Quiet week expected as the Gulf of Mexico sees rapid warming this May


  • No tropical activity expected this week
  • A disturbance may form in the southern Caribbean next week, but it will likely head due north or northeast out to sea quickly.
  • Water temperatures are rapidly warming in the Gulf of Mexico.

Quiet for the next week or so

The good news is that as hurricane season officially kicks off this week, we have nothing of note out there to discuss. The only thing catching my eye right now is the potential for a disturbance in the southern Caribbean sometime next week that may lift northward or off to the northeast into the Atlantic, quickly lifting out to sea. For now, that seems like an inconsequential item, so we’ll end our discussion there.

The Eastern Pacific seems relatively muted for the next several days as well. So, we’ll close the month of May on a positive note.

Our next big seasonal forecast update will come on June 11th from the researchers at Colorado State. I doubt anything will significantly change.

Gulf of Mexico rapidly warming

About three or four weeks ago, Gulf of Mexico water temperatures were running just a smidge above average. Even compared to a year prior, they were actually not too bad. As is often the case in May, things can change quickly in the Gulf, and indeed they have. We started May with water temps running about a week or less ahead of schedule. We have accelerated that pace and are now running two to three weeks ahead of normal, per analysis from the University of Arizona.

Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico have stepped on the accelerator this month and are now sitting at record levels for late May. (Kim Wood/University of Arizona)

Not only have they accelerated this month, those water temperatures are currently at record levels for the time of year. You can see from the map inset above that the western Gulf and Florida coast is running about 2 to 3°C above normal, while the central Gulf is running about 0.5 to 1°C above normal. Gulf water temps can fluctuate rapidly, and even over the last week or so, we’ve seen temps in the western Gulf slow down their rise or even backpedal a bit, while the central Gulf sees some faster warming. While this is probably best described as concerning, it’s also somewhat typical Gulf behavior — just occurring at record levels of warmth. Wherein lies the problem for the 2024 hurricane season.

Another reminder to prepare for hurricane season, as you should every year.

Hurricane season continues to look like it will be an arduous slog


  • NOAA has unveiled their prediction for the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, and to no one’s surprise, it’s active.
  • They predict an 85 percent chance of an above normal season with 17 to 25 named storms and 8 to 13 hurricanes.
  • There’s a Caribbean disturbance that is headed out to sea, unlikely to develop, and we may have another one there in about 10 days or so.

First off, apologies for the gap between posts, though it’s not as if anything has been going on in the tropics of late. The derecho event here in Houston has monopolized most of my time and resources, and while we were thankfully ok at my location, many others in Houston are not. Here’s to yet another recovery for this city. So on that happy note, let’s discuss hurricane season again.

NOAA’s seasonal hurricane forecast is big

NOAA has unveiled their seasonal hurricane outlook today, and it’s a doozy (Editor’s note: I used the same intro for the Colorado State hurricane outlook last month). First, the numbers.

  • An 85 percent chance of an above normal season
  • 17 to 25 named storms
  • 8 to 13 hurricanes
  • 4 to 7 major hurricanes
  • Accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) 150 to 245% of the median

In other words, busy.

There are a number of factors involved in this: We are transitioning into a La Niña event in the Pacific, we are in a background state of above normal tropical activity that likely began in 1995, and sea surface temperatures in much of the tropical Atlantic are at record levels and are running near late August averages. That isn’t a typo. Dr. Kim Wood at the University of Arizona and Michael Lowry in South Florida have been two of many prominent voices sounding the alarm on this for months now.

Sea-surface temperatures in the main development region of the tropical Atlantic are sitting at record levels and are more typical of a later August 1991-2020 average. (Kim Wood, U of Arizona)

Wood has sea-surface temperature maps for various sub-basins of the Atlantic, and while the Gulf of Mexico is only running about 2 to 3 weeks ahead of schedule, the basin overall is running near August levels. The Caribbean? That’s even worse, running *above* peak average sea-surface temperatures for the entire year. Already.

We can hope for a 2010-like outcome, where it was a busy season but most storms avoided land (with a couple notably tragic exceptions). But given these sorts of antecedent conditions coming into the season, this would be a favorable outcome.

The NOAA outlook, combined with virtually every other hurricane season outlook is saying this year will be busy. It may or may not be busy for you, but we are getting to the point where there aren’t a whole lot of ways to describe any of this that in non-hyperbole. The bottom line is that this is the year to be prepared if you live anywhere on the coast. Just in case.

Watching the Caribbean, sort of

And with that, we have a disturbance to keep tabs on in the Caribbean already.

Thankfully, this disturbance only has about a 10 percent chance of developing and is expected to head out to sea anyway. (NOAA)

Looking at satellite, there’s not a whole heck of a lot to this one. There’s definitely a “center” of the disturbance near the eastern tip of Cuba, but it’s on the way east and northeast. So it will be out in the open water before too long.

A tropical disturbance near the eastern tip of Cuba will head out to sea with about a 10 percent chance to develop into a formal tropical system. (Tropical Tidbits)

Ten percent seems like reasonable odds for development at this point, but no impacts of note are expected even if it does form.

Otherwise, things look quiet for another week or so. We may have another disturbance to watch in the Caribbean in about 10 days or so. We’ll keep you posted on that.

Hurricane season kicks off in the Eastern Pacific, as the Atlantic basin looks calm for the foreseeable future


  • No high confidence signals for tropical development in the Atlantic over the next 2 weeks.
  • It seems likely that we’ll make it to June 1st without an Atlantic storm.
  • Eastern Pacific may get its first system by next week, but it likely heads out to sea.

A May Atlantic basin storm seems unlikely this year

Over the next seven days, it looks like a relatively quiet stretch in the tropical Atlantic. The area where GFS modeling has been hinting at some kind of potential development, the Caribbean, looks drier than normal through next week.

The next 7 days look rather quiet in the Caribbean and Gulf. Above normal rainfall mainly targets the Gulf Coast and Southeast, while below average precipitation dominates the Caribbean. (Tropical Tidbits)

Any kind of development should be held off through the 25th or so. Heading into weeks 2 and perhaps week 3, it continues to look unlikely that we see development in the Atlantic. The Climate Prediction Center’s global tropical hazards outlook shows above average rainfall developing in the Caribbean and western Atlantic in that timeframe, but as of now, there’s nothing to really latch onto as a development candidate.

The Climate Prediction Center’s tropical hazards outlook shows dryness in the Gulf, but gradually increasing moisture in the eastern Caribbean and western Atlantic. Development is unlikely at this time in the Atlantic. (NOAA)

At this point, I feel relatively comfortable saying that unless something drastically changes soon, we’ll make it to the June 1st start of hurricane season with no preseason storms in the Atlantic.

Hurricane season underway in the Eastern Pacific

Today is the first day of hurricane season in the Eastern Pacific, and the National Hurricane Center has a 30 percent area outlined off the coast of Mexico.

The first system of the season in the Pacific may develop by next week, but it will likely head out to sea. (NHC)

Slow development of this area is possible as it moves west. A building ridge of high pressure in the upper atmosphere, reloading extreme, historic heat over Mexico will keep this one likely moving west out over the Eastern Pacific. If it were to develop, Aletta is the first name on the list this year.

Model silly season may begin soon in the tropics

Welcome back to The Eyewall! We’re going to fire back up some regular updates now as hurricane season approaches. The plan is currently to post an update each Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday until activity necessitates more frequent posts.


  • GFS model periodically trying to spin something up around Memorial Day in the SW Atlantic or Caribbean.
  • While that may or may not happen, it’s about this time of year that the GFS model tends to do some wild things that are usually unrealistic so use it carefully.
  • Eastern Pacific may kick up some activity later next week.

Checking in on the tropics: A reminder about the GFS model

Over the last week or so, we’ve started to see some signs in weather models of some very late period mischief in the Caribbean. This is especially true on the GFS operational model. For those of you that track these things, it’s around this time of year that the GFS begins to go a little haywire with tropical activity traditionally. For whatever reason, it likes to latch onto potential tropical disturbances and blow them up into well-organized storms, usually in the Gulf or Caribbean in May and early June. As most of you know, the chances of a very well-organized May or early June storm is extremely low. So we always tell people to generally put little stock in the GFS operational model this time of year in the tropics.

Saturday morning’s GFS operational model was one of the runs that showed a developing organized system in the Bahamas near Memorial Day. (Tropical Tidbits)

Remember, operational models are known as “deterministic” models. They’re one run, one solution. As meteorologists, we have learned to use an ensemble approach to forecasting, particularly when trying to determine if tropical development is realistic in a medium-range to extended range timeframe. Ensembles are where they run these models anywhere from 30 to 50 or so different times. Each time, something is tweaked in the initialization (what the model is seeing at hour 0), and then the model is run out 240 to 384 hours. This allows us to capture a more realistic envelope of outcomes from the modeling that informs our thoughts on development, risks, etc.

Anyway, the thought process right now is that conditions may become slightly favorable in the Caribbean or Southwest Atlantic for something in about 10 to 15 days. But I would encourage a lot of caution about getting worked up regarding some of the GFS model runs. They may begin to show some outcomes that are unrealistic.

In the meantime, keep an eye on the Eastern Pacific. It may be time to fire up that basin in about seven to ten days. We’ll take another look at things on Wednesday.