MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - As we wrap up August and head into September, all eyes are on the Tropics as Hurricane Dorian continues to gain momentum. While Labor Day weekend is known as the unofficial end of the summer season, it’s around this time every year we typically see peak tropical activity.
We are currently in the middle of Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1st to November 30th. Mid-August through roughly late October is historically the busiest time of the year in the Atlantic when it comes to tropical systems. Data collected between 1851 and 2018 shows that out of all named tropical systems, roughly 78% of them happen during August, September and October.
If you had to pick one day, statistically September 10th would be considered the peak of hurricane season, and based on climatology the first 15 days of September would be considered the most active time for hurricanes and tropical storms. In terms of percentages, September is the most active month of all... roughly 34% of named storms have occurred during this month.
So far in 2019, five storms have been named with likely more the way in the upcoming months... why do we typical see an uptick in storm activity this time of year?
The two main drivers are wind and water, and these are forecasting elements we talk about a lot. Both wind shear and water temperature play a huge role in how effectively a storm can form, or it can be a big player in how quickly it can dissipate.
Wind shear - the variation of wind’s speed/direction over a distance - usually reaches a low point by late August; for a storm to form and develop, you want lower wind shear. Thankfully, other times of the year when wind shear is high, it helps keep tropical systems from organizing and becoming strong.
As for water temperatures, we know the ocean is usually warmest during the Summer; storms absolutely love warm water... it’s one of their favorite things!
The National Hurricane Center has recently updated their forecast for the rest of the hurricane season... they are now calling for a total of 10-17 named storms by the end of November, with at least four more storms that are likely going to become hurricanes.
The number of hurricanes usually starts to drop during late October and November because fall temperatures arrive and wind shear begins to increase across the Atlantic. So since the water and air are both becoming cooler, there is typically a fewer areas where prime storm development is expected.
Remember: While the average peak of activity happens this time of year, it’s important to remember that tropical development is possible anytime during hurricane season.