10.25.12

Very Active October In The Tropics

Posted in Commentary, Hurricane Anomalies, Hurricane Records, Tracking the Tropics at 10:57 pm by gmachos

Hurricane Sandy Highlights Big Month In Atlantic

Statistically speaking, the Atlantic Hurricane Season usually begins to ramp down in late October, but not this year. Over just the past few days, there have been two named storms with one of them becoming a strong hurricane. The development of Sandy and Tony have capped what has been quite an active October for the Tropical Atlantic. With six days left in the month, there have been five named storms and two hurricanes.

While October does have a second peak in tropical activity towards the middle of the month, the chances of storms and hurricanes does diminish. The peak of the season usually occurs in August and September, and perhaps the first week or so of October. The 2012 season has been an unusual one though with 19 named storms and 10 hurricanes, but only one major hurricane. Looking deeper into the numbers, August had 8 named storms and 5 hurricanes. September only had two named storms and hurricanes with one of them being the only major storm of the year in Michael.

This October was more active than September was with Rafael and Sandy being the month’s hurricanes. Most of the storms this month have been benign such as Oscar, Patty, and Tony. Rafael did go through the Windward Islands with a blow, and came close to Bermuda. Sandy could make this a memorable October by tropical standards if she lives up to her potential. Not since the Perfect Storm in 1991, has there been such a powerful storm to threaten the Northeast. Keep in mind that the Perfect Storm also didn’t make landfall anywhere. Accompanied by astronomical high tides, an approaching cold front, and a strong dip in the jet stream, what is left of Sandy could make an indelible mark on the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast for years to come. The 2012 season has been unusual throughout with October only being the latest example.

Despite being an unusually quiet month by Atlantic tropical standards, September did produce Hurricane Nadine, which was one of the longest lasting storms on record at 23 days. In that same month, Michael became the strongest storm of the season at minimal Category Three intensity with 115 mile per hour winds, the weakest major hurricane in a season since 1994. Among those eight storms and five hurricanes in August was Hurricane Isaac, the first landfalling hurricane in the United States since Hurricane Ike in 2010. Isaac was also unique in the sense that it was a powerful Category One storm with a minimum central pressure on the order of a strong Category Two system. Isaac ended up hitting the extreme southern parishes of Louisiana harder than the devastating Hurricane Katrina did. The 2012 season was supposed to be average to below average. Instead, it has defied the odds, and provided some interesting trivia.

The season began prematurely with two storms in late May, and two more in the first month of the season for four by the end of June. Things appeared to return to normal with none in July, which was still unusual in the sense that during this active stretch from 1995 until now, there always has been some sort of storm to develop in July. However, by the end of August, there was the second fastest J and L storms. Then, there was a quiet September followed by a busy October. For a while, the 2012 season challenged the historic 2005 season in terms of the number of named storms. It has equaled the mark for named storms, and almost has the same number of hurricanes as the 1995 season did.

There is still a bit more than a month left in this unusual season. Could more surprises be on the way? With how this season has gone so far, I wouldn’t be startled in the least if more were to occur.

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