When is the peak hurricane season in Eastern NC and Atlantic Ocean? In this article we are going to discuss several technical details about how tropical systems are formed, why they form when they do, what fuels them as they travel across the ocean, and what affects they have when hitting land. If you want to contribute to this article or ask questions, please use the comment section at the end of this article and share on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook so that others can learn more about these systems if they are visiting Eastern NC or just have an interest in learning more.
Generally speaking, peak season for tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin is the last week in July, all of August, and most of September.
However, we purposefully used the word “generally” because these storms do form outside of these months and can affect land in NC. However, we do tend to see more activity in formation and strength during these months historically.
Where do they normally form? In the Atlantic Ocean, hot spots for development of these storms is the area of ocean coming off Africa near the Cape Verde Islands, the Caribbean Islands, and sometimes at the intersection of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. Again, notice we said that these are the hot spots. These systems can form anywhere in the Atlantic.
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Where do they normally hit? During hurricane season, storms that form in the Atlantic are driven by many factors, the most notable being the presence of other low pressure systems in the area, high pressure systems in the area, and winds aloft. Generally speaking, another low pressure system in the vicinity of a tropical system will cause the tropical system to follow the other low pressure system. A high pressure system will block these systems. While Florida (FL) and North Carolina (NC) typically see the lions share of these storms, any East Coast state from Florida to Virginia can be directly or indirectly impacted by these systems regardless of peak season or not.
Other Information: If you are visiting Eastern NC and worried about your vacation plans being spoiled, or being trapped by one of these weather events, the good news is that these systems always move slowly and modern weather tracking and computer models can see them form about 14 days out. This will give you plenty of time to alter your vacation plans, or leave an area where a hurricane could hit.
What To Expect: All hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean are monitored by the National Hurricane Center in FL. When a system reaches tropical depression status (winds of 38 mph), this federal agency begins issuing alerts and tracking them. A system reaches tropical storm force status at 39 mph winds and hurricane at 74 mph winds. Once a storm reaches 74 mph winds, it gets classified based on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. A Category 1 hurricane has winds of 74 mph to 95 mph. Category 2 has winds of 96 mph to 110 mph. Category 3 hurricanes have winds of 111 mph to 129 mph. Category 4 hurricanes have winds of 130 mph winds to 156 mph, and Category 5 hurricanes have winds of 157 or greater. Anything above Category 3 is considered a major hurricane that can cause catastrophic damage.
All land falling tropical systems produce storm surge, high winds, and chances of waterspouts and tornadoes all of which can bring down trees, cause power lines and transformers to fall, and the risk of death from fast moving rising water.
The intensity of these affects get greater depending on the category and how fast the storm is moving. Also, areas in the “upper right quadrant” of the eye wall typically contains the greatest energy and can cause the most direct damage. But, this does not mean that Eastern NC cities can’t see rising water, high winds, tornadoes, and other affects well away from the center of circulation.
Using the comment section below, what questions do you have about peak hurricane season in Eastern NC and the Atlantic Ocean?
News: During the 2020 peak season there were 7 active storms being tracked by the National Hurricane Center at one time. Additionally, because of the number of storms, all official names were used throughout the season requiring the NHC to use the Greek alphabet for additional storms.