Hurricane Season: Early & Often?

Hurricane season officially began last Wednesday June 1.  Not even a week into the season and the third named storm has formed. We did get a head start this year as Hurricane Alex formed in mid January in the far eastern Atlantic Ocean.

Blog Hurricane Alex

Tropical Storm Bonnie formed off the southeast coast of the U.S. in late May, just under 2 weeks ago.

Blog Tropical Storm Bonnie

Now there is Tropical Storm Colin that formed in the Gulf of Mexico yesterday. Colin is expected to make landfall tonight in the Big Bend area of Florida dumping 3-6″ of rain and some isolated areas could see 8″.  This storm is expected to move quickly across Florida and brush the Outbanks of North Carolina before heading out into the Atlantic Ocean. Colin sets a record as the earliest third named storm or “C” storm on record.

It’s been more than 10 years since a major hurricane made landfall in the U.S. Wilma was the last, hitting Florida in October 2005. This abnormally quiet period continued last season.  That’s been attributed to 2015’s strong El Niño.

Blog Hurricane Wilma

There are several ingredients needed for hurricane development, including wind shear and dry air in the middle atmosphere, but sea surface temperature is the biggie. Warmer water means more evaporation, and that means more fuel for the storm’s development.
The folks at Climate Central point out that over the last century, the planet’s oceans have warmed, in some locations, as much as 1-3°F. There are long term fluctuations in the Atlantic Ocean’s temperature, but there has been an obvious upward trend since 1970.


Early research suggests that climate change will likely increase the number of major (category 3 or greater) hurricanes, but the overall number of hurricanes may remain the same. Tropical season ends on November 30 with the peak time being September 10.

Blog PeakHurricaneSeason_Atlantic

.Even the anticipated rise in sea level through the melting of ice and glaciers could worsen storm surge damage from landfalling hurricanes. It’s interesting how a change in the climate can have such a ripple effect.

Right now the forecast for the hurricane season is near normal. You can find that forecast and more on hurricanes in a recent 4WARN Blog post by Dan Thomas just click here.

Torpical Storm Colin won’t have an impact on our weather.  I’ll have the latest forecast for Middle Tennessee on Channel 4 News at 10pm.

Lisa Spencer

Posted 9:40 PM


About Lisa Spencer

Lisa Spencer is the chief meteorologist at WSMV Channel 4 Nashville. You can catch her weathercasts weekdays at 4pm, 5pm, 6pm, 6:30pm and 10pm.
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