The energy that fuels hurricanes

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Dear Tom,
Hurricane Harvey was fueled by enormous heat energy in the Gulf of Mexico waters. Would cooler water have any impact on future tropical storms this season?
Edward Schlag, Addison

Dear Edward,
Warm water along with the depth of the warm water are paramount in sustaining hurricane intensity. As a hurricane churns across tropical waters the strong winds and waves draw up colder water in a process called “upwelling” significantly lowering the sea surface temperature in its wake. Satellite sensors have also detected that the ocean-to-storm energy transfer that fuels a hurricane also lowers the ocean temperatures beneath the storm by a few degrees. As a result, a stationary hurricane gradually weakens as its environment slowly cools and a quickly following storm will be starved for the ocean warmth needed for intensification.

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