June Too Soon 2020 Hurricane Summary

1 07 2020

Dale C. S. Destin|

June too soon is over, one month down and five more to go for the Atlantic hurricane season. This June had two named storms – Tropical Storms Cristobal and Dolly, the most since 2017. Only four seasons have seen more named storms in June – 1968, 1936, 1909 and 1886.

2020 Tropical Cyclone Tracks Through June 30

Tropical Storm Cristobal became the third named storm for the year – June 1 to 10. It also became the earliest third named storm on record – previous was Tropical Storm Collin of 2016.

Clouds from Tropical Storm Cristobal covering much of Mexico and Central America

Interestingly, Cristobal formed from the remnants of Tropical Storm Amanda. Amanda was the first named storm of the East Pacific hurricane season. It formed on May 30, just south of Guatemala and west El Salvador and moved onshore that area May 31, then rapidly dissipated the same day. That was the end of Amanda but the start of Cristobal.

Together, Tropical Storms Amanda and Cristobal, left a trail of destruction and death caused mainly by torrential rainfall, amounting to up to 1016 mm (40 in), in some areas. The trail runs from Central America to Canada, passing through eastern Mexico, central United States and Canada.

Dolly – June 22 to 24, was a “sheep of a storm”. It formed over the Atlantic, hundreds of miles east of New York and travelled parallel to the east coasts of the United States and Canada, never making landfall.

Upon formation, Dolly became the third earliest fourth named storm in a year, on record. Only Tropical Storm Debby of 2012 and Tropical Storm Danielle of 2016, were earlier. Dolly also became the farthest north forming Atlantic tropical storm, on record, before July 1.

Four down, 13 to 22 more are forecast

Recall that there is a storm in June every other year; one hurricane every 8 years and a major hurricane every 50 years, on average. The month has now gone six years without a hurricane and 54 years without a major hurricane. A good “drought” to have, right?

Recall also the we (Antigua and Barbuda) has never had a storm in June, so the happy streak continues. This is also true for most islands of the Caribbean east of Cuba.

The season is certainly off to a busy record tying start. Thus far, there have been four named storms – Tropical Storms Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal and Dolly. This year ties with 2012 and 1954 for the most named storms by July 1.

Although it was an active June, it may have been more active, if not for record levels of Saharan Dust traversing the tropical North Atlantic, the Caribbean and especially the Western Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, the main development regions during June. It was certainly a dust event for the ages.  

Saharan Dust as seen by Goes 16 Satellite at mid day June 23, 2020

So, it’s 30 days down and 152 more to go for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. Attention now turns to July stand by. Be prepared, be hurricane strong!

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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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Pre-hurricane Season Summary – 2020

1 06 2020

Dale C. S. Destin|

It is June too soon – the Atlantic hurricane season officially starts today. However, it seems like no one remembered to remind the “storm gods” of this fact. Already, we have seen two named storms – Arthur and Bertha, resulting in a very active pre-hurricane season 2020. Only twice on record before, dating back to 1842, that May has produced two named storms – 2012 and 1887.

Arthur formed on May 16, just north of the northern Bahamas. It moved north to near the Outer Banks of North Carolina, then out over the Atlantic and lost its tropical characteristics. It caused tropical storm force winds across a small portion of North Carolina and reached peak sustained winds of 97 kph (60 mph).

Tracks of Tropical Storms Arthur (right) and Bertha (left)

Bertha was a bit of a surprise storm. Formation was not expected due to strong upper-level wind shear. On the morning of 12:50 am, May 27, it was given a 30% chance of formation and by 8:30 am, it was declared a tropical storm with sustained winds of 72 kph (45 mph). It eventually reached peak sustained wind speed of 80 kph (50 mph), before dissipating on May 28. The system caused one death.

In terms of pre-season storms – storms forming between March and May, there have been only four occasions when there were two named storms – 2012, 1951, 1908 and 1887. Of course, I am mindful that before the satellite era – pre mid-1960s, a number of short-lived storms went undetected, resulting in gaps in the record.

On average, there is a storm in May once every 7 to 8 years, based on record for the period 1981-2010, whereas, there is a preseason storm once every 5 years. Most pre-season storms form in May – about 85%, 9% in April and 6% in March.

Preseason storms say nothing about the season they precede, in terms of how active or inactive they will be. However, this season is expected to be active and likely to be hyperactive – well above normal.

We all need to be prepared for the hurricane season regardless of the number of storms and hurricanes being forecast, as it only takes one hurricane to ruin our year or life.

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