Posted by: pyeager | November 4, 2009

Hurricane Threat for Gulf of Mexico

Tropical Storm Ida is currently in the western Caribbean, and it’s not out of the question that the late-season storm will become a late-season hurricane for the Gulf of Mexico in the coming days.

Hurricane formation in November is rare, but it’s certainly not unheard of, and the National Hurricane Center 5-day forecast cone (as of Wednesday evening) tracks the storm northward toward the Gulf of Mexico.


NHC projected path of Tropical Storm Ida

Energy Available for Potential Development

While the storm is forecast to be no stronger than tropical storm strength during this time period, the potential heat of the water in this region leads to the possibility of further strengthening. The following image is courtesy of the Atlantic Oceanic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML).


AMOL map showing tropical heat potential in Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean

Sea Surface Temperatures

While sea surface temperatures are often a limiting factor for development at this time of year, the following map from AOML indicates that current sea surface temperatures are generally warm enough in the Gulf of Mexico for development, or at least for the maintenance of an existing storm.

A temperature of 26 degrees Celsius is generally considered the lowest temperature to promote hurricane formation.


Gulf of Mexico sea surface temperatures--image from AOML

Tropical Storm Ida is a long way from being a hurricane, and it’s a long way from affecting the United States; however, it warrants being monitored over the next several days.

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