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August Hurricane Climatology

UPDATED July 30, 2013

By WeatherBug Meteorologists

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Tropical storm and hurricane development becomes more likely in August with development occurring pretty much across all of the open waters of the tropical Atlantic.

Light winds in the upper-levels of the atmosphere, combined with maximum ocean water temperatures, provide a more favorable, overall environment for development. Disturbances, or waves, moving off the west coast of Africa have a much easier time holding together while moving westward toward the Caribbean and the United States.

On average, by the time July ends, two named storms would have formed in the Atlantic Hurricane basin. This is about one-fifth of the number of storms that form in an average year, with the months of August and September seeing the most storm activity.

Any storms that do form this month will likely develop in three regions of the Atlantic basin: the Gulf of Mexico and northern Caribbean, just east of the Leeward Islands and in an area of the western Atlantic stretching from the Bahamas north along the Florida coast and up to Cape Hatteras.

Last year, following Tropical Storm Debby in late June, the tropics picked up again in August. Hurricane Ernesto led the pack in early August followed by Tropical Storm Florence, Hurricane Gordon, Tropical Storm Helene and Hurricane Isaac. Isaac slammed southeastern Louisiana as a Category-One Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, causing extensive storm surge and flooding along the Gulf Coast. Three more storms formed in August 2012 following Isaac, bringing the total to eight for the month.

In the past, some of the strongest hurricanes of all time have formed during the eighth month of the year. 1955`s Hurricane Carol slammed New England on August 30 as a Category 2, while Hurricane Andrew hit Florida as a Category 5 storm on August 23, 1992. Perhaps the best known August hurricane was Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans on August 29, 2005.

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