What Hurricane Chris Is Doing To The Water Beneath It

July 11, 2018 0 Comments

Hurricane season is underway, and so far it has been a pretty quiet season so far with 3 named storms and only 1 hurricane. That storm is Hurricane Chris, and it has been moving slowly off the Carolina Coast for the past half of a week.

Here is what Chris looked like earlier this afternoon on a visible satellite image.

Chris intensified into a Category 2 storm, but the latest advisory as of writing this (7 PM Wednesday evening) has it lower at a Category 1 with sustained winds of 90 mph. It is forecast to move quickly toward the northeast and weaken into a tropical storm. This storm will remain out at sea until a possible landfall in Iceland this weekend, although it is too early to predict that with 100% certainty.

Over the past few days, Chris was a slow mover. It remained off of the Carolina coast in a similar position before it started it’s northeast movement. This had a noticeable and interesting effect on the sea surface temperatures in that area.

Below is a map of sea surface temperatures from when Chris first formed. This map from NOAA shows temperatures on July 6th. Note how there is a pretty uniform area of warm water off of the Carolina Coast indicated by the orange colors.

Now take a look at this map with data from yesterday, July 10th. There is a noticeable cold pool where Chris was sitting. Look for the yellow area southwest of the number 28 and due east of the South Carolina/Georgia coast.

So now the question becomes why did this happen? The answer is pretty simple. Since Chris didn’t move much, the rainwater that fell from it continued to fall in one spot. That water was cooler than the ocean water, and it started to cool the surface down. Over the course of 3 or 4 days, there was enough cooler rainwater to drop the ocean temperatures in that location by a few degrees.

Now that Chris is moving away toward the northeast, that cool pool of water will likely be able to quickly recover. But for now, Chris leaves behind a noticeable mark on its environment.

-Chief Meteorologist Brian Walder

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