Facts + Statistics: Hurricanes

Satelite Image of Hurricane Making LandfallThe official Atlantic hurricane season runs from June through November, but occasionally storms form outside those months. September is the most common month for hurricanes making landfall in the U.S., followed by August and October, according to an analysis of 1851 to 2015 data by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. No hurricanes made U.S. landfall before June and after November during the period studied.

A tropical cyclone is a rotating low-pressure weather system that has organized thunderstorms but no fronts, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Hurricanes are tropical cyclones whose sustained winds have reached 74 mph. At this point the hurricane reaches category 1 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which has a range of 1 to 5, based on the hurricane’s intensity at the time of landfall at the location experiencing the strongest winds. The scale provides examples of the type of damage and impacts in the United States associated with winds of the indicated intensity. It does not address the potential for other hurricane-related phenomena such as storm surge, rainfall-induced floods and tornadoes.

2020 Hurricane Season

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season activity is projected to be well above average, according to Triple-I non-resident scholar Dr. Phil Klotzbach and his team at Colorado State University (CSU). The CSU team’s July 7 forecast calls for 20 named storms (including the five named storms that already formed as of July 6), 9 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes, with above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean. A typical year has 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. Major hurricanes are defined as Category 3, 4, and 5 storms, where wind speeds reach at least 111 miles per hour. The active 2020 season is partly due to a warmer than normal tropical Atlantic and subtropical Atlantic.

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season began early as tropical storm Arthur formed on May 16 in the Atlantic Ocean east of Florida. The arrival of Arthur marked the sixth consecutive year that the hurricane season began before the traditional official beginning of the season on June 1. Arthur passed just southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina on May 18 before turning eastward back out into the Atlantic Ocean after bringing heavy rain and gusty wind to North Carolina and southeastern Virginia. Tropical storm Bertha, the second named storm to occur before the official beginning of the hurricane season, formed on May 27 near the southeast coast of South Carolina. After making landfall east of Charleston with winds of 50 mph, Bertha brought heavy rainfall in South Carolina, southeast North Carolina and southwest Virginia, areas that had already been saturated with rain. Bertha weakened to a tropical depression and moved into West Virginia, eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania and New York. According to Aon, 2020 is the third year since 1965 that two named storms developed in the Atlantic Ocean before the beginning of the hurricane season. The company said the storm caused millions of dollars in insured losses.

Tropical storm Cristobal formed on June 2 in the Bay of Campeche on the Gulf Coast of Mexico, moving slowly and bringing rain to Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador. Cristobal made landfall in Mexico on June 3 then turned northeastward in the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall in southeast Louisiana on June 7 between the mouth of the Mississippi River and Grand Isle. Cristobal brought tropical storm-force winds to the Gulf Coast from southeastern Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle before continuing northward as a tropical depression. Cristobal turned northeastward and travelled into Arkansas and eastern Missouri, eventually reaching the Great Lakes area and into Ontario, Canada. Tropical storm Dolly formed on June 23 in the North Atlantic south of Halifax, Nova Scotia. According to Colorado State University research scientist Phillip Klotzbach, Dolly is the third earliest fourth Atlantic named storm formed during the hurricane season since record-keeping began in 1851. By June 24 Dolly weakened to a tropical depression in the North Atlantic. Tropical storm Edouard formed in the far North Atlantic on July 5, and was the earliest fifth Atlantic named storm on record, according to Phillip Klotzback. Edouard became post-tropical on July 6.

Tropical storm Fay formed on July 9 off the coast of North Carolina, becoming the sixth named storm of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season. This is the first time six tropical cyclones have formed in the Atlantic basin so early in the calendar year. Fay made landfall on July 10 near Atlantic City, New Jersey as tropical storm conditions and heavy rainfall spread north-northeastward along the mid-Atlantic coast. Tropical storm warnings were in effect for Fenwick Island, Delaware to Watch Hill, Rhode Island including Long Island and Long Island Sound. Fay became a tropical depression on July 11 and dissipated over eastern New York.

Source: Insurance Information Institute, “Facts + Statistics” http://www.iii.org website. Accessed July 13, 2020. https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-hurricanes

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