Early on the morning of August 29th, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Louisiana delta region and the Mississippi coast. The storm surge brought enormous damage to the Gulf Coast and, when the levees around New Orleans failed, a great number of fatalities. Coming amidst the very busy 2005 hurricane season, Katrina brought death and destruction not seen in a U.S. land-falling hurricane in decades.
How do hurricanes form, survive, and intensify? Hurricane scientists have long believed upper ocean temperatures are the key factor. AOML’s Dr. Joe Cione reveals a new theory, after observing 62 Atlantic hurricanes of a span of 32 years, suggesting this common theory may not be all that accurate. If his theory holds, it could have the potential to significantly improve hurricane intensity forecasts for the nation.
Dr. Cione found that in addition to ocean temperature, the near-surface air temperature and moisture around the hurricane are also essential energy requirements for sustaining a hurricane. These two variables often play an even more important role than ocean temperature.