One ingredient is in place: very warm ocean temps

As we all know by now, it takes a very specific set of ingredients coming together at the right time to produce tropical cyclones – and in our case, hurricanes. Sometimes all of the pieces are seemingly there, yet nothing happens. One key element of the whole process is warm water, there is no doubt about that. Warm water, usually around 80F or higher, is what fuels hurricanes and the warmer it is, the stronger they can become.

Sea surface temperature anomalies (departure from normal) showing a very warm western Atlantic, Gulf and Caribbean Sea. Contrast this to the cooling tropical Pacific and it could make for a busy August-October for hurricanes in the Atlantic.

Sea surface temperature anomalies (departure from normal) showing a very warm western Atlantic, Gulf and Caribbean Sea. Contrast this to the cooling tropical Pacific and it could make for a busy August-October for hurricanes in the Atlantic.

This year, water temps in the western portion of the Atlantic Basin are warmer than normal in most locations. Check out the very latest anomaly map which shows the departures from normal across the region. Clearly, the Gulf of Mexico sticks out as does the western Atlantic just off the Southeast coast. Also of note, the Caribbean Sea has several areas of positive anomalies – meaning that water temperatures are above normal.

Obviously, none of this will matter unless there is a hurricane to tap in to the vast energy stored in this warmer than normal water. Right now, I see nothing in the global models to indicate that anything will be developing in the near future – all of the action is in the east Pacific right now. In fact, I have a theory that with all of the constant hurricane activity between Hawaii and Mexico, perhaps the sea surface temps will be cooled enough to create a stark contrast between the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico/Western Caribbean. This could create more favorable conditions later in the season for that region – we will just have to wait and see about that.

For now, the warm water is in place, there’s no doubt about that. Whether or not it becomes a factor during the heart of the season, still a month away from beginning, remains to be seen. It will be something to keep an eye on for sure.

I will have more later in the week.

M. Sudduth 1:40 PM ET July 18