First Day of Hurricane Season Sparks Questions, Concerns Over Loop Current

On the first day of the Atlantic hurricane season, many have expressed concerns over the Loop Current and how it could affect the season.

June 1 marks the first day of the season, which was already forecasted to be an above-average season, following the third-most-active hurricane season on record in 2021. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Loop Current is "an area of warm water that travels up from the Caribbean, past the Yucatan Peninsula, and into the Gulf of Mexico."

"The current is also known as the Florida current as it flows through the Florida Strait, into the Gulf Stream, and heads north up the eastern coast of the U.S.," the NOAA said.

In a recent article published in The Conversation by Nick Shay, a professor of oceanography at the University of Miami, the Loop Current was discussed and how its current temperatures compare to the active Atlantic hurricane season experienced in 2005.

Hurricane
The 2022 Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1, and many have expressed concern about its outlook. Above, the sea is seen before Hurricane Agatha makes landfall in Huatulco, Oaxaca State, Mexico, on May 30, 2022. GIL OBED/AFP/Getty

"This year, the Loop Current looks remarkably similar to the way it did in 2005, the year Hurricane Katrina crossed the Loop Current before devastating New Orleans," Shay wrote. "I have been monitoring ocean heat content for more than 30 years as a marine scientist.

"The conditions I see in the Gulf in May 2022 are cause for concern...Warm ocean water doesn't necessarily mean more tropical storms. But once tropical storms reach waters that are around 78 F (26 C) or warmer, they can strengthen into hurricanes."

According to Shay, in mid-May, the Loop Current had water temperatures around 78 degrees Fahrenheit, and the temperatures could increase through the summer.

Frank Billingsley, a chief meteorologist for KPRC in Houston, Texas, was also recently asked about the current state of the Loop Current and if he is concerned about a similar hurricane season to 2005, which brought Katrina.

"What did the Loop Current look like on this day, June 1, 2005? You can see the sea surface temperatures already at 84-86° and it only got warmer from there," Billingsley wrote. "Does this mean we will have another 2005? No, of course not. However, the fact that the water is plenty warm certainly does not bode well for the season ahead."

On Wednesday, the Atlantic National Hurricane Center issued a forecast for the start of the season. According to the forecast, there is one storm system traveling toward the Yucatan Peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico. The system has a 70 percent chance of forming into a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours and an 80 percent chance to form in the next five days.

"Regardless of development, locally heavy rainfall is likely across portions of southeastern Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, and Belize during the next day or so, spreading across western Cuba, South Florida, and the Florida Keys on Friday and Saturday," the forecast said.

Newsweek reached out to the National Hurricane Center for comment.