Does Tropical Storm Humberto Herald the Beginning of the Active Hurricane Season?


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Is hurricane Humberto going to start off a late stormy season with a bang? Image courtesy of NASA

Is Hurricane Humberto going to start off a late stormy season with a bang? Image courtesy of NASA

Is the 2013 hurricane season finally revving up? After a torrential and damaging visit with Hurricane Sandy last year, the Atlantic region was left picking up the pieces on the oceanside and inland.

This year’s Atlantic season, however, has been eerily quiet. While Tropical Storm Fernand visited Mexico in August, claiming lives and causing damage, the season has been fairly calm overall.

Hurricane season normally begins in June and extends until the end of November.While this year’s hurricane season was supposed to be an active one, there have been no hurricanes, only tropical storms.

Where Are the Hurricanes?

What’s the longest we’ve gone without a hurricane at the beginning of the hurricane season? Since the era of satellite monitoring, the latest hurricane season opener was Hurricane Gustav, which formed on September 11th, 2002, and brought an end to the calm spell for that year.

Humberto is currently visiting Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa, and it is due to move into an area where the wind shear will be calmer, giving the fledgling storm more of an opportunity to form into a hurricane.

According to NASA, “the most powerful thunderstorms, the ones with the coldest cloud top temperatures, were just south of the Cape Verde Islands at the time Aqua flew overhead. Humberto has since moved closer to some of the southern islands bringing rain and gusty winds today.”

If Hurricane Humberto forms after midday on September 11th, then it will be the latest since satellite tracking of hurricanes began.

Hurricane Season

The Atlantic Hurricane Season isn’t a sports team, so why does it have a season? A hurricane is a tropical cyclone with sustained winds of 74 mph or over. While you might think of storms as something that happen in the winter months, hurricane season begins in the summer. Why?

One reason is that the African continent provides a source of atmospheric disturbances during these months. These little storms are the seeds for large tropical storms and hurricanes. Atmospheric disturbances called tropical waves can create unsettled conditions in the Atlantic Ocean. These waves happen because of temperature differences between the air over the Sahara Desert and the air along the African coast. The waves that form move with the tradewinds and usually appear in April or May, and finish in October or November. Nearly 85 percent of intense hurricanes in the Atlantic begin their lives in a tropical wave.

Hurricanes can take place outside of hurricane season if the conditions are right, but 97% of Atlantic hurricanes occur during the months of June to November. Around the world, the month with the largest number of hurricanes is September.

2013 Hurricane Season

Does the absence of hurricanes in 2013 mean that our season will be quiet overall? Historically, the end of the hurricane season does tend to be more active than the first months of the season, so the game isn’t over yet.


NASA. Humberto. (2013). Accessed September 9, 2013.

Accuweather. Humberto May Defend an Atlantic Hurricane Season Record. Accessed September 9, 2013.

National Hurricane Center. Tropical Storm Humberto. Accessed September 9, 2013.

NOAA. What is an Easterly Wave? Accessed September 9, 2013.

NOAA. When is Hurricane Season? Accessed September 9, 2013.

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