Today, September 10th, marks the climatological peak of hurricane season. The waters are nice and warm with lots of tropical waves traveling off the coast of Africa. It is this time of year that people tend to think of when they hear the word “hurricane,” with the African Easterly Waves developing into classic Cape Verde-type hurricanes. It is not surprising that during the peak of hurricane season we have 2 named storms (Tropical Storm Leslie and Hurricane Michael) with a third system likely to form soon. In case you were wondering, it would be called Nadine if it reaches tropical storm strength.
With that in mind, let’s look at the season so far. We have had 13 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 1 major hurricane. We had an early start to the season with 2 named storms before the official June 1st start. Tropical Storm Beryl, who made landfall in Jacksonville Beach, Florida made history as the strongest May storm on record with maximum sustained wind speeds of 70 mph (just below the 74 mph hurricane cut off) before landfall. A few weeks later there was Tropical Storm Debby who dumped large amounts of rain across Florida, especially on the west coast. Miami hasn’t been directly effected yet, but did get rainbands and weak tropical storm force winds as then Tropical Storm Isaac passed just below the Keys. Hurricane Isaac later went on to strengthen in the Gulf of Mexico and sat on top of Louisana, unleashing rain and winds for what seemed like forever. The major impact with Isaac was the flooding, as natural levees were topped and the Mississippi River overflowed into the surrounding areas. Ironically, this occurred around the 7th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and although New Orleans was fine this time, others were not so lucky. The first major hurricane was Hurricane Michael in the Atlantic which was a Category 3 for 6 hours.
Rain and flooding have been the main story so far this season, but there is still the second half to go. Let’s see what the rest of the season has to bring, and keep our fingers crossed. Hurricane season officially ends on November 30th.
Meteorology & Physical Oceanography
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