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August is when Hurricane season starts to pick up steam

Tropics ignite as August arrives

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Orlando, Fla. – August marks the third month of Hurricane season. There’s a noticeable change in the amount of activity we begin to see in the tropics. It picks up.

Sure, it’s been busy lately, but the peak of the season has yet to begin. That peak happens mid-August to near the end of October. Right now Mother Nature is tapping the gas pedal, so to speak, before flooring it which happens in September.

The number of tropical storm and hurricane days for the Atlantic Basin (the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico) jumps markedly by mid-August  (NOAA)
The number of tropical storm and hurricane days for the Atlantic Basin (the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico) jumps markedly by mid-August (NOAA) (NOAA)

Sure, it might not be the most active part of the season, but there have been notable tropical events that have happened around this time of year.

Here’s a look back at tropical events from late July into August:

July 30, 1975 was active for the panhandle. A tropical disturbance spawned several tornadoes that evening, luckily there were no serious injuries.

That wasn’t the case in 1933. The National Weather Service records show the morning of July 30 a hurricane moved in from the Atlantic and made landfall near Fort Pierce. This is when the storm took a crazy turn. It moved across the peninsula then exiting south of Tampa Bay in the Gulf of Mexico the afternoon of July 31. It didn’t stop there. In fact, the steering current took the storm across the gulf where it regained strength before it’s second landfall just south of Brownsville near Playa Lauro Villar in Tamaulipas. The storm claimed $2 million in crop damages in south Texas. Add that to damages in Florida, the Caribbean, and Mexico and it totaled $3 million in damages and claimed 39 lives.

In 1936, a tropical storm moved in from the Bahamas crossed extreme south Florida before moving into the Gulf of Mexico making a turn for the panhandle. The storm strengthened to hurricane status and then made landfall near Fort Walton Beach on July 31 early in the day. Storm surge reached 6 feet. Four people died.

A 19-year-old man drown in a rip current in Palm Beach on July 31 of 1995. The rip current was caused by swells from Hurricane Erin. The storm was just starting to reek havoc on the sunshine state and it’s residents. Hurricane Erin made landfall as a category 1 storm early in the day on Aug. 2 near Vero Beach. It then moved across the peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico where the storm restrengthened. Erin was a Category 2 Hurricane as the eye wall moved ashore in Fort Walton Beach. It then weakened to a category 1 storm making landfall on Aug. 3 in Pensacola Beach. Sixteen lives were lost, nine in Florida.

The eye of Hurricane Erin making landfall along the northwest Florida panhandle on August 3, 1995.
The eye of Hurricane Erin making landfall along the northwest Florida panhandle on August 3, 1995. (National Weather Service)

Even in the late 1800s Floridians couldn’t catch a break during the first week of August and it wasn’t even designated Hurricane Season back then. Hurricanes on Aug. 1 in 1898 and 1899 took a total of 18 lives and seven ships. Twelve of those deaths were in the Apalachicola hurricane of 1898 which had two landfalls in the state that year.

Rounding Aug. 2 out there was Hurricane Celia in 1970. Although Celia didn’t make landfall in Florida, it still claimed lives here. Storm surge and swells battered the west coast of the peninsula killing eight people in the panhandle.

Technology has made leaps and bounds since a lot of these storms happened. There are better satellites to feed back data a lot faster than before. There’s even planes that fly into hurricanes to bring crucial data to meteorologists forecasting tropical systems. Read more about those here..


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