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Tropical Tracker: A hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico to remember, or forget

More tropical development likely in November

Nine named storms have been in the Gulf of Mexico. Eight named storms have made landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast
Nine named storms have been in the Gulf of Mexico. Eight named storms have made landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast

ORLANDO, Fla. – It has been a very busy hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin as a whole, but when you focus on the sliver that is the Gulf of Mexico, the word historic comes to mind.

A record 11 named storms have made landfall in the U.S. in 2020. Eight of those have occurred along the Gulf Coast. A whopping five named storms -- three hurricanes, two tropical storms -- have made landfall in Louisiana. We won’t talk about the obvious part of the Gulf Coast that has not been impacted until hurricane season ends.

In 2004, four storms (three hurricanes, one tropical storm) made landfall in Florida. A fifth storm, Hurricane Ivan, brought devastating impacts to the Florida panhandle, but officially made landfall in Alabama.

5 named storms impacted Florida in 2004
5 named storms impacted Florida in 2004

The season’s not over yet

Fresh on the heels of Hurricane Zeta, another disturbance is brewing around the Lesser Antilles.

The large disturbance associated with two tropical waves is forecast to move into the Caribbean over the coming days where the environment is favorable for development.

A new tropical depression could develop over the weekend or early next week. There is some potential for this entity to make its way into the Gulf of Mexico during the next 10 to 15 days.

Development potential over the next five days.
Development potential over the next five days.

The thunderstorms that will eventually go into our likely next storm are being enhanced by the Madden-Julian Oscillation. Remember that? (Click this link and scroll to the bottom for more on the MJO.)

The last time it was around we had that flurry of storms in mid-September. The green color on the map below represents rising motion in the upper levels of the atmosphere, which promotes thunderstorm development.

Green shaded areas are rising air anomalies. Green shaded areas favor thunderstorm development. Image from tropicaltidbits.com
Green shaded areas are rising air anomalies. Green shaded areas favor thunderstorm development. Image from tropicaltidbits.com

Now, we are no longer in the peak of hurricane season and the overall conditions aren’t as favorable, but an additional storm or two will be possible in the Caribbean or extreme southern Atlantic through the first half of November as the enhanced phase of the MJO moves through.

Hurricane development is very quiet through June and July and typically ramps up as August begins. The peak of hurricane season occurs September 10.
Hurricane development is very quiet through June and July and typically ramps up as August begins. The peak of hurricane season occurs September 10.

Hurricane season officially runs through Nov. 30.


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