You've likely heard about the massive 5,000-mile Sargassum seaweed belt tracking toward the Gulf of Mexico, but what, if any, impacts will we have here along the Texas Gulf Coast?
ABC13 Chief Meteorologist Travis Herzog consulted with research scientists at NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and the University of South Florida (USF). The short answer is we have yet to determine how much of that seaweed will make it to Texas shores.
SEE ABC NEWS REPORT: Massive sargassum seaweed bloom headed to Florida is a mystery to scientists
Dr. Chuanmin Hu at USF says two Sargassum sources are along the Texas coast.
The first is a local source in the northwest Gulf that typically peaks along Texas beaches in April and May. You may recall in 2014 when we had a record amount of Sargassum beach along the Texas coast around Memorial Day weekend.
The other source is what emerges from the Caribbean from the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, which typically peaks along Texas beaches in the summer months.
It is difficult to predict exactly when and how much seaweed could wash ashore from this source because there is no direct current from the Caribbean to the Texas coast.
The Gulf stream current primarily flows northward from the Caribbean Sea into the Gulf and then turns east between Cuba and Florida.
Eddies of warm water from the Gulf stream often form in the central Gulf, break off from the primary current, and drift toward Texas. These are the eddies that can contain Sargassum seaweed from the Caribbean.
So while we may eventually get some of that seaweed this summer, it likely won't be nearly as much as what is heading toward Florida.
Sargassum seaweed only recently invaded the tropical Atlantic, becoming a major recurring problem since 2011.
To find out, watch the explanation Travis gives in the video above, which includes a new experimental map showing the current risk of Sargassum seaweed along the Gulf, Caribbean, and Atlantic coasts.
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