The Atlantic hurricane season has been dormant for almost a month, but don’t expect it to be quiet for too long as the peak of the hurricane season is on its way.
Tropical Storm Colin, which briefly pummeled the coastal Carolinas on July 2-3 with heavy rain and gusty winds, was the last system to roam the Atlantic basin.
However, it is not unusual to see a lull in activity in the tropics in June or July before the season picks up in August.
According to the National Hurricane Center, an average June in the Atlantic features one named storm every one to two years, while July averages one named storm every year.
But as you can see in the chart below, roughly 90% of the average Atlantic hurricane season still remains as we head into August.
The period from August to early October tends to produce the most hurricanes and tropical storms in an average year. September is the most active month of the Atlantic hurricane season, with September 10 marking the official seasonal peak.
As a result, this same period is usually when the strongest and most impressive hurricanes roam the Atlantic basin.
In the last five years alone – from 2017 to 2021 – the US has had four hurricanes in August, five in September and four in October. That included last year’s Hurricane Ida, which devastated parts of southeast Louisiana after making landfall on Aug. 29 as a Category 4 hurricane.
The storm produced a powerful 14-foot storm surge along the Louisiana coast and dumped torrential rainfall on much of the northern Gulf Coast, but its effects didn’t stop there. The effects of the storm were also felt throughout the East Coast, with tornadoes and flooding reported as far north as New England.
Hurricane Ida was blamed for the deaths of more than 100 people, and its estimated damage exceeded $75 billion from the Caribbean to New England. The destruction was enough to make the storm the fifth costliest hurricane in US history, behind Katrina, Harvey, Maria and Sandy.
In April 2022, the World Meteorological Organization voted to retire the name “Ida” from future use in the Atlantic basin.
which is usually unsuitable for storms early in the season due to the frequent influx of Saharan dust and dry air into the region, becomes more favorable for development as the dusty and dry air becomes less resistant.
Tropical waves are also more common in August off West Africa and, if conditions are favorable, are often the seeds for tropical development in the main developing region during the peak of the hurricane season.
Hurricanes that develop in this area west of Africa are called Cabo Verde hurricanes, named after the island nation several hundred miles west of mainland Africa. Hurricanes in Cabo Verde are very common in September.
The Gulf of Mexico is another hotspot for tropical storms and hurricanes that form during peak season as water temperatures in the Gulf reach their highest levels of the year, providing more energy for tropical cyclones to grow and intensify.
Colorado State University’s latest outlook predicts 17 more named storms will form this season for a total of 20. That total includes 10 hurricanes, five of which are predicted to be Category 3 or stronger.
These numbers are higher than the 30-year average (1991-2020) of 14 named storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.
If the outlook holds true, it will be the seventh consecutive above-average Atlantic hurricane season.
Since Alex, Bonnie, and Colin have already formed, the next system that becomes at least a tropical storm will be named Danielle.