The Hurricane Season in June Too Soon

14 06 2020

Dale C. S. Destin|

We, Antigua and Barbuda, have never had a tropical cyclone – tropical depression, tropical storm or hurricane, in June (knock wood). The same is true for much of the Caribbean east of Cuba.

All 107 Named Storms for June 1851-2019, based on data from NOAA

There has only been one hurricane to impact the Eastern Caribbean in June – Unnamed Category 1 Hurricane of 1933, also called the Trinidad Hurricane. It was a deadly hurricane – killing 13 people in Trinidad, 22 in Cuba and killing, at least, 35 people in total across Trinidad, Venezuela, Jamaica and Cuba. It also caused deaths and destruction across Mexico.

The hurricane season in June for the Caribbean – 1851 to 2019

June averages one named storm (tropical storm or hurricane) every other year; one hurricane every 8 years and a major hurricane – Category 3 or higher intensity, every 50 years, on average. It is the least active month of the hurricane season.

Before this year, the last storm in June was Cindy in 2017; the last hurricane was Arthur of 2014 and the last major hurricane was Alma in 1966.

Given the current season, it may be said that Cristobal, of this June, was overdue by a year; the next June hurricane is due around 2022 and the next June major hurricane is overdue by about 3 years. Will this be the year for what would be the fourth major hurricane for the month? Unfortunately, there are no tools available currently to answer this question.

Interestingly, over the relatively reliable data period of 1966-2019, there is no significant difference in the average number of hurricanes in June for above and below normal seasons. A hurricane forms in June around every five above normal seasons and every four below normal seasons. The mentioned period has no hurricanes in June for normal seasons.

There have been three major hurricanes in June based on record dating back to 1851; however, over the period 1966 to 2019, there has only been one major hurricane – Alma of 1966.

Category 3 Hurricane Alma of 1966 – the most powerful Atlantic June Cyclone along with Hurricane Audrey of 1957

So, what is the probability of a hurricane this June, given an above normal season? It’s around 19 percent. What is the probability for a major hurricane? About 5 percent. For all seasons considered for 1966-2019, the probability of a hurricane and major hurricane is 17 and 2 percent respectively. No significant difference between an above and below normal season.

The zones of origin and tracks of storms in June during the hurricane season

Based on record for 1851 to 2019, there have been, in June, 107 named storms of which 37 became hurricanes and 3 reached major hurricane status – Category 3 intensity or higher. For more reliable data, the period 1966 to 2019 have seen, in June, 37 named storms, 7 becoming hurricanes and no major hurricane. For the current standard climate or base period of 1981-2010, there have been 21 named storms, 4 hurricanes and no major hurricanes.

It turns out that like May, storms in June say nothing about the overall activity for the season i.e. whether it will be above, near or below normal.  

Using the current climate period 1981-2010, if storms are going to form in June, they will mostly do so during the first or last 10 days of the month. Over 80 percent of all storms in June, for the current climate period, forms between June 1-10 or June 20-30.

June on 5 occasions had a maximum of three named storms in a given season – 1968, 1959, 1936, 1909 and 1886. On one occasion it had three hurricanes, 3 Category 2s – 1886. Note: these ALL occurred outside the climate change era. This year could make six years since there was a hurricane forming in the month.

Recall that the forecast is for this hurricane season to be above or well above normal. And notwithstanding what happens in June or any other month, it only takes one hurricane to ruin your year or life. Thus, you need to be prepared as best as possible for every hurricane season.

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