A stagnant ridge of high pressure this Summer has brought relentless heat to not only Texas, but much of the Deep South including Florida. In fact, the heat has been so intense in the Sunshine State that the near shore waters have reached temperatures that feel more like a hot tub. 

One of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s buoys in Manatee Bay, a largely enclosed body of water just north of Key Largo, registered a staggering 101.1 degree Fahrenheit reading at a depth of 5 feet during the last week of July!  Two other nearby buoys measured temperatures of 98-99 degrees Fahrenheit lending credence to the Manatee Bay reading. If confirmed, the 101.1 degree temperature would beat the previous record of 99.7 degrees, that was recorded in Kuwait Bay in the Persian Gulf in 2020.

Water temperatures throughout the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida are running above normal with temperatures in the upper 80s and low 90s. The “marine heat wave” creates some significant concerns. The delicate coral reef along the Florida Keys is already suffering. When sea temperatures rise too high, it causes corals to expel the algae they need for sustenance, a process known as bleaching. If the water temperatures remain this high for an extended period of time, the corals can die. 

The extraordinary heat content in the Gulf of Mexico also raises concerns for the remainder of hurricane season. Storms entering the Gulf would have a tremendous amount of energy to tap giving them the potential for rapid intensification. As of late July, El NiƱo and Saharan dust have put a bit of a pause on storm development, but with the most active part of the season still looming, things could really ramp up in August and September.