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End to Hurricane Drought? Topics are Heating Up as Peak Hurricane Season Arrives!

Following record setting years for US Hurricanes back in the mid 2000's, it's been eerily quiet since.  In fact, the United States hasn't seen a major hurricane (category 3 or stronger) make landfall since Hurricane Wilma came on shore over South Florida on October 24, 2005.  

Check that date... 2005!  That's over 10 years ago or 3,955 days ago to be more precise!!!

Hurricane wilma

According to the National Hurricane Center, this is the largest such drought that has been documented going back to 1851.  So to say we are overdue, would be an understatement.

Tropics are heating up!

So all eyes are on the the Atlantic currently watching the development of THREE tropical systems.  The first one, Fiona, was named over the weekend as a minimal tropical storm.

Looking further out, there are two substantial tropical waves over the Tropical Atlantic.  

Satrad tropics

The second of these waves, Invest 90L, is very large and shows good organization.  This system is expected to become a named storm within the next couple days.

In fact, the National Hurricane Center has issued a rare 100% forecast for cyclone development over the next 48 hours.

Nhc forecast

However, they are also forecasting "wave #1" to fizzle as it encounters some unfavorable upper level winds.  

So where are these storms going? 

Fiona has been downgraded into a depression since becoming a named storm over the weekend.  Currently the hurricane center keeps it rather unorganized as it drifts towards the northwest over the next few days bringing it somewhere west of Bermuda by Thursday stating that upper winds look to limit develpment.

Nhc fcst fiona

The other storm, Invest 90L appears to have a much better chance for developing into a hurricane.  However, there is considerable uncertainty in the forecast track with this storm with tropical models taking it west initially before curving it northwest into the open Atlantic by early next week.  


We'll obviously have plenty of time to watch this one.   When it is named it will be called Guston.  

Peak of Hurricane Season approaches!

As we turn the calendar into September, we reach the climatological peak of the hurricane season.  

NOAA had a nice write up about why this is the "most dangerous" time of year when it comes to tropical activity...

August 22, 2016 

Although the Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1st, we’re now entering the “season within the season” - a roughly eight-week period that is often the most active and dangerous time for tropical cyclone activity.

From mid-August through mid-October, the activity spikes, accounting for 78 percent of the tropical storm days, 87 percent of the category 1 and 2 hurricane days (Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale), and a whopping 96 percent of the major (category 3, 4 and 5) hurricane days.

Hurricane by months nhc

Why does this peak period of activity begin so deep into summer? There certainly is no lack of disturbances throughout the entire six-month hurricane season. Tropical waves are coming off of the coast of Africa roughly every three days, and the very early and late parts of the year provide additional types of potential seedlings. What’s different, though, is the environment that these potential tropical cyclones tend to encounter. Both dynamics (wind factors) and thermodynamics (temperature and moisture) play a role.

Wind shear, which can tear disturbances apart before they strengthen, is strong in May, but gradually fades through June and July, reaching a minimum by mid to late August. This minimum in the shear combines with favorable thermodynamics – ocean temperatures in the deep tropics that increase with each day of summer sun, warmer air temperatures, and increasing atmospheric moisture. When the dynamics and thermodynamics are in sync, as they often are from mid-August through early October, disturbances like African tropical waves can easily strengthen. The statistical peak day of the hurricane season – the day you are most likely to find a tropical cyclone somewhere in the Atlantic basin – is September 10th.

By mid-October, when winter begins to give autumn a little nudge, strong upper-level winds bring increased wind shear to much of the Atlantic basin, while both the air and water temperatures cool. The season is not over yet, but the areas where storms can form become limited.

One thing that doesn’t change as we move into and out of the peak of season is the need to be vigilant and prepared. Because it doesn’t matter whether activity levels are high or low – it only takes one storm to make it a bad year for you. For more information about hurricane season please visit NOAA's National Hurricane Center.


Right now, although upper level winds are not favorable over the Western Atlantic, this will likely change in the coming weeks and sea surface temperature are more than supportive for tropical development with an enormous area experiencing temps at or above 29°C (84.2°F) stretching from the Central Atlantic, through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. 

WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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Wow, seems like the tropics are ripe for a big one.

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