Hurricane season starts in two weeks, and forecasters are eyeing the Gulf of Mexico with increasing concern. A powerful current of warm, tropical water known as the Loop Current is reaching farther into the Gulf than normal. Its heat can cause tropical storms to quickly intensify into monster hurricanes, and that can spell disaster for the northern Gulf Coast.

Last year, Hurricane Ida spun up from Category 1 to 4 in less than a day after crossing a warm eddy from the Loop Current last. University of Miami marine scientist Nick Shay writes that this year, the Loop Current looks a lot like it did in 2005 – the year Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma blew up into some of the most intense Atlantic storms on record.

It’s a dangerous sign, especially with La Niña setting the stage for a busy hurricane season, Shay writes.

Also today:

Stacy Morford

Environment + Climate Editor

A satellite image of ocean heat shows the strong Loop Current and swirling eddies. Christopher Henze, NASA/Ames

Bad news for the 2022 hurricane season: The Loop Current, a fueler of monster storms, is looking a lot like it did in 2005, the year of Katrina

Nick Shay, University of Miami

With La Niña helping clear the way for a busy hurricane season, this wide current of warm water could spell disaster for the northern Gulf Coast.


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