Warmer Than Normal Gulf Waters – Trouble For Louisiana?
Have you ever vacationed along the Gulf of Mexico in mid-July? If you have you know the feeling of the molten lava-like hot sand on your feet as you walk to the water. You set down your towel and extra gear and then make a beeline for the refreshing waves.
Once you've climbed in the water you realize, "I have taken showers that are colder than this".
It's that much warmer than average water temperature that has some meteorologists concerned about the Spring and Summer months along the Gulf Coast. You know there is a major correlation between warm Gulf waters and hurricanes.
What you might not know is that the typical afternoon summertime pop-up shower could pop-up much stronger because of these above average temperatures.
A study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in December found:
The warmer (cooler) the Gulf of Mexico sea surface temperatures, the more (less) hail and tornadoes occur during March-May over the southern U.S.
Basically what the study is saying is that when the Gulf is warm, like it is now and will be throughout the Summer months, the stronger thunderstorms are over the Southern Region of the United States. What that could mean is that your garden variety thunderstorm in late June is theoretically more likely to blossom into a severe storm with high winds and hail.
How will these warmer early-season water temperatures affect the hurricane season? Well according to NASA a hurricane needs a water temperature of about 82 degrees or more to really sustain itself and get stronger. When you consider some sea surface temperatures are already in the low 70's and it's the middle of March, we could be in for a bumpy and very active season.