Friday marks the peak of hurricane season: past, present, and future look at the 2021 Atlantic season
BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Friday, September 10th marks the official peak of hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin. To date, the 2021 season has consisted of 13 named storms, 5 of which reached hurricane status and 3 of which became major hurricanes.
The latest of storms to be named was Tropical Storm Mindy that officially developed Wednesday afternoon in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. This system stayed well east of the Brazos Valley, but ended up bringing heavy rain to the east-central Gulf coastline. Mindy then crossed over parts of Florida and Georgia before eventually drifting out into the western Atlantic Thursday.
RECAP OF THE SEASON SO FAR
- Ana formed near Bermuda on May 22, making 2021 the seventh year in a row that the Atlantic has had at least one named storm prior to the official start of hurricane season on June 1. Ana stayed out in the Atlantic, away from the United States coastline.
- Bill formed off the East Coast on June 14. The system moved farther east into the Atlantic and away from the United States.
- Claudette formed in the northern Gulf of Mexico June 19th right before landfall. The system moved inland along the Louisiana coastline before curving to the northeast. Impacts stayed east of the Brazos Valley.
- Danny formed along the East Coast near Charleston, South Carolina on June 28. The system then made landfall in South Carolina that same day, and was the first June-named storm to make landfall in South Carolina since Hurricane One in 1867.
- Elsa formed in the central tropical Atlantic on July 1, setting the record for the earliest fifth named Atlantic storm. The previous record (July 6) was set last year by Edouard. Elsa became a hurricane on July 2, 44 days before the average date (August 14) for the first Atlantic hurricane. Elsa made landfall in Florida on July 7.
- Fred formed in the eastern Caribbean on August 10, making it the 6th earliest 6th Atlantic named storm since 1966. After trekking through parts of the Caribbean, Fred made landfall as a tropical storm in the Florida panhandle on August 16. The system brought heavy rain, high winds and strong storms to parts of the southeast.
- Grace formed in the central tropical Atlantic on August 14. After making its first landfall near Tulum, Mexico on August 19, the system re-intensified into a major hurricane over the southern Gulf ahead of a second landfall in mainland Mexico on August 21. Impacts from Grace stayed well south of the Brazos Valley.
- Henri formed near Bermuda on August 16. The system made landfall as a tropical storm near Westerly, Rhode Island. This was the first named storm to make landfall in Rhode Island since Hurricane Bob in 1991.
- Ida formed south of Jamaica in the Caribbean on August 26. The hurricane strengthened into a major hurricane August 29, joining Hurricane Grace as major Atlantic hurricanes for the season. The last Atlantic season with two or more major hurricanes by August 29 was 2005. Hurricane Ida made landfall near Port Fourchon, Louisiana around midday on August 29. Ida made landfall with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, tying the Last Island Hurricane in 1856 and Hurricane Laura in 2020 for the strongest maximum sustained winds for a Louisiana-landfalling hurricane on record.
- Julian formed far out in the Atlantic on August 29. The short-lived system remained over the open waters of the Atlantic, staying well east of the United States coastline.
- Kate formed in the central, open Atlantic on August 30. The system stayed well east of the United States, tracking northward through the Atlantic before the storm dissipated.
- Larry formed in the far eastern Atlantic on September 1. The system hit major hurricane status as it traveled through the central Atlantic and is the longest-lived Atlantic major hurricane since Dorian back in 2019. When Larry strengthened into a hurricane, it marked the first time on record that the Atlantic has had more than three hurricane formations between August 18 - September 2. Larry’s track has stayed well east of the United States.
- Mindy formed in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico on September 8. The system made landfall as a tropical storm near St. Vincent Island, Florida. Mindy moved inland four hours after officially being named by the National Hurricane Center, traveled across northern Florida and southern Georgia before moving out into the western Atlantic Thursday.
WHAT’S OUT THERE NOW?
As of Friday morning, Hurricane Larry continues to track north through the open Atlantic. No major impacts are expected to the United States from this system.
The remnants of what was Tropical Storm Mindy continue to move eastward into the open waters of the Atlantic. No additional impacts to the United States are expected.
A tropical wave is expected to emerge into the eastern Atlantic off the coast of Africa tonight. This wave currently has a high chance for development over the next five days, but it is too early to tell if this potential system will have any impacts to the United States.
Closer to home, a tropical wave producing disorganized shower and thunderstorm activity in the western Caribbean Sea now has a high chance for development over the next five days.
The system is expected to emerge into the the Bay of Campeche this weekend after crossing over Central America. Forecasters at the National Hurricane note that conditions are expected to be favorable for tropical development once it does so.
Regardless of tropical development -- this wave will bring a slug of tropical moisture into the Brazos Valley and Southeast Texas by early next week, sparking scattered rain and storm chances as early as Monday. This is something we’ll continue to monitor and a situation we should get a clearer picture on through the upcoming weekend, but best to prep the rain gear for heavy rain and some storms next week. Should additional impacts look to materialize for parts of the Brazos Valley, updates will be waiting for you on-air, online, and on the KBTX PinPoint Weather App.
The next name up-for-grabs on the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season list is Nicholas.
The latest forecasts call for this hurricane season to remain “above-normal.” On September 9, the 2021 season officially generated enough Accumulated Cyclone Energy to meet the official definition of an “average” Atlantic season. The last below-average season in the Atlantic basin was 2015.
Hurricane season officially runs through November 30.
Credit to Philip Klotzbach, Ph.D. with Colorado State University for many of the facts listed above.
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