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ATLANTIC BASIN

Where do we find hurricanes in the late summer?


Jaclyn Whittal
Meteorologist

Monday, June 25, 2018, 15:43 - Summer is officially here and while many people are gearing up for holidays on the beach, those in 'hurricane zones' may be taking time to prepare for damaging winds and storm surge as hurricane season ramps up.

If last year taught us anything, it's that you can never be too prepared for a hurricane. Many U.S. residents are still recovering from the devastating impacts of Harvey, Irma and Maria. With the Atlantic hurricane season peaking from mid-August into October, we look at what drives storm in the later part of the summer season below.

(RELATED: How hail – of all shapes and sizes – forms, falls from sky)

THE CLIMATOLOGY

Tropical cyclone activity typically peaks in late summer, when the difference between temperatures aloft and sea surface temperatures is the greatest. However, each ocean basin has its own seasonal patterns. On a worldwide scale, May is the least active month, while September is the most active. Peak hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin unfolds in mid-August into October. 

Hurricane Harvey is up there with Katrina for being one of the costliest hurricanes on record, inflicting $125 billion in damage, primarily from catastrophic rainfall that caused disastrous flooding in the Houston. Harvey was an August storm. It was the first major hurricane  since 2005 to make landfall on U.S. soil. The storm started as an easterly wave off the west coast of Africa and tracked across the Atlantic -- a track many storms take in August.

In the early part of the hurricane season we tend to see tropical development close to the coast. Some will develop off a lingering cold front which can help enhance tropical convection. Hurricane development tends to be slightly different later in the season. By August, we see storms take a long track across the Atlantic Ocean rather than develop close to home.

THIS YEAR VERSUS OTHER YEARS

We do not expect to have as active of a season as we did last year. One of the main factors for this is that ocean temperatures are cooler than normal in the Main Development Region (MDR). This a band of water in the tropical and lower subtropical North Atlantic basin in between the Caribbean Sea and Northwest coast of Africa. 

For the duration of Spring 2018 the water temperatures have been cooler than normal, and if this trend continues we can expect less tropical activity east of the Caribbean. 

There is also an abundance of dry air in the MDR currently which will help to hinder tropical development. But that's no reason to let you guard down. There is always a chance we still could see development close to the coast as we did with sub-tropical storm Alberto. The National Hurricane Center continues to improve their forecasts and warning times every year, but it is on us to be prepared well in advance. It only takes one storm to change a community -- and your life -- forever.

SOME NOTABLE AUGUST HURRICANE LANDFALLS

  • Hurricane Camille made landfall in Mississippi as a Category 5 hurricane on Aug. 16, 1969. 
  • Hurricane Alicia, made landfall near Galveston, Texas on Aug. 18 1983. 
  • Hurricane Andrew hit Florida as a Category 5 hurricane on Aug. 24, 1992. 
  • Hurricane Charley made landfall in southwestern Florida in August of 2004.

MUST SEE: TORNADO SWIRLS OVER SASKATCHEWAN


SOURCE: NWS/NOAA

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