Gulf of Mexico is August-Level Hot as Hurricane Season Nears


Water temperatures across the Gulf of Mexico have reached or exceeded levels usually found in August when the region is at its warmest, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information.

A water temperature reading off of Butternut Key, Florida, has reached 88F (31C), or what is typically found in August — and above normal for May and June. Similar measurements were also recorded at other sites along the Florida coast or offshore. In the western Gulf, buoys off Brownsville and Corpus Christi, Texas and Veracruz, Mexico have exceeded normal levels for June.

Tropical storms and hurricanes feed on warm ocean water for strength and power. The Atlantic Hurricane Season officially starts June 1 and often at this time of year tropical systems grow from weather fronts moving off North America and develop over warm coastal waters.

In other weather news:

US: Around 16.5 million people face a risk of severe thunderstorms across much of eastern Texas, including Houston, Louisiana and Arkansas. A smaller area in eastern Colorado, the Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma and Kansas may also see the powerful storms that can lead to large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes, the US Storm Prediction Center said.

Tropic: A tropical depression has formed southwest of Hong Kong. The storm named Maliksi will make landfall on the coast of western Guangdong overnight and then move inland. There will be a Strong Wind Signal, No. 3 posted — especially for higher areas — until about 6 a.m. local time, the Hong Kong Observatory said.

Australia: High winds have been raking southeastern Australia in the last day and there are still wind warnings for higher elevations of New South Wales and Victoria. Winds of 130 kilometers (80.7 miles) per hour were clocked overnight, said Sarah Scully, a meteorologist with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.