Over the past week or two, I've certainly had plenty to talk about in the tropics. People have asked me if it's unusual to see so many storms forming in the ocean at one time. Honestly, the answer is no -- and here's why...
The peak of hurricane season falls around the middle of September and during that time, tropical activity is typically abundant. It's not uncommon to have several tropical systems swirling around at the same time. In extreme cases, there can be as many as five named tropical systems spinning at once (though, that is quite uncommon, but it has happened twice in the past 15 years).
As of this writing, we currently have Earl, Fiona, and Gaston all churning up the waters of the Atlantic. Tropical systems form more often this time of year, because ocean temperatures are at their warmest and wind shear is typically not as strong. This gives the storm plenty of fuel to get stronger. The hurricane season gradually starts to wind down through the month of October, with November tropical systems being rather rare occurrences.
Of course our perception of a hurricane season generally revolves around how many of these systems make landfall. You can have a season with 20 named storms, but if none make landfall, nobody really remembers that season. The seasons with a significant hurricane landfall are the ones that are generally remembered for years to come regardless of how active they were overall. An example is the 1992 hurricane season which only had six named storms, but one of them was Hurricane Andrew -- a storm that people will remember for years to come.
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