Hurricane season is almost here! The season for tropical storms spans from June 1 through November 30, though activity tends to increase beginning in mid-August, and typically peaks on or around Sept. 10.
Last year’s hurricane season was an above average one, with 19 named storms, 10 hurricanes and two major hurricanes. A named storm features sustained winds of at least 39 mph, while a hurricane has sustained winds of at least 74 mph. A major hurricane is any hurricane that reaches category 3 or greater, which requires sustained winds of at least 111 mph. The average year sees around 11 tropical storms, and six hurricanes.
This year, the Farmers’ Almanac is predicting an active tropical storm season. An unusually early threat could materialize during the first week of June over the Gulf of Mexico. Another tropical storm could form and threaten the Gulf in mid-August. Toward the end of August, a hurricane is forecast to be off the Atlantic seaboard, but is expected to stay just offshore. Another hurricane threat is expected along the East Coast during the first week of September. The traditional peak of the hurricane season occurs on September 10. Finally, a very late-season tropical cyclone may adversely influence the weather around Florida and the Bahamas during mid-November.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is also predicting an active year with between 13 and 20 tropical storms and up to six major hurricanes. The Colorado State University Hurricane Forecast Team’s 2013 predictions are even more extreme. That group expects 18 named storms, including four major hurricanes.
Why Name Hurricanes?
The tradition of weather forecasters giving every tropical storm and hurricane a name began in 1953. Until 1979, those names were exclusively female. Now, we use a 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. If more than 21 names are required during a season, NOAA dips into the Greek alphabet as it did a couple of years ago. 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 by a different name beginning with the same letter.
This year’s hurricane names are Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand, Gabrielle, Humberto, Ingrid, Jerry, Karen, Lorenzo, Melissa, Nestor, Olga, Pablo, Rebekah, Sebastien, Tanya, Van, and Wendy.
If you live in area that’s prone to hurricanes, be sure to read our hurricane safety tips!