At Tip of Florida, Sea Water Hits 'Hot Tub' Temps

Temperature reading exceeds 100 degrees two days in a row, though there are some issues
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 26, 2023 12:40 AM CDT
Sea Water at Tip of Florida Hits 'Hot Tub Level'
In this image provide by NOAA, the sun shines on coral showing sign of bleaching at Cheeca Rocks off the coast of Islamorada, Fla., on July 23, 2023. Scientists have seen devastating effects from prolonged hot water surrounding Florida — coral bleaching and some death.   (Andrew Ibarra/NOAA via AP)

The water temperature on the tip of Florida hit hot tub levels, exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit two days in a row. And meteorologists say that could potentially be the hottest seawater ever measured, although there are some issues with the reading, the AP reports. Weather records for sea water temperature are unofficial, and there are certain conditions in this reading that could disqualify it for a top mark, meteorologists said. But the initial reading on a buoy at Manatee Bay hit 101.1 degrees Monday evening, according to National Weather Service meteorologist George Rizzuto. On Sunday night the same buoy showed an online reading of 100.2 degrees. "It seems plausible," Rizzuto said. "That is a potential record."

While there aren't official water temperature records, a 2020 study listed a 99.7 degree mark in Kuwait Bay in July 2020 as the world's highest recorded sea surface temperature. Rizzuto said a new record from Florida is plausible because nearby buoys measured in the 98- and 99-degree range. "This is a hot tub. I like my hot tub around 100, 101. That's what was recorded yesterday," said Yale Climate Connections meteorologist Jeff Masters. "We've never seen a record-breaking event like this before." But he and University of Miami tropical meteorologist Brian McNoldy said that while the hot temperatures fit with what's happening around Florida, it may not be accepted as a record because the area is shallow, has sea grasses in it, and may be influenced by warm land in the nearby Everglades National Park.

The fact that two 100 degree measurements were taken in consecutive days gives credence to the readings, McNoldy said. Water temperatures have been in the upper 90s in the area for more than two weeks. Just 26 miles away, in Cheeca Rocks, scientists saw devastating effects from prolonged hot water surrounding Florida—coral bleaching and even some death in what had been one of the Florida Keys' most resilient reefs. Until the 1980s coral bleaching was mostly unheard of around the globe yet "now we've reached the point where it's become routine," a NOAA coral expert said. Bleaching, which doesn't kill coral but weakens it and could lead to death, occurs when water temperatures pass the upper 80s. This all comes as sea surface temperatures worldwide have broken monthly records for heat in April, May, and June, according to NOAA.

(More Florida stories.)

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