Sea Surface Temperatures in Hurricane Alley
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Sea Surface Temperatures in Hurricane Alley

September 11, 2003
What makes a hurricane? First, warm water—at least 82ºF (28ºC). Several weeks after the Sun shines brightest on the tropics in late June in the Northern Hemisphere, the tropical ocean waters reach their warmest. In the image above, orange and red indicate where the ocean is 82ºF and warmer. This false-color map of sea surface temperature was made using data taken by the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-EOS (AMSR/E), aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite, and composited for the month of May 2002.

Every year, the tropical Atlantic becomes a meteorological mixing bowl with all the necessary ingredients for hurricane formation from June 1 to November 30.

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