The Hurricane Season in October Not Over

9 10 2020

Dale C. S. Destin|

According to the old mariner’s poem, which attempts to describe the hurricane season, it says October all over, suggesting that the Hurricane season ends by the time October comes around. However, this may be a rhyme of convenience or perhaps the author and the publisher of the famous poem are from a place that never saw tropical cyclones in October, as the hurricane season in no way, shape or form ends in October. October – not over!

Already the month has produced two named storms – Gamma and Delta, with Delta currently a Category 3 hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the Gulf Coast States of the US.

Major Hurricane Delta – October 9, 2020

Tropical storms, including hurricanes, are no strangers to the Caribbean in October. Here in Antigua and Barbuda, we have been affected by at least 16 named storms since 1851 – 5 were hurricanes, 2 of which were major hurricanes. Our last hurricane was Gonzalo of 2014, which rapidly intensified just east of us and caught many persons off guard. Damage to Antigua and Barbuda amounted to about US$40 million.

Gonzalo also impacted the rest of the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Newfoundland, the United Kingdom and Europe. In the end the fatalities amounted to six and damage was over US$317 million.

Hurricane Gonzalo over the Leeward Islands – Oct 13, 2014

The Atlantic Basin, including the Caribbean, in October, averages around two named storms, including one hurricane and a major hurricane – Category 3 or higher, every three to four years, based on the current climatological period of 1981-2010. These numbers have already been tied, with well over half of the month remaining.

Category 5 hurricanes are relatively rare for October but not unheard of. On average, the month sees a Category 5 hurricane every 10 to 11 years. The last Category 5 October hurricane was Michael of 2018.

Category 5 Hurricane Michael – Oct 10, 2018

The probability of Antigua and Barbuda being impacted by a storm or hurricane, in October, is around 10 percent, based on the 1981-2010 base period. This means that we are affected by a storm or hurricane, in October, every 10 years. The probability of, at least, one hurricane impacting us is the same. With our last October hurricane being Omar of 2014, statistically, we are not due for an October hurricane until 2024. The probability of a major hurricane is 3 percent – one every 33 years, on average.

Since 1851, the Eastern Caribbean has been impacted by around 28 named storms of which 13 were hurricanes and one major hurricane, according to Over the base period of 1981-2010, there have been around 8 named storms, 4 of which were hurricanes and 1 was a major hurricane. This translates to the Eastern Caribbean having a 23 percent chance of a named storm, 12 percent chance of a hurricane and 3 percent chance of a major hurricane in October. This means that a named storm impacts the Eastern Caribbean, in October, every 4-5 years, a hurricane every 8-9 years and a major hurricane every 33 years, on average.

The probability of a storm or hurricane (named storm or named tropical cyclone) across the western Caribbean, in October, is around 45 percent. Surprisingly, this is greater than the probability – 37 percent, for a named storm, in September, for the same area. Meanwhile, for the central Caribbean for October, this probability is around 26 percent.

October Hurricane Climatology
The zones of origin and tracks of named tropical cyclones (tropical storms and hurricanes) in October during the hurricane season

The last October hurricane to impact the Caribbean was Michael of 2018 – it impacted Cuba as a Category 2 hurricane and then when on to become a Category 5 hurricane just before making landfall on Florida Panhandle. Michael also impacted Central America, causing deaths across Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador. All toll, it caused 43 fatalities and over US$25 billion in damage.

From 1851 to 2019, October has produced a total of 348 named storms of which 207 hurricanes and 46 major hurricanes. For the climate period 1981-2010, there have been 61 named storms with 33 being hurricanes and 9 being major hurricanes.

Click for large image
Click for larger image
Click for larger image

It must be noted that there are likely named tropical cyclones (tropical storms and hurricanes) that were missed prior to the satellite era – before the mid-1960s.

October 1950 holds the record for the most named storms for the month – eight. Meanwhile, October 1870 is the record holder for the most hurricanes for the month – six. Further, October has frice produced a maximum of two major hurricanes – 2005, 2001, 1950 and 1894.

What will this October-not-over bring? Thus far, it has already tied the average numbers for the month. Given that each month of the hurricane season has produced, at least, 1.5 times its average number of named storms and that up to 32 named storms are forecast for the year, with 25 gone, this October could end up producing another five storms of which all could become hurricanes and four reaching Category 3 or higher intensity.  

Now you can see why it should be called October not over, as opposed to October all over. Only about 20 times in 169 years there has been no storms in October and only twice for this millennium, thus far.

Please continue to follow me for more on the hurricane season and all things weather and climate via TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Also, share this blog, if you found it useful. Stay prepared!

September Remember 2020 Hurricane Summary

4 10 2020

Dale C. S. Destin|

It was a wild, record-setting September to remember. There was a record nine named storms that formed in the month, breaking the previous record of eight which occurred 2010, 2002 and 1949. Of the nine named storms, four became hurricanes, and one reached major hurricane status – Category 4 Teddy. Juxtapose that with the normal for the month of four named storms, two to three hurricanes and one major hurricane.

This September was so wild, that we exhausted the primary list of names designated to the season, with two more months to go. Thus, the backup list is now in use only for the second time on record. So, the season has gone Greek i.e. storms are now being given names based on the Greek Alphabet. The only other time the season went Greek was 2005 and it did so over a month later than this season – October 22, when Beta of that season formed.

The exhausted primary list of names for named storms for 2020
The backup list for storms when there are more than 21 named storms/tropical cyclones

The frantic month has produced as much as or more named storms than 92 full seasons on record dating back to 1851. This is easily and remarkably more than half – 54 percent, of the 169 seasons on record. This includes 2014, 2009 and 1997, which had nine or less named storms.

Every named storm in September was the earliest storm to develop in the Atlantic for their respective letter or number, on record. The records were broken by as many as 34 days.

Interestingly, none of these storms threatened Antigua and Barbuda and the rest of the Eastern Caribbean. The most we got were large swells from Teddy along with some decent downpours from a few of its feeder bands.

Feeder bands from Teddy impacting the northeast Caribbean to include Antigua and Barbuda – Sep 20, 2020
Feeder band from Teddy across Barbuda, Antigua, Guadeloupe and Dominica – Sep 19, 2020

We are through two-thirds of the season, with two more months to go, officially, and we have already seen 23 named stormsthe most through September and the second most on record, for a season. Only 2005 saw more named storms – 28, and this record is in jeopardy, given the trend and my forecast. There have also been eight hurricanes of which two were major hurricanes – Category 3 or over.

Recall that an average season produces 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes. Thus, this season has produced, thus far, 191 percent of average number of named storms and 133 percent of average number of hurricanes. Thankfully, you may say, major hurricanes are lagging behind.

A season through September normally produces 9 named storms, 5 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes. Thus, this season through September has produced 256 percent of average number of named storms, 160 percent of average number of hurricanes and 100 percent of average number of major hurricanes.


2020 tropical cyclone (tropical depression, tropical storm and hurricane) tracks through September 2020

 Teddy – 12 to 27 September, became the second major hurricane for the season, with peak winds of 220 km/h (140 mph). It impacted Bermuda with minimal storm-force winds and slammed into eastern Canada with Category 1 winds, but as an extra-tropical cyclone. It also impacted the northern Caribbean and the East Coast of the United States with high swells and surfs. The system was responsible for three fatalities.

Teddy southeast of Bermuda – Sep 20, 2020

Sally – 11 to 18 September, became the first hurricane to make landfall on Alabama since Ivan of 2004. It was a very destructive Category 2 cyclone with peak sustained winds of 165 km/h (105 mph). It caused, at least, US$8 billion in damage and killed 8 people. It also affected the Bahamas and Cuba.  

Sally impacting much of the Gulf Coast of the United States – Sep 15, 2020

Paulette – 7 to 16, 22 to 30 September, became the first hurricane to make landfall on Bermuda since “our” Gonzalo of 2014. It had peak sustained winds of 165 km/h (105 mph). Damage to date is unknown but it killed one person. It also impacted the Cape Verde Islands, the East Coast of the United States, Azores and Madeira with mainly swells and surfs. Note that the system died on 22 September and was resurrected September before dying for good 30 September.

Paulette heading for Bermuda – Sep 13, 2020

Nana – 1 to 4 September, made landfall on Belize as a Category 1 hurricane – 120 km/h (75 mph) before moving on to Guatemala but only caused minor damage. Damage is estimated to be, at least, US$10.2 million and there were no deaths.

Nana impacting Belize and other nearby Central American countries – Sep 3, 2020

There were five other named storms that did not reach hurricane status – Rene, Vicky, Wilfred, Alpha and Beta. Beta was the strongest of them with peak sustained winds of 95 km/h (60 mph). Collectively, damage from them were minor; however, they killed three people.

Please continue to follow me for more on the hurricane season and all things weather and climate via TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Also, share this blog, if you found it useful.

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