June 1st marks the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season. And according to an article written by Nick Shay, Professor of Oceanography at the University of Miami, things don’t look very good. With the Gulf of Mexico being warmer than normal for this time of the year, the current situation very much resembles 2005, the year hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc.
The concerning aspect is represented by a warm, revolving current of water that is present at an unusual distance from the Gulf of Mexico. The current is known as the Loop Current and it has the potential to increase the intensity of storms, turning them into powerful hurricanes.
Professor Shay has an experience of over 30 years in observing the behavior of the ocean currents and heat waves. He wrote that “this year, the Loop Current looks remarkably similar to the way it did in 2005, the year Hurricane Katrina crossed the Loop Current before devastating New Orleans”.
Shay goes on to explain that, even if the ocean water is warm, it doesn’t necessarily translate to storms. However, if the temperature is warmer than 78 degrees Fahrenheit, it can lead to the formation hurricanes.
At the moment, the most recent data about hurricane season shows that the Loop Current reached a temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit until approximately 330 feet. However, it is anticipated that this temperature will descend to almost 500 feet. In the case of hurricane Ida, which happened in 2021, the heat wave descended to 590 feet, which amplified the storm into a full-fledged hurricane in a very short amount of time.
Should people be worried?
Although the predictions are not very encouraging, marine scientist underline that it’s still too early to issue a precise forecast, as the winds that set the direction of tropical storms are unpredictable. At the same time, they say that the conditions will also be influenced by humidity level and Saharian dust, which could even prevent the forming of storms in the Atlantic.