Joe Bastardi was Correct about Gulf of Mexico Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

This is an update of hurricane region sea surface temperature anomalies in light of the formation of Tropical Storm Andrea.

I published the post Hurricane Main Development Region Sea Surface Temperatures & Anomalies – Plus a Couple of Other Regions (cross post at WUWT here) on May 19th. Weekly Gulf of Mexico sea surface temperature anomalies were quite low the week of May 8, 2013.

Joe Bastardi of WeatherBell left the following comment on that thread a few days later:

…there is a major warm loop current this year in the eastern gulf and it will warm that area. The east coast temps are very close to the years when they get hit. In fact temps are much above normal off the ne coast. Here is the latest sst, showing the rapid warming in the eastern gulf as much of the cooling was shallow caused by the nw flow that we had for much of april into may. I am sure the water will warm. Take special note along the east coast, thx Joe

My reply discussed how the NESDIS sea surface temperature maps use only nighttime satellite readings, and as a result, their maps sometimes presented warmer-looking maps.


The sea surface temperature anomalies of the Gulf of Mexico have warmed from the weather-related low the week of my post.

 Figure 1

Figure 1

Because of the lag in the weekly sea surface temperature anomaly data through NOMADS, and the more frequent updates (twice per week) of the maps Joe presented, I should have (shoulda’-woulda’-coulda’) checked the NESDIS/OSPO (National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service/Office of Satellite and Product Operations) sea surface temperature anomaly maps webpage to see whether the Gulf of Mexico had warmed. They had. Figure 1 is a gif animation of NESDIS maps of the sea surface temperatures of the Caribbean (that also capture the Gulf of Mexico) from May 6th (the week of the data presented in my post) to the most recent one on June 3rd (OSPO hasn’t yet updated today as I wrote this). I’ve noted the timings of my post, Joe’s comment and the most recent map.

The quick weather-related dip and rebound in the Gulf of Mexico sea surface temperature anomalies also shows up in the time-series graph, Figure 2.

Figure 2 Gulf Comparison

Figure 2

And again, as I noted in the earlier post: hurricanes [tropical storms] don’t care about anomalies.


While you’re here, I’ve updated the graphs (week centered on May 29th) for the Main Development Region (10N-20N, 80W-20W), Eastern Coastal Waters (24N-40N, 80W-70W), and the Caribbean (10N-20N, 84W-60W). See Figures 3 through 5.

Figure 3 MDR

Figure 3


Figure 4 East Coast

Figure 4


Figure 5 Caribbean

Figure 5

And because El Niño events can stifle the development of hurricanes, Figure 6 presents NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomalies through May 29th. We’re presently experiencing ENSO-neutral conditions; that is, conditions in the tropical Pacific are not El Niño or La Niña.

Figure 6 NINO3.4

Figure 6

Refer also to the NOAA weekly ENSO update. The Hovmoller diagram of subsurface temperature anomalies across the equatorial Pacific (page 16) is showing a moderate build-up of warm water in the west. Because Kelvin waves typically alternate between downwelling (warm) and upwelling (cool), the next one should carry some warm water to the east. But according to the ENSO forecast models (pages 25 to 27), conditions should remain ENSO neutral for the rest of the hurricane season.

Note:  Kelvin waves along the equator in the Pacific are called upwelling and downwelling due their impact on the thermocline, which is the transition between the warmer mixed waters nearer the surface and the cooler waters below it.  The downwelling (warm) Kelvin waves push down on the thermocline, and upwelling (cool) Kelvin waves draw up the thermocline.


For four years, we’ve been illustrating and discussing how ocean heat content and satellite-era sea surface temperature data indicate the oceans warmed naturally. That doesn’t stop climate change alarmists from making all sorts of nonsensical claims.  If the natural warming of the oceans is new to you, refer to the illustrated essay “The Manmade Global Warming Challenge” [42MB].


The Sea Surface Temperature anomaly data used in this post is available through the NOAA NOMADS website:



About Bob Tisdale

Research interest: the long-term aftereffects of El Niño and La Nina events on global sea surface temperature and ocean heat content. Author of the ebook Who Turned on the Heat? and regular contributor at WattsUpWithThat.
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One Response to Joe Bastardi was Correct about Gulf of Mexico Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

  1. Pingback: These items caught my eye – 6 June 2013 | grumpydenier

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