The period between Aug. 1 and Sept. 22 is usually the most active part of the hurricane season. How we fare during this crucial period often determines what kind of season we will have locally.

Since 2000, the Atlantic Basin has averaged 7.7 named storms during that part of August and September, with the fewest (five) occurring in 2003 and 2009 and the greatest number occurring (11) in 2004. With one August storm (Bertha) heading for the North Atlantic, we might expect at least four more named storms between now and the end of the third week of September, even if this is a “quiet” year.

The peak of the season is the five-week period beginning after Aug. 15 and ending as we move into the fourth week of September. The majority of the most destructive storms in the Galveston-Houston area falls within this time span (1900, 1915, 1919, 1947, Carla, 1961, Alicia, 1983 and Ike, 2008).

By late September, and certainly, by October, the season is winding rapidly to a close on the Texas coast. Only the tropical storms or hurricanes have hit the upper-Texas coast in October during the past 150 years. Likewise, since 1900, only three tropical storms or hurricanes have occurred locally during the last week of September.

So, how do our prospects look this year? The latest forecasts call for a below normal year in the northwest Gulf of Mexico. Below normal storm activity over West Africa, slightly cooler ocean temperatures in the eastern Tropical Atlantic and the continuing influx of dry air into the Tropical Atlantic all continue to hinder storm development. Still, a pool of very warm water persists over the northwest Caribbean Sea and much of the Gulf of Mexico. Should a storm get started in these locales, there is plenty of energy available to fuel a destructive hurricane.

Will we get one this year? Nobody can say for sure, but we can be certain that our prospects will be fairly good if we can weather the next 45-50 days. Crunch time is here!

Below are links related to this blog:

Hurricane and tropical storm frequency by week

Water vapor image loop of the Atlantic

Global satellite image

Sea surface temperature anomaly map

Current hurricane intensity potential map


Stan Blazyk is a life-long weather enthusiast, long-time Galveston resident and author of "A Century of Galveston Weather." He has written the weather blog for the Galveston County Daily News for more than a decade.

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