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Welcome to October – historically a busy month for Florida hurricane landfalls

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We’re only watching two tropical systems at the current time, which feels like a lull in activity. Even though one is extremely powerful Hurricane Sam. Sam is heading for the waters just east of Bermuda. The worst of the storm will miss the island by a good ways, but they will feel the fringe effects.

Hurricane Sam is putting on another display of raw power as it heads north. It’s still running at Category 4 strength, and is forecast to only slowly weaken as it passes Bermuda to the east late tonight or early tomorrow.

There are no other storms in the record book that were this strong in this part of the ocean this time of year.

Over the next few days, it will slowly transition into a giant, powerful, winter-like North Atlantic storm. It will no longer derive its power from the warm ocean water, but it will still be very dangerous. And it will also grow in physical size.

The large circulation will generate large swells that will affect all Atlantic coastlines, including the U.S. East coast. Impacts should peak over the weekend.

In Newfoundland – the extreme eastern part of Atlantic Canada – they will be watching how the storm evolves. It might become big enough and track close enough to have a significant effect there early next week.

In the far eastern Atlantic, the giant North Atlantic low-pressure system that Sam will become will open a lane north for Tropical Storm Victor. It is forecast to strengthen a bit before it’s surrounded by dry Saharan air. In a few days, it will likely die out in the central Atlantic under hostile upper winds.

As the fall weather pattern takes hold, systems will find it increasingly difficult to get traction in the eastern Atlantic. Instead, the Caribbean and southern Gulf of Mexico are more likely to end up with the atmospheric pattern that’s conducive for tropical development.

When the northern jet stream dips down and pulls up a disturbance, it’s most likely to track to the north and then arc to the east. Florida is often in the way of these late-season systems.

Dr. Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University compiled the stats. In the month of October, Florida has been hit by 36 hurricanes going back to 1851, almost as many as in September. On average, they are only about half as likely to be Category 3 or stronger though – 11 versus 19.

Into next week, the weather pattern over the Gulf and Caribbean is forecast to be hostile to any development. Though around the middle of next week, the weak disturbance that failed to develop in the tropical Atlantic will reach the Caribbean. We’ll keep an eye on that.


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.