This week, we turn the page to October, a month not often associated with big hurricane strikes despite a long history of them: Category 5 Michael (2018) in Mexico Beach, Category 3 Opal (1995) west of Panama City Beach, Category 4 King (1950) over downtown Miami, Category 4 Hazel (1954) over the Carolinas, the Great 1893 Chenière Caminada hurricane that killed an estimated 2,000 in Louisiana, and Wilma (2005) – the strongest Atlantic hurricane on record – that raked across South Florida as a weaker but still-major hurricane. All big-time October hits.
Although every coastal state from Texas to North Carolina has recorded multiple October hurricane strikes, Florida and Louisiana own the lion’s share.
You’re as likely in October as you are in September to encounter a hurricane in Florida and, as we’ve written about in recent newsletters, South Florida has recorded more hurricane landfalls in October than in any other month. Historically, two out of every three Florida hurricanes in October has been a South Florida hurricane despite South Florida comprising only 17% of the land area in the state.
The most common conduit for U.S. hurricane strikes in October is a pipeline from the western Caribbean and southern Gulf of Mexico. Storms that form down here often find an open channel northward courtesy of jet stream dips that accompany fall fronts down into the southern U.S.
These “weaknesses” in the atmosphere tend to draw storms out of still-warm waters, giving them ample opportunity to strengthen on approach to land. Those hurricanes sneaking into the Gulf often get whisked northeastward by jet stream winds which make the protruding boot of south Louisiana and the Florida peninsula more susceptible to strikes.
Although Florida and Louisiana aren’t given much reprieve in October, other states like Texas and North Carolina see a dramatic drop off in hurricane risk come October. In fact, October is the least likely month outside of November to encounter a hurricane strike along the coast of Texas.
Of course in most states besides Texas, you’re still at a higher risk of a hurricane landfall in October than you are in June or July, so it’s important to stay vigilant.
Philippe affecting the northern Leeward Islands today and Tuesday
This week, the only active system we’ll be following in the Atlantic is Philippe.
The center of the tropical storm is located only about 100 miles east of Antigua and Barbuda, where tropical storm watches are in place.
Philippe is a heavily sheared storm, with most of its winds and weather to the south and east of the center. This is good news for the islands that’ll stay just to its west in the hours ahead. That said, squally weather and potentially heavy rainfall could create flooding problems in some parts of the northern Leeward Islands into Tuesday as Philippe’s long, stormy tail trails its center.
Quiet start to October elsewhere
Otherwise, the tropics look quiet through the remainder of the week, with no additional development expected for now.