August 1, 2021

Is hurricane season already over? Not so fast

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By Jonathan Belles From wunderground

We’re heading into the last five weeks of hurricane season, but the Caribbean may begin to cook up an early Halloween tropical disturbance next week.

A couple of the ensemble families of computer models are hinting that an area of lowering pressures could form toward the end of the upcoming week in the western Caribbean.

Chances of a disturbance developing into more than a festering area of clouds are very low for the time being, but they could increase going into next week if atmospheric ingredients come together.

Setup and Late Season Climatology

An early cool-season frontal boundary is expected to sag southward into parts of the northwestern Caribbean mid- to late week. A favorable alignment in the subtropical jet stream should allow for enhanced upper-level outflow to the north and east of the Caribbean. The tail end of the frontal boundary could amplify thunderstorm activity and low-level lift in the western Caribbean.

You’ll note in the chart below that there is a strong clustering of dots in the southwestern and northwestern Caribbean Sea. This is a hotbed of tropical origins that we’ll be watching through the end of October and into November.

As the season begins to wind down, the warmest waters, 80 degrees and above, in the Atlantic basin will recede to the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and far western Atlantic while wind shear and dry air generally increase across the basin.

Ocean temperatures continue to run 1-3 degrees above average – or in the mid-80s – across the majority of the Caribbean Sea, which is plenty supportive for tropical growth and development.

November sees one more tropical storm or hurricane, on average, according to the National Hurricane Center. More than seven percent of the season’s activity is yet to come in terms of average Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE), a metric used to measure wind energy produced by tropical cyclones.

These cyclones typically move northeastward from the Caribbean or western Atlantic ahead of sweeping cold fronts from North America. These systems can threaten Florida, Cuba, the Bahamas and Bermuda, but can occasionally closer to the U.S. East Coast especially in October and early November.

Notable Late Season Storms

Hurricane Otto, 2016

Otto was the latest hurricane landfall in the Atlantic basin since at least 1851, and it took a strange path westward through Nicaragua and over Central America into the eastern Pacific. This landfall in Central America was the farthest south a landfall has taken place on record.

Hurricane Otto made landfall during America’s Thanksgiving holiday.

For more records from this historic hurricane, see our hurricane recap.

Hurricane Kate, 1985

Hurricane Kate made landfall in the Florida Panhandle with winds of 100 mph on November 21. Kate is the latest hurricane to make landfall in the United States.

Superstorm Sandy, 2012

A meteorological and climatological oddity, Sandy made landfall in New Jersey on October 29 as a very large post-tropical cyclone in a complex arrangement of large-scale weather systems in the Atlantic and over the eastern United States.

Sandy pounded the east coast with feet of storm surge, a nearly 1000 mile wide core of tropical storm force winds, heavy rain and mountain snow.

Let’s not forget that Sandy started a fairly normal late October or November track from the Caribbean, over Cuba and into the western Atlantic.


The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM. NASA

Hurricane Kate in the Gulf of Mexico.

Track history for Hurricane Otto, November 2016.
Origins for November tropical storms and hurricanes.
Possible area of disturbed weather in the western Caribbean late next week. Sea level pressure contoured from the GFS Ensemble Mean.
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