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Scientists raise concerns about 'ominous warmth' in Atlantic Ocean and how this will impact hurricane season: 'It doesn't bode well'

If you live in a part of the country vulnerable to hurricanes, now is the time to prepare for this year's hurricane season.

If you live in a part of the country vulnerable to hurricanes, now is the time to prepare for this year's hurricane season.

Photo Credit: iStock

Atlantic sea surface temperatures show unprecedented warmth that may supercharge hurricane activity this year. A recent report in The Washington Post says this "ominous warmth" is cause for concern. 

The heat from the Atlantic Ocean could help fuel another above-average hurricane season. Warming oceans and El Niño are adding extra energy to the ocean waters.

What's happening?

The Post noted that seven of the past eight hurricane seasons have been above average, and an expected shift to a La Niña pattern favors another active season. The early forecast outlook from most sources agrees that this year will see more tropical storms and hurricanes than average. 

Every April, forecasters from Colorado State University, one of the most respected sources for hurricane season forecasts, issue their forecast for the upcoming season. This year, they predicted the largest number of hurricanes ever for a forecast this early in the year. Their forecast calls for 23 named storms, 11 hurricanes, and five major hurricanes.

Why is this cause for concern?

The United States was struck by a record number of billion-dollar weather disasters last year that caused $92.9 billion in damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

The Atlantic basin saw the fourth-most named storms in a year since 1950, with 20 tropical storms. One of those storms became Hurricane Idalia in late August, which made landfall near Keaton Beach, Florida, as a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph. It had a devastating storm surge of 7 to 12 feet, rivaling the surge seen with the 1993 "Storm of the Century." The storm took 12 lives and caused an estimated $3.6 billion in damage.

Just one storm making landfall can bring catastrophic damage.

Most forecasters agree the ingredients necessary for an active hurricane this season will be in place. Warm ocean water is one of the most important. The Post noted: "The planet's average sea surface temperature reached an all-time record of 70.2 degrees Fahrenheit (21.2 Celsius) on Feb. 9, according to the University of Maine's Climate Change Institute."

Regarding how the warmer waters of the Atlantic will affect this year, Michael Lowry, a meteorologist with WPLG-TV in Miami, said: "This is such an extreme case that it doesn't bode well."

What can be done to prepare?

If you live in a part of the country vulnerable to hurricanes, now is the time to prepare for this year's hurricane season. 

Begin by finding the evacuation centers for your area. "#HurricaneStrong" is a national hurricane resilience initiative whose partners include FEMA and NOAA. They have a guide available to download for family hurricane preparedness that includes tips on safety, preparedness, resilience, insurance, and how to help your community through service.

Researchers have worked on ways to improve the ability to predict the trajectory and wind speed of future storms, while companies have been working on ways to make homes better equipped to withstand hurricanes.

Even people outside of the areas most in danger from hurricanes can do their part to slow human-induced pollution. To help reduce carbon dixiode and methane in the atmosphere, people can make changes in their everyday life, including ditching single-use plastic water bottles, switching to solar panels, and taking public transit, when possible. 

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