Historically, September is peak month for tropical cyclones

September formation points (1851-2013)
September formation points (1851-2013)

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – The Atlantic Basin has seen four named tropical cyclones to date:  Hurricanes Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal and Tropical Storm Debby.  We are wondering where the next named storm might form.

Some of the more reliable computer models are suggesting that a tropical wave will move off the west coast of Africa on Thursday and possibly develop into a tropical cyclone through the weekend.  We will have plenty of time to watch this one given that the wave will still be over 4000 miles away from South Florida when it moves off Africa.

We watch these tropical waves closely this time of year for good reason.  September is historically the peak month for tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic.  Data from the National Hurricane Center show that the Atlantic has averaged 4.0 tropical storms including 2.6 hurricanes during the month of September during the 30-year period 1981 through 2010.  Most tropical cyclones form from tropical waves this time of the year.

And let's not forget that nearly 85 percent of Major Hurricanes (Category 3, 4 and 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale) have their origins from tropical waves.

The formation point graphic shows where all the tropical storms (a total of 517) have formed in the Atlantic Basin during the month of September from 1851 through 2013.  A lot of them formed in the deep tropics between Africa and the Caribbean.

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 from tropical waves 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 with certainty where the next storm will form, but it is a sure bet that other tropical cyclones will develop before the season ends.