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Ideal Atlantic Ocean surface temperatures for hurricane season

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

We are in the middle of hurricane season and the oceans are poised to fuel the development of storms. While temperatures are only one factor influencing hurricanes, they are a good predictor of the ocean’s readiness to support them.

Normally, areas of low pressure form off the coast of Africa and follow the hot, humid water column across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States. In order for the ocean to withstand and intensify hurricanes, meteorologists generally agree that temperatures must exceed 82 degrees.

Looking at the latest weather information, it’s pretty clear that there is a lot of red on the charts of the Atlantic Ocean that meteorologists use to track tropical systems. These maps indicate that surface temperatures are above the threshold necessary for hurricanes to develop.

Right now there is a finger of warm water moving up the east coast, known as the Gulf Stream. It parallels the United States and helps hurricane development. The water temperature near Beaufort, North Carolina, for example, is 85 degrees.

There is good news with this. Although temperatures are warm, they are not expected to get as hot as they were during last year’s record season. Still, NOAA’s mid-season update forecast 15 to 18 named storms, with 3-5 major hurricanes. So far we have seen eight named storms in the Atlantic, six of which have made landfall and many other areas of interest continue to appear on a daily basis.

While North Carolina hasn’t seen direct impacts from tropical systems so far this season, keep in mind that hurricane season doesn’t officially end until November 30. It is important to stay aware of the weather and prepare for it.


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