September is the peak month for tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic. During the satellite era starting in 1966, the Atlantic has averaged 3.7 tropical storms and 2.4 hurricanes during the month of September.
South Florida residents breathed a sigh of relief after Isaac recently passed through without strengthening to a hurricane until it got into the Gulf of Mexico. Now we wonder where the next tropical storm will form.
There is a low pressure system currently located over the Gulf of Mexico just off the western Florida panhandle. The National Hurricane Center is giving this disturbance a low chance of developing into a tropical cyclone over the next couple of days. Regardless of whether it develops or not, it has the potential to bring additional rains to portions of Florida.
In addition, the global models are nearly unanimous in developing a tropical wave forecast to come off the coast of Africa later this week. It is obviously way too early to predict where this disturbance will go.
The formation point graphic shows where all the tropical storms (a total of 496) have formed in the Atlantic Basin during the month of September from 1851 through 2011. A lot of them formed in the deep tropics between Africa and the Caribbean similar to recent Hurricane Isaac and Tropical Storm Leslie that is currently headed in the general direction of Bermuda.
The historical record shows a couple of the most memorable September hurricanes to strike South Florida: the costliest United States hurricane on record after adjusting for inflation, population and wealth – the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926; and the second deadliest United States hurricane on record – the Lake Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928. Both the 1926 and 1928 hurricanes formed in the deep tropical Atlantic.
The formation point graphic shows many storms forming elsewhere over the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico as well as a fair number over the Caribbean. No one can tell you at the moment where the next storm will form, but it is a sure bet that other tropical cyclones will develop before the season ends. We are still in the peak of the hurricane season.