Indeed, 18 weather stations in Florida have already reported that July, so far, is the warmest July on record.
Tropical storms and hurricanes thrive off warm water and use the heat energy to increase their intensity, resulting in stronger storms. In fact, the deeper the warmth goes and the warmer the top layer of the ocean is, the more likely it is to have thunderstorms form in the atmosphere.
And while this hasn’t yet resulted in a Florida-bound hurricane this year, it could – which means we all have to be on guard.
Of course, warmer water isn’t the only factor in how hurricanes form. There are five factors in all:
- Sea surface temperatures
- Humidity (moisture between 10,000 and 20,000 feet above sea level)
- Lack of wind shear (light winds at 30,000 feet)
- Thunderstorm clusters in the tropics
- Low pressure 300 miles from the equator
So far, some of these ingredients have been missing. But when they come together – and it’s likely they will several times in the Atlantic before the season is over – hurricanes could come our way.
Protect yourself by protecting your home. Talk to a Fort Myers home watch service for help with getting your home taken care of by professionals.