This year's El Nino climate event is already on top of record surface temperature, and that means the oceans are several degrees above normal in North America, including the state of Florida, setting new temperature records daily this July.
Not only is Florida sizzling in record-crushing heat, but the ocean waters that surround it are scorching, as well. The unprecedented ocean warmth around the state — connected to historically warm oceans worldwide — is further intensifying its heat wave and stressing coral reefs, with conditions that could end up strengthening hurricanes.
Much of Florida is seeing its warmest year on record, with temperatures running 3 to 5 degrees above normal. While some locations have been setting records since the beginning of the year, the hottest weather has come with an intense heat dome cooking the Sunshine State in recent weeks. That heat dome has made coastal waters extremely warm, including “downright shocking” temperatures of 92 to 96 degrees in the Florida Keys, meteorologist and journalist Bob Henson said Sunday in a tweet.
“That’s boiling for them! More typically it would be in the upper 80s,” tweeted Jeff Berardelli, chief meteorologist and climate specialist at WFLA-TV in Tampa.
The temperatures are so high that they are off the scale of the color contours on some weather maps.
The warmth registers as a Category 3 out of 5 on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s marine heat wave scale. NOAA defines a marine heat wave as a period with persistent and unusually warm ocean temperatures, “which can have significant impacts on marine life as well as coastal communities and economies.” The agency describes Category 3 as “severe.”
Such warm water temperatures “would be impressive any time of year, but they’re occurring when the water would already be rather warm, bringing it up to bona fide bathtub conditions that we rarely see,” Brian McNoldy, senior research associate at the University of Miami and hurricane expert for Capital Weather Gang, said in an email.
The toasty waters are influencing temperatures on land by raising the humidity, which makes it harder for temperatures to cool off at night. Numerous records for temperatures and heat indexes have been broken since mid-June, and the heat wave is expected to continue for at least a week. According to McNoldy, Miami’s heat index soared to 110 degrees on Monday and has reached at least 100 on 30 straight days.
Miami, Tampa and Fort Myers are expected to hit a heat index of 105 or higher on each of the next seven days, according to the The Washington Post’s heat tracker.
“It’s an astounding, prolonged heat wave even for a place that’s no stranger to sultry weather,” said McNoldy, who also cautioned that the warm waters could make tropical storms or hurricanes stronger. “It’s not something we like to see near land simply because it would allow a storm to maintain a high intensity right up to landfall or rapidly intensify as it approaches landfall.”
Hurricane forecasters have recently upped their predictions for the season in response to the rising ocean temperatures.
The marine heat wave is also causing coral bleaching, which can leave corals vulnerable to deadly diseases. NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch has recorded an “Alert Level 1” off the coast of South Florida. That is the second-highest level, described by NOAA as “significant bleaching likely.”
Not that I expect Ron DeSantis to do anything, he'll just block any efforts to mitigate the damage and scream something about diesel and microbeads being good for fish.
When Florida's tourism, fishing, and farming industries collapse, you can thank him.
Oh, and the latest insurance provider to pull out of the state is Farmers, and President Biden's energy efficiency program to provide consumers rebates for saving energy? DeSantis trashed those too: nearly $400 million has just gone up in smoke for Florida residents.
Guess the state's going to have to drown, burn, and melt before Florida gets rid of him.