The 2007 hurricane season has certainly been unspectacular so far. Early in the season it was obvious that high altitude winds were interfering with the development of tropical waves in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Water temperatures were marginal as well. Those winds may have been the last gasp of a weakening El Nino. It is interesting to note that there has been significant rainfall in the Gulf Coast region, especially Texas. Could this have been the result of “unfulfilled hurricanes”? It would make an interesting research project.
By August, hurricane development usually begins to shift eastward. The satellite image below shows that at the end of July the Gulf and Caribbean have warmed considerably. The western Atlantic is still relatively cool. There is speculation that excessive dust blowing off the Sahara Desert may be partially responsible for this. At any rate, some hurricane forecasters are beginning to backpedal a bit on earlier outlooks for an exceptionally busy season. Keep in mind, though, that the peak of the hurricane season is still ahead. There is more than enough time for a significant number of storms to develop. The danger is far from over.
This image shows sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico on July 26, 2007. Water that is warm enough to fuel hurricanes is yellow, orange, and red, while water that is too cool to sustain a hurricane is blue. The relatively shallow Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean are warm and hurricane-ready. Hurricane Alley, the warm swath of water between Africa and the northern tip of South America where hurricanes frequently form, was just beginning to heat up. The image was made from data collected by the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite.
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