Atlantic Ocean Primed for Hurricane Season
In early August, forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) revised downward slightly their early-season predictions of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season. Citing atmospheric and oceanic conditions less conducive to hurricane formation than they initially expected, the National Hurricane Center decreased its predictions of named storms (12-15 instead of 13-16), hurricanes (7-9 instead of 8-10), and major hurricanes (3-4 instead of 4-6). The revised prediction is still above-normal compared to the long-term average.
This pair of images from Japan’s Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for EOS (AMSR-E) flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite shows areas where sea surface temperatures were hurricane-ready on August 14, 2006 (top), and August 1 (bottom). Sea surface temperatures warmer than a threshold of about 28 degrees Celsius (about 82 degrees Fahrenheit) are one of the required ingredients for hurricanes to form. Areas where waters have reached the hurricane-ready threshold are yellow or red in these images, while areas where waters are generally too cool to support hurricanes are blue. Coastal areas where temperatures were not measured are light gray.
The expanse of hurricane-ready water between Africa and the Gulf of Mexico grew over the two-week period. The color of the Gulf of Mexico became a deeper red, as well; any storms steered into the region would find ample warm water to keep them going. According to NOAA, although sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic did not warm as much as originally forecasted, they are nevertheless still above long-term average conditions, which will likely contribute to above-average hurricane activity from August-October.
We can only hope that the 2006 hurricane season doesn't hit us as hard as 2005. In case you need a reminder, check out this previous blog entry.