Today Marks Peak of Hurricane Season

September 10, 2011; 4:00 PM ET
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The tropics are definitely active with three named systems currently churning in the Atlantic Basin. Such a number is not unusual considering Saturday is historically known as the peak of hurricane season.

September 10th marks the date when the frequency of tropical systems reaches a maximum in the Atlantic Basin.

One main reason is that ocean water temperatures are at their warmest this time of year, even though summer started nearly three months ago.

The lag between the first day of summer and when the ocean is at its warmest is due to water's ability to retain heat. Even though incoming radiation from the sun has been decreasing since late June, the heat retained by the ocean continues to exceed the heat lost until early September.

One of the most infamous tropical systems to exist in the Atlantic Basin on September 10th was Hurricane Donna in 1960.

Donna tore through the Florida Keys during the early morning hours of September 10, 1960, as a major hurricane. In addition to powerful winds, the islands were battered by a 13-foot storm surge.

Hurricane Donna is also in the record books as the only hurricane to create hurricane-force winds in Florida, the mid-Atlantic and New England. Sustained winds from Donna measured 128 mph at Sombrero Key, Fla.; 83 mph at Elizabeth City, N.C.; and 95 mph at Block Island, R.I.

None of the three named tropical systems currently churning in the Atlantic Basin pose an immediate threat to the United States.

Katia will remain on a track to Europe this weekend, while Nate targets mainland Mexico, and Maria threatens the Antilles with flooding rain and gusty winds.

Maria should follow in the footsteps of Katia and bypass the East Coast of the United States next week. However, that track is not set in stone.


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