Ocean temperatures off the East Coast of the US are extraordinarily warm for this time of year. A region of water in the Gulf Stream 100 miles off Virginia Beach now features sea surface temperatures of 81 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees (F) above average. To the south and east, in a stormy zone between Bermuda and the Bahamas, temperatures are around 77 degrees Fahrenheit or 4 degrees above average. Readings more typical of July and not at all usual for May in this region of the world ocean.
(Extremely warm sea surface temperatures ranging from 75 to 82 Fahrenheit off the US East Coast contain enough heat potential energy to support tropical storm and hurricane development during late May. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)
Ocean heat is a primary driver of tropical cyclone formation. And record warm 2016 land and ocean surfaces contributed to the January formation of hurricane…
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