big weather

Hurricane Alley
The true heart of the tropical storm season

Technically speaking, hurricane season is 6-months long …

Running from June 1st to November 30th.

Calendar chart of hurricanes that made landfall in Florida

Then there is the heart of hurricane season.

It last for 3 months from August through October. That span accounts for 75 percent of Florida’s hurricane strength storms.

Monthly distribution of hurricane-strength storms to make landfall in Florida

October is surprisingly a high probability month, accounting for 25 percent of Florida’s hurricane-strength landfalling storms. September leads all other months with 40 percent. So yes, technically speaking, we’re already a month and a half into hurricane season …

But in some ways hurricane season hasn’t even begun.

Of course, a storm doesn’t need to be hurricane strength to bring a deluge of rain, as did TS Eta last November.

One final note: Our fixation with where hurricanes make landfall …

Often obscures the origin story of where they formed.

Animated map showing seasonal trends in storm formation and paths

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big weather

Heart of the storm season?
By some metrics it still hasn't begun

Hurricane season is two months old …

But it isn’t until August the heart of the season really begins.

Chart showing monthly
distribution of hurricanes that
made landfall in Florida

Over 75 percent of the storms that make landfall in Florida at hurricane strength occur in the three month span of August, September and October.

September leads the way with over 40 percent.

How To: Survive a storm
Lessons learned from Hurricane Agnes

Early-season hurricanes are not the norm,

But they do happen from time to time.

If only they worked as good as they look

Agnes (June 1972) sticks out in my mind.

It goes in the record books as my first hydrologic memory, not as a Floridian – where it made landfall, but as a native Marylander where I was born, and where the storm passed through on its way up the Atlantic Coast.

I was only 3 years old at the time.

My mother and father judiciously had us take cover under ground, not for the reason we didn’t have shutters on our windows – we did, but because those shutters were fake!

We sheltered in the basement

The so called “ornamental shutters” were made of flimsy plastic, manufactured too narrow to cover the full width of glass, and – the final insult – drilled permanently into the wall siding. They looked great on a sunny day, but that was about the good of them!

But Marylanders are nothing if not innovative – and so we found shelter in the basement until the storm passed.

Hurricanes past (and present)

For such big (and slow moving) weather events,

Hurricanes strike and then move on quick.

Historic calendar of Hurricanes
that made landfall in Florida,
1990 to present

Wilma (2005) was the perfect example.

It churned out in the Gulf of Mexico near the Yucatan for days (even a week) before it began its slow march towards the Naples coast.  And then a day after it passed a cold front moved in — cool weather and brilliant blue skies.  It was hard to believe the storm was even there at all.  (Other than the destruction.)

Thus the need for the calendar chart (shown above).

It’s a good reminder of storms past …

And our entry into the heart of the new season to come.