Will A Cold Ocean Limit Atlantic Hurricane Development This Year?

Will A Cold Ocean Limit Atlantic Hurricane Development This Year?

Will A Cold Ocean Limit Atlantic Hurricane Development?

Will A Cold Ocean Limit Atlantic Hurricane Development?

This question of a colder ocean an its impact on the number of hurricanes and tropical storms has been popping up and there really is no easy answer to this. Yes ocean water temperatures are a key critical element in tropical storm development but it is not the only element. Right now ocean water temperatures in the Atlantic are colder than average over a large portion of the tropical and subtropical Atlantic into the Northeast Gulf of Mexico.

Will A Cold Ocean Limit Atlantic Hurricane Development This Year?

The maps above and below show just how extensive this below average ocean water area is. It actually extends northward along the west coast of Europe and then extends westward from there across much of the North Atlantic south of Greenland to Southeastern Canada and New England!

Will A Cold Ocean Limit Atlantic Hurricane Development This Year?

Atlantic Ocean currents seem to be funneling the colder than average ocean water from north to south. This downtrend in ocean water temperatures began late last winter and has not only continued but seems to have accelerated in the last month. This seems to have impacted the Gulf Stream in the Central & North Atlantic by slowing it down almost to a crawl. Recent headlines about the imminent collapse of the Gulf Stream could have long term implications for the weather in Eastern North America and in Western Europe according to some reports. However we have a counter viewpoint from researchers at Columbia University who have concluded that this is nothing but a myth! Citing a 2002 study this idea of a collapsing Gulf Stream is nonsense.

“It is long time that the Gulf Stream-European climate myth was resigned to the graveyard of defunct misconceptions along with the Earth being flat and the sun going around the Earth. In its place we need serious assessments of how changes in ocean circulation will impact climate change and a new look at the problem of abrupt climate change that gives the tropical climate system and the atmosphere their due as the primary drivers of regional climates around the world.”

However recent studies suggest that the idea of the Gulf Stream collapse being nonsense, may not be nonsense after all. This recent article from the Atlantic speaks to this debate.

“There are, therefore, two reasons why thus far we could have underestimated the risk of a breakdown of the Gulf Stream System. First, climate models probably have a systematic bias towards stable flow. Secondly, most of them do not take into account the melting ice of Greenland. As the new studies show, each of these factors alone can lead to a much stronger weakening of the Gulf Stream system. We now need to study how these two factors work together. I hope these worrying new results will encourage as many other research groups as possible to pursue this question with their own models!”

This quote is from one of the recent studies regarding the Gulf Stream which questions the assumption that it is a rather stable concept rather than an unstable one.

This takes us back to the original question. Will A Cold Ocean Limit Atlantic Hurricane Development This Year? The answer to that is one of those things that we just don’t know for sure. Ocean water temperatures are colder than average now and they are the second coldest since 1982. Only 1985 was colder. So what happened in 1985?

NAMED STORMS…..11 ( close to average)

LAND FALLING HURRICANES…6 (highest in 99 years up until 1985)

MAJOR HURRICANES…3 ELENA, GLORIA, KATE 

Clearly the colder ocean profile did not prevent 3 major hurricanes from forming including Gloria which impacted our area reaching peak intensity as a strong Category 4 when just north of the Bahamas, though it made landfall as a Category 1.

The bottom line here is that we are in the land of unknown right now when it comes to all this. The best that we can do is watch and observe and see what happens. These are all new developments for this season and every year there will likely be some unanticipated twists and turns along the way.

storm free

Meanwhile off the coast of Mexico we have the season’s first Tropical Storm in the Pacific named Aletta which is forecast to strengthen to a minimal hurricane in the next few days but remain out to sea as most Pacific hurricanes tend to do.

storm free

In the Atlantic conditions are quiet at the moment. Some weather models are showing troughing and weakness again from the Gulf of Mexico southward into the Caribbean where pressures are forecast to be rather low later this weekend and next. There still doesn’t appear to be enough model support for development here as only the GFS model has been showing something developing there for a week, while the Canadian has only just today started showing something similar. The European is not quite there at the moment showing nothing of consequence.

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