Hurricanes Are Still Possible in November
UPDATED October 28, 2014
By WeatherBug Meteorologists
Cooler, windy weather, falling leaves and the holiday season arriving make it difficult to imagine hurricane season extending into November. Although the Atlantic basin season continues through November 30, tropical activity is far less frequent in its last month.
How Many Form?
The National Hurricane Center data suggests one storm forms every 2 years in the Atlantic basin, which consists of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean north of the equator. The last storm of the season typically forms on or before November 23.
Last year, Tropical Storm Melissa moved across the central Atlantic and brought large swells to Bermuda and the northern Caribbean islands. It also produced strong winds in the western Azores Islands.
There were no November storms in 2012 while Tropical Storm Sean formed in early November 2011 between the Bahamas and Bermuda. It produced tropical storm force winds in Bermuda but made the typical northeast track well away from the U.S. mainland.
Looking back at the historical 2005 season, three tropical storms took shape in November with another forming in December. Tropical Storm Epsilon, the most intense of the systems, formed on November 29, 2005 in the open Atlantic and became a hurricane on December 2. In 2004, Tropical Storm Otto formed on Nov. 30, the last day of hurricane season, east of Bermuda. It too lasted until Dec. 2, when it was downgraded to a tropical depression.
In what was a very unusual hurricane season, 2005 even produced a named storm, Tropical Storm Zeta, on December 30. Zeta was the second latest-forming storm on record. The storm persisted until January 6, 2006, never threatening land.
Comparatively, the 2012 hurricane season did not produce a November tropical system. The last November system to form was in 2011, when Tropical Storm Sean developed on November 6 over the central Atlantic and zipped by Bermuda on November 11.
Where They Form and Why
Most November tropical systems usually form in only one of two spots, the western Atlantic northeast of Cuba and in the southwestern Caribbean near the Central American coast.
Storms that form in November, whether they develop in the Caribbean or over the western Atlantic, usually track to the northeast toward the open waters of the western and central Atlantic. These storms can be troublesome for eastern Cuba, the Bahamas and Bermuda. On a rare occasion, storms that form near the Central America coast can track north into the Gulf of Mexico and turn to the northeast toward Florida.
Tropical systems have a better chance of developing and surviving in November in these locations because water temperatures, even in November, have not cooled off below the 80-degree threshold storms need to form and grow. Additionally, hurricane-killing shear often remains low or non-existent. In other areas of the tropics and over the Gulf of Mexico, wind shear becomes stronger in the autumn, often tearing apart any waves of thunderstorms that try to organize into a tropical system.
Famous November Hurricanes
At least seven major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or greater have formed in the Atlantic basin since 1900. 2008`s Paloma was the most recent one to form.
The United States is not immune from direct hurricane hits in November. Record books show that four hurricanes have made U.S. landfall since 1900 during this last month of hurricane season. All four storms impacted Florida, with the most recent occurring in 1985. Hurricane Kate, a Category 2 storm roared ashore in northwestern Florida producing an estimated 300 million dollars in damage.
The eastern Pacific Ocean is not immune to the occasional November hurricane. Most recently, Kenneth made history by becoming a major hurricane reaching Category 4 strength prior to Thanksgiving.
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