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The tropics are definitely beginning to heat up, both figuratively and literally speaking. At 12 p.m. Tuesday, Tropical Storm Gert was located approximately 600 miles northeast of Bermuda with maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour. This tropical storm had minimal effects on the island of Bermuda and is expected to remain a “fish storm,” or one that only affects fish and does not pose any threat to land and those residing nearby.

Elsewhere in the tropics, the Cape Verde hurricane season has arrived, and meteorologists are watching the Atlantic Ocean closely to see what disturbances may develop into tropical storms or hurricanes. The Cape Verde hurricane season got its name because of the climatologically favored time of year when organized tropical waves move off the African coast and across the Cape Verde Islands in the far eastern Atlantic Ocean. This is often considered the most significant and worrisome part of the hurricane season because the ocean waters are very warm, and any organized tropical waves that emerge off the African Coast often have seven to 10 days to strengthen as they move westward across the Atlantic Ocean. These are the storms that many times become the Category 3, 4, and 5 hurricanes and threaten the Caribbean islands, U.S., or the Gulf of Mexico.

Right now, ocean water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico are near normal, though some areas are seeing anomalies of 1.5 to 3 degrees above normal. In fact, much of the mid-Atlantic coastal waters from North Carolina up through Maine currently have water temperatures anywhere from 2 to 5 degrees above normal. This is very concerning, because above-average water temperatures may prevent tropical systems that move across these areas from weakening as much as they usually do. In fact, this setup fosters the possibility of an enhanced hurricane risk for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, should a tropical system move in that direction.

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