Researchers boost Florida's hurricane forecast due to "anomalously warm" ocean waters

Not that it's a symptom of a much more terrifying problem or anything.

click to enlarge You might wanna check this map out with some frequency. - Screen grab, nhc.noaa.gov
Screen grab, nhc.noaa.gov
You might wanna check this map out with some frequency.

Seven days ago, Tropical Storm Emily's sudden formation left us questioning whether The Washington Post summoned the forces of nature against us in publishing a piece adding up all of the ways Tampa Bay would be effed in the event of a major storm.

Then, boom, major storm.

Fortunately for local leaders, especially ones immersed in, oh, I dunno, a scrappy reelection effort in which stormwater infrastructure is front-and-center, Emily's relative gentleness was a relief and, perhaps, a wake-up call.

The next storm may not be so gentle, and there may be more than one.

Researchers at Colorado State University released a revised Atlantic hurricane season forecast Friday, News Service of Florida reported, and unlike most years, they're not adjusting their prediction downward. 

Citing "anomalously warm" water in the Atlantic as well as the lack of El Niño in the Pacific (which helps temper Atlantic storms), they said the season will be "above average" as we head into its peak months. Florida faces a 61 percent chance of being hit with a hurricane (which is ten points above the historical average), and the research team is predicting 16 named storms, eight hurricanes and three major storms, which are Category 3 or higher (111 mile-per-hour winds and above). Florida's chance of getting socked by a major hurricane is around 27 percent.

So far, there have been six named storms in the Atlantic and Caribbean, including Franklin, which is poised to hit Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula at the moment. There's also an area of low pressure west of the Lesser Antilles that could form into a storm in the coming days.

Unless someone figures out how to Bill-and-Ted back a century or so ago to warn against the perils of fossil fuel addiction, we're pretty much screwed.

There's no way to un-warm the oceans or stop them from encroaching on cities like Tampa and St. Pete, but some local leaders (the ones who understand that scientific community consensus isn't something you can buy, anyway) are bracing for sea-level rise, though without buy-in at the state and federal level — given that we have Rick "climate change doesn't exist in Florida" Scott as governor and Donald "KFC-is-a-vegetable" Trump as president — it's hard to know if Florida will ever truly be ready.

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