Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory's Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential Page
This site uses a method to determine what the heat content is of the oceans. You can read the opening page above and also the methodology page for information about the method.
Then take a look at the imagery available:
Gulf of Mexico
They are a bit technical, but basically you want to know to look for the highest regions of TCHP. You do that by looking for warmest colors on the image. They have the highest heat content. 90 or higher is what cyclones like the best. The higher the number, the more energy the cyclone can get. Another important measurement is the depth of the 26 degree isotherm. The deeper that lies, the more warm waters near the surface the cyclone has. If the depth of the 26 degree isotherm is 100m, that storm has 100m of water than is 26 degrees or higher. If the depth is less, like 25m, then the warm water is much more shallow, which means the cyclone has warm water under it that doesn't go as deep. Upwelling of cooler waters could have a greater impact on the storm's intensity.
If you want to compare one year's image to another year's image, simply change the date:
You can't go back farther than 2005. The 152 means that the image is for the 152nd day of the year.
SST's from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
This site has excellent imagery. It is best to select 3 or 7 day imagery. Imagery that is averaged over a period of time gives you a better idea of the temperature. In addition, chances are cloulds have not obscured the area you want to look at for that long, so you will not usually find huge chunks of data on the image missing.
SSTs from NOAA CoastWatch Program: POES AVHRR | GOES Imager
This site provides a lot of imagery that allows you to select water regions that you want to view specific data for. Regions are provided in alphabetical order. If you get to the page and see only Alaska imagery, use the arrow at the bottom of the page to continue to other regions. Sometimes it may take going through many pages. The latest image for each particular region is the last image shown. If you click the first "Gulf of Mexico" image you see, it is the oldest. Go to the last thumbnail before a new region is listed. It should, unless they change it, be the latest info. Look at the times under the thumbnails to see if you are selecting the latest image. If there is cloud cover over an area, products will have missing data. In addition, sometimes an image might contain only partial data because the satellite did not make a pass over that complete area. This is where some of the images noted in the sites below come in handy, since some are averaged over several days of information. There are several different types of SST data sources on that page. Take a look and see which you like best. Some are updated more frequently than others.
Rutgers University Coastal Ocean Observation Lab:
- SST's at an exact time during the day (About 9 images usually available)
- Daily Composite (A composite of 9 images taken throughout the day) SST
The composite image might be the best one to use. The first link contains the SST's that were taken with just one pass of the satellite at a specific time. It can be incomplete. The second link takes all the images that were taken that day, usually around 9, and averages them together. It is probably a more complete picture that way.
SSTs from NOAA's Office of Satellite Data Processing and Distribution
The images are a bit pixelated, so other sites might have more refined imagery available. A variety of imagery exists, such as Contour Charts, Analyzed Fields, and the very helpful Anomaly Imagery, showing which areas have SSTs above or below normal.
Institute for Marine Remote Sensing - University of South Florida
You have the ability to click on an image and get the temperature in Celsius. This site has a lot of historical imagery as well.
NOAA Tides and Currents
This is where you'll be able to measure the sea rise and also take a look at other observations at reporting stations all along the coast. The interactive map and station list can be seen on this page.
This site is like the other NOAA site above. This is an older site.
Click "State Maps" and then on the map click on the state you want to see tidal data for. From there, you'll be able to see all the stations in that state. They are located on a map so that you can where each location is.
Once a station experiences abnormal tides, it may appear on the front page.
National Data Buoy Center
When a storm is active, perhaps only the more significant ones, on every page at the NDBC there will be a link to the Storm Special. That contains information from observations from a variety of sources, including ships, within 250 nautical miles of the storm. I can't provide a direct link because it is dependent on the current coordinates of each storm. It will be located in the center near the top part of the page in red.
Sailwx.info Pressure Observations
This site has other data too.
Oceanweather Inc: Current Marine Data
Click "marine observations."
Or visit the WunderMap.
Static Storm Surge Maps from Weather Underground
Over 500 storm surge maps are available for the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States. A few Caribbean locations are also included. The maps are generated by the SLOSH (Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes) model. More about surge here. Note that storm direction, storm size, storm movement, and the current tide, all have an impact on what the water level will be. "No single storm will be able to cause the level of flooding depicted in the SLOSH storm surge images along the entire coast." Make sure to read the page about these images before viewing them. Also keep in mind that while this is usually the worst case scenario, it is possible to have values greater than what is pictured. A recent example would be Category 2 (on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale) Hurricane Ike in 2008.
You can find out more about the SLOSH model here, including how you can download the program, although now that output images are available from it online you will find it easier just to view them at Weather Underground.