While spinning across the central Atlantic Ocean, Lee strengthened into the season’s fifth major hurricane. Here’s the breakdown of how the 2017 Atlantic tropical season has been so far (through September 27).
The NOAA hurricane forecast, which first comes out in late-spring and then gets updated in early-summer, called for an above-average hurricane season with a total of 14-19 named storms and 5-9 hurricanes. So far we are closing in on the number of named storms and on the high end of the number of hurricanes. Compared to a typical season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, we are already above average with two final months remaining.
From 1966 to 2009, the National Hurricane Center says there has been an average of 2.3 major hurricanes each year. A major hurricane is defined as a Category 3 or stronger on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Maximum sustained winds begin at 111 miles per hour and can get beyond 160 mph for major hurricanes. As we saw earlier this year, Irma was a category 5 with maximum sustained winds around 180 mph! On average, the first major hurricane in the Atlantic occurs around September 4 and the second around October 3. Since the average is 2.3 with major hurricanes, a typical date is not set for the #3, #4, or #5 major hurricanes in a season. As you can see above, it has been a busy past month.
During October we usually observe hurricane formations around the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and southwest Atlantic Ocean. The area for development continues to shrink from the peak of the season in September as water temperatures begin to cool and winds become more disruptive for hurricanes. We still have two months left in hurricane season. October can be a productive month too, so we closely watch the areas around the Gulf and near the Bahamas as the water tends to be the warmest there.
For WeatherNation, Meteorologist Steve Glazier