CNN meteorologist: Ocean temps are ‘fuel and food’ for intensifying hurricanes

CNN meteorologist: Ocean temps are ‘fuel and food’ for intensifying hurricanes

CNN Meteorologist Explains How Ocean Temperatures Fuel and Feed Intensifying Hurricanes

Ocean temperatures play a crucial role in the formation, intensification, and eventual demise of hurricanes. According to CNN meteorologist Chad Myers, the

warm ocean waters

provide hurricanes with the energy they need to intensify. The process begins when a tropical disturbance, such as a low-pressure system or a tropical wave, develops over the ocean. As this system organizes itself into a

tropical storm

, it begins to absorb the heat from the ocean through evaporation. This heat is then released as moisture in the form of Rain, fueling the storm and contributing to its growth.

As a hurricane continues to intensify, it draws in increasingly warmer water from deeper within the ocean. This warm water is transported towards the storm’s center by

ocean currents

and is used to fuel the formation of new thunderstorms. The heat energy from these storms is then released, further intensifying the hurricane.

However, this process cannot go on indefinitely. Eventually, a

major hurricane

will encounter cooler ocean temperatures, which can weaken the storm and eventually lead to its dissipation. This is why ocean temperatures are such a critical factor in the life cycle of a hurricane.

In summary, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers explains that ocean temperatures fuel and feed intensifying hurricanes by providing the storms with the necessary heat energy to grow and intensify. The warmer the water, the more energy a hurricane can draw upon, making it essential for forecasters to closely monitor ocean temperatures when tracking potential storm systems.

Hurricane Formation, Intensity, and Recent Impact on Coastal Communities

Hurricanes, massive tropical storms, form over warm ocean waters when a disturbance gains enough convective activity near the surface and a low-pressure area forms. Warm ocean temperatures provide the energy needed for hurricane development. In recent years, we have witnessed increased hurricane activity, with numerous storms making landfall and leaving a devastating impact on coastal communities.

Recent Hurricane Impact

In the past decade, major hurricanes such as Hurricane Katrina, Sandy, and Harvey have wreaked havoc on the eastern seaboard of the United States. These storms brought catastrophic wind damage, torrential rainfall, and devastating storm surges. Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall in 2005, caused over $125 billion in damage and resulted in the deaths of more than 1,800 people.

Meet the Expert: Jim Cantore

To better understand hurricane formation, intensity, and potential impact on communities, we turn to the expertise of CNN meteorologist, Jim Cantore. With over 30 years of experience covering hurricanes, Jim Cantore has gained a reputation as one of the most trusted and knowledgeable voices in meteorology. Tune in to this segment as we explore the latest advances in hurricane forecasting and learn how coastal communities can better prepare for these powerful storms.

CNN meteorologist: Ocean temps are ‘fuel and food’ for intensifying hurricanes

Background Information on Hurricanes and Ocean Temperatures

Hurricanes: are powerful tropical storms that form over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. Tropical storms are large, organized systems of thunderstorms that form over warm tropical or subtropical waters with winds ranging from 39 to 73 miles per hour. Hurricanes, on the other hand, are much stronger with sustained winds exceeding 74 miles per hour and heavy rainfall.

Formation of Hurricanes:

Tropical storms and hurricanes form from a complex interaction of atmospheric and oceanic conditions. Warm ocean waters with temperatures above 26.5°C (79.7°F) provide the energy needed for storms to develop. Tropical depressions, which are weaker systems with winds below 39 miles per hour, can form from a broad low-pressure area over the ocean. When conditions are favorable, wind shear is weak, and there is ample moisture, a tropical depression can strengthen into a tropical storm or a hurricane.

Role of Warm Ocean Temperatures in Hurricanes:

The importance of warm ocean temperatures in hurricane intensity cannot be overstated. Warm waters provide more energy for the storm, allowing it to intensify and sustain its strength. Hurricanes feed on heat released from the ocean through a process called latent heating. The warmer the water, the more energy is available for a storm to grow and intensify.

Comparing Tropical and Subtropical Storms:

The temperature requirements for tropical storms and hurricanes are crucial to their development. While tropical storms can form in waters as cool as 26°C (78.8°F), hurricanes require waters warmer than 26.5°C (79.7°F). Subtropical storms, which can form in both warm and cooler waters, lie between tropical and extratropical cyclones. Although they have some hurricane characteristics like heavy rainfall and strong winds, subtropical storms lack the warm core that defines a tropical cyclone.

CNN meteorologist: Ocean temps are ‘fuel and food’ for intensifying hurricanes

I The Role of Ocean Temperatures in Recent Hurricane Intensifications

Ocean temperatures play a crucial role in the formation and intensification of tropical cyclones, including hurricanes. Recent studies have shown that ocean temperatures have been contributing to more frequent and rapidly intensifying storms. Let’s explore some recent examples of hurricanes that have experienced this phenomenon.

Examples of Recent Hurricanes with Rapid Intensification

  • Hurricane Harvey in 2017: This storm rapidly intensified from a tropical depression to a Category 4 hurricane in just three days. The Gulf of Mexico, where Harvey formed, had unusually warm waters.
  • Hurricane Irma in 2017: Another massive hurricane that intensified quickly, reaching Category 5 status shortly before making landfall in the Caribbean. The Atlantic Ocean temperatures were significantly warmer than average during this period.
  • Hurricane Dorian in 2019: This storm also saw rapid intensification, reaching Category 5 strength before moving toward the United States. Warm waters in the Atlantic contributed to its strengthening.

Ocean Temperatures During these Storms

These hurricanes formed and intensified in areas with abnormally warm ocean temperatures. Warmer water provides more heat content, which acts as fuel for the storm. The warmer the water, the more energy a hurricane can harness, leading to more intense and potentially damaging storms.

3.Role of Heat Content in Fueling Storms

Tropical cyclones derive their energy from the heat contained in the ocean. Warmer waters provide more heat content, allowing storms to grow stronger and intensify more quickly.

3.Impact of El Niño and La Niña on Ocean Temperatures and Hurricane Activity

The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

(El Niño and La Niña) also plays a role in ocean temperatures and hurricane activity. El Niño, characterized by warmer-than-average waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, can lead to reduced hurricane activity in the Atlantic due to increased wind shear. La Niña, with cooler-than-average waters in the same region, can result in increased hurricane activity due to decreased wind shear.


In summary, warmer ocean temperatures fuel the intensification of tropical cyclones. Abnormally warm waters have contributed to more frequent and rapidly intensifying storms in recent years. The role of phenomena like El Niño and La Niña on ocean temperatures further emphasizes the importance of considering these factors when assessing hurricane activity.


CNN meteorologist: Ocean temps are ‘fuel and food’ for intensifying hurricanes

Impact of Climate Change on Ocean Temperatures and Hurricanes

Climate change is having a profound effect on our planet’s oceans, particularly in regards to temperatures and hurricane activity. Warming ocean temperatures are a major concern as they contribute to more frequent and intense weather events, including hurricanes. One of the primary causes of this trend is the increase in greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. These gases trap heat from the sun, leading to a gradual rise in ocean temperatures. Another factor is the melting of ice caps and glaciers, which contributes to rising sea levels and further warming of the ocean.

Impact on Ocean Temperatures: Increased Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are naturally occurring in our atmosphere. However, human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, have significantly increased their levels. These gases absorb and re-radiate heat, causing the Earth’s temperature to rise, and resulting in warmer ocean temperatures.

Impact on Ocean Temperatures: Melting Ice Caps and Glaciers

The melting of ice caps and glaciers is another major contributor to warmer ocean temperatures. As these large bodies of ice melt, they add more water to the ocean, which absorbs heat more slowly than land does. Additionally, the melting of glaciers and ice caps contributes to rising sea levels, which can lead to further warming as more ocean surface area is exposed to sunlight.

Impact on Hurricane Activity: Increased Frequency and Intensity

Warmer ocean temperatures have significant implications for hurricane activity. The warmer water provides more fuel for storms, leading to an increased frequency and intensity of hurricanes. Hurricanes draw their energy from the warm ocean waters, and warmer temperatures mean more energy available for storms to feed on.

Potential Economic and Societal Consequences

The potential consequences of these trends are far-reaching and significant. Increased hurricane activity could lead to massive economic losses, as well as societal disruptions. Coastal communities, which are home to many of the world’s largest cities and population centers, are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change on ocean temperatures and hurricane activity.

CNN meteorologist: Ocean temps are ‘fuel and food’ for intensifying hurricanes


As we’ve explored in this presentation, ocean temperatures play a crucial role in the intensity of hurricanes. Warm ocean waters provide the fuel for storms to strengthen, making areas with above-average temperatures particularly susceptible to powerful and destructive hurricanes.

Summer 2021’s record-breaking Atlantic Ocean temperatures

are a prime example of this phenomenon.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that climate change may significantly alter future hurricane activity.

Rising ocean temperatures

and other factors associated with a changing climate could lead to more frequent, intense hurricanes in certain regions. This increased frequency and intensity could have devastating consequences for coastal communities already dealing with the effects of sea-level rise, storm surges, and other climate impacts.

Given these concerns, it’s crucial for individuals to

stay informed

about potential storm threats and prepare themselves accordingly. Regularly monitoring weather forecasts, creating an emergency plan, stocking up on essential supplies, and understanding evacuation protocols can help mitigate the risks associated with hurricanes.

We encourage

further discussion

and questions on this important topic, so please don’t hesitate to engage with the community or share your thoughts below. By working together and staying informed, we can help ensure a more resilient future for coastal communities facing the challenges of hurricane season in an era of climate change.