The Gulf of Mexico water temperatures continue to slowly increase as we move closer to Summer. Temperatures have risen into the 70s and 80s, which is a touch above average for the majority of the Gulf. The one exception is just off the coast of Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle where water temperatures are running a tad below average.
Overall, however, temperatures have recovered quite a bit from the February Arctic outbreak. The cold outbreak led to water temperatures significantly below average across the northwestern Gulf of Mexico to start Spring. This undoubtedly had a drastic impact on severe weather across the Plains. The water temperatures, as aforementioned however, have finally recovered.
This is a growing concern because we are just days away from the start of the Atlantic Hurricane season, which starts June 1st. Cold fronts that move south, will have the capability to stall over the norther and central Gulf of Mexico over the next couple of weeks, leading to the development of tropical cyclones.
Despite the official June start date, May cannot be slept on. In 2020, there were two preseason storms. Arthur developed in the middle of May while Bertha developed during the end of May. Over the past decade (2011-2020), ten preseason storms have developed, which is the most in modern record-keeping.
The 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season is forecast to be above average. This coming off the most active hurricane season on record with 30-named storms and 6 hurricanes hitting the United States. One of the most well-known and prestigious outlooks was released several weeks ago. Colorado State University announced its 2021 Atlantic basin seasonal hurricane forecast and is expecting an above average season with 17 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes. A major hurricane is classified as a Category 3 or stronger. What is most concerning about the forecast is that experts anticipate an above average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the U.S. coastline and in the Caribbean.