Gulf of Mexico Surface Temps Well Below Normal

Dec 20, 2003
Just checked out the NHC webpage to see how things were getting organized with the start of the hurricane season only about a half month away, and checked out the sea surface temps and variances from normal.

Temps in the GOM appear to be only 22C to 27C

And it looks like the temps are as much as 3C or more below normal, especially near the shorelines.

The severe season is missing a lot of hydrothermal energy that the GOM usually provides - perhaps that is why May numbers seem down, after the first 4 months appear to have higher than average tornado counts. :?:

Glen Romine posted that link in another thread... At any rate, the persistent, unrelenting cold front passages, and associated cloud-cover and precipitation, is likely one of the most signficant contributors to the below-normal SSTs. And of course, the persistent cold front passages can be attributed to the persistent northeastern US / Hudson Bay upper-level low (highly negative 500mb height anomalies) that persisted much of the early-mid Spring. Don't look know, as it appears likely that we'll have more eastern-US troughing / western US ridging. While the tornado count through April was avg or above-avg, much of that activity was associated with cold-core activity or southeastern US activity. There has been a SEVERE lack of tornadic activity associated with warm-sector convection in the plains. I don't recall warm-sector significant supercells in the plains aside from April 21st, and then May 10th, 12th, and 13th.
Right Jeff, I posted that earlier (don't recall where). Here is a better link to get the newer images for this year:

I know of at least one study that tried to find correlations between cooler GoM temps and severe weather probabilties by Edwards and Weiss of SPC-

I'll quote a few relavent points from the summary:

1) Cold SST anomalies are representative of more frequent deep frontal penetrations over the Gulf, which lower the SST and adversely interrupt the return flow cycle. Thus, low level instability and resultant severe thunderstorm potential are greatly diminished.......

......however, low SST would more reliably suggest relatively inactive severe storm periods.

So far that seems to be holding in relatively well. There have been some marginal setups this year that have produced well though - so hopefully more are to come as I haven't really started my chase season yet this year.


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Warren Eckels