Gulf of Mexico Loop Current Makes Major Hurricanes

I always knew that once a tropical storm or weak hurricane got out into the Gulf of Mexico it usually errupts and intensifies into a major hurricane quickly.  Both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita did it in 2005.

But I didn’t really know why it happens.  I know the water is warm (hot!) but I didn’t know until today why this really happens. It’s called the Loop Current.

…if the water is still warm at lower depths, then water being pulled to the surface remains warm, and the hurricane can increase in intensity if other atmospheric conditions are also conducive to strengthening. Meteorologists look for areas of deep warm water of at least 26 degrees Celsius (79°F). A continuous supply of warm water is one of several critical factors in enabling hurricanes to intensify beyond the initial level of a major hurricane (Category 3)

How warm is the Gulf right now in relation to Gustav?  You tell me:

This isn’t always a guarantee.  If the storm moves fast it may not intensify to a grand scale.  However, since Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the 5 hurricanes to make it to Cat 5 strength, 3 of them went straight through the Loop Current (this isn’t counting the Cat 3 and 4 storms) .

So keep your eye on Gustav.  He’s heading right through the Loop Current.

Thankfully he’s not supposed to get to Cat 5, but this explains why storms like Gustav can grow very fast in the Gulf.  Keep your eye on Gustav.

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