Predicting North Atlantic hurricane activity months in advance is of great potential societal significance. The ocean temperature, both in terms of North Atlantic/tropical averages and upper ocean heat content, is demonstrated to be a significant predictor. To investigate the relationship between the thermal state of the Atlantic Ocean and the tropical cyclone (TC) activity in terms of accumulated cyclone energy (ACE), we use observed 1980–2015 TC records and a 1/4° resolution global ocean reanalysis. This paper highlights the nonlocal effect associated with eastern Atlantic Ocean temperature, via a reduction of wind shear, and provides additional predictive
skill of TC activity, when considering subsurface temperature instead of sea surface temperature (SST) only. The most active TC seasons occur for lower than normal wind shear conditions over the main development region, which is also driven by reduced trade wind strength. A significant step toward operationally reliable TC activity predictions is gained after including upper ocean mean temperatures over the eastern Atlantic domain. Remote effects are found to provide potential skill of ACE up to 3 months in advance. These results indicate that consideration of the upper 40-m ocean average temperature improves upon a prediction of September Atlantic hurricane activity using only SST.