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Tropics calm for now, here’s a look at August hurricane history

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As we wrap up July and head into August, we start paying a little more attention to the tropical Atlantic. The relentless 2020 hurricane season goofed up our sense of what a normal season is like. This is more normal. Most often, the tropics are fairly quiet this time of year.

In August is when the tropics crank up, of course. But it’s not until the middle of the month that the odds of a storm developing go up significantly.

In fact, in the historical record going back to 1851, only five hurricanes have made landfall in Miami-Dade or Broward counties in August, and the earliest landfall didn’t come until Aug. 16.

In 1888, a storm moved out of the Bahamas and made landfall near Fort Lauderdale. We don’t have accurate records, of course, but it was described as a hurricane by a somewhat trained observer in Delray Beach. Damage was minimal along the coast, so it couldn’t have been very strong. It was likely not more than a Category 1, if it was even that strong.

The next earliest landfalling hurricane was Andrew on Aug. 24, 1992. A storm estimated to have been a Category 1 also hit near Homestead on that date back in 1891.

On Aug. 25, 2005, Katrina came ashore at the Dade/Broward line as a Category 1. It passed directly over the National Hurricane Center in West Dade. And on August 27, 1964, Category 2 Hurricane Cleo came over Key Biscayne, then hung a right and tracked up I-95. It was one of the 3 consequential storms of the 1960s.

That’s it for hurricanes in August.

A number of tropical storms have affected South Florida in August, however, including Tropical Storm Dennis, which caused a giant flood in 1981. Over 25 inches of rain fell in Homestead. Much of South Dade south of Kendall Drive was flooded. But Dennis and almost all the tropical storms came in the second half of August as well.

For now and through next week, nothing is showing up in the computer forecast models. Saharan Dust is dominating the Atlantic. Occasionally, some dust stretches across Florida and into the Gulf. A key point is that the dust is far enough south that disturbances that move off Africa can’t get going. We’ll watch for that to change, but it’s expected to be a while, based on the current trends.

So, enjoy a normal hurricane season for now.

For a look at your local forecast heading into the weekend, click here.

The National Hurricane Center doesn't project any new tropical cyclones in the next five days.

About the Author:

Bryan Norcross is currently a hurricane specialist at Local 10 News, the station where he began his stretch on television in Miami in 1983.