Hurricane season has been underway since June 1st, and reaches its traditional peak this week. Tropical storm activity tends to increase beginning in mid-August, typically peaking on or around September 10th. The season ends each year on November 30th.
So far this year, there have been 13 named Atlantic storms, seven of which turned into full-blown hurricanes. Of those, three — Tropical Storm Beryl, Tropical Storm Debby, and Hurricane Isaac — have made landfall in the mainland United States.
In late May, before the season officially began, Tropical Storm Beryl pounded the Florida Keys before zigzagging through the northern portion of the state and sweeping along the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina.
A month later, in late June, Tropical Storm Debby’s 40-mile-per-hour winds battered much of Florida, leaving some portions underwater.
The big hitter of the trio, however, was Isaac, which barreled into southern Louisiana at the end of August with wind speeds of up to 80 miles per hour. Though Isaac weakened to a tropical storm shortly after making landfall, the storm still managed to cause more than $3 billion in damage, including 13,000 homes, and claim 41 lives.
Hurricane Michael, which is currently underway in the northern Atlantic, is the seventh hurricane this season. It marks only the third time in recorded history that there have been seven full-blown hurricanes so early in the season.
This year, the Farmers’ Almanac predicted a potential hurricane threat along the Gulf Coast in late August. Moving into September, we predicted another possible threat for the Gulf Coast from the 8th through the 11th and a second, system moving along the length of the East Coast, from the south into New England a few days later.
Our prediction for a late August hurricane threat for the Gulf Coast came to pass in the form of Isaac. We predicted a hurricane between the 16th and 19th of the month, which is when Isaac began to form. Though the storm didn’t make landfall in the U.S. until the 28th, we did predict heavy storms for the region through the end of August.
Michael, which began to form over the Atlantic on September 2nd intensified into a hurricane last Thursday. It is expected to bring unpleasant weather to New England and the Canadian Maritimes this week, right around the time we predicted a threat to the region.
So far, this season has proved to be an extraordinarily active one. Let’s all hope for less drama in the second half of the season.
Since 1953, weather forecasters have had a tradition of naming every tropical storm and hurricane. Each year, forecasters use one of six set lists that alternate between male and female names, listed alphabetically and in chronological order starting with A and omitting Q and U, X, Y, and Z. Every six years, the names cycle back around and get reused. If a hurricane does tremendous damage (i.e. Andrew, Camille, Katrina), the name is retired and replaced with a different name beginning with the same letter.
The list for this year is: Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sandy, Tony, Valerie, William. So far, all names up to and including Michael have been used.