Are you ready for the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season?

By Bianca Barr Tunno, AccuWeather staff writer

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It’s now the peak of hurricane season in the Atlantic basin.

Hurricane season officially begins June 1, and generally, the peak is from mid-August to the end of September.

During this time, conditions are typically ideal for strong and quick-moving tropical storms, hurricanes and depressions, said AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

Kottlowski said almost 80 percent of all tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin form during this short time period.

hurricane

This image, provided by NOAA, was taken on Oct. 7, 2016. It shows Hurricane Matthew over the Southeastern part of the U.S. (NOAA via AP)


Two main factors are at play: a combination of low vertical wind shear and ocean water temperatures at their highest.

“The warm water does two things: It creates the lower pressure and allows the atmosphere to be more unstable,” said Kottlowski. “You have a better chance for thunderstorms to develop coherently around any rotating feature.”

Kottlowski said that between May and early August, westerly winds often dip down into the tropics, creating high vertical wind shear, which is the change of wind speed or direction with altitude. This causes the thunderstorms associated with tropical systems to become tilted, making it difficult for systems to organize into something more serious.

But by this time of year, the westerlies die down, allowing storms to have a better potential to intensify or become an organized system.

Peak of Atlantic hurricane season


The number of named storms will usually start to drop off by the end of September and into October, as ocean temperatures drop and wind shear increases again in the main development areas of the tropics.

“Sea surface temperatures begin to cool off, but the water temperatures are still quite warm, especially during the first half of October. You can still have hurricanes develop throughout the whole month,” Kottlowski said, adding that it can take a while for water to cool down if temperatures were above normal during peak season.

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If you live within 50 to 60 miles of the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico coastal areas, experts say you should have at least a basic hurricane plan in place:

  • Know where your shelter will be in case of an evacuation.
  • Pack enough clothing, food, water, medications and other necessities for your entire family for at least three days.
  • Take insurance documents and proof of home/land ownership with you.
  • Make a family communication plan.
  • If you choose to shelter in place, be sure to have enough supplies to last at least a few days.

More information about creating a hurricane safety plan can be found here.

Kottlowski urged those people who live along the coast to assess their situations now.

"Don’t wait any longer,” said Kottlowski. “The systems tend to develop much faster, and the lead time is much less during this time of the year.”


For more safety and preparedness tips, visit AccuWeather.com/Ready.

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