EXPLAINED: Why the Gulf of Mexico is a hurricane nursery

Weather

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Hurricane season has officially begun. When it starts with a ‘bang,’ it starts just south-east of Texas. The tropical disturbance occurring this week in the Gulf of Mexico is an example of this. Meteorological summer began on June 1; It was also the start of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Tropical storms and hurricanes rarely form in June. Modern weather records show that only half of all Junes have seen these tropical cyclones. When they do form, they form in just a couple locations: in the Caribbean Sea near Central America and in the Gulf of Mexico.

Between the 1851 and 2015, all the tropical cyclones that formed in the first 10 days of June began in these areas. Of those 17 cyclones, five of them were south-east of the Texas coast.

In fact, the second strongest Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in June, Hurricane Alice, formed in this area in 1954. Alice caused 38 deaths in Texas and several million dollars in damages.

So why do tropical cyclones form here?

The simple answer is: the water is warm. Tropical cyclones use warm, moist air as fuel. This region of the ocean, the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, has the perfect water temperature in June to form a tropical cyclone.

And this year, the water is even warmer than normal.

Which brings us to climate change.

A recent U.S. government study found that because of climate change, tropical cyclones could happen more often. Storm surge, rainfall and destructive power could increase in intensity, which means the likelihood of seeing more June hurricanes could be in our future.
 

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