Unprecedented Heatwave Hits South Florida's Waters, Raising Concerns
Photo Credit: Photo credit: Mikhail Nilov

Photo Credit: Photo credit: Mikhail Nilov

Unprecedented Heatwave Hits South Florida's Waters, Raising Concerns

beach , Climate Change , Florida , Heatwave , Miami , United States , Summer , weather
Brunno Braga
Brunno Braga Jul 26, 2023

A record-breaking heatwave struck South Florida’s offshore waters, sending temperatures soaring to unimaginable levels. On Monday, a buoy located in Manatee Bay, approximately 40 miles south of Miami, recorded a scorching 101.1 degrees Fahrenheit at 6 o’clock, following a morning low of 91 degrees. The extreme temperatures persisted from 5 p.m. until late at night, raising alarms about the state of the ocean in the region, according to the Washington Post.

Although there are no official records for ocean temperatures, the Manatee Bay reading could be unprecedented globally. Comparatively, the ideal hot tub temperature is between 100 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit, according to jacuzzi.com, highlighting the severity of the ocean’s heat.

A study from 2020 revealed that Kuwait Bay had a sea surface temperature of 99.7 degrees Fahrenheit, offering a troubling point of reference for the situation in Manatee Bay.

However, questions have been raised about the accuracy of the measurement due to the shallow depth of the recording – just five feet below the surface. Potential contamination from land effects and organic matter in the water might have influenced the temperature, as suggested by meteorologist Jeff Master.

The extreme oceanic temperatures were not confined to Manatee Bay alone. A buoy near Johnson Key in the southwest recorded a high of 98.4 degrees Fahrenheit, with temperatures lingering at or above 98 degrees for hours. Many buoys in the region reported daytime temperatures of 95 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

Heatwave Surprises Experts

The fact that water temperatures surpassed air temperatures surprised experts. While shallow waters in direct sunlight can have higher sea surface temperatures than the air, this occurrence is noteworthy.

South Florida’s heatwave coincides with breaking heat records in the region. July has been the warmest month on record for cities like Miami, Key West, Naples, and Tampa. The Southeast Regional Climate Center data indicates that most of South Florida is experiencing its warmest year thus far.

Miami has seen 64 days with temperatures exceeding 90 degrees, setting new annual records, along with Fort Myers and Key West experiencing 97 and 46 such days, respectively. The heat index in Miami reached above 100 degrees for a record-breaking 44 consecutive days.

The persistently warm nights, with lows between 80 to 83 degrees, have contributed to the ocean’s elevated temperatures.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Watch program has observed a broader marine heatwave affecting various areas in the Northern Hemisphere. The Mediterranean Sea experienced a temperature of 83.1 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking previous records. Other affected regions include waters west of Peru and the North Atlantic Ocean, where temperatures remain unusually high.

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