Hurricane activity is common in the Atlantic during August, but 2018 could be a rare exception with no tropical cyclones achieving this intensity during the month.
Two tropical storms, Debby and Ernesto, have formed so far this month, but they were far away from land in the northern Atlantic Ocean. Neither of them was in an area where conditions in the atmosphere and ocean would allow them to strengthen into hurricanes.
With a week to go in the month, there is a growing chance that August 2018 could finish with no hurricane activity. There were two Atlantic hurricanes in July this season: Beryl and Chris.
Satellite imagery for the Atlantic is quiet for late August and shows no areas of interest for possible development into a tropical storm or a hurricane. In addition, forecast guidance is not showing a clear signal for hurricane development as we close out the month.
Only eight years since the satellite era began in 1966 have had no hurricane activity in August. Most recently was five years ago in 2013. By hurricane activity we mean a named storm becoming at least a Category 1 for some period of time in a given year between Aug. 1-31.
The other seven years with no hurricanes tracking through the Atlantic basin in August are 2002, 2001, 1997, 1988, 1984, 1982 and 1967. That’s an average of about once every six to seven years August has had no hurricanes.
Historically speaking, August has the second most Atlantic hurricane formations since 1851 with 245. That’s an average of 1-2 forming in the month every year, according to NOAA. September leads the way with 404 hurricanes and October is third with 205 hurricanes.
If August 2018 finishes with no hurricanes, it does not mean we are off the hook from an Atlantic hurricane impacting land in the coming months.
The period between Aug. 20 and Oct. 10 accounts for 60 percent of all Atlantic basin hurricanes, according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach, a tropical scientist at Colorado State University.
Some of the years with zero hurricanes in August have had impactful storms later in the season.
In 2002, Hurricane Lili made landfall in Louisiana during early October and caused $1.6 billion in damage.
Beulah hit south Texas in September 1967 as a major hurricane with damaging winds, flooding and more than 100 tornadoes.
There’s no guarantee that a hurricane will strike the U.S. in the next couple of months like what occurred in those years, but residents of coastal locations should have a hurricane preparedness plan in place every year no matter what.