Warmest oceans on record adds to hurricanes, wildfires risks

The world’s seas are simmering, with record high temperatures spurring worry among forecasters that the global warming effect may generate a chaotic year of extreme weather ahead.

Parts of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans all hit the record books for warmth last month, according to the US National Centers for Environmental Information. The high temperatures could offer clues on the ferocity of the Atlantic hurricane season, the eruption of wildfires from the Amazon region to Australia, and whether the record heat and severe thunderstorms raking the southern United States will continue.

In the Gulf of Mexico, where offshore drilling accounts for about 17 percent of US oil output, water temperatures were 76.3 degrees Fahrenheit, 1.7 degrees above the long-term average, said Phil Klotzbach at Colorado State University. If Gulf waters stay warm, it could be the fuel that intensifies any storm that comes that way, he said.

The record warm water in the Gulf of Mexico spilled over into every coastal community along the shoreline with all-time high temperatures on land, said Deke Arndt, chief of the monitoring section at the National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, N.C. Florida recorded its warmest March on record, and Miami reached 93 degrees Wednesday, 10 degrees above normal, the National Weather Service said.


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