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Track The Tropics has been the #1 source to track the tropics 24/7 since 2013! The main goal of the site is to bring all of the important links and graphics to ONE PLACE so you can keep up to date on any threats to land during the Atlantic Hurricane Season! Hurricane Season 2021 in the Atlantic starts on June 1st and ends on November 30th. Love Spaghetti Models? Well you've come to the right place!! Remember when you're preparing for a storm: Run from the water; hide from the wind!
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season had a record breaking 30 named storms this season, 13 developed into hurricanes, and six further intensified into major hurricanes!!!!! WHAT A SEASON #2020!!!!
Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale
Category Wind Speed Storm Surge
  mph ft
5 ≥157 >18
4 130–156 13–18
3 111–129 9–12
2 96–110 6–8
1 74–95 4–5
Additional Classifications
Tropical Storm 39–73 0–3
Tropical Depression 0–38 0
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is a classification used for most Western Hemisphere tropical cyclones that exceed the intensities of "tropical depressions" and "tropical storms", and thereby become hurricanes. Source: Intellicast

Hurricane Season 101

The official Atlantic Basin Hurricane Season runs from June 1st to November 30th. A tropical cyclone is a warm-core, low pressure system without any “front” attached. It develops over tropical or subtropical waters, and has an organized circulation. Depending upon location, tropical cyclones have different names around the world. The Tropical Cyclones we track in the Atlantic basin are called Tropical Depressions, Tropical Storms and Hurricanes! Atlantic Basin Tropical Cyclones are classified as follows: Tropical Depression: Organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with defined surface circulation and max sustained winds of 38 mph or less. Tropical Storm: Organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39-73 mph. Hurricane: Intense tropical weather system of strong thunderstorms with a well-defined surface circulation. A Hurricane has max sustained winds of 74 mph or higher!

The difference between Tropical Storm and Hurricane Watches, Warnings, Advisories and Outlooks

Warnings:Listen closely to instructions from local officials on TV, radio, cell phones or other computers for instructions from local officials.Evacuate immediately if told to do so.
  • Storm Surge Warning: There is a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area. This is generally within 36 hours. If you are under a storm surge warning, check for evacuation orders from your local officials.
  • Hurricane Warning: Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are expected somewhere within the specified area. NHC issues a hurricane warning 36 hours in advance of tropical storm-force winds to give you time to complete your preparations. All preparations should be complete. Evacuate immediately if so ordered.
  • Tropical Storm Warning: Tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected within your area within 36 hours.
  • Extreme Wind Warning: Extreme sustained winds of a major hurricane (115 mph or greater), usually associated with the eyewall, are expected to begin within an hour. Take immediate shelter in the interior portion of a well-built structure.
Please note that hurricane and tropical storm watches and warnings for winds on land as well as storm surge watches and warnings can be issued for storms that the NWS believes will become tropical cyclones but have not yet attained all of the characteristics of a tropical cyclone (i.e., a closed low-level circulation, sustained thunderstorm activity, etc.). In these cases, the forecast conditions on land warrant alerting the public. These storms are referred to as “potential tropical cyclones” by the NWS. Hurricane, tropical storm, and storm surge watches and warnings can also be issued for storms that have lost some or all of their tropical cyclone characteristics, but continue to produce dangerous conditions. These storms are called “post-tropical cyclones” by the NWS. Watches: Listen closely to instructions from local officials on TV, radio, cell phones or other computers for instructions from local officials. Evacuate if told to do so.
  • Storm Surge Watch: Storm here is a possibility of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, generally within 48 hours. If you are under a storm surge watch, check for evacuation orders from your local officials.
  • Hurricane Watch: Huriricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are possible within your area. Because it may not be safe to prepare for a hurricane once winds reach tropical storm force, The NHC issues hurricane watches 48 hours before it anticipates tropical storm-force winds.
  • Tropical Storm Watch: Tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified area within 48 hours.
Advisories:
  • Tropical Cyclone Public Advisory:The Tropical Cyclone Public Advisory contains a list of all current coastal watches and warnings associated with an ongoing or potential tropical cyclone, a post-tropical cyclone, or a subtropical cyclone. It also provides the cyclone position, maximum sustained winds, current motion, and a description of the hazards associated with the storm.
  • Tropical Cyclone Track Forecast Cone:This graphic shows areas under tropical storm and hurricane watches and warnings, the current position of the center of the storm, and its predicted track. Forecast uncertainty is conveyed on the graphic by a “cone” (white and stippled areas) drawn such that the center of the storm will remain within the cone about 60 to 70 percent of the time. Remember, the effects of a tropical cyclone can span hundreds of miles. Areas well outside of the cone often experience hazards such as tornadoes or inland flooding from heavy rain.
Outlooks:
  • Tropical Weather Outlook:The Tropical Weather Outlook is a discussion of significant areas of disturbed weather and their potential for development during the next 5 days. The Outlook includes a categorical forecast of the probability of tropical cyclone formation during the first 48 hours and during the entire 5-day forecast period. You can also find graphical versions of the 2-day and 5-day Outlook here
Be sure to read up on tons of more information on Hurricane knowledge, preparedness, statistics and history under the menu on the left hand side of the page! Here are your 2020 Hurricane Season Names: Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine ,Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred!!!

CONUS Hurricane Strikes

1950-2017
[Map of 1950-2017 CONUS Hurricane Strikes]
Total Hurricane Strikes 1900-2010 Total Hurricane Strikes 1900-2010 Total MAJOR Hurricane Strikes 1900-2010 Total Major Hurricane Strikes 1900-2010 Western Gulf Hurricane Strikes Western Gulf Hurricane Strikes Western Gulf MAJOR Hurricane Strikes Western Gulf Major Hurricane Strikes Eastern Gulf Hurricane Strikes Eastern Gulf Hurricane Strikes Eastern Gulf MAJOR Hurricane Strikes Eastern Gulf Major Hurricane Strikes SE Coast Hurricane Strikes SE Coast Hurricane Strikes SE Coast MAJOR Hurricane Strikes SE Coast Major Hurricane Strikes NE Coast Hurricane Strikes NE Coast Hurricane Strikes NE Coast MAJOR Hurricane Strikes NE Coast Major Hurricane Strikes

Tropical Cyclones 101

Index

Introduction

Tropical CycloneA tropical cyclone is a warm-core, low pressure system without any “front” attached, that develops over the tropical or subtropical waters, and has an organized circulation. Depending upon location, tropical cyclones have different names around the world. In the:

  • Atlantic/Eastern Pacific Oceans – hurricanes
  • Western Pacific – typhoons
  • Indian Ocean – cyclones

Regardless of what they are called, there are several favorable environmental conditions that must be in place before a tropical cyclone can form. They are:

  • Warm ocean waters (at least 80°F / 27°C) throughout a depth of about 150 ft. (46 m).
  • An atmosphere which cools fast enough with height such that it is potentially unstable to moist convection.
  • Relatively moist air near the mid-level of the troposphere (16,000 ft. / 4,900 m).
  • Generally a minimum distance of at least 300 miles (480 km) from the equator.
  • A pre-existing near-surface disturbance.
  • Low values (less than about 23 mph / 37 km/h) of vertical wind shear between the surface and the upper troposphere. Vertical wind shear is the change in wind speed with height.

Tropical Cyclone Formation Basin

Formation and movement of Tropical Cyclones 1945-2006

Given that sea surface temperatures need to be at least 80°F (27°C) for tropical cyclones form, it is natural that they form near the equator. However, with only the rarest of occasions, these storms do not form within 5° latitude of the equator. This is due to the lack of sufficient Coriolis Force, the force that causes the cyclone to spin. However, tropical cyclones form in seven regions around the world.

See the probabilities for the Atlantic Basin by month.

One rare exception to the lack of tropical cyclones near the equator was Typhoon Vamei which former near Singapore on December 27, 2001. Since tropical cyclone observations started in 1886 in the North Atlantic and 1945 in the western North Pacific, the previous recorded lowest latitude for a tropical cyclone was 3.3°N for Typhoon Sarah in 1956. With its circulation center at 1.5°N Typhoon Vamei’s circulation was on both sides of the equator. U.S. Naval ships reported maximum sustained surface wind of 87 mph and gust wind of up to 120 mph.

The seedlings of tropical cyclones, called “disturbances”, can come from:

  • Easterly Waves: Also called tropical waves, this is an inverted trough of low pressure moving generally westward in the tropical easterlies. A trough is defined as a region of relative low pressure. The majority of tropical cyclones form from easterly waves.
  • West African Disturbance Line (WADL): This is a line of convection (similar to a squall line) which forms over West Africa and moves into the Atlantic Ocean. WADL’s usually move faster than tropical waves.
  • TUTT: A TUTT (Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trough) is a trough, or cold core low in the upper atmosphere, which produces convection. On occasion, one of these develops into a warm-core tropical cyclone.
  • Old Frontal Boundary: Remnants of a polar front can become lines of convection and occasionally generate a tropical cyclone. In the Atlantic Ocean storms, this will occur early or late in the hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean Sea.

Once a disturbance forms and sustained convection develops, it can become more organized under certain conditions. If the disturbance moves or stays over warm water (at least 80°F), and upper level winds remain weak, the disturbance can become more organized, forming a depression.

The warm water is one of the most important keys as it is water that powers the tropical cyclone (see image above right). As water vapor (water in the gaseous state) rises, it cools. This cooling causes the water vapor to condense into a liquid we see as clouds. In the process of condensation, heat is released. This heat warms the atmosphere making the air lighter still which then continues to rise into the atmosphere. As it does, more air moves in near the surface to take its place which is the strong wind we feel from these storms.

Therefore, once the eye of the storm moves over land will begin to weaken rapidly, not because of friction, but because the storm lacks the moisture and heat sources that the ocean provided. This depletion of moisture and heat hurts the tropical cyclone’s ability to produce thunderstorms near the storm center. Without this convection, the storm rapidly diminishes.

Hurricane Wilma - click for 8mb movieThe NASA image (left) is Hurricane Wilma in October 2005. Clicking the image will load a 8mb movie (provided by NASA) showing the life of the storm. The color of the ocean represents sea surface temperature with orange and red colors indicating temperatures of 82°F or greater.

As Wilma moves northwest, then eventually northeast, the water temperature decreases (indicated by the change to light blue color) after the storm passes a particular location. This is the result of the heat that is removed from the ocean and provided to the storm.

Therein shows the purpose of tropical cyclones. Their role is to take heat, stored in the ocean, and transfer it to the upper atmosphere where the upper level winds carry that heat to the poles. This keeps the polar regions from being as cold as they could be and helps keep the tropics from overheating.

There are many suggestions for the mitigation of tropical cyclones such as “seeding” storms with chemicals to decrease their intensity, dropping water absorbing material into the storm to soak-up some of the moisture, to even using nuclear weapons to disrupt their circulation thereby decreasing their intensity. Read about tropical cyclone myths. While well meaning, the ones making the suggestions vastly underestimate the amount of energy generated and released by tropical cyclones.

Even if we could disrupt these storms, it would not be advisable. Since tropical cyclones help regulate the earth’s temperature, any decrease in tropical cyclone intensity means the oceans retain more heat. Over time, the build-up of heat could possible enhance subsequent storms and lead to more numerous and/or stronger events.

There has also been much discussion about the abnormally high number of storms for the 2005 Atlantic basin (27 named storms including 15 hurricanes). Compared to the age of the earth, our knowledge about tropical cyclone history is only very recent. Only since the advent of satellite imagery in the 1960’s do we have any real ability to count, track and observe these systems across the vast oceans. Therefore, we will never know the actual record number of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Oceans.

Next: Tropical Cyclone Classification

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