Hurricane season officially begins on June 1, and the Gulf of Mexico is already warmer than average. Why does this matter? A current of warm tropical water is looping unusually far into the Gulf for this time of year. This warm water empowers tropical storms to turn into monster hurricanes.
This is called the Loop Current, and it is the Incredible Hulk of the Gulf, strengthen hurricane risks.
When the Loop Current reaches this far north early in the hurricane season – it can spell disaster for folks along the Northern Gulf Coast, Texas to Florida.
Looking at temperature maps of the Gulf of Mexico allows you to see the Loop Current easily. It travels through the Yucatan Channel, into the Gulf of Mexico, and then treks through the Florida Strait south of Florida as the Florida Current, becoming the main contributor to the Gulf Stream.
When a tropical storm passes over the Loop Current or one of its giant large rotating pools of warm water, the storm can burst in strength as it draws energy from the warm water.
This year, the Loop Current appears incredibly similar to how it did in 2005, the year Hurricane Katrina crossed the Loop Current before ravaging New Orleans. While 27 storms were named that year, seven became major hurricanes. Wilma and Rita crossed the Loop Current that year and became two of the most fierce Atlantic hurricanes to date.