JACKSONVILLE, Fla – The ocean and Gulf of Mexico have a natural reaction when hurricanes pass over them to shrink and cool off and the differences are big enough to be detected by satellites orbiting above.
During the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, tropical cyclones tracked across the Atlantic and left a wake of water up to 4 degrees cooler than before the storm.
This movie shows how Hurricane Florence churned up colder water from deep in the ocean to the surface leaving behind the cooler hurricane track that persisted for several days.
It is common to observe trails of cooler water, or cold wakes, along hurricane tracks as a result of wind-induced mixing and turbulence that brings cold waters at depth to the surface.
The ocean contracts in cooler water forming depressions centimeters deep that can also be detected by satellite altimetry instruments.
It would take several hurricanes at once to cause large swaths of ocean cooling.
While cooler water can weaken another hurricane following behind, the duration of the chillier water lasts less than a week and would do little to limit future storms during the season.