This time of year I begin to look at how our primary severe weather season may turn out. While there are many factors involved, I like to look at sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico. Over the past few years, we have had several arctic intrusions into the Gulf and that cools those waters. This can delay quality moisture when return flows set up ahead of storm systems. That's one of the reasons why the past few severe weather seasons didn't get started until later in the spring.
This year is different. With few cold air intrusions penetrating the Gulf, the sea surface temperature anomalies are positive. This means the water temperatures are above average. As storm systems roll through the plains, they will be able to pump warm and unstable air more efficiently into our region.
Like I said, there are other factors involved and this is just one piece of the puzzle and it's a piece that doesn't look good. We still have more winter to go, but we may make a much quicker transition into severe weather season than the past few years.
|Courtesy of weatherbell.com. These are sea surface temperature anomalies in degrees C. Notice there's a lot of orange and red over the Gulf and Atlantic. I would like to find a site I can go back and look at years past at this point. Stay tuned.|