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Hurricane season has arrived! Here’s a monthly look at where and when tropical systems usually form

June and July aren’t typically very active, but the Gulf of Mexico is a spot to watch
Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 8:26 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Well, somehow we’ve arrived at the beginning of hurricane season 2021. We know, we know...it feels like last year’s wild season just ended. But here we are.

Yet again we saw a pre-hurricane season storm this year with Ana in May. So what’s ahead for June and the rest of hurricane season?

Typical "hot spots" for tropical cyclone development in June.
Typical "hot spots" for tropical cyclone development in June.(WSFA 12 News/NOAA)

It’s hard to say what’s going to happen more than 7-14 days into the future when it comes to tropical activity. We can look at whether or not the overall environment will be supportive, neutral or hostile towards tropical cyclone development, but that’s about it when you go more than two weeks out.

We can also look at the typical “hot spots” for tropical activity for a given month based on climatology.

For both June and July, that includes a good portion of the Gulf of Mexico. That’s not to say that the Gulf is active in June and July; rather, it’s to say that when we do see tropical activity during those months, there’s a decent chance it will be in the Gulf (or the other highlighted areas).

Typical "hot spots" for tropical cyclone development in July.
Typical "hot spots" for tropical cyclone development in July.(WSFA 12 News/NOAA)

Going even farther into hurricane season, we notice an uptick in the probability of tropical systems forming in or moving through the Gulf. Climatologically speaking, the months with the highest chance of featuring a tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico are September and October.

For the Alabama and Northwest Florida coast, September is the month to circle on your calendar. That’s the month when environmental conditions most often favor tropical trouble making its way up here.

The percentage of Atlantic tropical cyclone formations by month.
The percentage of Atlantic tropical cyclone formations by month.(WSFA 12 News/Philip Klotzbach)

If you look at the Atlantic Basin as a whole, the window with the absolute most tropical activity is mid-August through late October. That roughly 10-week span includes most of our tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes.

Per a graph constructed by Dr. Philip Klotzbach of Colorado State University, about 78% of all tropical storms in the Atlantic Basin between 1851 and 2020 formed in August, September or October.

About 85% of all hurricanes in the Atlantic formed during one of those three months. And over 90% of all major hurricanes (category 3+) to form in the Atlantic did so in either August, September or October.

Don’t let that prevent you from being prepared during the “not so active” months of June, July and November. As 2020 showed us, Mother Nature doesn’t care what the calendar says.

It’s vital to always be prepared as if a storm was heading right for your location. You can find out more information about hurricane season preparedness by clicking this link.

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