Frequently Asked Questions About Hurricanes

Current Hurricane Forecast

For the latest current information about the tropics visit the National Hurricane Center.

This FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) web site answers various questions regarding hurricanes, typhoons and tropical cyclones that have been posed to hurricane researchers over the years. While it is not intended to be a technical guide, references are given throughout the FAQ for those that would like additional, detailed information.
Hopefully, this FAQ site can help answer some of your questions about the characteristics of these catastrophic storms, how they are monitored, forecasted, and what research is being carried out on them today.
We do encourage feedback.  If you don’t find your question here, drop us a line.

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Types of Storms

  • What is a Tropical Cyclone, Tropical Disturbance, Tropical Depression, Tropical Storm, Hurricane, and Typhoon?

    A tropical cyclone is a generic term for a low-pressure system that formed over tropical waters (25°S to 25°N) with thunderstorm activity near the center of its closed, cyclonic winds. Tropical cyclones derive their energy from vertical temperature differences and are symmetrical and warm core.
    If it lacks a closed circulation it is called a tropical disturbance. If it has a closed circulation but under 39 mph (34 knots, or 17 meters per second) maximum sustained surface winds, it is called a tropical depression. When winds exceed that threshold it becomes a tropical storm and is given a name. Once winds exceed 74 mph (64 knots, 33 meters per second) it will be designated a hurricane (in the Atlantic or East Pacific Oceans) or a typhoon (in the northern West Pacific).

    Tropical Disturbances -> Tropical Depressions -> Tropical Storms -> Hurricane or Typhoon.

  • What is the difference between a Sub-tropical Cyclone, an Extra-tropical Cyclone, and a Post-tropical Cyclone?

    The Sub-tropical in Sub-tropical cyclone refers to the latitudes 25°N to 35°N (or °S). However, the term refers to cyclones whose characteristics are neither fully tropical nor extratropical. They are either asymmetrical with a warm core or symmetrical with a cold core.  Sub-Tropical cyclones can transform into Tropical or Extra-tropical storms depending on conditions.

    The Extra-tropical in Extra-tropical cyclone refers to the latitudes 35°N to 65°N (or °S). However, the term refers to cyclones that get their energy from the horizontal temperature contrasts that exist in the atmosphere. Extra-tropical cyclones are low-pressure systems generally associated with cold fronts, warm fronts, and occluded fronts. They are asymmetrical and have a cold core.

    A Post-Tropical Cyclone is a former tropical cyclone that no longer possesses sufficient characteristics to be considered a tropical cyclone, such as convection at its center. Post-tropical cyclones can continue producing heavy rains and high winds. Former tropical cyclones that have become fully extra-tropical, sub-tropical, or remnant lows, are three classes of post-tropical cyclones.


    Neutercane is a term no longer in use.  It referred to small (<100 miles in diameter) Sub-tropical low-pressure systems that are short-lived.

  • What is a Hurricane?

    Once winds from the tropical cyclone reach 74 mph (64 knots, 33 meters per second) it is classified as a Hurricane in the Atlantic Basin. However, around the world there are different names for this storm. For instance, a storm of the same magnitude in the Northwest Pacific is called a Typhoon.

  • What is the Saffir-Simpson Scale?

    The Saffir-Simpson Scale classifies hurricane-strength tropical cyclones into five categories (1-5) based on maximum sustained wind speed. Major Hurricanes (also called Intense Hurricanes) fall into categories 3, 4, and 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. A Super-Typhoon reaches category 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.
Miles Per Hour
Meters per Second


Anatomy & Lifecycle of a Tropical Storm

  • How Do Tropical Cyclones Form?

    In order for a tropical cyclone to form, several atmospheric and marine conditions must be met.

    Temperature & Humidity: Ocean waters should be 80° Fahrenheit at the surface and warm for a depth of 150 feet, because warm ocean waters fuel the heat engines of tropical cyclones.  They also need an atmosphere which cools fast enough with increasing height so that the difference between the top and bottom of the atmosphere can create thunderstorm conditions. A moist mid-troposphere (3 miles high) because dry air ingested into thunderstorms at mid-level can kill the circulation.

    Spin & Location: The Coriolis force is an apparent force that deflects movement to the right coming from the Northern hemisphere and to the left coming from the Southern hemisphere. The force is greatest at the poles and zero at the equator, so the storm must be at least 300 miles from the equator in order for the Coriolis force to create the spin. This force causes hurricanes in the Northern hemisphere rotate counter-clockwise, and in the southern hemisphere to rotate clockwise. This spin may play some role in helping tropical cyclone to organize. (As a side note: the Coriolis force is not strong enough to affect small containers such as in sinks and toilets. The notion that the water flushes the other way in the opposite hemisphere is a myth.)

    Wind: Low vertical wind shear (the change of wind speed and direction with height) between the surface and the upper troposphere favors the thunderstorm formation which provides the energy for tropical cyclones. Too much wind shear will disrupt or weaken the convection.

  • What Causes Tropical Cyclones and What Affects Their Formation?

    In addition to hurricane-favorable conditions such as temperature and humidity, many repeating atmospheric phenomenon contribute to causing and intensifying tropical cyclones. For example, African Easterly Waves (AEW) are winds in the lower troposphere (ocean surface to 3 miles above) that originate and travel from Africa at speeds of about 3mph westward as a result of the African Easterly Jet. These winds are seen from April until November. About 85% of intense hurricanes and about 60% of smaller storms have their origin in African Easterly Waves.

    The Saharan Air Layer (SAL) is another significant seeding phenomenon for tropical storms.  It is a mass of dry, mineral-rich, dusty air that forms over the Sahara from late spring to early fall and moves over the tropical North Atlantic every 3-5 days at speeds of 22-55mph (10-25 meters per second). These air masses are 1-2 miles deep and exist in the lower troposphere. They can be as wide as the continental US and have significant moderating impacts on tropical cyclone intensity and formation because the dry, intense air can both deprive the storm of moisture and their wind shear can interfere with its convection. However, disturbances on the periphery of the Saharan Air Layer can receive a boost in their convection and spin.

    An upper atmospheric perturbation known as the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) can travel around the globe on a time-scale of weeks. As its positive phase passes over an area it can bring favorable conditions for convection, while its negative phase can suppress it. This can affect forming tropical cyclones either giving them a boost or hindering them.

    The climatic fluctuation in the Pacific Ocean known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) can affect Atlantic tropical cyclone development by increasing or decreasing (depending on ENSO phase) the vertical wind shear over the western side of the basin.

  • What is the Lifecycle of a Hurricane and How do they Move?

    When a tropical disturbance organizes into a tropical depression, the thunderstorms will begin to line up in spiral bands along the inflowing wind. The winds will begin to increase, and eventually the inner bands will close off into an eyewall, surrounding a central calm area known as the eye. This usually happens around the time its wind speeds reach hurricane force. When the hurricane reaches its mature stage, eyewall replacement cycles may begin. Each cycle will be accompanied by fluctuations in the strength of the storm. Peak winds may diminish when a new eyewall replaces the old, but then re-strengthen as the new eyewall become established.

    If the storm passes through an area of high vertical wind shear or dry air the storm could be weakened. However, if it continues to pick up moisture from a warm environment, then it could become a major hurricane.

    Hurricanes are driven by the larger scale circulation patterns. The predominant pattern in the tropics is the Subtropical ridge, a semi-permanent high pressure cell roughly located near the Tropic of Cancer or Capricorn (23°26′ N or S). In the Atlantic this ridge is often called the Bermuda High due to its usual location. South of the ridge the circulation drives tropical cyclones westward with slight poleward component. But when the cyclone reaches the westward edge of the ridge it will tend to move around the high first poleward then easterly. This is known as recurvature.

    This motion means that many Atlantic hurricanes may recurve back out to sea without ever making landfall. If a hurricane reaches the mid-latitudes, it can interact with fronts. Often the energy and moisture of tropical cyclones will be absorbed into such fronts, transitioning into extratropical low pressure storms. Studies have shown that this process can increase the unpredictability of mid-latitude weather downstream for days following.

    However, some hurricanes will make landfall. Striking an island, especially a mountainous one, could cause its circulation to break down. If it hits a continent, a hurricane will be cut off from its supply of warm, moist maritime air. It will also begin to draw in dry continental air, which combined with increased friction over land leads to the weakening and eventual death of the hurricane. Over mountainous terrain this will be a quick end. But over flat areas, it may take two to three days to break down the circulation. Even then you are still left with a large pocket of tropical moisture which can cause substantial inland flooding. There have been studies on the rate of storm decay once they make landfall (Demaria Kaplan Decay Model).

  • How Does the Ocean Respond to a Hurricane?

    The ocean’s primary direct response to a hurricane is cooling of the sea surface temperature (SST). How does this occur? When the strong winds of a hurricane move over the ocean they churn-up much cooler water from below. The net result is that the SST of the ocean after storm passage can be lowered by several degrees Celsius (up to 10° Fahrenheit).

    A warmer ocean can have intensifying effects because the warmer an ocean is, the easier it is for the liquid water to become vapor and fuel the storm’s clouds.

  • What are the components of a hurricane such as the Eye, Eyewall, Spiral Bands, and Moat?

    These are 85GHz Microwave satellite images from the Naval Research Laboratory (they are a government science laboratory. These images best show the moat region. In the lower image of a more mature hurricane, the moat region is the area in green between the eyewall and the primary or principle rainband. The colors here denote the high cloud top temperatures. High cloud top temperatures (red color) denote strong/deep convection.

    These are 85GHz Microwave satellite images from the Naval Research Laboratory (they are a government science laboratory. These images best show the moat region. In the lower image of a more mature hurricane, the moat region is the area in green between the eyewall and the primary or principle rainband. The colors here denote the high cloud top temperatures. High cloud top temperatures (red color) denote strong/deep convection.

    The Eye is a roughly circular area of fair weather found at the center of a severe tropical storm. The eye is the region of the lowest pressure at the surface and the warmest temperatures at the top. Eye size ranges from 5-120 miles across, but most are 20-40 miles in diameter. Understanding exactly how the eye forms has been controversial. Some scientists believe the radial spreading of the wind creates a warm, dry down flow from the upper atmosphere and this forms the cloud-free eye. Others have think the latent heat release in the eyewall forces the subsidence in the storm center creating the eye.

    The Eyewall is a ring of deep convection bordering the eye of the storm. This area has the highest surface winds in the tropical cyclone. Because air in the eye is slowly sinking, it creates an updraft in the eyewall. In particularly strong storms, concentric eyewall circles (or an “eyewall replacement cycle”) can occur. Eyewall replacement happens when a storm reaches its intensity threshold and the eye contracts to a smaller size (5-15 miles). Strong rain bands in the outer storm move inward towards the eye, robbing the inner eyewall of its moisture and momentum and weakening the storm.

    Spiral Bands are long, narrow bands of rain and thunderstorms that are oriented in the same direction as the wind movement. They are caused by convection (the vertical movement of air masses) and they spiral into the center of the tropical cyclone. In contrast, the Moat of a storm usually refers to the region between the eyewall and an outer spiral band where rainfall is relatively lighter, and not all hurricanes have moats.

  • Why are a Hurricane's Winds Higher on Its Right Side?

    The “right side” refers to the storm’s direction of movement. If a hurricane is moving to the west, the right side would be to the north of the storm, if it is heading north, then the right side would be to the east of the storm. In addition to forward movement a tropical cyclone’s winds spiral around its center, clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere, counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere. As a cyclone is moving forward, the side of the spiral with winds moving in the same direction as its movement will be faster, because you are adding two velocities together. The side of the spiral winds going in the opposite direction will be slower, because you must subtract the wind velocity from the forward velocity.

    For example, a hurricane with 90mph winds moving at 10mph would have a 100mph wind speed on the right (forward-moving) side and 80 mph on the side with the backward motion.

  • How much Energy does a Hurricane Produce?

    The energy released from a hurricane can be explained in two ways: the total amount of energy released by the condensation of water droplets (latent heat), or the amount of kinetic energy generated to maintain the strong, swirling winds of a hurricane. The vast majority of the latent heat released is used to drive the convection of a storm, but the total energy released from condensation is 200 times the world-wide electrical generating capacity, or 6.0 x 1014 watts per day. If you measure the total kinetic energy instead, it comes out to about 1.5 x 1012 watts per day, or ½ of the world-wide electrical generating capacity. It would seem that although wind energy seems the most obvious energetic process, it is actually the latent release of heat that feeds a hurricane’s momentum.
  • What are Storm Surge and Storm Tide?

    Storm surge is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm (higher than the predicted astronomical tides). Storm tide is the combination of the storm surge and astronomical tide as a result of a storm. Storm surge is caused by the force of high wind speeds acting on the ocean surface combined with the forward speed of the storm. The height of a storms surge is determined by the approaching angle of the storm as well as the coastline characteristics, such as the shape of the continental shelf and local geographic features, such as inlets.

    The degree of vulnerability of any stretch of coast is dependent on a number of factors which includes the central pressure, intensity, forward speed, storm size, angle of approach, width and slope of the off-shore continental shelf, and local bays and inlets. The figure below illustrates the degree of storm surge threat for a “worst case scenario” Category 4 hurricane normalized along the coastline of the eastern and Gulf coasts of the United States.

    Coastal Storm Surge Vulnerability Map

    Coastal Storm Surge Vulnerability Map


Hurricane Forecasting & Preparedness


  • When is Hurricane Season?

    The Atlantic hurricane season is June 1st to November 30th. In the East Pacific, it runs from May 15th to November 30th. Hurricane Awareness week runs from May 25th thru May 31st, 2019 and is a great time to get your hurricane kit and plans up to date.

    NOAA’s seasonal outlook is published here:NOAA Seasonal Outlook

  • How Can I Prepare for a Hurricane?

    The best time to prepare is before hurricane season begins. Make a plan for you and your family about what to do if a hurricane threatens. Put together a hurricane kit. Ensure your house is up to code, and check for problems, such as overhanging branches or missing roof tiles. Check your shutters and other window and door coverings. Once the season begins, stay informed. Check the outlook every day, and if anything is threatening keep update on the latest advisories.

    For hurricane preparation tips, check out FEMA’s comprehensive downloadable guidebook and visit for the best information available on hurricane preparedness.

    Plus- Don’t forget to sign up for wireless emergency alerts. Alternatively, you can get updates from NOAA Radio or Radio Fax (for mariners).

  • Which Factors of a Hurricane Produce the Most Damage?

    The mean annual damage from hurricanes in the US is 9.5 billion dollars, when we adjust not only for inflation but for the increase in value of real goods in average households. Hurricane damage varies greatly from year to year, depending on the number and strength of hurricanes making landfall, but there does not seem to be a long-term trend in adjusted damage over the last century.

    There is very little association between the physical size of a hurricane and its intensity, a big hurricane does not have to be an intense one and vice versa. The damage a hurricane can cause is a function of both its maximum sustained wind and the extent of the hurricane force winds. A broad, weak storm may cause as much damage as a small, strong one.

    It is false to think that damage is linear with wind speed, that a 150-mph winds will cause twice the damage as a 75-mph winds. The relationship is exponential, and not linear. A category 5 storm could cause up to 250 times the damage of a category 1 hurricane of the same size.

    IntensityCasesMedian DamagePotential Damage *
    Tropical/Subtropical Storm118less than $1,000,0000
    Hurricane Category 145$33,000,000 1
    Hurricane Category 229$336,000,000 10
    Hurricane Category 340$1,412,000,000 50
    Hurricane Category 410$8,224,000,000 250
    Hurricane Category 52$5,973,000,000 500
  • Who Determines the Forecast and how does AOML contribute?

    The National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) is an organization that determines how the forecast is compiled and reported, and the National Hurricane Center is the division of NCEP who reports the forecast. AOML supports these organizations by doing hurricane research with both observations and model experiments in order to provide guidance and integrate new technology into the forecast models. These experimental models are tested rigorously and submitted to the National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) for verification before they are integrated into the operational models and sent to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) for use in the public forecast.
  • How Accurate are Hurricane Forecasts?

    The National Hurricane Center issues an official forecast every 6 hours of the center position, maximum sustained winds, wind speed, and radius of each of the four quadrants (northeast, southeast, southwest, northwest) surrounding the cyclone. The National Hurricane Centers errors when it comes to predicting the storm track and intensity have significantly been reduced over the last decade. In fact, 48-hour forecasts are as accurate today as 24-hour forecasts were 10 years ago. Many of those improvements are due to long-term research efforts.

    For more, visit the National Hurricane Center’s page about forecast verification:

  • What's the difference between a Hurricane Watch and a Hurricane Warning? What Terms do I Need to Know to Understand a Forecast?

    The National Hurricane Center has a great Glossary of Terms that are used in weather forecasts. Some important terms from that glossary are below.

    Hurricane Watch– A Hurricane Watch is an announcement that hurricane force winds are possible within the specified area in association with a tropical cyclone. A hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset.

    Hurricane Warning – Hurricane warnings are issued 36 hours in advance and are announced when hurricane force winds are expected somewhere within the specified area in association with a cyclone. This warning can remain in effect in the face of other hazards, such as flooding even if the winds drop to below hurricane force.

    Advisory– An advisory contains all tropical cyclone watches and warnings in effect along with details concerning tropical cyclone locations, intensity and movement, and precautions to be taken. 

    Maximum sustained wind- This is determined as winds that last for an average of at least one minute at the surface of a hurricane or about 33 feet (10 meters).

    Gusts– are classified as a 3-5 second burst of wind higher than the maximum sustained wind.

    Storm Surge Watch – A storm surge watch is the possibility of a life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline, and it is usually issued 48 hours from the anticipated event in association with an ongoing tropical storm.

    Storm Surge Warning– The danger of a life-threatening inundations from rising water moving inland, and usually issued 36 hours in advance of the event in association with an ongoing tropical storm.

    Storm Track– A storm track is a representation of a tropical cyclone’s predicted path, location and intensity over its lifetime. The best track contains the cyclone’s latitude, longitude, maximum sustained winds, and minimum sea level pressure at 6-hour intervals.

    Storm Intensity– Hurricane intensity refers to the amount of energy a hurricane is carrying with it. Hurricane intensity and size are not closely related.


Attempts to Stop a Hurricane in its Track

  • Has there Ever Been an Attempt to Reduce the Strength of a Hurricane?

    Project STORMFURY, carried out between 1962 and 1982 was an experiment to test the hypothesis that a hurricane could be modified by seeding it with silver iodide. This was theorized to cause supercooled water to freeze, expand the radius of maximum winds by favoring convection outside the eyewall, and decrease the strongest winds through conservation of angular momentum. The observations from the Project led the scientific community to conclude that cloud seeding had little prospect of success because hurricanes contained too much natural ice and too little supercooled water, and that natural eyewall replacement cycles could be mistaken for human-induced changes.

    Mouse over the boxes below for more information on each technique.

Preventing Evaporation with Chemicals

Adding an Oil Slick

Altering the heat balance

Nuclear weapons

Adding Hygroscopic particles

Temperature solutions

Harnessing their energy

Seeding clouds, towing icebergs, and blowing up hurricanes with nukes all fail to appreciate the size and power of a tropical cyclone. When Andrew hit in 1992, the eye and eyewall devastated a swath 20 miles wide. The heat energy released there was 5,000 times the combined heat and electrical power generation of the Turnkey point nuclear power plant over which the eye had passed. Attacking every tropical disturbance that comes our way is not an efficient use of time either, since only 5 out of 80 become hurricanes in a given year.

The best way to minimize the damage of hurricanes is to learn to co-exist with them. Proper building codes and understanding the assumption of risk by choosing to live in a hurricane-prone area can help people evaluate their situation. Smart hurricane prep and public education, along with improved forecasting can help when a hurricane inevitably makes landfall.


Technical, Terminology, and Climatology

  • How are Hurricanes Named?

    During the 19th century, hurricane names were inspired by everything from saints to wives to unpopular politicians. In 1978, it was agreed that the National Hurricane Center would use alternating men and women’s names following the practice adopted by Australia’s bureau of Meteorology three years earlier in 1975.

    Today, a list of potential names is published by the United Nations World Meteorological Organization for the Atlantic basin, found here. These names extend into 2023, and the list repeats every seventh year. If a particularly damaging storm occurs, the name of that storm is retired. Storms retired in 2017 include Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate. If there are more storms than names on the list in a given season, the National Hurricane Center will name them using the Greek alphabet. Lastly, if a storm happens to move across basins, it keeps the original name. The only time it is renamed is if it dissipates to a tropical disturbance and reforms.

  • What are the Technical Terms of a Hurricane Forecast?

    Central Dense Overcast (CDO)- This is the cirrus cloud shield that results from the thunderstorms in the eyewall of a tropical cyclone and its rainbands. Before the tropical cyclone reaches hurricane strength (33 m/s, 64 kts, 74mph), typically the CDO is uniformly showing the cold cloud tops of the cirrus with no eye apparent. Once the storm reaches the hurricane strength threshold, usually an eye can be seen in either the infrared or visible channels of the satellites. Tropical cyclones that have nearly circular CDO’s are indicative of favorable, low vertical shear environments.

    Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trough- A “TUTT” is a Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trough. A TUTT low is a TUTT that has completely cut-off. TUTT lows are more commonly known in the Western Hemisphere as an “upper cold low”. TUTTs are different than mid-latitude troughs in that they are maintained by subsidence warming near the tropopause which balances radiational cooling. TUTTs are important for tropical cyclone forecasting as they can force large amounts of vertical wind shear over tropical disturbances and tropical cyclones which may inhibit their strengthening. There are also suggestions that TUTTs can assist tropical cyclone genesis and intensification by providing additional forced ascent near the storm center and/or by allowing for an efficient outflow channel in the upper troposphere.

    Dvorak Technique- The Dvorak technique is a methodology to get estimates of tropical cyclone intensity from satellite pictures. Vern Dvorak developed the scheme using a pattern recognition decision tree in the early 1970s (Dvorak 1975, 1984). Utilizing the current satellite picture of a tropical cyclone, one matches the image versus a number of possible pattern types: Curved band Pattern, Shear Pattern, Eye Pattern, Central Dense Overcast (CDO) Pattern, Embedded Center Pattern or Central Cold Cover Pattern. If infrared satellite imagery is available for Eye Patterns (generally the pattern seen for hurricanes, severe tropical cyclones and typhoons), then the scheme utilizes the difference between the temperature of the warm eye and the surrounding cold cloud tops. The larger the difference, the more intense the tropical cyclone is estimated to be.

  • What are the Technical Naming & Numbering Schemes?

    Automated Tropical Cyclone Forecast (ATCF) systems was system was developed for the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in 1988. This is a software package used to plot tropical cyclone information and assist in the generation of forecast messages. In order to distinguish different tropical cyclones that might be occurring simultaneously, a distinct alphanumeric code is assigned to each cyclone as it develops. This code system was adopted by other warning centers in order to facilitate the passing of storm information and reduce confusion.

    The code designation consists of two letters designating the oceanic basin (“AL” for Atlantic, “EP” for Eastern Pacific, “CP” for Central Pacific and “WP” for Western Pacific), a two-digit number designating the sequential number of that particular cyclone for that basin in the year, and lastly a four-digit year number. So, the first depression to form in the Atlantic for 2001 would be AL012001, the third depression for the Central Pacific in 1999 would be CP031999.

    A cyclone retains its ATCF code designation as long as it remains a distinct tropical vortex. Even if it becomes a named Tropical Storm or Hurricane the software will still track it by its ATCF code.

    AL90, AL92, 92L from the Tropical Discussions

    Oftentimes, hurricane specialists become curious about disturbances in the tropics long before they form into tropical depressions and are given a tropical cyclone number. In order to alert forecasting centers that they are investigating such a disturbance and that they wish to have it tracked by the various forecast models, the specialist will attach a 9-series number to it. The first such disturbance of the year will be designated 90, the next 91, and so on until 99. After that, they restart the sequence with 90 again. The purpose of these numbers is to clarify which disturbance they are tracking as there are often more than one happening at the same time.

    To further clarify matters, each number is accompanied by a two-letter code designating which tropical cyclone basin the disturbance is in. “AL” is used for the Atlantic basin (including the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico), “EP” for the Eastern Pacific, “CP” for Central Pacific, and “WP” for the Western Pacific.

    Many times in discussions these designations will be shortened to 90L, 91L, and so forth. Also they may be referred to as ‘Invest 90L’. However, once a disturbance is designated a tropical depression this 9-series number will be dropped and an ATCF code number will be assigned in its place.

    If you’re wondering, “what is UTC time?, or “what is GMT time?”, or “What is Z time?” The answer is they are time schemes. Universal Time Coordinated (UTC) used to be Greenwich Mean Time and Zulu Time (Z). This is the time at the Prime Meridian given in hours and minutes on a 24 hour clock. Most satellite pictures will give the time code next to the time taken with a UTC, GMT, or Z, but they are the same time zone. The conversion table for local times can be found below.

    Local Time ZoneTime Adjustment
    Atlantic Daylight Time (ADT)-3
    Atlantic Standard Time (AST)
    Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)
    Eastern Standard Time (EST)
    Central Daylight Time (CDT)
    Central Standard Time (CST)
    Mountain Daylight Time (MDT)
    Mountain Standard Time (MST)
    Pacific Daylight Time (PDT)
    Pacific Standard Time (PST)
    Alaskan Daylight Time (ADT)
    Alaskan Standard Time (ASA)-9
    Hawaiian Standard Time (HAW)-10
    New Zealand Standard Time (NZT)
    International Date Line Time (IDLE)
    Guam Standard Time (GST)
    Eastern Australian Standard Time (EAST)
    Japan Standard Time (JST)+9
    China Coast Time (CCT)+8
    West Australia Standard Time (WAST)+7
    Russian Time Zone 5 (ZP5)+6
    Russian Time Zone 4 (ZP4)+5
    Russian Time Zone 3 (ZP3)+4
    Bagdad Time (BT)
    Russian Time Zone 2(ZP2)
    Eastern European Time (EET)
    Russian Time Zone 1(ZP1)
    Central European Time (CET)
    French Winter Time (FWT)
    Middle European Time (MET)
    Swedish Winter Time (SWT)
    Middle European Winter Time (MEWT)
    Western European Time (WET)
    Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
  • What Causes each Hurricane to have a Different Maximum Wind Speed for a Given Minimum Sea-level Pressure?

    The basic horizontal balance in a tropical cyclone above the boundary layer is between the sum of the Coriolis ‘acceleration’ and the centripetal ‘acceleration’, balanced by the horizontal pressure gradient force. This balance is referred to as gradient balance, where the Coriolis ‘acceleration’ is defined as the horizontal velocity of an air parcel, v, times the Coriolis parameter, f. Centripetal ‘force’ is defined as the acceleration on a parcel of air moving in a curved path, directed toward the center of curvature of the path, with magnitude v2/r, where v is the horizontal velocity of the parcel and r the radius of curvature of the path. The centripetal force alters the original two-force geostrophic balance and creates a non-geostrophic gradient wind. The reason that different peak winds can result in different central pressures is caused by the fact that the radius, r, of the peak wind varies. A storm with 40 m/s peak winds with a 100 km RMW will have a much lower pressure drop than one with a 25 km RMW.
  • What computer software is available for tracking tropical cyclones?

    Free Tropical Cyclone Tracking programs

    • JStrack (Windows/UNIX) — JStrack is a freeware hurricane tracking program for Unix and Windows 9x/ME/NT/2k/XP.Version 3.3.2 on 11 Oct 2010Key features include:
      • automatic data updates via incoming e-mail (WX-ATLAN) or FTP from NHC server (a filter “reads” the NHC products and extracts the data)
      • three maps, courtesy of Ron Murphy, NWS Birmingham: Overall picture, US East Coast, and US Gulf Coast + S. FL.
      • plots wind radii (default is for current/forecast positions only). After all, you need to know where the storm’s WINDS are, not just where the eye is.
      • plots NHC probabilities data (via menu—see next item)
      • menu associated with any past/current storm position from which you can plot/remove forecast positions, wind radii, and probabilities, view details on the storm (wind speeds, course, etc.), view the NHC products associated with that time/position, and so on.
      • given user’s home coordinates, ‘X’ plotted at that point on the map
      • given user’s home coordinates, JStrack can warn the user if the storm is currently within a given number (def. 60) of nautical miles, or is forecast to come within that distance (this part assumes a straight line between forecast points, and should not be considered 100% accurate!)
      • ability to run user-defined commands when storm data is updated for a storm currently on the screen and/or for a new storm, and/or for situations where the storm is, or is forecast to be, within the above distance in nautical miles. This can be used to wake you up in a situation where the storm is a potential threat, and missing an advisory could put you in a dangerous situation. It has also been used by at least three web sites to do a screen capture and update a web page (for 24×7 ops).

      For more info, screen pics, etc., see or contact Jim Graham.


    Priced Tropical Cyclone Tracking programs

    • HurrTrak — Shareware version of most detailed tracking software available. Price listed is for latest full version, 10.0, actual price.HURRTRAKEM/Pro 2014
      Price $ 999.00
      S&H $ 27.00RM/Pro 2014
      Price $2125.00
      S&H $ 27.00Online internet service for advisories – YES
      STORMINFO 2014
      $1295.00 per year
      for online customers $295.00 per yearWeb site for download —

    • Tracking the Eye — View the movement of the storm on a map of the eastern United States and the Caribbean. Graph and full color printing. Track storm information including type of storm, storm coordinates, wind speed and pressure, direction and speed of travel, date and time of coordinates, damage, and more. Print your storm map. Track up to 40 storms at once. Includes data for over 750 historical storms from 1900 to 1996.Tracking The Eye
      Price – as low as $14.95 per year
      Platforms — Windows 8/7/XP/Vista, iPhone and iPad apps, Android, and Windows Phone 7
      Online Internet service for advisories – YES
      $19.95 per year
      Web site for download — Apps
      Hurricane Tracker
      Latest version 4.1, May 3, 2014
      Yearly updates? – YES
      Web site for downloadHurricane Pro
      Latest version 4.3, March 18, 2014
      Yearly updates? – YES
      Web site for download
    • Hurricane by American Red Cross
      Latest version 2.0, Feb. 25 18, 2014
      Yearly updates? – YES
      Web site for download

    Last Updated May 27, 2016

  • What books have been written about tropical cyclones?

    • Hurricanes: Their Nature and Impacts on Society
      An excellent introductory text into hurricanes (and tropical cyclones in general), this book by R.A. Pielke, Jr. and R.A. Pielke, Sr. provides the basics on the physical mechanisms of hurricanes without getting into any mathematical rigor. The book also discusses hurricane policy, vulnerability and societal responses and ends with an in-depth look at Hurricane Andrew’s forecast, impact and response. Roger A. Pielke, Jr. is a Sociologist at the Environmental and Societal Impacts Group at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, USA. Roger A. Pielke, Sr. is a Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University (USA).
      John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, UK, 1997, 279 pp.


    • Meteorology Today for Scientists and Engineers
      This paperback book is designed to accompany C. Donald Ahrens’ introductory book “Meteorology Today.” For a concise mathematical description of hurricanes that has NO calculus and NO differential equations, then I would suggest obtaining a copy of this book by Rolland B. Stull
      West Publ. Co., Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, 2000, 385 pp.
      Chapter 16 Hurricanes p.289-304.


    • Global Perspectives on Tropical Cyclones:
      From Science to Mitigation

      edited by Johnny C. L. Chan and Jeffrey D. Kepert
      This book is a completely rewritten, updated and expanded new edition of the original Global Perspectives on Tropical Cyclones published in 1995. It presents a comprehensive review of the state of science and forecasting of tropical cyclones together with the application of this science to disaster mitigation, hence the tag: From Science to Mitigation.Since the previous volume, enormous progress in understanding tropical cyclones has been achieved. These advances range from the theoretical through to ever more sophisticated computer modeling, all underpinned by a vast and growing range of observations from airborne, space and ocean observation platforms. The growth in observational capability is reflected by the inclusion of three new chapters on this topic. The chapter on the effects of climate change on tropical cyclone activity is also new, and appropriate given the recent intense debate on this issue. The advances in the understanding of tropical cyclones which have led to significant improvements in forecasting track, intensity, rainfall and storm surge, are reviewed in detail over three chapters. For the first time, a chapter on seasonal prediction is included. The book concludes with an important chapter on disaster mitigation, which is timely given the enormous loss of life in recent tropical cyclone disasters.
      World Scientific, 2010, 448 pp.ISBN: 978-981-4293-47-1 or 978-981-4293-48-8 (ebook).


    • Global Guide to Tropical Cyclone Forecasting
      For the tropical cyclone forecaster and also of general interest for anyone in the field and those with a non-technical interest in the field, the loose-leaf book – Global Guide to Tropical Cyclone Forecasting(1993) by G.J. Holland (ed.), World Meteorological Organization, WMO/TD-No. 560, Report No. TCP-31 is a must get.


    • North Carolina’s Hurricane History
    • Florida’s Hurricane History
      These two books are an amazing documentaries of the hurricanes which have struck the states of North Carolina and Florida from 1526 until 1996 and 1546-1995, respectively. The author Jay Barnes – Director of the North Carolina Aquarium – tells the stories of the hurricanes and their effects upon the people of the state in an easily readable style with numerous photographs.
      University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC, 1998, 330pp.


    • Atlantic Hurricanes
      A classic book describing tropical cyclones primarily of the Atlantic basin, but also covering the physical understanding of tropical cyclone genesis, motion, and intensity change at the time. Written in 1960, by Gordon E. Dunn and Banner I. Miller, this book provides insight into the knowledge of tropical cyclones as of the late 1950s. It is interesting to observe that much of what we know was well understood at this pre-satellite era. Gordon E. Dunn was the Director of the National Hurricane Center and Banner I. Miller was a research meteorologist with the National Hurricane Research Project.
      Louisiana State Press, 1960, 326pp (revision 1964)


    • Hurricanes, Their Nature and History
      Before Dunn and Miller’s book, Ivan Ray Tannehill came out with an authoritative reference on the history, structure, climatology, historical tracks, and forecasting techniques of Atlantic hurricanes as was known by the mid-1930s. This is one of the first compilations of yearly tracks of Atlantic storms – he provides tracks of memorable tropical cyclones all the way back to the 1700s and shows all the storm tracks yearly from 1901 onward. The first edition came out in 1938 and the book went through at least nine editions (my book was published in 1956). Mr. Tannehill was engaged in hurricane forecasting for over 20 years and also lead the Division of Synoptic Reports and Forecasts of the U.S. Weather Bureau.
      Princeton University Press, 1956, 308 pp.


    • Into the Hurricane 
      (Published in Britain as “The Devil’s Music”)
      Author Pete Davies spent the summer of 1999 looking at Atlantic hurricanes, traveling to Honduras to see the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch, and flying on research missions with NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division. He explores the science of why the storms occur and how to predict them, and recounts the impacts of Hurricane Floyd.
      Henry Holt and Company. 2000, 264 pp., ISBN: 0-8050-6574-1.


    • The Divine Wind 
      (translated into Chinese) Hurricanes are presented in verse, art, history, and science in this all-encompassing book of the science and culture of hurricanes. Author Kerry Emanuel discusses hurricane forecasting, historical events and human impacts. The book includes many artworks, figures, and photographs, plus a description of flying into hurricanes.
      Oxford University Press, 2005, 296 pp.,ISBN-10: 0195149416.


    • A Global View of Tropical Cyclones
      (A revised version of this book is Global Perspectives on Tropical Cyclones listed above.)
      A very thorough book dealing with the technical issues of tropical cyclones for the state of the science in the mid-1980s by Elsberry, Holland, Frank, Jarrell, and Southern.
      University of Chicago Press, 1987,195 pp.


    • The Hurricane
      (1997 revision titled “Hurricanes: Their Nature and Impacts on Society” by Pielke and Pielke is listed above.)
      A very good introductory text into hurricanes (and tropical cyclones in general), this book by R.A. Pielke provides the basics on the physical mechanisms of hurricanes without getting into any mathematical rigor. This first version is just 100 pages of text with another 120 pages devoted toward all of the tracks of Atlantic hurricanes from 1871-1989. Roger A. Pielke is a professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University.
      Routledge Publishing, New York, 1990, 279 pp. (revision 1997)


    • Hurricanes
      An introductory text book for young readers on hurricanes by Sally Lee.
      Franklin Watts Publishing, New York, 1993, 63 pp.


    • Cyclone Tracy, Picking up the Pieces
      Twenty years after Cyclone Tracy, this book recreates, by interviews with survivors, the events during and after the cyclone that nearly destroyed Darwin, Australia by B. Bunbury
      Fremantle Arts Centre Press, South Fremantle, Australia, 1994, 148 pp.


    • Beware the Hurricane!
      This book tells “the story of the cyclonic tropical storms that have struck Bermuda and the Islanders’ folk-lore regarding them” by Terry Tucker.
      The Island Press Limited, Bermuda, 1995, 180 pp.


    • Florida Hurricanes and Tropical Storms, Revised Edition
      This recent book provides a historical perspective of Florida Hurricanes extending from 1871 to 1996 by J.M. Williams and I. W. Duedall
      Florida Sea Grant College Program, University of Florida Press, Gainesville, FL, 1997, 146 pp.


    • Hurricanes of the North Atlantic
      This book by J. B. Elsner and A. B. Kara focuses on the statistics and variability of Atlantic hurricanes as well as detailed discussions on how hurricanes impact the insurance industry and how integrated assessments can be made regarding these storms. The book provides very valuable information on hurricane frequencies, intensities and return periods that are not easily available elsewhere. Also sections are devoted on the development of seasonal (and longer) hurricane forecast models and their performance.
      Oxford University Press, New York/Oxford, 1999, 488 pp.


    • Natural Disasters – Hurricanes
      This reference book by P. J. Fitzpatrick provides a very useful compilation of a wide range of topics on Atlantic hurricanes. Of particular interest is the chronology of advances in the science and forecasting of hurricanes along with biographcial sketches of researchers and forecasters prominent in the field. This book is an excellent resource in answering questions on many issues in the field.
      ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, CA, 1999, 286 pp.


    • Tropical Cyclones of the North Atlantic Ocean, 1851-2006
      Researchers and those who follow Atlantic hurricanes should all have a copy of the atlas. Previous versions:
      Tropical Cyclones of the North Atlantic Ocean, 1871-1998
      Tropical Cyclones of the North Atlantic Ocean, 1871-1992
      Tropical Cyclones of the North Atlantic Ocean, 1871-1986
      Tropical Cyclones of the North Atlantic Ocean, 1871-1980
      Tropical Cyclones of the North Atlantic Ocean, 1871-1977
      Tropical Cyclones of the North Atlantic Ocean, 1871-1963
      North Atlantic Tropical Cyclones, 1886-1958
      National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, NC, in cooperation with the Tropical Prediction Center/National Hurricane Center, Miami, FL, 2006, 238 pp.


    • Hurricanes and Florida Agriculture
      Dr. John A. Attaway, former Scientific Research Director of the Florida Department of Citrus, wrote this well-researched history and litany of the impacts that hurricanes have had upon agriculture in Florida.
      Florida Science Source, Inc., Lake Alfred, FL, 1999, 444 pp.

    Last Revised : June 3, 2011

  • What journals have regular articles on tropical cyclones?

    The American Meteorological Society (AMS) publishes the Monthly Weather Review which has annual summaries of Atlantic basin tropical cyclones, Atlantic basin tropical disturbances, and Northeast Pacific (east of 140W) basin tropical cyclones. These summaries have a substantial amount of data and analysis of the storms.

    Weatherwise prints annual summaries of both the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific basins which are less technical than the Monthly Weather Review articles, but come out months earlier.

    Mariner’s Weather Log has articles from all of the global basins in annual summaries. These are descriptive and non-technical.

    For the tropical cyclones of the Southeast Indian/Australia and the Australia/Southwest Pacific basins, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology publishes Australia Meteorological and Oceanographic Journal has a very thorough annual summary.

    The Indian journal Mausam carries an annual summary of tropical cyclone activity over the North Indian Ocean.

    In addition to these summaries, many other AMS journals publish scholarly articles about tropical cyclones, especially the Bulletin of the AMS, Journal of Climate, Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, and Weather and Forecasting. International journals that often carry similar type articles are Geophysical Research Letters,Journal of the Meteorological Society of JapanNatureQuarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society,Science, and Weather.

    Last Updated: May 5, 2014


Useful Conversions


1 mile per hour = 0.869 international nautical mile per hour (knot)
1 mile per hour = 1.609 kilometers per hour
1 mile per hour = 0.4470 meter per second
1 knot = 1.852 kilometers per hour
1 knot = 0.5144 meter per second
1 meter per second = 3.6 kilometers per hour


1 inch of mercury = 25.4 mm of mercury = 33.86 millibars = 33.86 hectoPascals


1 foot = 0.3048 meter
1 international nautical mile = 1.1508 statute miles = 1.852 kilometers = .99933 U.S nautical mile (obsolete)
1° latitude = 69.047 statute miles = 60 nautical miles = 111.12 kilometers
For longitude the conversion is the same as latitude except the value is multiplied by the cosine of the latitude.


Record Setters & Historical Information

Historical Hurricane Tracks at NOAA's Ocean Service

For an interactive historical hurricane track map, visit the NOAA Historical Hurricane Tracks tool by NOAA’s Ocean Service.

Which Hurricane had the Highest Pressure?

Hurricane Wilma

  • Year: 2005
  • Location: Atlantic Basin
  • Record Value: Low of 882 mb
Which Hurricane had the Fastest Intensification?

Hurricane Wilma

  • Year: 2005
  • Location: Atlantic Basin
  • Record Value: Low of 882 mb
What was the deadliest hurricane in the United States?

Galveston Texas Hurricane

  • Year: 1900
  • Location: Atlantic Basin
  • Record Value: Category 4, 8000-12,000 deaths
Which hurricane had the highest sustained winds?

Tropical Cyclone Olivia

  • Year: 1996
  • Location: Australia
  • Record Value: 113 m/s (220 kt, 253 mph)
Which hurricane had the highest storm surge?

Tropical Cyclone Mahina

  • Year: 1899
  • Location: Bathurst Bay, Australia
  • Record Value: Est. 9m (30 feet)
Which hurricane had the highest/ most rainfall?

Tropical Cyclone Hyacinthe

  • Year: 1980
  • Location: La Reunion, Madagascar
  • Record Value: 6083 mm (239.5″)
What was the longest running hurricane in the Atlantic Basin?

Tropical Cyclone Ginger

  • Year: 1971
  • Location: North Atlantic
  • Record Value: 27 Days
What hurricane had the largest surface area?

Typhoon Tip

  • Year: 1979
  • Location: Northwest Pacific
  • Record Value: 1100 km [675 mi], ~3.8 million square kilometers
What was the longest running hurricane?

Hurricane/Typhoon John

  • Year: 1994
  • Location: Misantla, Northeast and Northwest Pacific basins
  • Record Value: 30 days
What hurricane travelled the farthest?

Hurricane/Typhoon John

  • Year: 1994
  • Location: East & Central Pacific
  • Record Value: 13180 km, 7115 miles
What was the latest hurricane in a season in the US?

Hurricane Kate

  • Year: 1985
  • Location: Atlantic Basin
  • Record Value: November 22, 1985 near Mexico Beach, Florida
What was the longest lasting category 5 hurricane?

Typhoon Nancy

  • Year: 1961
  • Location: West Pacific
  • Record Value: 5.50 Days
What was the deadliest tropical cyclone?

Bangladesh Cyclone

  • Year: 1961
  • Location: Bangladesh, India
  • Record Value: 300,000 people died
What hurricane did the most damage?

Hurricane Katrina

  • Year: 2005
  • Location: Atlantic Basin
  • Record Value: 46 Billion in insured losses, and $108 billion in total losses
What was the most intense hurricane to make landfall in the US?


  • Year: 1935
  • Location: Florida Keys, Atlantic Basin
  • Record Value:  892 mb, 26.35 inches
What was the most intense hurricane to make landfall in the US?


  • Year: 1935
  • Location: Florida Keys, Atlantic Basin
  • Record Value:  892 mb, 26.35 inches
What was the earliest hurricane in a season?


  • Year: 1908
  • Location: Atlantic Basin
  • Record Value: Earliest observed hurricane for the season in the Atlantic was on March 7, 1908
What was the latest hurricane in a season?

Hurricane Alice

  • Year: 1954
  • Location: Atlantic Basin
  • Record Value: December 31, 1954, the second ‘Alice’ of that year which persisted as a hurricane until January 5, 1955.
What was the earliest hurricane in a season in the US?

Hurricane Alma

  • Year: 1956
  • Location: Atlantic Basin
  • Record Value: Northwest Florida on June 9, 1966
Which hurricane had the smallest area?

Tropical Storm Marco

  • Year: 2008
  • Location: Misantla, Veracruz, Mexico
  • Record Value: 19 km [12 miles]
Which hurricane had the most rapid intensification?

Typhoon Forest

  • Year: 1983
  • Location: Pacific Basin
  • Record Value: 100 mb (976 to 876 mb) in just under 24 hr
What was the most intense hurricane in the US?

Hurricane Wilma

  • Year: 2005
  • Location: Atlantic Basin
  • Record Value: Low of 882 mb
  • Which Hurricanes and Tropical Storms have Jumped Basins?

    Here is a list of tropical cyclones that have crossed from the Atlantic basin to the Northeast Pacific and vice versa. To be considered the same tropical cyclone an identifiable center of circulation must be tracked continuously and the cyclone must have been of at least tropical storm strength in both basins (i.e. sustained winds of at least 34 kt, or 18 m/s). This record only goes back to 1923. Before the advent of geostationary satellite pictures in the mid-1960s, the number of Northeast Pacific tropical cyclones was undercounted by a factor of 2 or 3. Thus the lack of many of these events during the 1960s and earlier is mainly due to simply missing the Northeast Pacific TCs.

    There has not been a recorded case where the same tropical cyclone crossed from the Atlantic into the Northeast Pacific then crossed back into the Atlantic, but Hattie/Simone/Inga in 1961 came close. There is no evidence that a single center of circulation persisted through several crossings of land, but the envelope of moisture and instability from one system helped spawn the next.

    • Northeast Pacific Tropical Storm Trudy (October 2014) made landfall on southern Mexico on October 18th and the circulation dissipated over the rugged terrain of Mexico. The moisture associated with the remnants moved into the southern Gulf of Mexico where a new circulation developed and intensified into a tropical depression on the 22nd. The depression weakened into a low pressure and crossed the Yucatan peninsula reaching the Caribbean Sea where it intensified into Tropical Storm Hanna on the 27th before making landfall near the Nicaraguan/Honduran border.
    • Northeast Pacific Hurricane Barbara (May 2013) made landfall on the Tehuantepec peninsula on May 29th and its center of circulation dissipated before it reached the Gulf of Mexico. However, its envelope of moisture continued northward and from this Atlantic Tropical Storm Andrea formed on June 5th in the northeast Gulf.
    • Northeast Pacific Tropical Storm Alma (May 2008) became a remnant low in the Atlantic where it merged with another tropical wave which generated Atlantic Tropical Storm Arthur.
    • Atlantic Hurricane Iris (October 2001) become a remnant low over Central America and regenerated in the Northeast Pacific as Tropical Storm Manuel.
    • Atlantic Hurricane Cesar (July 1996) became Northeast Pacific Hurricane Douglas.
    • Atlantic Tropical Storm Bret (August 1993) became Hurricane Greg in the Northeast Pacific.
    • Northeast Pacific Hurricane Cosme became Atlantic Tropical Storm Allison (June 1989).
    • Atlantic Hurricane Joan (October 1988) became Northeast Pacific Hurricane Miriam.
    • Atlantic Hurricane Greta (September 1978) became Northeast Pacific Hurricane Olivia.
    • Atlantic Hurricane Fifi (September 1974) became Northeast Pacific Tropical Storm Orlene.
    • Atlantic Hurricane Irene (September 1971) became Northeast Pacific Tropical Storm Olivia.
    • Atlantic Hurricane Francelia (September 1969) made landfall in Belize, dissipating over Guatemala and eastern Mexico. The remnants redeveloped into Tropical Storm Glenda over the Northeastern Pacific on September 8th, moving parallel to the Mexican coast until dissipating on the 12th.
    • Atlantic Hurricane Hattie (October-November 1961) after dissipating over Guatemala contributed to the formation of Northeast Pacific Tropical Storm Simone which crossed the isthmus of Teuhantepec and merged with other disturbed weather which later formed Atlantic Tropical Storm Inga.
    • A Northeast Pacific Tropical Storm (September-October 1949) became an Atlantic Hurricane (Storm #10) and made landfall in TX.
    • A Northeast Pacific Tropical Storm (October 1923) became an Atlantic Hurricane (Storm #6) and made landfall in LA.

  • What are the average, most, and least storms that have occured in each basin?

    Record number of storms by basin in a Given Year

    Based on data from 1981-2010
    (1981/82 to 2010/2011 for the Southern Hemisphere):

    Tropical Storm or stronger (greater than 17 m/s sustained winds) Hurricane/Typhoon/Severe Tropical Cyclone (greater than 33 m/s sustained winds)
    Basin Most Least Average Most Least Average
    Atlantic* 28 4 12.1 15 2 6.4
    28 8 16.6 16 3 8.9
    NW Pacific 39 14 26.0 26 5 16.5
    N Indian 10 2 4.8 5 0 1.5
    SW Indian 14 4 9.3 8 1 5.0
    Aus SE Indian 16 3 7.5 8 1 3.6
    Aus SW Pacific 20 4 9.9 12 1 5.2
    Globally 102 69 86.0 59 34 46.9

    *Note that the data includes subtropical storms in the Atlantic basin numbers. (Neumann 1993)** Note that the data includes storms and hurricanes that formed in the Central Pacific.

    These values are based on data supplied by the WMO Regional Meteorological Center responsible for tropical cyclone forecasting for that particular basin.

    Starting in 1944, systematic aircraft reconnaissance was commenced for monitoring both tropical cyclones and disturbances that had the potential to develop into tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin. This is why both Neumann et al. (1993) and Landsea (1993) recommend utilizing data since 1944 for computing Atlantic climatological statistics. However, for tropical cyclones striking the USA East and Gulf coasts – because of highly populated coastlines, data with good reliability extends back to around 1899. Thus, the following records hold for the entire Atlantic basin (from 1944-present) and for the USA coastline (1899-present). For other basins an appropriate starting date was selected for when satisfactory satellite coverage became available.


    Category Maximum Minimum
    Atlantic Basin
    Named storms 28
    Hurricanes 15
    Major Hurricanes 7
    (many times,2013 last)
    USA landfalling
    Named storms 9
    Hurricanes +
    Major hurricanes 4
    Northeast/Central Pacific Basin
    Named storms 28
    Hurricanes 16
    Major hurricanes 11
    Northwest Pacific Basin
    Named storms 39
    Typhoons 26
    Super typhoons 11

    + 1886 is recorded as the most active hurricane season for the continental USA with 7 landfalling hurricanes.

    Last updated June 1, 2016

  • How many tropical cyclones have there been each year in the Atlantic basin? What years were the greatest and fewest seen?

    Contributed by Chris Landsea (NHC)

    The Atlantic hurricane database (or HURDAT) extends back to 1851. However, because tropical storms and hurricanes spend much of their lifetime over the open ocean – some never hitting land – many systems were “missed” during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries (Vecchi and Knutson 2008). Starting in 1944, systematic aircraft reconnaissance was commenced for monitoring both tropical cyclones and disturbances that had the potential to develop into tropical storms and hurricanes. This did provide much improved monitoring, but still about half of the Atlantic basin was not covered (Sheets 1990). Beginning in 1966, daily satellite imagery became available at the National Hurricane Center, and thus statistics from this time forward are most complete (McAdie et al. 2009).

    For hurricanes striking the USA Atlantic and Gulf coasts, one can go back further in time with relatively reliable counts of systems because enough people have lived along coastlines since 1900.

    Thus, the following records for the period of reliable data hold for the entire Atlantic basin (from 1966-2015) and for the USA coastline (1900-2015):


    Category Average Maximum Years Minimum Years
    Named storms
    (including subtropical storms)
    11.7& 28 2005 4 1983
    Hurricanes 6.3 15 2005 2 1982,2013
    Major Hurricanes 2.4 7 2005* 0 many times, last 2013
    USA landfalling hurricanes 1.7 6 1985, 2004, 2005+ 0 many, last 2015
    USA landfalling major hurricanes 0.6 4 2005 0 many, last 2015

    & Landsea et al. (2010) documented a rather large increase in short-lived tropical storms and hurricanes in the last decade, which is likely due to improved monitoring capabilities, that may be influencing the climatological average number of TCs in the Atlantic basin. With the artificial jump in the 2000s in the frequency of short-lived systems, a more realistic estimate of the long-term climatology may be closer to 13 tropical storms and hurricanes per year.
    * 1950 is recorded as the busiest season in the whole database for number of Major Hurricanes with 8.
    + 1886 is recorded as the most active hurricane season for the continental USA with 7 landfalling hurricanes.


    Atlantic basin
    Individual years with the numbers in each category

    Year Named
    Hurricanes Major
    ^ Click header for diagram ^
    1851 6 3 1 36
    1852 5 5 1 73
    1853 8 4 2 76
    1854 5 3 1 31
    1855 5 4 1 18
    1856 6 4 2 49
    1857 4 3 0 40
    1858 6 6 0 45
    1859 8 7 1 56
    1860 7 6 1 62
    1861 8 6 0 50
    1862 6 3 0 46
    1863 9 5 0 50
    1864 5 3 0 27
    1865 7 3 0 49
    1866 7 6 1 84
    1867 9 7 1 60
    1868 4 3 0 35
    1869 10 7 1 51
    1870 11 10 2 88
    1871 8 6 2 88
    1872 5 4 0 65
    1873 5 3 2 69
    1874 7 4 0 47
    1875 6 5 1 72
    1876 5 4 2 57
    1877 8 3 1 73
    1878 12 10 2 181
    1879 8 6 2 64
    1880 11 9 2 131
    1881 7 4 0 59
    1882 6 4 2 59
    1883 4 3 2 67
    1884 4 4 1 72
    1885 8 6 0 58
    1886 12 10 4 166
    1887 19 11 2 181
    1888 9 6 2 85
    1889 9 6 0 104
    1890 4 2 1 33
    1891 10 7 1 116
    1892 9 5 0 116
    1893 12 10 5 231
    1894 7 5 4 135
    1895 6 2 0 69
    1896 7 6 2 136
    1897 6 3 0 55
    1898 11 5 1 113
    1899 10 5 2 151
    1900 7 3 2 83
    1901 13 6 0 99
    1902 5 3 0 33
    1903 10 7 1 102
    1904 6 4 0 30
    1905 5 1 1 28
    1906 11 6 3 163
    1907 5 0 0 13
    1908 10 6 1 95
    1909 12 6 4 93
    1910 5 3 1 64
    1911 6 3 0 35
    1912 7 4 1 57
    1913 6 4 0 36
    1914 1 0 0 3
    1915 6 5 3 130
    1916 15 10 5 144
    1917 4 2 2 61
    1918 6 4 1 40
    1919 5 2 1 55
    1920 5 4 0 30
    1921 7 5 2 87
    1922 5 3 1 55
    1923 9 4 1 49
    1924 11 5 2 100
    1925 4 1 0 7
    1926 11 8 6 230
    1927 8 4 1 56
    1928 6 4 1 83
    1929 5 3 1 48
    1930 3 2 2 50
    1931 13 3 1 48
    1932 15 6 4 170
    1933 20 11 6 259
    1934 13 7 1 48
    1935 8 5 3 106
    1936 17 7 1 100
    1937 11 4 1 66
    1938 9 4 2 78
    1939 6 3 1 34
    1940 9 6 0 68
    1941 6 4 3 52
    1942 11 4 1 63
    1943 10 5 2 94
    1944 14 8 3 104
    1945 11 5 2 63
    1946 6 3 1 22
    1947 9 5 2 112
    1948 9 6 4 106
    1949 13 7 3 98
    1950 13 11 8 243
    1951 10 8 5 137
    1952 7 6 3 87
    1953 14 6 4 104
    1954 11 8 2 113
    1955 12 9 6 199
    1956 8 4 2 54
    1957 8 3 2 84
    1958 10 7 5 121
    1959 11 7 2 77
    1960 7 4 2 88
    1961 11 8 7 205
    1962 5 3 1 36
    1963 9 7 2 118
    1964 12 6 6 170
    1965 6 4 1 84
    1966 11 7 3 145
    1967 8 6 1 122
    1968 8 4 0 45
    1969 18 12 5 166
    1970 10 5 2 40
    1971 13 6 1 97
    1972 7 3 0 36
    1973 8 4 1 48
    1974 11 4 2 68
    1975 9 6 3 76
    1976 10 6 2 84
    1977 6 5 1 25
    1978 12 5 2 63
    1979 9 5 2 93
    1980 11 9 2 149
    1981 12 7 3 100
    1982 6 2 1 32
    1983 4 3 1 17
    1984 13 5 1 84
    1985 11 7 3 88
    1986 6 4 0 36
    1987 7 3 1 34
    1988 12 5 3 103
    1989 11 7 2 135
    1990 14 8 1 97
    1991 8 4 2 36
    1992 7 4 1 76
    1993 8 4 1 39
    1994 7 3 0 32
    1995 19 11 5 228
    1996 13 9 6 166
    1997 8 3 1 41
    1998 14 10 3 182
    1999 12 8 5 177
    2000 15 8 3 119
    2001 15 9 4 110
    2002 12 4 2 67
    2003 16 7 3 176
    2004 15 9 6 227
    2005 28 15 7 250
    2006 10 5 2 79
    2007 15 6 2 74
    2008 16 8 5 146
    2009 9 3 2 53
    2010 19 12 5 165
    2011 19 7 4 126
    2012 19 10 2 129
    2013 14 2 0 36
    2014 8 6 2 67
    2015 11 4 2 63
    11.8 6.2 2.4 95.4
    Standard Deviation
    4.57 2.90 1.70 58.9

    Named Storms = Tropical Storms, Hurricanes and Subtropical Storms
    Hurricanes = Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale 1 to 5
    Major Hurricanes = Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale 3, 4, or 5
    “ACE” = Accumulated Cyclone Energy – An index that combines the numbers of systems, how long they existed and how intense they became. It is calculated by squaring the maximum sustained surface wind in the system every six hours that the cyclone is a Named Storm and summing it up for the season. It is expressed in 104 kt2.


    Landsea,C.W., G.A. Vecchi, L. Bengtsson, and T. R. Knutson, 2010: Impact of Duration Thresholds on Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Counts. Journal of Climate23(10), 2508-2519.

    McAdie, C. J., C. W. Landsea, C. J. Neuman, J. E. David, E. Blake, and G. R. Hamner, 2009: Tropical Cyclones of the North Atlantic Ocean, 1851-2006. Historical Climatology Series 6-2,Prepared by the National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, NC in cooperation with the National Hurricane Center, Miami, FL, 238 pp.

    Sheets, R.C., 1990: “The National Hurricane Center – Past, present, and future.”, Wea. Forecasting,5, 185-232.

    Vecchi, G.A. and T. R. Knutson, 2008. “On estimates of historical North Atlantic tropical cyclone activity.”, J. Climate21, 3580.

    Last Revised : June 1, 2015

  • How many hurricanes have there been in each month?

    This table shows the total and average number of tropical storms, and those which became hurricanes, by month, for the period 1851-2015. It also shows the monthly total and average number of hurricanes to strike the U. S. since 1851.


    Total and Average Number of Tropical Cylones by Month
    Month Tropical Storms Hurricanes U.S. Landfalling
    Total Average Total Average Total Average
    JANUARY 2 * 1 * 0 *
    FEBRUARY 1 * 0 * 0 *
    MARCH 1 * 1 * 0 *
    APRIL 1 * 0 * 0 *
    MAY 21 0.1 4 * 0 *
    JUNE 87 0.5 33 0.2 19 0.12
    JULY 118 0.7 55 0.3 25 0.15
    AUGUST 378 2.3 238 1.4 77 0.48
    SEPTEMBER 571 3.5 395 2.4 107 0.67
    OCTOBER 336 2.0 201 1.2 53 0.33
    NOVEMBER 89 0.5 58 0.3 5 0.03
    DECEMBER 17 0.1 6 * 0 *
    YEAR 1619 9.9 991 6.0 284 1.73

    * Less than 0.05.
    Excludes subtropical storms

    Last Revised: June 1, 2016

  • What was the largest number of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean at the same time?

    Four hurricanes occurred simultaneously on two occasions. The first occasion was August 22, 1893, and one of these eventually killed 1,000- 2,000 people in Georgia and South Carolina. The second occurrence was September 25, 1998, when Georges, Ivan, Jeanne and Karl persisted into September 27, 1998 as hurricanes. Georges ended up taking the lives of thousands in Haiti. In 1971 from September 10 to 12, there were five tropical cyclones at the same time; however, while most of these ultimately achieved hurricane intensity, there were never more than two hurricanes at any one time.


    Blake, E.S., E.N. Rappaport, J.D. Jarell, and C.W. Landsea, 2005: “The Deadliest, Costliest, and Most Intense United States Hurricanes from 1851 to 2004 (and Other Frequently Requested Hurricane Facts.) NOAA Technical Memorandum NWS-TPC-4, 48 pp.

  • How many direct hits by hurricanes of various categories have affected each state?

    This table, updated from Jarrell et al. (2001), shows the number of hurricanes affecting the United States and individual states, i.e., direct hits. The table shows that, on the average, close to seven hurricanes every four years (~1.75 per year) strike the United States, while about three major hurricanes cross the U.S. coast every five years (0.60 per year). Other noteworthy facts, updated from Jarrell et al. (2001), are:

    • Forty percent of all U.S. hurricanes hit Florida
    • Eighty-eight percent of Major hurricanes strikes have hit either Florida or Texas
    • Pennsylvania’s only hurricane strike between 1851-2017 was in 1898 (from Blake et al. 2005).


    Hurricane direct hits on the mainland U.S. coastline and for individual states by Saffir/Simpson category
    1 2 3 4 5 ALL
    U.S. Coastline
    (Texas to Maine)
    121 80 64 24 3 292 91
    Texas 29 16 12 7 0 64 19
    North 14 10 3 3 0 30 6
    Central 12 5 3 2 0 22 5
    South 11 4 7 2 0 24 9
    Louisiana 23 14 14 2 1 54 17
    Mississippi 5 6 7 0 1 19 8
    Alabama 14 5 5 0 0 24 5
    Florida 47 36 24 11 2 120 37
    Northwest 35 17 13 0 0 65 13
    Southwest 21 12 9 6 1 49 17
    Southeast 18 14 8 7 2 49 16
    Northeast 19 6 1 0 0 26 1
    Georgia 16 3 2 1 0 22 3
    South Carolina 17 8 2 3 0 30 5
    North Carolina 30 12 6 1 0 55 7
    Virginia 10 2 0 0 0 12 0
    Maryland 2 0 0 0 0 2 0
    Delaware 2 0 0 0 0 2 0
    New Jersey 4 0 0 0 0 4 0
    Pennsylvania 1 0 0 0 0 1 0
    New York 9 3 3 0 0 15 3
    Connecticut 7 2 2 0 0 11 2
    Rhode Island 5 2 3 0 0 10 3
    Massachusetts 7 4 1 0 0 12 1
    New Hampshire 0 1 0 0 0 1 0
    Maine 2 1 0 0 0 3 0


    State totals will not equal U.S. totals and Texas and Florida totals will not necessarily equal sum of sectional totals since storms may be counted for more than one state or region.

    Regional definitions are found in Appenix A of Jarrell et al. (2001).


    Blake, E.S., E.N. Rappaport, J.D. Jarell, and C.W. Landsea, 2005: “The Deadliest, Costliest, and Most Intense United States Hurricanes from 1851 to 2004 (and Other Frequently Requested Hurricane Facts.) NOAA Technical Memorandum NWS-TPC-4, 48 pp.

    Jarell, J.D., B.M. Mayfield, E.N. Rappaport, and C.W. Landsea, 2001: “The Deadliest, Costliest, and Most Intense United States Hurricanes from 1900 to 2000 (and Other Frequently Requested Hurricane Facts.) NOAA Technical Memorandum NWS-TPC-3, 30 pp.

    Last Revised : August 01, 2018

  • When are the major hurricanes likely to strike different states?

    This table shows the incidence of major hurricanes by months for the U.S. mainland and individual states. September has as many major hurricane landfalls as October and August combined. Texas and Louisiana are the prime targets for pre-August major hurricanes. The threat of major hurricanes increases from west to east during August with major hurricanes favoring the U.S. East Coast by late September. Most major October hurricanes occur in southern Florida (from Blake et al. 2005).


    Major hurricane direct hits on the U.S. mainland and individual states 
    U.S. Coastline
    (Texas to Maine)
    2 5 26 46 17 92
    Texas 1 2 10 9 0 19
    North 1 1 3 4 0 7
    Central 0 2 2 0 0 4
    South 0 6 3 0 0 8
    Louisiana 2 0 7 9 3 20
    Mississippi 0 1 4 4 0 9
    Alabama 0 1 1 4 0 6
    Florida 0 2 6 19 10 37
    Northwest 0 2 1 7 3 13
    Northeast 0 0 0 1 0 1
    Southwest 0 0 2 5 6 13
    Southeast 0 0 4 8 3 15
    Georgia 0 0 1 1 1 3
    South Carolina 0 0 2 2 2 6
    North Carolina 0 0 4 7 1 12
    Virginia 0 0 0 1 0 1
    Maryland 0 0 0 0 0 0
    Delaware 0 0 0 0 0 0
    New Jersey 0 0 0 0 0 0
    Pennsylvania 0 0 0 0 0 0
    New York 0 0 1 4 0 5
    Connecticut 0 0 1 2 0 3
    Rhode Island 0 0 1 3 0 4
    Massachusetts 0 0 0 3 0 3
    New Hampshire 0 0 0 0 0 0
    Maine 0 0 0 0 0 0

    Note: State totals do not equal U.S. totals.
    Texas and Florida totals do not necessarily equal the sum of sectional entries.
    Florida and Texas regional definitions are found in Appendix A.


    Blake, E.S., E.N. Rappaport, J.D. Jarell, and C.W. Landsea, 2005: “The Deadliest, Costliest, and Most Intense United States Hurricanes from 1851 to 2004 (and Other Frequently Requested Hurricane Facts.) NOAA Technical Memorandum NWS-TPC-4, 48 pp.

    Last Revised : June 1, 2016

  • What is the total United States damage (before and after adjustment for inflation) and death toll for each year since 1900?

    Estimated annual deaths and damages
    Year Deaths Damage ($ Millions)
    Unadjusted Adjusted Normalized
    1900 8,000 301 1,271 2 37,541
    1901 10 1 42 2 904
    1902 0 Minor Minor 0
    1903 15 1 42 2 9,730
    1904 5 2 84 2 1,177
    1905 0 Minor Minor 0
    1906 298 3 + 127 2 5,739
    1907 0 Minor Minor 0
    1908 0 Minor Minor 0
    1909 406 8 339 2 4,121
    1910 30 1 42 2 1,591
    1911 17 1 + 42 2 304
    1912 1 Minor Minor 0
    1913 5 3 127 2 920
    1914 0 Minor Minor 0
    1915 550 63 2,669 3 33,344
    1916 107 33 1,148 5,077
    1917 5 Minor Minor 0
    1918 34 5 113 516
    1919 287 22 447 7,543
    1920 2 3 48 514
    1921 6 3 61 4,584
    1922 0 Minor Minor 0
    1923 0 Minor Minor 0
    1924 2 Minor Minor 0
    1925 6 Minor Minor 0
    1926 408 112 2,250 104,908
    1927 0 Minor Minor 0
    1928 2,500 25 502 19,457
    1929 3 1 18 190
    1930 0 Minor Minor 0
    1931 0 Minor Minor 0
    1932 40 8 171 2,558
    1933 63 47 1,117 4,892
    1934 17 5 108 517
    1935 414 12 259 4,469
    1936 9 2 45 146
    1937 0 Minor Minor 0
    1938 600 306 6,148 23,464
    1939 3 Minor Minor 0
    1940 51 5 105 722
    1941 10 8 155 1,410
    1942 8 27 457 1,647
    1943 16 17 270 2,131
    1944 64 165 2,614 33,133
    1945 7 80 1,237 9,958
    1946 0 5 66 3,162
    1947 53 136 1,497 15,196
    1948 3 18 180 2,383
    1949 4 59 590 8,707
    1950 19 36 354 3,958
    1951 0 2 17 256
    1952 3 3 21 82
    1953 2 6 42 37
    1954 193 756 5,293 22,844
    1955 218 985 6,757 17,204
    1956 19 27 175 456
    1957 400 152 960 3,186
    1958 2 11 69 290
    1959 24 23 147 582
    1960 65 396 2,537 15,918
    1961 46 414 2,664 9,340
    1962 3 2 12 55
    1963 10 12 75 194
    1964 49 515 3,268 9,193
    1965 75 1,445 8,921 16,557
    1966 54 15 88 215
    1967 18 200 1,146 2,673
    1968 9 10 54 417
    1969 256 1,421 7,201 14,298
    1970 11 454 2,171 4,352
    1971 8 213 954 1,580
    1972 122 2,100 8,858 13,978
    1973 5 18 70 123
    1974 1 150 512 933
    1975 21 490 1,533 2,290
    1976 9 100 299 400
    1977 0 10 28 42
    1978 36 20 49 100
    1979 22 3,045 6,769 11,264
    1980 2 300 599 1,128
    1981 0 25 46 102
    1982 0 Minor Minor 36
    1983 22 2,000 3,523 5,289
    1984 4 66 112 170
    1985 30 4,000 6,641 8,567
    1986 9 17 27 38
    1987 0 8 12 17
    1988 6 59 88 115
    1989 56 7,670 10,989 13,436
    1990 13 57 79 96
    1991 16 1,500 2,064 2,234
    1992 24 26,500 35,993 43,152
    1993 4 57 74 83
    1994 38 973 1,222 1,339
    1995 29 3,723 4,498 4,860
    1996 36 3,600 4,251 4,544
    1997 4 100 114 121
    1998 23 4,344 5,990 5,484
    1999 62 5,532 5,907 6,222
    2000 6 27 28 32
    2001 45 5,260 6,314 6,254
    2002 9 1,220 1,424 1,411
    2003 24 3,600 4,007 3,970
    2004 60 45,000 46,337 45,000
    2005 2,067 120,000 120,000 120,000
    2006 0 500 484
    2007 10 50 48
    2008 41 25,370 23,013
    2009 6 0 0 0
    2010 11 258 231
    2011 52 15,800 13,720
    2012 86 73,550 62,564
    2013 1 Minor Minor
    2014 0 2 1.6
    2015 10 17.9 14.8

    Adjusted – Adjusted to 2005 dollars based on U.S. Department of Commerce Implicit Price Deflator for Construction.
    Normalized – Normalization reflects inflation changes in personal wealth and coastal county population to 2004. (Pielke and Landsea 1998)

    1 1900 could have been as high as 12,000.
    2 Considered too high in 1915 reference.
    3 Using 1915 cost adjustment – none available prior to 1915.

    This table ranks the top 30 years by deaths, by unadjusted damage and by adjusted damage. In most years the death and damage totals are the result of a single, major hurricane.

    The Thirty Deadliest and Costliest Years
    Ranked on Deaths
    Ranked on Unadjusted Damage
    Ranked on Adjusted Damage
    Ranked by Normalized Damage
    Rank Year Deaths Rank Year $ Millions Rank Year $ Millions Rank Year $ Millions
    1 1900 8,0001 1 2005 120,000 1 2005 120,000 1 1926 104,908
    2 1893 ~3,0002 2 2012 73,550 2 2012 62,564 2 2004 45,000
    3 1928 2,500 3 2004 45,000 3 2004 46,337 3 1992 43,152
    4 2005 2,067 4 1992 26,500 4 1992 35,993 4 1900 37,541
    5 1881 700 5 2008 23,370 5 2008 21,198 5 1915 33,344
    6 1915 550 6 2011 15,800 6 2011 13,720 6 1944 33,1334
    7 1935 414 7 1989 7,670 7 1989 10,991 7 1938 23,464
    8 1926 408 8 1999 5,532 8 1965 8,921 8 1954 22,844
    9 1909 406 9 2001 5,260 9 1972 8,858 9 1928 19,457
    10 1957 400 10 1998 4,344 10 1969 7,202 10 1955 17,204
    11 1906 298 11 1985 4,000 11 1979 6,769 11 1965 16,557
    12 1919 287 12 1995 3,723 12 1955 6,757 12 1960 15,918
    12 1969 256 13 1996 3,600 13 1985 6,642 13 1947 15,196
    14 1938 256 14 2003 3,600 14 2001 6,314 14 1969 14,298
    15 1955 218 15 1979 3,045 15 1938 6,148 15 1972 13,978
    16 1954 193 16 1972 2,100 16 1998 5,990 16 1989 13,436
    17 1972 122 17 1983 2,000 17 1999 5,907 17 1979 11,264
    18 1916 107 18 1991 1,500 18 1954 5,293 18 1945 9,958
    19 2012 86 19 1965 1,445 19 1995 4,499 19 1903 9,730
    20 1965 75 20 1969 1,421 20 1996 4,252 20 1961 9,340
    21 1960 65 21 2002 1,220 21 2003 4,008 21 1964 9,193
    22 1944 64 22 1955 985 22 1983 3,523 22 1949 8,707
    23 1933 63 23 1994 973 23 1964 3,268 23 1985 8,567
    24 1999 62 24 1954 756 24 1915 2,6693 24 1919 7,543
    25 2004 60 25 1964 515 25 1961 2,665 25 2001 6,254
    26 1989 56 26 1975 490 26 1944 2,6144 26 1999 6,222
    27 1966 54 27 1970 454 27 1960 2,537 27 1906 5,739
    28 1947 53 28 1961 414 28 1926 2,250 28 1998 5,484
    29 2011 52 29 1960 396 29 1970 2,171 29 1983 5,289
    30 1940 51 30 1938 306 30 1991 2,064 30 1916 5,077

    Adjusted – Adjusted to 2005 dollars based on U.S. Department of Commerce Implicit Price Deflator for Construction.
    Normalized – Landsea normalization reflects inflation, changes in personal wealth and coastal county population to 2004 (Pielke and Landsea 1998.)
    1 Could have been as high as 12,000.
    2 Considered too high in 1915 reference.
    3 Using 1915 cost adjustment – none available prior to 1915.
    4 Could include offshore losses.

    Last Revised June 1, 2016

  • What is the complete list of continental U.S. landfalling hurricanes?

    Continental United States Hurricane Impacts/Landfalls

    (Revised in May 2018 to add the 2017 season)

    Year Month States Affected and Category by States Highest
    Central Pressure
    Max Wind
    1851 Jun TX, C1 1 974 80 —–
    1851 Aug FL, NW3; I-GA, 1 3 955 100 “Great Middle Florida”
    1852 Aug AL, 3; MS, 3; LA, 2; FL, SW2, NW1 3 961 100 “Great Mobile”
    1852 Sep FL, SW1 1 982 70 —–
    1852 Oct FL, NW2; I-GA, 1 2 965 90 “Middle Florida”
    1853 Oct * GA, 1 1 965 70 —–
    1854 Jun TX, S1 1 982 70 —–
    1854 Sep GA, 3; SC, 2; FL, NE1 3 950 100 “Great Carolina”
    1854 Sep TX, C2 2 965 90 “Matagorda”
    1855 Sep LA, 3; MS, 3 3 945 110 “Middle Gulf Shore”
    1856 Aug LA, 4 4 934 130 “Last Island”
    1856 Aug FL, NW2; I-AL, 1; I-GA, 1 2 965 90 “Southeastern States”
    1857 Sep NC, 2 2 961 90 —–
    1858 Sep NY, 1; CT, 1; RI, 1; MA, 1 1 976 80 “New England”
    1859 Sep AL, 1; FL, NW1 1 982 70 —–
    1859 Oct FL, SW1, SE1 1 974 80 —–
    1860 Aug LA, 3; MS, 3; AL, 2 3 945 110 —–
    1860 Sep LA, 2; MS, 2; AL, 1 2 965 90 —–
    1860 Oct LA, 2 2 965 90 —–
    1861 Aug * FL, SW1 1 978 70 “Key West”
    1861 Sep NC, 1 1 985 70 “Equinoctial”
    1861 Nov NC, 1 1 985 70 “Expedition”
    1862 None
    1863 None
    1864 None
    1865 Sep LA, 2; TX, N1 2 965 90 “Sabine River”
    1865 Oct FL, SW2, SE1 2 969 90 —–
    1866 Jul TX, C2 2 965 90 —–
    1867 Jun SC, 1 1 985 70 —–
    1867 Oct LA, 2; TX, S1, N1; FL, NW1 2 965 90 “Galveston”
    1868 None
    1869 Aug TX, C2 2 965 90 “Lower Texas Coast”
    1869 Sep LA, 1 1 982 70 —–
    1869 Sep RI, 3; MA, 3; NY, 1; CT, 1 3 963 100 “Eastern New England”
    1869 Oct & ME, 2; MA, 1 2 965 90 “Saxby’s Gale”
    1870 Jul AL, 1 1 982 70 “Mobile”
    1870 Oct * FL, SW1, SE1 1 970 70 “Twin Key West (I)”
    1870 Oct FL, SW1 1 977 80 “Twin Key West (II)”
    1871 Aug FL, SE3, NE1, NW1 3 955 100 —–
    1871 Aug FL, SE2, NE1 2 965 90 —–
    1871 Sep FL, NW1, SW1 1 982 70 —–
    1872 None
    1873 Sep FL, NW1 1 982 70 —–
    1873 Oct FL, SW3, SE2, NE1 3 959 100 —–
    1874 Sep FL, NW1; SC, 1; NC, 1 1 981 80 —–
    1875 Sep TX, C3, S2 3 955 100 —–
    1876 Sep NC, 1; VA, 1 1 980 80 —–
    1876 Oct FL, SW2, SE1 2 973 90 —–
    1877 Sep LA, 1; FL, NW1 1 982 70 —–
    1877 Oct FL, NW3; I-GA, 1 3 955 100 —–
    1878 Sep FL, NW2, SW2, NE1; SC, 1; GA, 1 2 970 90 —–
    1878 Oct NC, 2; VA, 1; MD, 1; DE, 1;
    NJ, 1; I-PA, 1
    2 963 90 —–
    1879 Aug NC, 3; VA, 2; MA, 1 3 971 100 —–
    1879 Aug TX, N2; LA, 2 2 964 90 —–
    1879 Sep LA, 3 3 945 110 —–
    1880 Aug # TX, S3 3 931 110 —–
    1880 Aug FL, SE2, NE1, NW1 2 972 90 —–
    1880 Sep NC, 1 1 987 70 —–
    1880 Oct FL, NW1 1 982 70 —–
    1881 Aug GA, 2; SC, 1 2 970 90 —–
    1881 Sep NC, 2 2 975 90 —–
    1882 Sep FL, NW3; I-AL, 1 3 949 110 —–
    1882 Oct FL, NW1 1 985 70 —–
    1883 Sep NC, 2; SC, 1 2 965 90 —–
    1884 None
    1885 Aug SC, 2; NC, 1; GA, 1; FL, NE1 2 970 90 —–
    1886 Jun TX, N2; LA, 2 2 970 85 —–
    1886 Jun FL, NW2; I-GA, 1 2 970 85 —–
    1886 Jun FL, NW2; I-GA, 1 2 970 85 —–
    1886 Jul FL, NW1 1 982 70 —–
    1886 Aug TX, C4 4 925 130 “Indianola”
    1886 Sep # TX, S1, C1 1 973 80 —–
    1886 Oct LA, 3; TX, N2 3 950 105 —–
    1887 Jul FL, NW1; I-AL, 1 1 978 75 —–
    1887 Aug * NC, 1 1 946 65 —–
    1887 Sep TX, S1 1 973 75 —–
    1887 Oct LA, 1 1 978 75 —–
    1888 Jun TX, C1 1 982 70 —–
    1888 Aug FL, SE3, SW1; LA2; I-MS, 1 3 945 110 —–
    1888 Oct FL, NW2, NE1 2 970 95 —–
    1889 Sep LA, 1 1 982 70 —–
    1890 None
    1891 Jul TX, C1, N1 1 974 80 —–
    1891 Aug FL, SE1 1 985 70 —–
    1892 None
    1893 Aug NY, 1; CT, 1 1 986 75 “Midnight Storm”
    1893 Aug GA, 3; SC, 3; I-NC, 1; FL, NE1 3 954 100 “Sea Islands”
    1893 Sep LA, 2 2 970 85 —–
    1893 Oct LA, 4; MS, 2; AL, 2 4 948 115 “Chenier Caminanda”
    1893 Oct SC, 3; NC, 2; I-VA, 1 3 955 105 —–
    1894 Sep FL, SW2, NE1; SC, 1; VA, 1 2 975 90 —–
    1894 Oct FL, NW3; I-GA, 1; NY, 1; RI, 1; CT, 1 3 950 105 —–
    1895 Aug # TX, S1 1 963 65 —–
    1896 Jul FL, NW2 2 970 85 —–
    1896 Sep RI, 1; MA, 1 1 985 70 —–
    1896 Sep FL, NW3, NE3; GA, 2; SC, 1;
    I-NC, 1; I-VA, 1
    3 960 110 —–
    1897 Sep LA, 1; TX, N1 1 978 75 —–
    1898 Aug FL, NW1 1 982 70 —–
    1898 Aug GA, 1; SC, 1 1 980 75 —–
    1898 Oct GA, 4; FL, NE2 4 938 115 —–
    1899 Aug FL, NW2 2 979 85 —–
    1899 Aug NC, 3 3 945 105 —–
    1899 Oct NC, 2; SC, 2 2 955 95 —–
    1900 Sep TX, N4 4 936 120 “Galveston”
    1901 Jul NC, 1 1 983 70 —–
    1901 Aug LA, 1; MS, 1; AL, 1 1 973 75 —–
    1902 None
    1903 Sep FL, SE1, NW1 1 974 80 —–
    1903 Sep NJ, 1; DE, 1 1 990 70 —–
    1904 Sep SC, 1 1 985 70 —–
    1904 Oct FL, SE1 1 985 70 —–
    1905 None
    1906 Jun FL, SW1, SE1 1 979 75 —–
    1906 Sep SC, 1; NC, 1 1 977 80 —–
    1906 Sep MS, 2; AL, 2; FL, NW2; LA, 1 2 958 95 —–
    1906 Oct FL, SW3, SE3 3 953 105 —–
    1907 None
    1908 Jul NC, 1 1 985 70 —–
    1909 Jun TX, S2 2 972 85 —–
    1909 Jul TX, N3 3 959 100 “Velasco”
    1909 Aug # TX, S1 1 955 65 —–
    1909 Sep LA, 3; MS, 2 3 952 105 “Grand Isle”
    1909 Oct FL, SW3, SE3 3 957 100 —–
    1910 Sep TX, S2 2 965 90 —–
    1910 Oct FL, SW2 2 955 95 —–
    1911 Aug FL, NW1; AL,1 1 982 70 —–
    1911 Aug SC, 2; GA, 1 2 972 85 —–
    1912 Sep AL, 1; FL, NW1 1 986 65 —–
    1912 Oct TX, S2 2 970 85 —–
    1913 Jun TX, S1 1 986 65 —–
    1913 Sep NC, 1 1 976 75 —–
    1913 Oct SC, 1 1 989 65 —–
    1914 None
    1915 Aug FL, NE1 1 990 65 —–
    1915 Aug TX, N4, C1; LA, 1 4 940 115 “Galveston”
    1915 Sep FL, NW1 1 982 80 —–
    1915 Sep LA, 3; MS, 2 3 944 110 “New Orleans”
    1916 Jul MS, 3; AL, 2; FL, NW2 3 950 105 —–
    1916 Jul SC, 2 2 960 95 —–
    1916 Aug TX, S4 4 932 115 —–
    1916 Oct AL, 2; FL, NW2 2 970 95 —–
    1917 Sep FL, NW3; LA, 2; AL, 1 3 949 100 —–
    1918 Aug LA, 3; TX, N1 3 955 105 —–
    1918 Aug NC, 1 1 988 65 —–
    1919 Sep FL, SW4, SE2; TX, S3, C3 4 927 130 —–
    1920 Sep LA, 2 2 975 85 —–
    1921 Jun TX, C1, N1 1 980 80 —–
    1921 Oct FL, SW3, NW2, NE1 3 958 100 “Tampa Bay”
    1922 None
    1923 Oct LA, 1; MS, 1 1 983 70 —–
    1924 Aug * NC, 1; MA, 1 1 963 65
    1924 Sep FL, NW1 1 980 75 —–
    1924 Oct FL, SW1, SE1 1 975 80 —–
    1925 None
    1926 Jul FL, NE2; SE1 2 967 90 —–
    1926 Aug LA, 3 3 955 100 —–
    1926 Sep FL, SE4, SW3, NW3; AL, 3; MS, 1 4 930 125 “Great Miami”
    1926 Oct * FL, SW1, SE1 1 949 75 —–
    1927 None
    1928 Aug FL, SE2 2 977 85 —–
    1928 Sep FL, SE4, SW3, NE1, NW1; GA, 1; SC, 1 4 929 125 “Lake Okeechobee”
    1929 Jun TX, C1 1 982 80 —–
    1929 Sp-Oc FL, SE3, SW2, NW1 3 948 100 —–
    1930 None
    1931 None
    1932 Aug TX, N4, C1 4 935 130 “Freeport”
    1932 Sep AL, 1; FL, NW1 1 979 75 —–
    1933 Jl-Au # TX, S1; FL, SE1 1 975 80 —–
    1933 Aug NC, 1; VA, 1; MD, 1 1 963 80 —–
    1933 Sep TX, S3 3 940 110 —–
    1933 Sep FL, SE3 3 948 110 —–
    1933 Sep * NC, 2; VA, 1 2 952 85 —–
    1934 Jun LA, 2 2 966 85 —–
    1934 Jul TX, S1 1 979 75 —–
    1934 Sep * NC, 1; NJ, 1; NY, 1 1 975 65 —–
    1935 Sep FL, SE5, SW5, NW2; I-GA, 1 5 892 160 “Labor Day”
    1935 Nov FL, SE2, NE1 2 965 85 —–
    1936 Jun TX, C1 1 987 70 —–
    1936 Jul FL; NW2; I-AL,1 2 964 90 —–
    1936 Sep NC, 1; VA, 1 1 964 75 —–
    1937 None
    1938 Aug LA, 1 1 995 65 —–
    1938 Sep NY, 3; CT, 3; RI, 3; MA, 2 3 941 105 “Great New England”
    1939 Aug FL, SE1, NW1 1 985 65 —–
    1940 Aug TX, N2; LA, 2 2 972 85 —–
    1940 Aug SC, 2; GA, 1 2 972 85 —–
    1941 Sep TX, N3,C2 3 942 110 —–
    1941 Oct FL, SE2, SW1, NW1, IGA1 2 980 85 —–
    1942 Aug TX, N1 1 992 65 —–
    1942 Aug TX, C3, N2 3 950 100 —–
    1943 Jul TX, N2 2 967 90 —–
    1944 Aug NC, 1 1 985 70 —–
    1944 Sep NC, 2; VA, 2; NY, 2; CT, 1;
    RI, 2; MA, 1; NJ, 1
    2 954 90 “Great Atlantic”
    1944 Oct FL, SW3, NE2, NW1 3 949 105 —–
    1945 Jun FL, NW1 1 985 70 —–
    1945 Aug TX, C2, S1, N1 3 963 100 —–
    1945 Sep FL, SE4, SW3, NE1 4 949 115 —–
    1946 Oct FL, SW2, NW1 1 980 75 —–
    1947 Aug TX, C1 1 984 70 —–
    1947 Sep FL, SE4, SW2, LA2, MS2 4 943 115 —–
    1947 Oct GA2, SC2, FL, SW1, SE1 2 965 90 —–
    1948 Sep LA1 1 983 70 —–
    1948 Sep FL, SW4, SE2 4 940 115 —–
    1948 Oct FL, SW2, SE2 2 963 90 —–
    1949 Aug *NC, 1 1 977 70 —–
    1949 Aug FL, SE4, SW1, NW1, NE1, GA1 4 954 115 —–
    1949 Oct TX, N2, C1 2 965 95 —–
    1950 Aug AL1, FL, NW1 1 979 75 Baker
    1950 Sep FL, NW3, SW1 3 960 105 Easy
    1950 Oct FL, SE4, NE1 4 955 115 King
    1951 None
    1952 Aug SC, 2 2 980 85 Able
    1953 Aug NC, 1 1 975 80 Barbara
    1953 Sep FL, NW1 1 975 80 Florence
    1953 Oct FL, SW1 1 980 75 Hazel
    1954 Aug NY, 3; CT, 3; RI, 3; MA, 2; NC, 1 3 955 100 Carol
    1954 Sep MA, 2; NC, 1; NY, 1; RI, 1 2 950 95 Edna
    1954 Oct SC, 4; NC, 4 4 938 115 Hazel
    1955 Aug NC, 2; VA, 1 2 962 85 Connie
    1955 Sep NC, 2 2 955 90 Ione
    1956 Sep LA, 1; FL, NW1 1 974 75 Flossy
    1957 Jun LA3; TX, N2 3 946 110 Audrey
    1958 Sep * NC, 3 3 938 110 Helene
    1959 Jul SC, 1 1 995 65 Cindy
    1959 Jul TX, N1 1 980 75 Debra
    1959 Sep SC, 4 4 951 115 Gracie
    1960 Sep FL, SW4, SE4, NE1; NC, 2; VA1; NY, 2; CT, 1; RI, 1; MA, 1 4 930 125 Donna
    1960 Sep LA, 1; MS, 1 1 980 70 Ethel
    1961 Sep TX, C4 4 931 —– Carla
    1962 None
    1963 Sep TX, N1 1 996 —– Cindy
    1964 Aug FL, SE2 2 968 —– Cleo
    1964 Sep FL, NE2 2 966 —– Dora
    1964 Oct LA, 3 3 950 —– Hilda
    1964 Oct FL, SW2, SE2 2 974 —– Isbell
    1965 Sep FL, SE3; LA, 3 3 948 —– Betsy
    1966 Jun FL, NW2 2 982 —– Alma
    1966 Oct FL, SW1 1 983 —– Inez
    1967 Sep TX, S3 3 950 —– Beulah
    1968 Oct FL, NW2, NE1 2 977 —– Gladys
    1969 Aug LA, 5; MS, 5 5 909 —– Camille
    1969 Sep ME, 1 1 980 —– Gerda
    1970 Aug TX, S3 3 945 —– Celia
    1971 Sep LA, 2 2 978 —– Edith
    1971 Sep TX, C1 1 979 —– Fern
    1971 Sep NC, 1 1 995 —– Ginger
    1972 Jun FL, NW1; NY, 1; CT, 1 1 980 —– Agnes
    1973 None
    1974 Sep LA, 3 3 952 —– Carmen
    1975 Sep FL, NW3; I-AL1 3 955 —– Eloise
    1976 Aug NY, 1 1 980 —– Belle
    1977 Sep LA, 1 1 995 —– Babe
    1978 None
    1979 Jul LA, 1 1 986 —– Bob
    1979 Sep FL, SE2, NE2; GA, 2; SC, 2 2 970 —– David
    1979 Sep AL, 3; MS, 3 3 946 —– Frederic
    1980 Aug TX, S3 3 945 100 Allen
    1981 None
    1982 None
    1983 Aug TX, N3 3 962 100 Alicia
    1984 Sep * NC, 2 2 949 95 Diana
    1985 Jul SC, 1 1 1003 65 Bob
    1985 Aug LA, 1 1 987 80 Danny
    1985 Sep AL, 3; MS, 3; FL, NW3 3 959 100 Elena
    1985 Sep NC, 3; NY, 3; CT, 2; NH,2; ME, 1 3 942 90 Gloria
    1985 Oct LA, 1 1 971 75 Juan
    1985 Nov FL, NW2; I-GA 1 2 967 85 Kate
    1986 Jun TX, N1 1 990 75 Bonnie
    1986 Aug NC, 1 1 990 65 Charley
    1987 Oct FL, SW1 1 993 65 Floyd
    1988 Sep LA, 1 1 984 70 Florence
    1989 Aug TX, N1 1 986 70 Chantal
    1989 Sep SC, 4; I-NC 1 4 934 120 Hugo
    1989 Oct TX, N1 1 983 75 Jerry
    1990 None
    1991 Aug RI, 2; MA, 2; NY, 2; CT, 2 2 962 90 Bob
    1992 Aug FL, SE5, SW4; LA, 3 5 922 145 Andrew
    1993 Aug * NC, 3 3 961 100 Emily
    1994 None
    1995 Aug FL, NW2, SE1 2 973 85 Erin
    1995 Oct FL, NW3, I-AL 1 3 942 100 Opal
    1996 Jul NC, 2 2 974 90 Bertha
    1996 Sep NC, 3 3 954 100 Fran
    1997 Jul LA, 1; AL, 1 1 984 70 Danny
    1998 Aug NC, 2 2 964 95 Bonnie
    1998 Sep FL, NW1 1 987 70 Earl
    1998 Sep FL, SW2; MS, 2 2 964 90 Georges
    1999 Aug TX, S3 3 951 100 Bret
    1999 Sep NC, 2 2 956 90 Floyd
    1999 Oct * FL, SW1; NC, 2 2 964 95 Irene
    2000 None
    2001 None
    2002 Oct LA, 1 1 963 80 Lili
    2003 Jul TX, C1 1 979 80 Claudette
    2003 Sep NC, 2; VA, 1 2 957 90 Isabel
    2004 Aug * NC, 1 1 972 70 Alex
    2004 Aug FL, SW4, SE1, NE1; SC, 1; NC, 1 4 941 130 Charley
    2004 Aug SC, 1 1 985 65 Gaston
    2004 Sep FL, SE2, SW1 2 960 90 Frances
    2004 Sep AL, 3; FL, NW3 3 946 105 Ivan
    2004 Sep FL, SE3, SW1, NW1 3 950 105 Jeanne
    2005 Jul LA, 1 1 991 65 Cindy
    2005 Jul FL, NW3; I-AL 1 3 946 105 Dennis
    2005 Aug FL, SE1, SW1; LA, 3; MS, 3; AL, 1 3 920 110 Katrina
    2005 Sep * NC, 1 1 982 65 Ophelia
    2005 Sep FL, SW1; LA, 3; TX, N2 3 937 100 Rita
    2005 Oct FL, SW3; FL, SE2 3 950 105 Wilma
    2006 None
    2007 Sep TX, N1; LA, 1 1 985 80 Humberto
    2008 Jul TX, S1 1 967 75 Dolly
    2008 Sep LA, 2 2 954 90 Gustav
    2008 Sep TX, N2; LA, 1 2 950 95 Ike
    2009 None
    2010 None
    2011 Aug NC, 1 1 952 75 Irene
    2012 Aug LA, 1 1 966 70 Isaac
    2012 Oct * NY, 1 1 942 65 Sandy
    2013 None
    2014 Jul NC, 2 2 973 85 Arthur
    2015 None
    2016 Sep FL, NW1 1 981 70 Hermine
    2016 Oct * FL, NE2; GA, 1; SC, 1; NC, 1 2 963 85 Matthew
    2017 Aug TX,S 4 4 937 115 Harvey
    2017 Sep FL,SW 4,SE 1 4 931 115 Irma
    2017 Oct LA 1, MS 1 1 983 65 Nate

    Updated from Jarrell et al. 1992 and reflecting official HURDAT reanalysis changes through 1914. Note that from 1915 through 1979, no official wind speed estimates are currently available. Document created in Feb. 2005

    States Affected and Category by States Affected: The impact of the hurricane on individual U.S. states based upon the Saffir-Simpson Scale (through the estimate of the maximum sustained surface winds at each state). (TX S-South Texas, TX C-Central Texas, TX N-North Texas, LA-Louisiana, MS-Mississippi, AL-Alabama, FL NW-Northwest Florida, FL SW-Southwest Florida, FL SE-Southeast Florida, FL NE-Northeast Florida, GA-Georgia, SC-South Carolina, NC-North Carolina, VA-Virginia, MD-Maryland, DE-Delaware, NJ-New Jersey, NY-New York, PA-Pennsylvania, CT-Connecticut, RI-Rhode Island, MA-Massachusetts, NH-New Hampshire, ME-Maine. In Texas, south refers to the area from the Mexican border to Corpus Christi; central spans from north of Corpus Christi to Matagorda Bay and north refers to the region from north of Matagorda Bay to the Louisiana border. In Florida, the north-south dividing line is from Cape Canaveral [28.45N] to Tarpon Springs [28.17N]. The dividing line between west-east Florida goes from 82.69W at the north Florida border with Georgia, to Lake Okeechobee and due south along longitude 80.85W.)

    Highest U.S. Saffir-Simpson Category: The highest Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale impact in the United States based upon estimated maximum sustained surface winds produced at the coast.

    Central Pressure: The observed (or analyzed from peripheral pressure measurements) central pressure of the hurricane at landfall.

    Maximum Winds: Estimated maximum sustained (1-min) surface (10 m) winds to occur along the U. S. coast. Winds are estimated to the nearest 10 kt for the period of 1851 to 1885 and to the nearest 5 kt for the period of 1886 to date. (1 kt = 1.15 mph.)

    * – Indicates that the hurricane center did not make a U.S. landfall (or substantially weakened before making landfall), but did produce the indicated hurricane force winds over land. In this case, central pressure is given for the hurricane’s point of closest approach.

    & – Indicates that the hurricane center did make a direct landfall, but that the strongest winds likely remained offshore. Thus the winds indicated here are lower than in HURDAT.

    # – Indicates that the hurricane made landfall over Mexico, but also caused sustained hurricane force surface winds in Texas. The strongest winds at landfall impacted Mexico, while the weaker maximum sustained winds indicated here were conditions estimated to occur in Texas. Indicated central pressure given is that at Mexican landfall.

    Additional Note:
    Because of the sparseness of towns and cities before 1900 in some coastal locations along the United States, the above list is not complete for all states. Before the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts became settled, hurricanes may have been underestimated in their intensity or missed completely for small-sized systems (i.e., 2004’s Hurricane Charley). The following list provides estimated dates when accurate tropical cyclone records began for specified regions of the United States based upon U.S Census reports and other historical analyses. Years in parenthesis indicate possible starting dates for reliable records before the 1850s that may be available with additional research:

    • Texas-south – 1880
    • Texas-central – 1851
    • Texas-north – 1860
    • Louisiana – 1880
    • Mississippi – 1851
    • Alabama < 1851 (1830)
    • Florida-northwest – 1880
    • Florida-southwest – 1900
    • Florida-southeast – 1900
    • Florida-northeast – 1880
    • Georgia < 1851 (1800)
    • South Carolina < 1851 (1760)
    • North Carolina < 1851 (1760)
    • Virginia < 1851 (1700)
    • Maryland < 1851 (1760)
    • Delaware < 1851 (1700)
    • New Jersey < 1851 (1760)
    • New York < 1851 (1700)
    • Connecticut < 1851 (1660)
    • Rhode Island < 1851 (1760)
    • Massachusetts < 1851 (1660)
    • New Hampshire < 1851 (1660)
    • Maine < 1851 (1790).

    Last Revised : July 31, 2018

  • How long has it been since a hurricane or a major hurricane hit a given community in the United States?

    This table summarizes the occurrence of the last hurricane and major hurricane to directly hit the most populated coastal communities from Brownsville, Texas to Eastport, Maine. In addition, if a hurricane indirectly affected a community after the last direct hit, it is listed in the last column of the table. To obtain histories of hurricane strikes by coastal counties, the reader is referred to the NOAA Coastal Services Center web site. There are many illustrative examples of the uncertainty of when a hurricane might strike a given locality. After nearly 70 years without a direct hit, Pensacola, Florida was hit directly by Hurricane Erin in 1995 and major Hurricane Ivan in 2004 within 10 years. Miami, which expects a major hurricane every nine years, on average, has been struck only once since 1950 (in 1992). Tampa has not experienced a major hurricane for 84 years. Many locations along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts have not experienced a major hurricane during the period 1851-2015.

    Last direct or indirect hit by any hurricane or a major hurricane
    at certain populated coastal communities
    through 2015.
    State City Last Direct Major Hurricane Hit Last Direct Hurricane Hit
    Texas Brownsville 1980 Cat3 Allen 2008 Cat1 Dolly
    Corpus Christi 1970 Cat3 Celia 1971 Cat1 Fern
    Port Aransas 1970 Cat3 Celia 1971 Cat1 Fern
    Matagorda 1961 Cat4 Carla 2003 Cat1 Claudette
    Freeport 1983 Cat3 Alicia 2008 Cat2 Ike
    Galveston 1983 Cat3 Alicia 2008 Cat2 Ike
    Houston 2005 Cat3 Rita 2008 Cat2 Ike
    Beaumont 2005 Cat3 Rita 2007 Cat1 Humberto
    Louisiana Cameron 1957 Cat4 Audrey 1985 Cat1 Danny
    Morgan City 1992 Cat3 Andrew 2008 Cat2 Gustav
    Houma 1974 Cat3 Carmen 2008 Cat2 Gustav
    New Orleans 2005 Cat3 Katrina 2012 Cat1 Isaac
    Mississippi Bay St. Louis 2005 Cat3 Katrina 1985 Cat3 Elena
    Biloxi 1985 Cat3 Elena 2005 Cat2 Katrina
    Pascagoula 1985 Cat3 Elena 2005 Cat1 Katrina
    Alabama Mobile 1985 Cat3 Elena 2005 Cat1 Katrina
    Florida Pensacola 2004 Cat3 Ivan 2005 Cat3 Dennis
    Panama City 1995 Cat3 Opal 2005 Cat1 Dennis
    Apalachicola 1985 Cat3 Elena 1998 Cat2 Earl
    Homosassa 1950 Cat3 Easy 1968 Cat2 Gladys
    St. Petersburg 1921 Cat3 1946 Cat1
    Tampa 1921 Cat3 1946 Cat1
    Sarasota 1944 Cat3 1946 Cat1
    Fort Myers 1960 Cat3 Donna 1960 Cat3 Donna
    Naples 2005 Cat3 Wilma 2005 Cat3 Wilma
    Key West 1948 Cat3 1999 Cat1 Irene
    Miami 1992 Cat5 Andrew 2005 Cat1 Wilma
    Fort Lauderdale 1950 Cat3 King 2005 Cat2 Wilma
    W. Palm Beach 1949 Cat3 2005 Cat2 Wilma
    Stuart 2004 Cat3 Jeanne 2004 Cat3 Jeanne
    Fort Pierce 2004 Cat3 Jeanne 2004 Cat3 Jeanne
    Vero Beach 2004 Cat3 Jeanne 2004 Cat3 Jeanne
    Cocoa <1900 1995 Cat1 Erin
    Daytona Bch <1880 1960 Cat2 Donna
    St. Augustine <1880 1964 Cat2 Dora
    Jacksonville <1880 1964 Cat2 Dora
    Fernandina Bch <1880 1928 Cat2
    Georgia Brunswick 1898 Cat4 1928 Cat1
    Savannah 1854 Cat3 1979 Cat2 David
    S. Carolina Hilton Head 1959 Cat3 Gracie 1979 Cat2 David
    Charleston 1989 Cat4 Hugo 1989 Cat4 Hugo
    Myrtle Beach 1954 Cat4 Hazel 1954 Cat4 Hazel
    N. Carolina Wilmington 1996 Cat3 Fran 1999 Cat2 Floyd
    Morehead City 1996 Cat3 Fran 1999 Cat2 Floyd
    Cape Hatteras 1993 Cat3 Emily 2014 Cat2 Arthur
    Virginia Virginia Beach 1944 Cat3 2003 Cat1 Isabel
    Norfolk <1851 2003 Cat1 Isabel
    Maryland Ocean City <1851 <1851
    Baltimore <1851 1878 Cat1
    Delaware Rehoboth Bch <1851 <1851
    Wilmington <1851 1954 Cat2 Hazel
    New Jersey Cape May <1851 1903 Cat1
    Atlantic City <1851 1903 Cat1
    New York New York City <1851 1903 Cat1
    Westhampton 1985 Cat3 Gloria 1985 Cat3 Gloria
    Connecticut New London 1938 Cat3 1991 Cat2 Bob
    New Haven 1938 Cat3 1985 Cat2 Gloria
    Bridgeport 1954 Cat3 Carol 1985 Cat2 Gloria
    Rhode Island Providence 1954 Cat3 Carol 1991 Cat2 Bob
    Mass. Cape Cod 1954 Cat3 Edna 1991 Cat2 Bob
    Boston 1869 Cat3 1960 Cat1 Donna
    New Hampshire Portsmouth <1851 1985 Cat2 Gloria
    Maine Portland <1851 1985 Cat1 Gloria
    Eastport <1851 1969 Cat1 Gerda


    Blake, E.S., E.N. Rappaport, J.D. Jarell, and C.W. Landsea, 2005: “The Deadliest, Costliest, and Most Intense United States Hurricanes from 1851 to 2004 (and Other Frequently Requested Hurricane Facts.) NOAA Technical Memorandum NWS-TPC-4, 48 pp.

    Last Revised : June 1, 2016

  • Which countries have had the most tropical cyclones hits?

    This table ranks the top ten coutries by most tropical cyclone strikes. These numbers are approximated from the IBTrACS database and include only those storm tracks that intersected the coastline at hurricane intensity (≥ 65 kt) and does NOT include storms that remained just offshore but may have affected the country.


    Total number of tropical cyclone hits by country
    Rank Nation Hits
    1 United States
    of America
    2 China 230
    3 Philippines 176
    4 Mexico 134
    5 Japan 133
    6 Cuba 79
    7 Australia 66
    8 Bahamas 61
    9 Vietnam 45
    10 Madagascar 30

    However, it should be noted that some basins have longer histories of such activity and this might bias these counts. So the following is the ranking if we only look at storms since 1970, when world-wide satellite coverage became available.


    Ranking of tropical cyclone hits by country
    since 1970
    Rank Nation
    1 China
    2 Philippines
    3 Japan
    4 Mexico
    5 United States
    of America
    6 Australia
    7 Taiwan
    8 Vietnam
    9 Madagascar
    10 Cuba

    Last Updated : April 22, 2010


Hurricane Forecasting

  • How can I get hurricane information when I'm not at my computer ?

    The NWS and NHC offer a variety of services to make sure you stay informed about tropical activity even when you are away from your television or computer. Some of these services are :

    • NOAA Weather Radio
      The easiest way to stay informed is to have an inexpensive portable radio which picks up NOAA Weather Radio. These are available in numerous stores in a host of designs and features. For more info on this try here.
    • Radio Fax
      For mariners at sea, there are a variety of ways and frequencies that you can use to keep updated on tropical developments.
    • Wireless
      NHC/TPC Tropical Cyclone text advisories, aircraft reconnaissance messages, and Tropical Analysis and Forecasting Branch text forecasts and discussions are available to Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) capable cellphones and Portable Digital Assistants (PDA). For more information on how to set up your cellphone or PDA go here.
    • E-Mail
      If you can check your email while away from your home computer you might consider subscribing to one of NHC’s mailing lists. To see how go here.
    • RSS Feeds
      If your computer has a news aggregator or feed reader you can set it up to receive RSS feeds from NHC. For all the info go here.

    Last updated May 26, 2016

  • What are the Current Hurricane Forecast Models?

    The major hurricane track forecast models run operationally for the Atlantic, Eastern Pacific, and Central Pacific hurricane basins are:

    1. The basic model that is used as a “no-skill” forecast to compare other models against is CLIPER (CLImatology and PERsistence), which is a multiple regression statistical model that best utilizes the persistence of the current motion and also incorporates climatological track information (Aberson 1998). Surprisingly, CLIPER was difficult to beat with numerical model forecasts until the 1980s.
    2. The Beta and Advection Model (BAM), follows a trajectory in the pressure-weighted vertically-averaged horizontal wind from the Aviation model beginning at the current storm location, with a correction that accounts for the beta effect (Marks 1992). Three versions of this model, one with a shallow-layer (BAMS), one with a medium-layer (BAMM), and one with a deep-layer (BAMD), are run. BAMS runs using the 850-700 mb layer, BAMM with the 850-400 mb layer, and BAMD with the 850-200 mb layer. The deep-layer version was run operationally for primary synoptic times in 1989; all three versions have been run four times per day since 1990.
    3. A barotropic hurricane track forecast model LBAR, for Limited-Area Barotropic Model, is being run operationally every 6 hours.
    4. The NOAA Global Forecast System (GFS), formerly known as the Aviation and MRF models (Lord 1993) has been used for track forecasting since the 1992 hurricane season. An ensemble of lower-resolution runs is available four times daily.

    Current information on the GFS

    • A triply-nested movable mesh primitive equation model developed at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (Bender et al 1993), known as the GFDL model, has provided forecasts since the 1992 hurricane season. One version (GFDL) uses GFS fields for boundary conditions; a second version (GFDN) uses NAVGEM fields for boundary conditions.

    Current information on the GFDL model

    • A doubly-nested movable mesh primitive equation non-hydrostatic model known as HWRF (for the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecast Model), has provided forecasts since 2006. It uses GFS fields for boundary conditions (Gopal et al 2012).

    Current information on HWRF

    • The United Kingdom Meteorological Office’s global Unified model is utilized for forecasting the tracks of tropical cyclones around the world (Radford 1994). NHC starting receiving these operationally in 1996.

    Current information on the Unified Model

    • The United States Navy Global Environmental Model (NAVGEM) is also a global numerical model that shows skill in forecasting tropical cyclone track (Fiorino et al. 1993). This model was also first received operationally at the National Hurricane Center during 1996. An ensemble of lower-resolution runs is available twice daily.

    Current information on NAVGEM

    • The Canadian Meteorological Center’s Global Environmental Multi-scale Model (GEM) provides forecasts twice per day. An ensemble of lower-resolution runs is available twice daily.

    Current information on GEM

    • The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts’ Integrated Forecast System (IFS)provides forecasts twice per day. It has proven to be the best model for track forecasting, and is the highest resolution global model available. An ensemble of lower-resolution runs is available twice daily.

    Current information on the IFS

    • The Japanese Meteorological Agency’s Global Spectral Model (GSM) provides forecasts, both in high-resolution deterministic runs and lower-resolution ensemble runs.

    Current information on the GSM

    The full list of models used in the Atlantic and Eastern and Central Pacific is available here. Various types of consensus models (ensemble means) are available from these models.

    Despite the variety of hurricane track forecast models, there are only a few models that provide operational intensity change forecasts for the Atlantic and Eastern and Central Pacific basins:

    1. Similar to the CLIPER track model, the SHIFOR (Statistical Hurricane Intensity Forecast model) is used as a “no-skill” intensity change forecast. It is a multiple regression statistical model that best utilizes the persistence of the intensity trends and also incorporates climatological intensity change information (Jarvinen and Neumann 1979). SHIFOR has been difficult to exceed until recent years.
    2. A statistical-synoptic model, SHIPS (Statistical Hurricane Intensity Prediction Scheme), has been available since the mid-1990s (DeMaria and Kaplan 1994). It takes current and forecasted information on the synoptic scale on the sea surface temperatures, vertical shear, moist stability, etc. with an optimal combination of the trends in the cyclone intensity.
    3. The Logistic Growth Equation Model (LGEM) uses the same inputs as the SHIPS model but uses a dynamical scheme. The intensity is determined by a logistic growth equation contrained by the maximum potential intensity as derived from the sea surface temperature. LGEM differs from SHIPS in that it accounts for changes in environmental conditions rather than using values averaged over the forecast period.
    4. The GFDL and HWRF models, described above in the track forecasting models, also issue forecasts of intensity change.
    5. A statistical scheme for estimating the probability of rapid intensification has been developed (Kaplan et al 2010) and is now being used operationally. The RI scheme employs synoptic and persistence information from the SHIPS model to estimate the probability of rapid intensification (24 h increase in maximum wind of 35 mph or greater) every 6 hours.

  • Who Makes the Seasonal Forecasts?

    There are a number of different seasonal forecasts currently being issued for various basins. Some of these are fairly new, while the oldest and most well known (Prof. Bill Gray’s forecast from CSU) has been issued for almost two decades.

    • North Atlantic Basin:
      1. Dr. Klotzbach, Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University
      2. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, CPC/HRD/NHC Team
      3. Maritza Ballester, Cuban Institute of Meteorology
      4. Mark Saunders, Tropical Storm Risk, Department of Space and Climate Physics, University College London
      5. Florida State University COAPS
    • NW Pacific:
      1. Mark Saunders, Tropical Storm Risk, Department of Space and Climate Physics, University College London
      2. Prof. Johnny C. L. Chan, Laboratory for Atmospheric Research, Dept. of Physics & Mat. Sci., City University of Hong Kong
    • Australian Basin:
      1. Mark Saunders, Tropical Storm Risk, Department of Space and Climate Physics, University College London
    • South China Sea:
      1. Prof. Johnny C. L. Chan, Laboratory for Atmospheric Research, Dept. of Physics & Mat. Sci., City University of Hong Kong

  • How Accurate are the Forecasts from the National Hurricane Center?

    NHC’s Track and Intensity forecasts have both improved substantially and continue to improve. Today a 3-day forecast is as accurate as those issued for a 2-day prediction in the late 1980s. Much work still remains to better understand and predict wind intensity changes in tropical storms and hurricanes.

    The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues an official forecast, every six hours, of the center position, maximum one-minute surface (10 meter [33 ft] elevation) wind speed (intensity), and radii of the 34 knot (39 mph,63 kph), 50 knot (58 mph,92 kph), and 64 knot (74 mph,117 kph) wind speeds in four quadrants (northeast, southeast, southwest, and northwest) surrounding the cyclone. All official forecast are verified by comparison with the “best track”, a set of six-hour center positions and maximum wind speed values, that represents the official NHC estimate of the location and intensity of a tropical cyclone. A best track is prepared for every tropical cyclone, after the fact, using all available data.

    Read more at the National Hurricane Center’s Forecast Accuracy Page.

  • How is Storm Surge Observed, Measured, and Forecasted?

    Observations & Measurements

    There are several methods used by NOAA, the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to measure storm surge. Each method has advantages and draw backs and post-storm analysis of storm surge requires resolving differences in what each measures in order to find the best approximation of the surge heights.

    Tide Stations (NOAA)

    A network of 175 long-term, continuously operating water level stations located throughout the U.S. serving as the foundation for NOAA’s tide prediction products.

    • Measures still water (e.g. no waves)
    • Traditionally the most reliable method
    • Limited, fixed stations


    High Water Marks (USGS / FEMA)
    These are the lines left on trees and structures marking the highest (peak) elevation of the water surface from a flood event. They are created by foam, seeds, and other debris. Survey crews deploy after a storm, locate, and record reliable high-water marks. GPS methods are used to determine the location of these marks, which are then mapped relative to a vertical reference datum.

    • Perishable
    • Traditionally best method for capturing highest surge level
    • Subjective and often includes impact of waves


    Pressure Sensors (USGS)
    These are temporary water-level and barometric-pressure sensors which provide information about storm surge duration, times of surge arrival and retreat, and maximum depths.

    • Relatively new method
    • Mobile, deployed in advance of storms at expected location of highest surge
    • Can contain impact of waves



    The Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model is the computer model utilized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for coastal inundation risk assessment and the operational prediction of storm surge.

    The eastern seaboard and Gulf Coast of the United States, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, and Hawai’i, are subdivided into 39 regions or “basins.” These areas represent sections of the coastline that are centered upon particularly susceptible features: inlets, large coastal centers of population, low-lying topography, and ports. The SLOSH model computes the maximum potential impact of the storm in these “computational domains” based on storm intensity, track, and estimates of storm size provided by hurricane specialists at NHC.



Hurricanes & Tropical Cyclones in Pop Culture

  • What fictional books, plays, poems, and movies have been written involving tropical cyclones?

    There is an undeniable drama to hurricanes; their massive scale affecting the lives of thousands, the foreshadowing of impending doom, and their ponderous pace as they approach the shore. This has made them ideal plot elements in many fictional works. Below is an admittedly partial list of some novels, plays, poems, and movies which have used hurricanes as a major dramatic element.

    • The Tempest (1611) by William Shakespeare
      Inspired by a 1609 hurricane which shipwrecked the Sea View on the island of Bermuda, in the opening act Prospero magically conjures up a sea storm to bring a ship to his island exile.
    • “Wreck Of The Hesperus” (1839) By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
      Although the old Sailor “fears a hurricane” the storm in this poem is more likely a nor’easter.
    • St. Thomas (A Geographical Survey) (1871) by Bret Harte
      In this short poem, the elements object to being surveyed and the ‘black-browed Hurricane’ conspires with Mountain and Sea to submerge the island of St. Thomas. In reality, the hapless island had suffered a devastating hurricane in 1867 followed by an earthquake and tsunami.
    • Chita : A memory of Last Island (1889) by Lafcadio Hearn
      In this novella a young Cajun girl survives the 1856 hurricane that wiped out the resort on Last Island and is raised by a Spanish fisherman on the Louisiana coast.
    • The Ballad of the Calliope (1897) by A.B. “Banjo” Paterson
      Author of “The Man from Snowy River”, ‘Banjo’ Pateson penned this poem celebrating the HMS Calliope survivng a typhoon during a show-down with German and American ships in a struggle over Samoa.
    • Son of the Carolinas (1898) by Elizabeth Carpenter Satterthwait
      A story of a hurricane striking the Sea Islands off the Georgia coast. Noted for its use of the native Gulla dialect.
    • Wed by Mighty Waves (1901) by Sue Greenleaf
      A romantic novel set against the horrors of the Galveston hurricane.
    • Typhoon (1903) by Joseph Conrad
      In this short story a steamer blunders into the teeth of a typhoon in the South China Sea.
    • Hurricane in Galveston (1913) directed by King Vidor
      A Galveston native, King Vidor survived the 1900 hurricane when he was six years old. His directorial debut was this one reeler when he was nineteen, recounting the horric storm. He wrote a fictional account of it entitled “Southern Storm” in the May 1935 issue of Esquire magazine, four months prior to the Labor Day hurricane. Sim Aberson brought this to our attention.
    • Porgy (1925) by DuBose and Dorothy Heyward
      A novel recounting the life of a crippled street beggar in Charleston, SC. The Heywards produced it as a play in 1927, and collaborated with George and Ira Gershwin to turn it into the opera “Porgy and Bess” in 1935. A major turning point in the opera comes when a hurricane pummels Catfish Row and kills several of the characters, changing everyone’s lives. A movie based on the opera was released in 1959, directed by Otto Preminger, and a televised version was produced by the BBC in 1993.
    • The Cradle of the Deep (1929) by Joan Lowell
      At first published as a true life account of Lowell’s 16 years aboard a copra trade ship, complete with her rescuing kittens when the ship burnt up off the coast of Australia, the book soon came under attack as almost entirely fiction, especially when the ship turned up safe and sound in Oakland. In her defense, Lowell made a 1934 movie entitled “Adventure Girl” based on her book, directed by Herman C. Raymaker, in which she hunts for Mayan treasure and battles a hurricane off the coast of Guatemala. This convinced no one. Sim Aberson also dug up this old bone of contention.
    • China Seas (1935) directed by Tay Garnett
      Based on a novel by Crosbie Garstin. Clark Gable stars as a ship captain plying the Hong Kong-Singapore trade, torn between Jean Harlow and Rosalind Russell. In addition to fighting off Malay pirates, he must pilot his ship through a typhoon. Twenty years later Gable would return to Hong Kong to star in “Soldier of Fortune” (1955) where he romances Susan Hayward as a typhoon rakes the city. The storm here is more of a metaphor and appears on screen like a bad squall line.
    • Hurricane (1935) by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
      The duo that wrote the “Mutiny on the Bounty” trilogy reunited to bring us this tale of a devastating typhoon in French Polynesia which alters the lives of the residents of the island of Manukura. This novel was made into a movie twice, once in 1938 starring Dorothy Lamour and Jon Hall and a remake in 1979 with Mia Farrow and Dayton Ka’ne. The first effort had a musical hit with the song “The Moon of Manukura”. The 1979 remake inspired the end of Dayton Ka’ne’s movie career.In order to capitalize on the first film’s popularity, Lamour was cast in”Her Jungle Love”, where a typhoon strands Ray Milland on her island, and then costarred her with Robert Preston in Paramount’s “Typhoon” (not based on the Conrad story) in 1940. In 1951, Jon Hall was back with Marie Windsor in “Hurricane Island”, where a shaman conjures up a hurricane as a revenge on Juan Ponce de Leon and the gang.
    • Hurricane (1935) by Vance Palmer
      Australian novelist Vance Palmer, in the wake of a 1934 cyclone which struck Queensland, uses such a storm as a plot device for the main character’s development. Thanks to Chrystopher Spicer for his insights about this novel.
    • Their eyes were watching God (1937) by Zora Neale Hurston
      The principle characters survive the Lake Okeechobee hurricane of 1928 only to suffer the devastating aftermath. Made into a TV movie in 2005 starring Halle Berry and Michael Ealy.
    • The Second Hurricane (1937) music by Aaron Copeland, libretto by Edwin Denby
      A two act opera written for high school performers (The Company Music School of the Henry Street Settlements). A group of students is sent to aid in rescue efforts after a hurricane, only to be caught by the storm surge of a second hurricane. The kids have to learn cooperation in order to survive.
    • In hazard (1938) by Richard Hughes
      Based on the travails of the Archimedes, a cargo ship caught in a hurricane in the Caribbean Sea.
    • Typhoon Treasure (1938) directed by Noel Monkman
      The solitary survivor of a pearling ship wrecked by a cyclone seeks to retrieve the ship’s cargo, braving the jungle and headhunters. Shot in Queensland and along the Great Barrier Reef.
    • When Tomorrow Comes (1939) directed by John Stahl
      Charles Boyer, a concert pianist, and Irene Dunne, a union organizer, are trapped in a church by the storm surge of the Great New England hurricane, and must come to grips with their relationship. Won an Oscar© for Best Sound, no doubt for the hurricane’s wind.
    • Storm (1941) by George R. Stewart
      Actually this novel is not about a hurricane, but an extratropical cyclone. However, I give it an honorable mention here since it depicts a Junior Meteorologist who has a personal habit of naming storms. This helped to popularize the idea of naming hurricanes. It was made into a Disney TV movie “A Storm named Maria” in 1958, and inspired the song “They Call the Wind Maria” from 1951’s Lerner and Lowe play “Paint Your Wagon”.
    • Cyclone (1947) by Vance Palmer
      The Australian novelist revists tropical cyclones and their impact in this fictional account of a cyclone similar to the one in 1934,in which he lost a friend, devastates the Queensland fishing fleet. Thanks to Chrystopher Spicer for this entry.
    • Key Largo (1948) by Richard Brooks Directed by John Huston 
      This movie starred Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall and was loosely based on a 1939 play by Maxwell Anderson. Mobster Edward G. Robinson holds several people hostage in a Keys’ hotel as a hurricane bares down on them.
    • Slattery’s Hurricane (1949) by Herman Wouk
      Set in post-World War 2 Miami, a man seeks redemption by flying a hurricane reconnaissance mission for a Navy buddy. The movie opened in 1949 with Richard Widmark and Veronica Lake. It proved popular enough for Wouk to serialize the script for magazine publication, and in 1951 it was released in paperback.
    • The Caine Mutiny (1951) by Herman Wouk
      The climactic scene aboard the USS Caine takes places as Halsey’s fleet has its fatal run-in with Typhoon Cobra. Wouk adapted his novel in 1953 into a play starring Lloyd Noland and John Hodiak and for the movies in 1954 with Humphrey Bogart and Van Johnson.
    • Thunder Bay (1953) directed by Anthony Mann
      Jimmy Stewart is an engineer building an oil drilling platform off the Louisiana shore. He rides out a hurricane on his platform to see if it can stand the stress.
    • Hurricane Road (1954) by Nora K. Smiley and Louise V. White
      A Novel of a Railroad that Went to Sea. Fictional account of the building of Henry Flager’s railroad to Key West, and the devastating hurricane in 1906 which nearly destroyed it and the Labor Day hurricane in 1935 which did.
    • Target Hurricane (1955) directed by Leigh Jason 
      An episode of Science Fiction Theater starring Marshall Thompson and Ray Collins. A meteorologist is determined to discover the mysteries of a hurricane, even if he has to send a submarine to discover why it formed. Originally broadcast on Oct. 22, 1955.
    • Ferry to Hong Kong (1959) directed by Lewis Gilbert
      This time it’s Orson Welles as the ship captain who battles pirates and a typhoon in the South China Sea. The question remains, do pirates cause typhoons or visa versa?
    • A Journey to Matecumbe (1961) by Robert Lewis Taylor 
      Tells the tale of two young men traveling the post-bellum South to search for their fortunes in the Florida Keys. Along the way they dodge Klansmen and survive a hurricane. This was adapted by Disney Studios in 1976 into the film “Treasure of Matecumbe” starring Robert Foxworth and Joan Hackett.
    • Hurricane Hannah (1962) narrated by Bob Cummings 
      After the success of “A Storm named Maria” in 1958, The Wonderful World of Disney made another TV episode about a fictional Hurricane Hannah. They used actual footage shot of Hurricane Carla from civilian Hurricane Hunter aircraft, as well as footage of the National Hurricane Research Project and National Hurricane Center. Joel Bader reminded us to include this one.
    • Wyatt’s Hurricane (1966) by Desmond Bagley
      Set on a lush Caribbean island, meteorologist David Wyatt knows that Hurricane Mabel will hit despite what the forecast says. Throw in a political revolution and some romance and you’ve got a mid-60’s suspense novel.
    • Castle Ugly: A Love Story (1966) by Mary Ellin Barrett
      Irving Berlin’s daughter, in her first novel, tells the story of a woman haunted by her childhood home and its associated memmories with the “Long Island Express” of 1938. Thanks to Lourdes Aviles for bringing this to our attention.
    • Under the Eye of the Storm (1967) by John Hersey
      Two couples sail their yawl into the heart of a hurricane and into the stormy seas of their relationships. Thanks to Joel Bader for mentioning this one.
    • A Boatload of Home Folk (1968) by Thea Astley
      A tour boat full of conflicted people must come to terms with their personal problems as a tropical storm bears down on their ship and the island its anchored at. My gratitude to Chrystopher Spicer for pointing this one out.
    • Hurricane in the Keys (1968) by Henry Hayes Stansbury
      This self-published novel tells of a Category Five hurricane threatening the Florida Keys and the President of the United States’ decision to order the seeding of the storm.
    • Devil Walks on Water (1969) by John F. Murray
      A novel based on accounts of survival from the 1938 New England hurricane.
    • On the Wings of the Storm (1969) by Richard Newhafer
      A heist caper set in Palm Beach as Hurricane Margo threatens. Thanks to Christine McGehee for bringing this gem to our attention.
    • Marooned (1969) directed by John Sturges
      Three Apollo astronauts are trapped in their orbiting capsule when the re-entry rockets fail, so Gregory Peck (NASA) must launch David Jansen’s rescue rocket in the eye of a hurricane. Lampooned by Mystery Science Theater 3000. “I love the Weather Channel.”
    • Hurricane Alert (1970) by Walter T. Donovan
      A Florida county Civil Defense director must battle political corruption as Hurricane Hanna looms in this ‘gut grabber’.
    • Hurricane Hunters (1972) by William C. Anderson
      This novel concentrates on the lives and loves of Air Force Hurricane Hunter pilots. It was adapted into a made-for-TV movie in 1974 called “Hurricane” starring Martin Milner and Frank Sutton.
    • The Eye of the Storm (1973) by Patrick White
      White won the Nobel Prize for Literature for this novel in which an aged, controlling matriarch recalls her life from her deathbed, including a life changing encounter with a cyclone. This novel was adapted in 2011 into an Australian film directed by Fred Schepisi and starring Geoffery Rush and Charlotte Rampling. Thanks to Chrystopher Spicer for bringing this one to our attention.
    • Condominium (1977) by John MacDonald
      Residents of a condo in southwest Florida are beset by unscrupulous real estate developers, faulty construction, and a Gulf hurricane. This was adapted into a 1980 TV movie starring Barbara Eden and Steve Forrest
    • Cat Five (1977) by Robert P. Davis.
      As a Category Five hurricane menaces ritzy Palm Beach, hurricane researchers are torn apart by a blistering love triangle. OK, this one made me laugh.
    • Storm Center (1983) by Elizabeth Verner Hamilton
      Novel based on her family’s accounts of surviving the Great Hurricane of 1893 hitting Charleston, SC.
    • Prospero Drill (1984) by Carl A. Posey
      A former NOAA Public Affairs Officer, Posey penned this roman à clef about hurricane researchers seeding a hurricane off Cuba, and Castro’s huffy response. Thanks to Jack Parrish and Paul Flaherty for pointing this one out. A classic.
    • Cyclone Tracy (1986) directed by Donald Crombie and Kathy Mueller
      A three-part Australian TV mini-series that deals with Cyclone Tracy and its effects on Darwin residents after its landfall on Christmas Eve of 1974. Noted for the special effects of the storm during part two. Thanks to Chrystopher Spicer for mentioning this to us.
    • Mother of Storms (1994) by John Barnes
      When someone sets off a series of underwater explosions it releases large quantities of methane from melting methal hydrates, which in turn triggers global warming and hyper-hurricanes. The only hope lies with an astronaut with a brain the size of a small planet, who shields the Earth from the sun until things cool down.
    • Stormy Weather (1996) by Carl Hiassen
      In this novel inspired by Hurricane Andrew, people’s lives in the wake of a devastating hurricane are further stressed by con men, shady contractors, and a former Lt. Governor.
    • One August Day (1998) by Charlotte Morgan
      Revisits Hurricane Camille in 1969 and its impact on the lives of the people of the Gulf Coast.
    • Gingerbread Man (1998) directed by Robert Altman
      A group of people in Savannah are trapped by a hurricane as an asylum escapee, Robert Duval, threatens to have his revenge on them.
    • Virus (1999) directed John Bruno
      A tugboat crew seeks refuge during a typhoon onboard a Russian research ship only to find it occupied by aliens who view humanity as a virus that they try to exterminate. Stars Jamie Lee Curtis and William Baldwin in the title roles. Another gem found by Sim Aberson.
    • Storm Tracker (1999) directed Harris Done
      This made-for-TV movie stars Martin Sheen as a renegade Air Force general, and Luke Perry as a University of Miami meteorology professor who gets involved in the general’s project to control hurricanes.
    • Second Wind (1999) by Dick Francis
      Francis takes a break from the horsey set to spin a yarn about a BBC TV meteorologist who goes on a hurricane hunting joy ride.
    • Windows on Heaven (2000) by Ron Rozelle
      A novel based on accounts from the 1900 Galveston hurricane in which over 8000 people perished.
    • Gale Force (2002) directed by Jim Wynorski
      The safety of contestants in a TV reality show on a tropical islands are threatened by both the producer and a Category 5 hurricane. Thanks to Sim Aberson for finding this one.
    • Zero Hour (2003) by Benjamin E. Miller
      Antarctica is melting and its suddenly warm waters threaten to spawn a super hurricane. A world famous MIT professor is consulted about his theory on hypercanes, and somethings up with those wacky penguins.
    • Shutter Island (2003) by Dennis Lehane
      In 1954, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels investigates an inmate’s disappearance from a hospital for the criminally insane on the title island when his pursuit of the truth is disrupted by Hurricane Carol. This novel was made into a 2010 movie directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Kingsley.
    • Hurricane : Of the 1900 Galveston Hurricane (2004) by Janice A. Thompson
      An inspirational novel about the people of Galveston surviving the hurricane of 1900 and rebuilding their city.
    • Hurricane 38 (2004) by Gaylord Meech
      Based on news accounts and family letters, this novel is about people trapped by the Great New England hurricane of 1938.
    • Cat 5 (2004) by R. D. Dilday
      Global warming has forced the U.S. Government to form the Department of Weather and make a ruthless TV weatherman its new Secretary. Meanwhile, a disgraced former Director of NHC investigates paleotempestology which may or may not have a bearing on coffee futures. Then a Cat 5 hurricane takes aim at Catalina Island. Yeah, the one in California.
    • Category 6: Day of Destruction (2004) Directed by Matt Dorff
      This CBS made-for-TV movie starring Thomas Gibson and Nancy McKeon was originally supposed to be about a big power blackout crippling Chicago (original title “Overload”), but after the active 2004 hurricane season, they threw in a hurricane (Cat 6 over Lake Michigan), tornadoes, and Randy Quaid as a tornado chaser. A laugh riot.
    • Storm Chasers (2004) by Paul Quarrington
      A professional storm chaser flies into Dampier Cay to videograph an on-coming hurricane, where he crosses paths with various losers seeking refuge in the storm from their sorry lives.
    • Whirlwind (2004) by Michael Grant Jaffe
      A North Carolina TV weatherman finds fame and fortune after he pulls a ‘Dan Rather’ during Hurricane Isabel, and tries to pull his life out of the toilet.
    • Category Five (2005) by Philip S. Donlay
      A mystery man founds a scientific organization called Eco-Watch. When he flies its jet into a hurricane with 300 mph winds and gets trapped in the eye he must come clean about his past in order to save the day.
    • 14 Hours (2005) directed by Greff Chanpion
      A made-for-TV movie based very loosely on the evacuation of patients from a Houston hospital as Tropical Storm Allison threatens to inundate the area. Sim Aberson brought this one to our attention.
    • Category 7: The End of the World (2005) Directed by Dick Lowry
      CBS must’ve felt “Category 6” wasn’t bad enough, so they made this sequel. Randy Quaid’s “Tornado Tommy” is the only character brought back for the follow-up, which is ironic since his was the only main character in the original to die. Falling chunks of the mesosphere combine with urban heat islands to spawn global spanning superstorms (huh???). The best part of this pre-Katrina film is the ending when Gina Gershon assures the public that FEMA will be there to help them when disaster strikes.
    • Invasion (2005-6) Directed by Thomas Schlamme
      The ABC television series is set in Homestead, FL following a devastating hurricane, which has released a race of alien, glow-in-the-dark squid creatures that turn Air Force Hurricane Hunters into superhuman hybrids. The series was cancelled after its initial season, with no resolution to the question, “Does global warming cause more squid people?” Thanks to Sim Aberson for reminding us to include this one.
    • Der Untergang der Pamir (2006) Directed by Kaspar Heidelbach
      “The Loss of the Pamir” is a fictional account of the sinking of the German sailing ship Pamir in Hurricane Carrie in 1957. Danke Herr Docktor Aberson fur diesen Eintritt.
    • Katrina’s Wake (2006) Directed by Kathilynn Phillips
      A fictional account of a family trapped in their attic by the flood waters following Katrina in New Orlean’s Ninth Ward. Again, thanks to Sim Aberson for pointing this one out.
    • Honeymoon Hurricane (2006) by Pamela Rowan
      Several people, including a honeymoon couple, head to Sanibel Island for vacation only to be trapped there durring a hurricane.
    • Hurricane (2006) by Karen Harper
      Two single parents desperately try to find their children as a hurricane swerves to menace their southwest Florida community.
    • Hurricane Hannah (2006) by Sue Civil-Brown
      A female jet pilot named Hannah makes an emergency landing on a small tropical island, and must wait out the passage of Hurricane Hannah while becoming familiar with the excentric locals.
    • The Mote in Andrea’s Eye (2006) by David Niall Wilson
      Storm seeders battle a monster hurricane, but it disappears into the Bermuda Triangle, along with the seeding plane.
    • Superstorm (2007) Directed by Julian Simpson
      A made-for-BBC movie, starring Tom Sizemore and Nicola Stephenson. In the future, global warming has spawned larger, more devastating hurricanes. Project StormShield is formed to, once again, investigate modifying hurricanes. However, someone seems determined to use their technology even if the scientists have moral quandries. The special effects make the hurricanes look like really nasty low-precip supercells. Originally a three parter on the BBC, it was trimmed to two hours when rebroadcast in the US by the Discovery Channel. Thanks to Julian Heming for notifying us about this.
    • Windstorm and Flood: a novel (2007) by Rosalind Brackenbury 
      Set in Key West, where weather and Cuban politics mix.
    • Rebel Island (2007) by Rick Riordan
      Yet another honeymoon couple are trapped on an island as a monster hurricane looms. This time they must solve a murder mystery and confront their past before the storm strikes. And you thought buying plywood before a hurricane was tough.
    • Category 7 (2007) by Bill Evans and Marianna Jameson
      An ex-CIA meteorologist carries out clandestine weather modification experiments while his old organization tries to track down the eco-terrorist manipulating hurricanes. In retribution for past budget cuts, the ex-CIA man sends a Cat 5 hurricane toward New York City (it would’ve been a Cat 7, but the Saffir-Simpson scale doesn’t go that high.) And the USAF 53rd WRS upgrades to P-3s. Thanks to Paul Flaherty for finding this one.
    • Acts of Nature (2007) by Jonathon King
      A PI and his police girlfriend find their vacation at a Florida fishcamp interuppted by a hurricane, scavengers, and gunmen.
    • Blown Away! (2007) by Joan Hiatt Harlow
      A boy growing up in the Florida Keys befriends a local fisherman and courts the new girl in town, until the Labor Day Hurricane blows his life apart.
    • Elevator (2008) by Angela Hunt
      A trio of women (the wife, the mistress, and the cleaning woman) are trapped in an elevator as Hurricane Felix menaces Tampa, Florida.
    • Hurricane: a novel (2008) by Terry Trueman
      Based on the devastation Hurricane Mitch wrought on Honduras as seen through the eyes of a young man.
    • Babylon Rolling : a novel (2008) by Amanda Boyden
      New Orleans neighbors must confront their prejudices as Hurricane Ivan threatens the city.
    • Carpentaria (2008) by Alexis Wright
      A blend of myth and reality, life on the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria in northern Australia is told from the persective of the Aboriginal inhabitants. The town of Desperance is ravaged by two cyclones, which alter people’s lives as much as they do the scenery. Our gratitude goes to Chrystopher Spicer for alerting us to this quirky novel.
    • City of Refuge : a novel (2008) by Tom Piazza
      New Orleans families must make fatefull decisions as Hurricane Katrina threatens the city.
    • The Devil’s Eye (2008) by Ian Townsend
      From Down Under, a novel about Cyclone Mahina, which smashed the perling fleet anchored in Bathurst Bay in Queensland in 1899.
    • The Killing Storm (2010) by Kathryn Casey
      A Sarah Armstorng Mystery – A Texas Ranger hunts for a missing boy and a cattle rustler as a hurricanes closes in on Houston.
    • Hurricanes in Paradise (2010) by Denise Hildreth
      The director of guest relations at a posh Bahamian hotel begins a journey of healing with friends when a hurricane heads for the island.
    • The House on Salt Hay Road (2010) by Carin Clevidence
      The explosion of a fireworks factory on Long Island sets in motion turmoil in an extended family that then has to deal with the 1938 hurricane and looming World War. Thanks to Lourdes Aviles for mentioning this one.
    • Eyewall : A novel (2011) by H. W. “Buzz” Bernard
      A former Weather Channel meteorologist penned this tome about a hurricane threatening the Georgia coast that unexpectedly revs up to Cat 5 strength while a USAF recon plane is trapped in its eye. A network TV weathercaster is fired before he can warn the residents of St. Simons Island. A “White-knuckle ride.”
    • Daniel fights a hurricane : a novel (2011) by Shane Jones
      A man retreats to the forrest to face his boyhood fear of hurricanes, but they follow him there.
    • A Wedding to Remember in Charleston, South Carolina (2012) by Annalisa Daugherty
      A wedding planner is trapped in a coastal hotel with her estranged husband and an odd collection of tourists. Can she mend their marrige before the storm tears everything apart?
    • Hurakan (2012) by Michael F. Stewart
      A woman attempts to save her daughter from being sacrificed to an ancient Mayan god while surviving in the jungles of Belize during a hurricane.
    • Fly on the Wall (2012) by Mike Hirsh
      A Fly Moscone Mystery- A murderer may have used Hurricane Charley to cover their tracks in an art heist gone bad. Set in Punta Gorda, someone else is taking pot shots at the insurance adjusters swarming over the town in the wake of the Cat Four storm. Thanks to Max Mayfield for finding this one.
    • Taken by Storm (2013) by Kelli Maine
      Fighting against their passion for each other, a couple find shelter from a hurricane in each others arms. Which is not a very solid hurricane plan.
    • Come Landfall (2014) by Roy Hoffman
      Three Gulf Coast women share their stories about the men, wars, and hurricanes that shaped their lives.
    • Life Support (2014) by Candace Calvert
      Nurses and physicians get tangled in romantic complications as a hurricane bares down on their Houston hospital. “Can hope weather the storm?”
    • Hurricane Fever (2014) by Tobias Buckell
      A former intelligence agent must dodge hurricanes on his catamaran while raising his nephew and solving a mystery left by the death of a fellow spy.
    • Under a Dark Summer Sky (2015) by Vanessa Lafaye
      Set in the Florida Keys in the summer of 1935, a WWI vetran returns home a broken man. He is a suspect in a murder case, when the barometer begins to plummet.
    • The Distant Marvels (2015) by Chantel Acevedo
      As Hurricane Flora rages over the island of Cuba, several women are evacuated to the former Governor’s mansion to ride out the storm. Maria Sirena is a natural story-teller and entertains the ladies with tales of her past.


    Last Revised: Sept. 30, 2015

  • Where can I find a Hurricane Timeline? What are some important dates in the History of Hurricane Research?

    Hurricane Timeline

    • 1494 During his second voyage, Christopher Columbus shelters his fleet from a tropical cyclone. This is the first written European account of a hurricane.
    • 1502 During his fourth voyage Columbus warns the governor of Santo Domingo of an approaching hurricane, but is ignored. A Spanish treasure fleet sets sail and loses 20 ships with 500 men.
    • 1565 A French fleet sent to support Ft. Caroline is devastated by a hurricane. The Spaniards at St. Augustine massacre the colonists at Ft. Caroline ensuring Spanish control of East Florida.
    • 1609 The British ship Sea Venture is damaged by a hurricane but manages to find refuge on uninhabited Bermuda archipelago. The islands become a British colony.
    • 1635 The Great Colonial Hurricane strikes the young Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth colonies.
    • 1667 The Dreadful Hurricane strikes the Virginia colonies.
    • 1703 A severe storm (possibly a hurricane) strikes England. Daniel Defoe gathers eyewitness accounts and publishes them in “The Storm”.
    • 1743 A hurricane prevents Ben Franklin from observing a lunar eclipse in Philadelphia. When he later learns his brother in Boston experienced the storm much later, he surmises that hurricanes don’t move in the direction that the winds are blowing. Also, Professor Winthrop of Harvard makes first pressure and tide observations during this hurricane.
    • 1780 The Great Hurricane leaves over 22,000 dead across the Antilles.
    • 1815 Professor Farrar of Harvard observes winds as a hurricane, known as the ‘Great September Gale’, passes Boston and concludes that the storm is a large, moving vortex.
    • 1821 William Redfield observes counter-clockwise pattern to damage across Connecticut following a hurricane.
    • 1831 Redfield publishes his observation of 1821 hurricane damage and theorizes storms are large, moving vortices. He begins compiling hurricane tracks.
    • A major hurricane strikes Barbados. Lt. Col William Reid of the Royal Engineers is sent to survey the damage.
    • 1837 Racer’s Hurricane devastates much of the Gulf coast.
    • 1838 Reid publishes his “Law of Storms” which advises mariners on how to avoid a hurricane at sea.
    • 1847 Reid establishes a hurricane warning network in Barbados.
    • 1848 The Smithsonian Museum organizes a network of weather observers across the United States and its territories.
    • 1855 Andres Poey publishes a chronology of over 400 hurricanes since the time of Columbus.
    • 1856 A hurricane wipes out the resort on Last Island, Louisiana.
    • 1865 Manila Observatory is founded in the Philippines with Fr. Faura as its first director. Begins study of typhoons and creates an observing network.
    • 1870 Fr. Benito Viñes becomes head of Meteorological Observatory at Belen College in Havana, and begins research on hurricanes. He establishes an observing network across Cuba.
    • The United States Government forms its National Weather Service under Army’s Signal Service.
    • 1873 The National Weather Service issues its first hurricane warning.
    • 1875 Viñes issues his first hurricane warning.
    • 1877 Viñes publishes “Relative Points of the Hurricanes of the Antilles in September and October of 1875 and 1876”, in which he details using waves and cloud motions to forecast hurricanes.
    • 1879 Faura makes first typhoon forecast.
    • 1890 U.S. Weather Bureau established from Army’s National Weather Service. Made a civilian agency under the Department of Agriculture.
    • 1893 The dealiest hurricane year in U.S. history, as the “Sea Islands” hurricane kills 1000 to 2000 people, the “Chenier Caminada” hurricane causes about 2000 deaths, and another major hurricane strikes the Carolinas in mid-October.
    • 1897 Fr. Algue’ publishes book cataloging and categorizing typhoon tracks.
    • 1898 The U.S. Weather Bureau establishes a hurricane warning center at Kingston, Jamaica. After the Spanish-American War it’s moved to Havana.
    • Viñes’ “Investigations Relating to the Circulation and Cyclonic Translation of Hurricanes of the Antilles” published by U.S. Weather Bureau.
    • 1900 A devastating hurricane strikes Galveston resulting in over 8000 deaths (or perhaps as many as 12,000).
    • Edward Garriott writes USWB Bulletin H “West Indian Hurricanes” based mostly on Viñes’ work.
    • 1902 Weather Bureau moves its hurricane forecast center from Havana to Washington, DC.
    • 1906 Cuba establishes its National Observatory under its Navy. Assumes hurricane warning duties from Belen Observatory.
    • 1909 Grand Isle, LA is struck by a major hurricane, killing 350 people.
    • 1910 Cyclone of the Five Days ravages western Cuba twice. At first Belen scientists believe it to be two seperate hurricanes, but Jose Carlos Millas theorizes it was the same storm looping in the Yucatan Channel.
    • 1913 Oliver Fassig publishes “Hurricanes of the West Indies”.
    • 1919 Sakuhei Fujiwara notes that hurricanes move with the larger scale synoptic flow.
    • Over 600 deaths are caused by a hurricane striking the Florida Keys and then Corpus Christi, Texas. Storm surge leaves lasting impression on young Robert Simpson.
    • 1921 Fujiwara publishes paper on the interaction of two tropical cyclones noting what becomes known as the “Fujiwara Effect”.
    • 1922 Edward Bowie observes that most hurricanes move anti-cyclonically around the subtropical ridge.
    • 1924 Charles Mitchell publishes “West Indies Hurricanes and other Tropical Cyclones” in Monthly Weather Review. Traces many hurricanes to disturbances near Cape Verde Islands.
    • 1926 Issac Cline publishes his major book “Tropical Cyclones”.
    • The Great Miami hurricane crashes into Florida causing tremendous damage and a month later another hurricane strikes Havana causing over 600 casualties.
    • 1928 The Lake Okeechobee hurricane kills nearly 2500 people. Also known as the ‘San Felipe’ hurricane in Puerto Rico where it killed over 300 people.
    • 1935 The Weather Bureau revamps its hurricane warning service, and divides responsibilities between New Orleans, Jacksonville, San Juan, and Washington, DC. Boston is added later.
    • The Labor Day hurricane hits the Florida Keys with over 400 killed. This is the most intense hurricane to have been recorded in the U.S..
    • 1938 The New England hurricane strikes Long Island and Rhode Island causing over 600 deaths.
    • Ivan Tannehill publishes “Hurricanes, Their Nature and History”.
    • 1939 Fr. Deppermann publishes “Some Characteristics of Philippine Typhoons” in which he presents a theoretical model of tropical cyclones.
    • 1940 Gordon Dunn demonstrates that most Atlantic hurricanes form from tropical easterly waves rather than baroclinic zones.
    • 1943 The Weather Bureau’s Jacksonville hurricane warning center is moved to Miami where a joint center with the Navy and Air Corps is established.
    • Major Joseph Duckworth flies his AT-6 trainer airplane into a hurricane over Texas proving the utility of this method of reconnaissance.
    • 1944 The Great Atlantic hurricane sweeps up the eastern seaboard and causes 390 casualties, mostly at sea. This is the first hurricane with scheduled aircraft reconnaissance and the first radar depiction of a hurricane eye and spiral rainbands.
    • Major Harry Wexler and Lloyd Woods fly into Great Atlantic hurricane and find that updrafts are confined to a small area near the eye.
    • Herbert Riehl and Major Robert Shafer find that large vertical wind shear is inimical to tropical cyclone formation and development.
    • Halsey’s Third Fleet runs into Typhoon Cobra in the Pacific with the loss of 3 destroyers and 790 men.
    • 1945 The Navy and Air Force begin identifying typhoons by women’s names.
    • Pacific fleet has another disastrous run in this time with Typhoon Viper.
    • Major hurricane strikes Miami and travels up Florida peninsula. Lt. Robert Atlas makes time lapse movie of Army radar scope as storm approaches Orlando.
    • 1946 The Navy and Air Force organize Hurricane Hunter squadrons in the Atlantic and Typhoon Trackers and Typhoon Chasers in the Pacific.
    • 1947 Navy planes seed an Atlantic hurricane as part of Project Cirrus.
    • Bob Simpson ‘piggybacks’ a research mission onto an Air Force reconnaissance flight into a hurricane. This is the first detailed examination of the upper level circulation of the hurricane core.
    • 1947-1948 Four hurricanes over two years strike South Florida causing persistent flooding. This leads to the formation of the South Florida Water Management District.
    • 1948 Eric Palmen publishes a study showing that hurricanes require at least 80 F (26 C) water in order to form. Same study attempts to map out vertical structure of a hurricane from balloon soundings.
    • 1950 The Weather Bureau officially begins naming Atlantic hurricanes.
    • Hurricane King strikes Miami and affects much of Florida.
    • Hurricane Easy loops over Cedar Key, FL and keeps that island under hurricane force winds for 18 continuous hours.
    • 1951 Simpson flies ‘piggyback’ research mission into Typhoon Marge, measuring its warm core and record low pressure eye.
    • 1954 Tropical depression detected by camera on a Navy rocket. This demonstrates the utility of weather observations from space.
    • Hurricanes Carol and Edna strike New England in succession.
    • Simpson schedules last of the ‘piggyback’ research missions on an Air Force reconnaissance flight into Hurricane Edna, but is pre-empted by Edward R. Murrow and his CBS “See It Now’ crew.
    • Hurricane Hazel slams into the Carolinas and causes destruction all the way to Toronto. Grady Norton dies during the ongoing effort to forecast this storm.
    • 1955 Miami office of the US Weather Bureau is designated the primary hurricane center responsible for forecasting and issuing warnings for hurricanes in the Atlantic.
    • The US Weather Bureau founds the National Hurricane Research Project which begins research flights into hurricanes the next year.
    • Three hurricanes make landfall in North Carolina this year including Hurricane Diane, the “Billion Dollar Hurricane”.
    • Joint Numerical Weather Prediction unit formed by US Weather Bureau, Navy, and Air Force to use computers to forecast the weather.
    • Tannehill publishes “The Hurricane Hunters” about aircraft reconnaissance.
    • 1956 Riehl and William Haggard develop the first statistical hurricane track forecast techniques.
    • Julian Adem describes the “beta effect” on the motion of hurricanes.
    • 1957 Hurricane Audrey causes over 500 deaths in Louisiana and Texas.
    • 1958 Marjory Stoneman Douglas publishes “Hurricane”, a popular history about Atlantic hurricanes.
    • Navy launches a radar-tracked ‘Brango Ball’ into eye of Hurricane Helene. Later, the NHRP and the Air Force release a balloon beacon into Helene’s eye and successfully tracks it remotely.
    • First real-time hurricane track forecast made by computer.
    • 1959 The Joint Typhoon Warning Center is formed in Guam, combining the Navy and Air Force Pacific forecasting efforts.
    • Dunn and researchers begin a five year program to study hurricane track forecasts and evaluated various objective techniques.
    • 1960 TIROS I, the first experimental weather satellite, is launched and promptly discovers an undetected tropical cyclone near New Zealand.
    • Hurricane Donna roars through the Florida Keys and then up to North Carolina and Connecticut causing 50 deaths.
    • Dunn and Banner Miller publish “Atlantic Hurricanes”, the most up-to-date summary of hurricane science at the time.
    • 1961 The Research Flight Facility (RFF) is formed to manage and operate the Dept. of Commerce’s hurricane research aircraft.
    • RFF aircraft monitor Hurricane Carla from tropical depression stage all the way until its landfall in Texas.
    • Dan Rather makes his mark covering the landfall of Hurricane Carla sometimes from the seawall at Galveston. CBS network executives take note.
    • Navy and RFF planes seed Hurricane Esther.
    • 1962 Project STORMFURY is begun, a joint effort of the Weather Bureau, Navy, and National Science Foundation to test if seeding hurricanes can reduce their winds,
    • 1963 STORMFURY planes seed Hurricane Beulah with encouraging results.
    • Victor Ooyama formulates his theory of tropical cyclone formation.
    • Jule Charney and Arnt Eliasson formulate their CISK theory of tropical cyclone formation.
    • 1964 Miller and Peter Chase create NHC-64, the first in a long line of statistical-dynamical track forecast programs. It is first used operationally during 1964 hurricane season.
    • 1965 Hurricane Betsy crashes through the Bahamas, Florida Keys, and Louisiana killing 75 people.
    • Department of Commerce combines US Weather Bureau and US Coast and Geodetic Survey to form Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA).
    • 1967 Air Force joins Project STORMFURY.
    • US Weather Bureau’s Miami hurricane forecast office separated from regular weather forecast office and designated National Hurricane Center (NHC).
    • 1968 Charlie Neumann and John Hope create a hurricane database of Atlantic hurricanes later known as HURDAT.
    • Harry Hawkins and Daryl Rubsam publish influential papers on the structure and energy budget of Hurricane Hilda.
    • 1969 Ooyama creates 2D hurricane computer simulation.
    • Project BOMEX attempts to define the air-sea fluxes in the tropical Atlantic.
    • Project STORMFURY seeds Hurricane Debbie on two days. It is the most successful implementation of the experiment to date.
    • Hurricane Camille strikes Mississippi coast as only the second Category Five hurricane recorded in US history. She leaves 260 dead in her wake.
    • NHC director Simpson works with engineer Herb Saffir to modify the latter’s hurricane damage scale to include wind speed regimes, creating the Saffir-Simpson scale.
    • 1970 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is formed, unifying many government oceanographic facilities and ESSA, including US Weather Bureau, which is renamed National Weather Service.
    • Fred Sanders’ SANBAR, the first barotropic hurricane track computer forecast model, is put into operation.
    • A tropical cyclone rushing up the Bay of Bengal causes over half of a million deaths in Bangladesh and India.
    • 1971 Richard Anthes creates the first 3D hurricane simulation.
    • Navy Typhoon Trackers (VW-1) disestablished.
    • Project STORMFURY seeds Hurricane Ginger. This is the last field experiment carried out by the Project.
    • 1972 Neumann develops CLIPER, a statistical hurricane track forecast scheme, used as a benchmark for other model’s forecast skill scores.
    • Roland Madden and Paul Julian describe a global scale pressure wave which seems to enhance tropical convection known as the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO).
    • Hurricane Agnes floods areas along the eastern seaboard causing over 120 deaths.
    • Bob Burpee publishes a paper explaining the origin and structure of African easterly waves.
    • 1974 The Navy disbands its Hurricane Hunter squadrons.
    • The GATE experiment in the east Atlantic measures tropical waves as they come off the African coast.
    • Cyclone Tracy devastates Darwin, Australia.
    • 1975 Vern Dvorak proposes a scheme to estimate tropical cyclone strength from satellite pictures.
    • 1977 A tropical cyclone in India kills over 10,000.
    • 1979 Neumann and Brian Jarvinen develop SHIFOR, a statistical scheme to forecast hurricane intensity, used as a benchmark for intensity forecast skill scores.
    • The First Global GARP Experiment attempts to delineate a world-wide profile of the the Earth atmosphere during two intense observation periods in the winter and summer.
    • Hurricane David chews a path of destruction through eastern Caribbean islands and the Bahamas before brushing up U.S. East Coast.
    • Hurricane Frederic intensifies over the Gulf of Mexico before impacting the U.S. Gulf coast.
    • 1980 Hurricane Allen roars through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico as a Category Five hurricane.
    • 1982 The first Synoptic Flow experiment is flown around Hurricane Debby to help define the large scale atmospheric winds that steer the storm using dropsondes.
    • Anthes publishes “Tropical Cyclones, Their Evolution, Structure, and Effects”.
    • Hugh Willoughby, Jean Clos, and Mohamed Shoreibah publish a paper on hurricane eyewall cycles.
    • 1983 Project STORMFURY is officially ended.
    • Hurricane Alicia forms from an old frontal boundary in the Gulf of Mexico and hits Galveston and Houston.
    • 1984 William Gray and his Colorado State team issue the first hurricane seasonal forecast.
    • 1985 Willoughby, Bob Black, Stan Rosenthal, and Dave Jorgensen write an assessment of Project STORMFURY which documents several flaws in the assumptions in planning the experiments that call the results into question.
    • Hurricane Gloria roars up the eastern seaboard threatening New York City, but eventually makes landfall on Long Island.
    • 1987 The Air Force disbands its Pacific Typhoon Chasers squadrons.
    • 1988 Hurricane Gilbert has the lowest central pressure to date (888 mb) ever estimated for an Atlantic hurricane just before striking the Yucatan peninsula.
    • 1989 Hurricane Hugo makes a direct hit on Charleston, SC and causes over 20 casualties.
    • BAM, the Beta and Advection Model, and VICBAR, a nested barotropic hurricane track forecast model become operational.
    • 1990 Mark DeMaria and John Kaplan create SHIPS a statistical hurricane intensity forecast scheme.
    • Roger Pielke Sr. publishes “The Hurricane”.
    • TCM-90 Experiment attempts to define factors contributing to typhoon motion such as synoptic winds and the beta effect.
    • 1991 TEXMex is an MIT/NOAA joint project carried out in the eastern Pacific to examine the genesis of tropical cyclones.
    • The Air Force transfers its Hurricane Hunters to the Air Force Reserves.
    • 1992 Hurricane Andrew levels parts of south Florida and causes over $26 billion in damages there, in the Bahamas, and Louisiana.
    • NCEP’s Aviation model becomes operational.
    • Super Typhoon Omar hits Guam causing $457 million in damage.
    • TCM-92 Experiment combines satellite and aircraft observations to better define tropical cyclogenesis.
    • Hurricane Iniki hits Kauai in Hawai’i as a Category 4 storm.
    • 1995 In one of the busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons in decades, Hurricane Opal rapidly intensifies as it approaches the Florida panhandle, only to weaken just before landfall. It still causes $3 billion in damage.
    • Rapid scan high-resolution satellite loops are made of Hurricane Luis, showing eye structure and motion.
    • The GFDL model becomes operational. It provides both track and intensity forecasts.
    • 1996 Both the NOGAPS and UKMET track forecast models become available to NHC.
    • Mark Powell and Sam Houston publish detailed analyses of Hurricane Andrew.
    • 1997 High resolution dropsondes are released in the eyewall of Hurricane Guillermo in the eastern Pacific. These reveal wind structure that surprise scientists.
    • NOAA’s GIV high altitude jet becomes operational, allowing examination of the steering flow around hurricanes from a greater height.
    • Super Typhoon Paka ravages Guam causing $500 million in damage.
    • 1998 Hurricane Mitch kills more than 12,000 people in Honduras and Nicaragua.
    • NASA’s Convection and Moisture EXperiment 3 (CAMEX-3) is an experiment run in conjunction with NOAA’s Hurricane Field Program to collects detailed data sets on Hurricanes Bonnie, Danielle, and Georges.
    • 1999 Hurricane Floyd causes a massive evacuation from coastal zones from northern Florida to the Carolinas. It comes ashore in North Carolina and results in nearly 80 dead and $4.5 billion in damages.
    • 2001 CAMEX-4, a NASA experiment run in conjunction with NOAA’s Hurricane Field Program collects detailed data sets on Hurricanes Erin, Gabrielle, and Humberto and Tropical Storm Chantal.
    • Stan Goldenberg, Chris Landsea, Alberto Mestas-Nuñez and Gray publish a major paper in Science noting decadal swings in Atlantic hurricane activity.
    • 2003 Hurricane Isabel leaves a path of damage from North Carolina to Pennsylvania costing $3 billion and 16 deaths.
    • Mike Black, Krystal Valde, and others publish a paper on hurricane eyewall wind profiles based on GPS dropsondes.
    • Powell, Peter Vickery, and Timothy Reinhold publish a paper on drag coefficients in hurricane force winds.
    • 2004 Jason Dunion and Chris Velden demonstrate the delimiting effect the Saharan Air Layer has on tropical cyclone development.
    • Tropical Storm Bonnie and Hurricane Charley hit Florida within 24 hours of each other. It’s True.
    • Four hurricanes, Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne, strike Florida in one year, setting a new record.
    • After Hurricane Ivan’s landfall in the Florida panhandle, its remanents moved over the Atlantic, looped back across Florida into the Gulf of Mexico, reformed into a Tropical Storm, making landfall in Louisiana.
    • 2005 In one of the busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons on record, 28 named storms form, 15 of them hurricanes, seven of which are major, and four reach Category Five status. For the first time the alternate Greek alphabet scheme for naming storms has to be employed.
    • NASA’s Tropical Cloud Systems and Processes Mission is set to investigate eastern Pacific disturbances, but is diverted to examining the activity in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.
    • Hurricane Dennis becomes the earliest major hurricane to form in the Atlantic.
    • Project IFEX examines transmitting detailed information in the hurricane inner core in real-time to National Center for Environmental Prediction for inclusion in intensity models.
    • Hurricane Katrina submerges the Mississippi/Alabama Gulf coast under a 27 foot storm surge killing 240 people. When New Orlean’s levees fail, it causes over 1500 additional deaths and $81 billion in damages.
    • Hurricane Rita devastates the Texas coast, causing over one hundred casualties.
    • Hurricane Wilma’s central pressure reaches 882 millibars, the lowest recorded value to date in an Atlantic hurricane.
    • An Aerosonde is flown into Tropical Storm Ophelia, the first such unmanned vehicle penetration of a tropical cyclone.
    • 2006 African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses (AMMA) experiment examines the wind regimes over western Africa and their role in generating disturbances over the Atlantic.
    • The NASA African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses (NAMMA) experiment similarly seeks to investigate these disturbances off the African coast using aircraft and the CALIPSO satellite. These systems were then handed off to NOAA IFEX scientists over the western Atlantic.
    • 2007 Hurricane Dean hits northern Belize as a Category Five storm.
    • Hurricane Felix rapidly intensifies in the Caribbean and smashes into northern Nicaragua at Category Five strength. This was the first time on record that two Category Five hurricanes made landfall during the same Atlantic hurricane season.
    • Humberto reaches hurricane strength just before making landfall in northern Texas and only eleven hours after being named a tropical storm.
    • An Aerosonde is flown into hurricane force winds for the first time into Noel off the Carolinas.
    • 2008 Hurricane Ike brings destruction to Cuba making landfall on both the eastern and western ends of the island. It crosses the Gulf of Mexico and then hits Galveston and scours the Bolivar peninsula, causing over 100 deaths.
    • Hurricane Paloma’s rapid intensification is recorded by a series of NOAA scientific flights before its landfall in Cuba.
    • 2009 One of the quietest Atlantic hurricane season is some time is matched by minimal typhoon activity in the western Pacific.
    • 2010 NOAA adds 12 hours to its watch/warning lead time, issuing watches 48 hours before landfall and warnings 36 hours ahead of time. Removes referneces to storm surge height from Saffir-Simpson Scale.
    • NASA runs its Genesis and Rapid Intesification Program(GRIP) experiment in conjunction with NOAA’s IFEX field program along with a National Science Foundation funded Pre-Depression Investigation of Cloud-Systems in the Tropics (PREDICT). Using a fleet of aircraft platforms the joint effort documents Hurricane Earl from formation through Rapid Intensification to decay.
    • 2011 Hurricane Irene makes landfall at New York City as a tropical storm, yet causes over $16 billion damage mostly due to inland flooding throughout New England.
    • 2012 Hurricane Sandy ravages eastern Cuba and eventually strikes the Jersey shore as a hybrid system, causing more than $75 billion in damage, making it the second costliest Atlantic storm on record.
    • 2013 Despite pre-season forecasts for an active hurricane season this year sees the fewest Atlantic hurricanes since 1982.References:Fitzpatrick, Patrick “Natural Disasers : Hurricanes” 1999 ABC-CLIO Publishers, Santa Barbara, CALudlum, David “Early American Hurricanes 1492-1870” 1963 Lancaster Press, Lancaster, PASimpson, Robert ed. “Hurricane ! Coping with Disaster” 2003 American Geophysical Union, Washington, DCLast updated May 5, 2014


Hurricanes Versus Tornadoes


A tropical cyclone has a diameter on the scale of 100s of *kilometers* and is comprised of several to dozens of convective storms. The strongest hurricanes – those of Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale 4 and 5 – have winds of 131 mph [210 kph] and higher. Tropical cyclones require very low values (less than 10 m/s [20 kt, 23 mph]) of tropospheric vertical shear in order to form and grow. Tropical cyclones are purely an oceanic phenomenon – they die out over-land due to a loss of a moisture source, and have a lifetime that is measured in days
Hurricanes tend to cause much more destruction than tornadoes because of their size, duration and variety of ways to damage items. The destructive circular eyewall in hurricanes (that surrounds the calm eye) can be tens of miles across, last hours and damage structures through storm surge, rainfall-caused flooding, as well as wind impacts. Hurricanes in the continental U.S. cause on average about $3 billion per landfall and about $5 billion annually.


Tornadoes have diameters on the scale of 100s of meters and are produced from a single convective storm (i.e. a thunderstorm or cumulonimbus). The strongest tornadoes – those of Fujita Tornado Damage Scale 4 and 5 – have estimated winds of 207 mph [333 kph] and higher.
Tornadoes require substantial vertical shear of the horizontal winds (i.e. change of wind speed and/or direction with height) to provide ideal conditions for tornado genesis.
Tornadoes are primarily an over-land phenomena as solar heating of the land surface usually contributes toward the development of the thunderstorm that spawns the vortex (though over-water tornadoes have occurred).
Tornadoes typically last on the scale of minutes. The roughly 1000 tornadoes that impact the continental U.S. each year cause about ten times less – about $500 million in total.
Tornadoes, in contrast, tend to be a mile or smaller in diameter, last for minutes and primarily cause damage from their extreme winds.

Brooks, H. E., and C. A. Doswell, III, 2001: Normalized damage from major tornadoes in the United States: 1890-1999. Wea. Forecasting , 16, 168-176.
Jarrell,J.D., M. Mayfield, E.N. Rappaport, and C.W. Landsea, 2001: “The Deadliest, Costliest, and Most Intense United States Hurricanes from 1900 to 2000 (and other Frequently Requested Hurricane Facts)”NOAA Technical Memorandum NWS/TPC-1

  • Why do tropical cyclones spawn tornadoes and how often does it happen?

    Tropical cyclones spawn tornadoes when certain instability and vertical shear criteria are met, in a manner similar to other tornado-producing systems. However, in tropical cyclones, the vertical structure of the atmosphere differs somewhat from that most often seen in midlatitude systems. In particular, most of the thermal instability is found near or below 10,000 feet altitude, in contrast to midlatitude systems, where the instability maximizes typically above 20,000 feet. Because the instability in TC’s is focussed at low altitudes, the storm cells tend to be smaller and shallower than those usually found in most severe midlatitude systems. But because the vertical shear in TC’s is also very strong at low altitudes, the combination of instability and shear can become favorable for the production of small supercell storms, which have an enhanced likelihood of spawning tornadoes compared to ordinary thunderstorm cells (Novlan and Gray 1974, Gentry 1983, McCaul 1991).

    Almost all tropical cyclones making landfall in the United States spawn at least one tornado, provided enough of the TC’s circulation moves over land. This implies that Gulf coast landfalling TC’s are more likely to produce tornadoes than Atlantic coast TC’s that “sideswipe” the coastline. The rate at which TC’s produce tornadoes (waterspouts) over the ocean is unknown, although Doppler radars have identified many cases where storm cell rotation suggestive of the presence of tornadoes was observed over water, and there have been a number of cases where TC-spawned waterspouts have been witnessed from shore, with some of these coming ashore as tornadoes (McCaul, 1991).

  • What parts of a tropical cyclone are most favored for tornado formation?

    In the northern hemisphere, the right-front quadrant (relative to TC motion) of recurving TCs is strongly favored. In the southern hemisphere, the left-front quadrant presumably is favored, although there is little research on this point. Most of the tornadoes form in outer rainbands some 50-300 miles from the TC center, but some have been documented to occur in the inner core, or even in the TC eyewall (Novlan and Gray, 1974; McCaul, 1991).
  • How long after landfall are TC tornadoes a threat?

    TC’s may spawn tornadoes up to about three days after landfall. Statistics show that most of the tornadoes occur on the day of landfall, or the next day. However, many of the largest outbreaks have occurred two days after TC landfall, as the TC remnants interact with midlatitude weather systems. The most likely time for tornadoes is during daylight hours, although they can occur during the night too (McCaul, 1991).
  • Are TC tornadoes weaker than midlatitude tornadoes?

    In general, it appears that TC tornadoes are somewhat weaker and briefer than midlatitude tornadoes. During the period 1948-1986, the percentage of TC tornadoes that reached F2 or greater intensity on the Fujita scale was 26% (McCaul et al., 2004), while during a roughly comparable period (1950-1976), the corresponding percentage for all U.S. tornadoes was 36% (Kelly et al., 1978)(Gentry 1983; McCaul 1991) .

    In Florida, in particular, the most significant tornadoes tend to occur with “hybrid” cyclones or tropical cyclones with some hybrid influence. This usually means greater westerly shear in the storm environment which is believed to be favorable for stronger, long-lasting tornadoes. Hurricane Agnes in 1972 was a minimal category 1 hurricane with considerable hybrid influence and it produced the most F2 and greater tornadoes in a single day in Florida history (Hagemeyer 1997; Hagemeyer and Spratt, 2002).

  • Why are TC tornadoes especially difficult to deal with?

    TC tornadoes are often spawned by unusually small storm cells that may not appear particularly dangerous on weather radars, especially if the cells are located more than about 60 miles from the radar. In addition, these small storms often tend to produce little or no lightning or thunder, and may not look very threatening visually to the average person. Furthermore, the tornadoes are often obscured by rain, and the storm cells spawning them may move rapidly, leaving little time to take evasive action once the threat has been perceived. ( McCaul et al. 1996, Spratt et al. 1997).
  • What is the largest known outbreak of TC tornadoes?

    2004’s Hurricane Ivan caused a multi-day outbreak of 127 tornadoes, with the bulk of the tornadoes on 17 September in the mid-Atlantic region, some two days after Ivan’s landfall in Alabama. State-by-state tornado counts from Ivan include Florida with 22, Georgia 25, Alabama 8, South Carolina 7, North Carolina 4, Virginia 40, West Virginia 3, Maryland 9, and Pennsylvania 9. There were 26 tornadoes on 15 September, 32 on 16 September, 63 on 17 September, 2 on 18 September, and 4 on 19 September. At least 7 people were killed and 17 injured by these tornadoes.
    The previous record was during Hurricane Beulah, which spawned a reported 115 tornadoes in southeast Texas during the first several days after its landfall in September 1967 (Orton 1970). Frances of 2004 is close behind in third place, with 106 tornadoes, and Rita of 2005 is in fourth place with 92.

    While it is difficult to predict which TCs will produce large tornado outbreaks, there is evidence suggesting that the likelihood of a major outbreak increases for TCs that are large, intense, are recurving and entering the westerlies, have forward speeds from about 8-18 mph, and are interacting with old, weakened frontal boundaries. In addition, the TC’s right-front quadrant must receive significant exposure to land, and this strongly favors TCs making landfall on the Gulf coast as opposed to those grazing the Carolinas (McCaul, 1991; McCaul et al., 2004).

  • What is the deadliest single TC-spawned tornado?

    One of the tornadoes spawned in October 1964 by Hurricane Hilda killed 22 people in Larose, LA ( Novlan and Gray 1974).
  • What is the most damaging single TC-spawned tornado?

    One of the tornadoes produced by Hurricane Allen in 1980 did about $50 million damage (1980 dollars; about $127 million damage in 2005 dollars) in the Austin, TX, area. More recently, Hurricane Cindy spawned a strong tornado that damaged the Atlanta Motor Speedway and other nearby areas to the tune of some $71.5 million in July 2005.
  • Which states are most vulnerable to TC tornadoes outbreaks ?

    Historical records show that the largest and most intense TC tornado outbreaks have occurred in states bordering the Gulf coast and the Atlantic coast from Virginia southward. The biggest outbreaks have occurred (starting from west to east, not in order of outbreak size or severity) in Texas (from Carla in 1961, Beulah in 1967, Allen in 1980, Alicia in 1983, and Gilbert in 1988), Louisiana (Audrey in 1957, Carla in 1961, Hilda in 1964, Andrew in 1992, and Lili in 2002), Mississippi (Audrey in 1957, Andrew in 1992, and Rita in 2005), Alabama (Audrey in 1957, Danny in 1985, Georges in 1998, Cindy in 2005, and Rita in 2005), Georgia (Ivan in 2004, Cindy in 2005, Katrina in 2005), Florida (Agnes in 1972, Opal in 1995, Josephine in 1996, Charley in 2004, Frances in 2004, and Ivan in 2004), South Carolina (Beryl in 1994, Frances in 2004, Jeanne in 2004), North Carolina (Floyd in 1999, Frances in 2004), Virginia (Gracie in 1959, David in 1979, Frances in 2004, Gaston in 2004, and Ivan in 2004). The Gulf coast states tend to have the most frequent and significant TC tornado events, partly because of their tendency to have at least one state fully exposed to the right-front quadrant of the TC when landfall occurs there (McCaul 1991). However, the mid-Atlantic states can also get major outbreaks if the parent TC moves far enough inland during recurvature.
  • What about Florida ? They get the most hurricane strikes; do they also get a lot of TC tornadoes?

    Florida is no stranger to significant TC tornado activity. Among the larger outbreaks in recent Florida history are those produced by Agnes in 1972 (Hagemeyer 1997; Hagemeyer and Spratt 2002), Opal in 1995 (Sharp et al., 1997), and Charley, Frances and Ivan in 2004. Florida also gets many tornadoes from subtropical storms or TCs having hybrid characteristics, such as Josephine in 1996.


Tropical Cyclone Climatology

  • How does El Niño-Southern Oscillation affect tropical cyclone activity around the globe?

    The El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) resolves into a warm phase (El Niño), a cold phase (La Niña), and a neutral phase.During El Niño events (ENSO warm phase), tropospheric vertical shear is increased inhibiting tropical cyclone genesis and intensification, primarily by causing the 200 mb (12 km or 8 mi) westerly winds to be stronger (Gray 1984). La Niña events (ENSO cold phase) enhances activity. Recently, Tang and Neelin (2004) also identified that changes to the moist static stability can also contribute toward hurricane changes due to ENSO, with a drier, more stable environment present during El Niño events.

    The Australian/Southwest Pacific shows a pronounced shift back and forth of tropical cyclone activity with fewer tropical cyclones between 145° and 165°E and more from 165°E eastward across the South Pacific during El Niño (warm ENSO) events. There is also a smaller tendency to have the tropical cyclones originate a bit closer to the equator. The opposite would be true in La Niña (cold ENSO) events. See papers by Nicholls (1979), Revell and Goulter (1986), Dong (1988), and Nicholls (1992).The western portion of the Northeast Pacific basin (140°W to the dateline) has been suggested to experience more tropical cyclone genesis during the El Niño year and more tropical cyclones tracking into the sub-region in the year following an El Niño (Schroeder and Yu 1995), but this has not been completely documented yet.

    The Northwest Pacific basin, similar to the Australian/Southwest Pacific basin, experiences a change in location of tropical cyclones without a total change in frequency. Pan (1981), Chan (1985), and Lander (1994) detailed that west of 160°E there were reduced numbers of tropical cyclone genesis with increased formations from 160E to the dateline during El Niño events. The opposite occurred during La Niña events. Again there is also the tendency for the tropical cyclones to also form closer to the equator during El Niño events than average.

    The eastern portion of the Northeast Pacific, the Southwest Indian, the Southeast Indian/Australian, and the North Indian basins have either shown little or a conflicting ENSO relationship and/or have not been looked at yet in sufficient detail.


    Tang, B. H., and J. D. Neelin, 2004: “ENSO Influence on Atlantic hurricanes via tropospheric warming.” Geophys. Res. Lett.: Vol 31, L24204.

  • How might global warming change hurricane intensity, frequency, and rainfall?

    In November 2006 the global community of tropical cyclone researchers and forecasters as met at the 6thInternational Workshop on Tropical Cyclones of the World Meteorological Organization in San Jose, Costa Rica. They released a statement on the links between anthropogenic (human-induced) climate change and tropical cyclones, including hurricanes and typhoons. The following is a summary of their report.

    1. There have been a number of recent high-impact tropical cyclone events around the globe. These include 10 landfalling tropical cyclones in Japan in 2004, five tropical cyclones affecting the Cook Islands in a five-week period in 2005, Cyclone Gafilo in Madagascar in 2004, Cyclone Larry in Australia in 2006, Typhoon Saomai in China in 2006, and the extremely active 2004 and 2005 Atlantic tropical cyclone seasons – including the catastrophic socio-economic impact of Hurricane Katrina.
    2. Some recent scientific articles have reported a large increase in tropical cyclone energy, numbers, and wind-speeds in some regions during the last few decades in association with warmer sea surface temperatures. Other studies report that changes in observational techniques and instrumentation are responsible for these increases.


    Consensus Statements by International Workshop on Tropical Cyclones-VI (IWTC-VI) Participants :

    1. Though there is evidence both for and against the existence of a detectable anthropogenic signal in the tropical cyclone climate record to date, no firm conclusion can be made on this point.
    2. No individual tropical cyclone can be directly attributed to climate change.
    3. The recent increase in societal impact from tropical cyclones has largely been caused by rising concentrations of population and infrastructure in coastal regions.
    4. Tropical cyclone wind-speed monitoring has changed dramatically over the last few decades, leading to difficulties in determining accurate trends.
    5. There is an observed multi-decadal variability of tropical cyclones in some regions whose causes, whether natural, anthropogenic or a combination, are currently being debated. This variability makes detecting any long-term trends in tropical cyclone activity difficult.
    6. It is likely that some increase in tropical cyclone peak wind-speed and rainfall will occur if the climate continues to warm. Model studies and theory project a 3-5% increase in wind-speed per degree Celsius increase of tropical sea surface temperatures.
    7. There is an inconsistency between the small changes in wind-speed projected by theory and modeling versus large changes reported by some observational studies.
    8. Although recent climate model simulations project a decrease or no change in global tropical cyclone numbers in a warmer climate, there is low confidence in this projection. In addition, it is unknown how tropical cyclone tracks or areas of impact will change in the future.
    9. Large regional variations exist in methods used to monitor tropical cyclones. Also, most regions have no measurements by instrumented aircraft. These significant limitations will continue to make detection of trends difficult.
    10. If the projected rise in sea level due to global warming occurs, then the vulnerability to tropical cyclone storm surge flooding would increase.

    A PDF version of the official report is available here.

  • Why do tropical cyclones occur primarily in the summer and autumn?

    The primary time of year for getting tropical cyclones is during the summer and autumn: July-October for the Northern Hemisphere and December-March for the Southern Hemisphere (though there are differences from basin to basin). The peak in summer/autumn is due to having all of the necessary ingredients become most fa vorable during this time of year: warm ocean waters (at least 26°C or 80°F), a tropical atmosphere that can quite easily kick off convection (i.e. thunderstorms), low vertical shear in the troposphere, and a substantial amount of large-scale spin available (either through the monsoon trough or easterly waves).

    While one would intuitively expect tropical cyclones to peak right at the time of maximum solar radiation (late June for the tropical Northern Hemisphere and late December for the tropical Southern Hemisphere), it takes several more weeks for the oceans to reach their warmest temperatures. The atmospheric circulation in the tropics also reaches its most pronounced (and favorable for tropical cyclones) at the same time. This time lag of the tropical ocean and atmospheric circulation is analogous to the daily cycle of surface air temperatures – they are warmest in mid-afternoon, yet the sun’s incident radiation peaks at noon.

  • What determines the movement of tropical cyclones?

    Tropical cyclones – to a first approximation – can be thought of as being steered by the surrounding environmental flow throughout the depth of the troposphere (from the surface to about 12 km or 8 mi). Dr. Neil Frank, former director of the U.S. National Hurricane Center, used the analogy that the movement of hurricanes is like a leaf being steered by the currents in the stream, except that for a hurricane the stream has no set boundaries.

    In the tropical latitudes (typically equatorward of 20°-25°N or S), tropical cyclones usually move toward the west with a slight poleward component. This is because there exists an axis of high pressure called the subtropical ridge that extends east-west poleward of the storm. On the equatorward side of the subtropical ridge, general easterly winds prevail. However, if the subtropical ridge is weak – often times due to a trough in the jet stream – the tropical cyclone may turn poleward and then recurve back toward the east. On the poleward side of the subtropical ridge, westerly winds prevail thus steering the tropical cyclone back to the east. These westerly winds are the same ones that typically bring extratropical cyclones with their cold and warm fronts from west to east.

    Many times it is difficult to tell whether a trough will allow the tropical cyclone to recurve back out to sea (for those folks on the eastern edges of continents) or whether the tropical cyclone will continue straight ahead and make landfall.

    For more non-technical information on the movement of tropical cyclones, see Pielke and Pielke’s “Hurricanes: Their Nature and Impacts on Society”. For a more detailed, technical summary on the controls on tropical cyclone motion, see Elsberry’s chapter in “Global Perspectives on Tropical Cyclones”.

  • Why doesn't the South Atlantic Ocean experience tropical cyclones

    What never ?? Well, hardly ever.

    In March, 2004 a hurricane DID form in the South Atlantic Ocean and made landfall in Brazil. But this still leaves the question of why hurricanes are so rare in the South Atlantic. Though many people might speculate that the sea surface temperatures are too cold, the primary reasons that the South Atlantic Ocean gets few tropical cyclones are that the tropospheric (near surface to 200mb) vertical wind shear is much too strong and there is typically no inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ) over the ocean (Gray 1968). Without an ITCZ to provide synoptic vorticity and convergence (i.e. large scale spin and thunderstorm activity) as well as having strong wind shear, it becomes very difficult to nearly impossible to have genesis of tropical cyclones.

    In addition, McAdie and Rappaport (1991) documented the occurrence of a strong tropical depression/weak tropical storm that formed off the coast of Congo in mid-April of 1991. This storm lasted about five days and drifted toward the west-southwest into the central South Atlantic. So far, there has not been a systematic study as to the conditions that accompanied this rare event.


    Last updated July 13, 2005

  • Does an active June and July mean the rest of the season will be busy too?

    The vast majority of Atlantic activity takes place during August-September-October, the climatological peak months of the hurricane season. The overall number of named storms (hurricanes) occurring in June and July (JJ) correlates at an insignificant r = +0.13 (+0.02) versus the whole season activity. In fact, there is a slight negative relationship between early season storms (hurricanes) versus late season – August through November – r = -0.28 (-0.35). Thus, the overall early season activity, be it very active or quite calm, has little bearing on the season as a whole. These correlations are based on the years 1944-1994.

    However, as shown in (Goldenberg 2000), if one looks only at the June-July Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes occurring south of 22°N and east of 77°W (the eastern portion of the Main Development Region [MDR] for Atlantic hurricanes), there is a strong association with activity for the remainder of the year. According to the data from 1944-1999, total overall Atlantic activity for years that had a tropical storm or hurricane form in this region during JJ have been at least average and often above average. So it could be said that a JJ storm in this region is pretty much a “sufficient” (though not “necessary”) condition for a year to produce at least average activity. (I.e., Not all years with average to above-average total overall activity have had a JJ storm in that region, but almost all years with that type of JJ storm produce average to above-average activity.) The formation of a storm in this region during June-July is taken into account when the August updates for the Bill Gray and NOAA seasonal forecasts are issued.

    Last Revised : June 1, 2001

  • Why do hurricanes hit the East coast of the U.S., but never the West coast?

    Hurricanes form both in the Atlantic basin (i.e. the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea) to the east of the continental U.S. and in the Northeast Pacific basin to the west of the U.S. However, the ones in the Northeast Pacific almost never hit the U.S., while the ones in the Atlantic basin strike the U.S. mainland just less than twice a year on average. There are two main reasons. The first is that hurricanes tend to move toward the west-northwest after they form in the tropical and subtropical latitudes. In the Atlantic, such a motion often brings the hurricane into the vicinity of the U.S. east coast. In the Northeast Pacific, a west-northwest track takes those hurricanes farther off-shore, well away from the U.S. west coast. In addition to the general track, a second factor is the difference in water temperatures along the U.S. east and west coasts. Along the U.S. east coast, the Gulf Stream provides a source of warm (> 80°F or 26.5°C) waters to help maintain the hurricane. However, along the U.S. west coast, the ocean temperatures rarely get above the lower 70s, even in the midst of summer. Such relatively cool temperatures are not energetic enough to sustain a hurricane’s strength. So for the occasional Northeast Pacific hurricane that does track back toward the U.S. west coast, the cooler waters can quickly reduce the strength of the storm.

    Recently Chenoweth and Landsea (2004), re-discovered that a hurricane struck San Diego, California on October 2, 1858. Unprecedented damage was done in the city and was described as the severest gale ever felt to that date nor has it been matched or exceeded in severity since. The hurricane force winds at San Diego are the first and only documented instance of winds of this strength from a tropical cyclone in the recorded history of the state. While climate records are incomplete, 1858 may have been an El Niño year, which would have allowed the hurricane to maintain intensity as it moved north along warmer than usual waters. Today if a Category 1 hurricane made a direct landfall in either San Diego or Los Angeles, damage from such a storm would likely be on the order of a few to several hundred million dollars. The re-discovery of this storm is relevant to climate change issues and the insurance/emergency management communities risk assessment of rare and extreme events in the region.

    Last Revised: June 1, 2005

  • How much lightning occurs in tropical cyclones?

    Surprisingly, not much lightning occurs in the inner core (within about 100 km or 60 mi) of the tropical cyclone center. Only around a dozen or less cloud-to-ground strikes per hour occur around the eyewall of the storm, in strong contrast to an overland mid-latitude mesoscale convective complex which may be observed to have lightning flash rates of greater than 1000 per hour maintained for several hours.

    Hurricane Andrew’s eyewall had less than 10 strikes per hour from the time it was over the Bahamas until after it made landfall along Louisiana, with several hours with no cloud-to-ground lightning at all (Molinari et al. 1994). However, lightning can be more common in the outer cores of the storms (beyond around 100 km or 60 mi) with flash rates on the order of 100s per hour.

    This lack of inner core lightning is due to the relative weak nature of the eyewall thunderstorms. Because of the lack of surface heating over the ocean ocean and the “warm core” nature of the tropical cyclones, there is less buoyancy available to support the updrafts. Weaker updrafts lack the super-cooled water (e.g. water with a temperature less than 0° C or 32° F) that is crucial in charging up a thunderstorm by the interaction of ice crystals in the presence of liquid water (Black and Hallett 1986). The more common outer core lightning occurs in conjunction with the presence of convectively-active rainbands (Samsury and Orville 1994).

    One of the exciting possibilities that recent lightning studies have suggested is that changes in the inner core strikes – though the number of strikes is usually quite low – may provide a useful forecast tool for intensification of tropical cyclones. Black (1975) suggested that bursts of inner core convection which are accompanied by increases in electrical activity may indicate that the tropical cyclone will soon commence a deepening in intensity. Analyses of Hurricanes Diana (1984), Florence (1988) and Andrew (1992), as well as an unnamed tropical storm in 1987 indicate that this is often true (Lyons and Keen 1994 and Molinari et al. 1994).

  • What is my chance of being struck by a tropical storm or hurricane?

    The figure here shows for any particular location what the chance is that a tropical storm or hurricane will affect the area sometime during the whole June to November hurricane season. We utilized the years 1944 to 1999 in the analysis and counted hits when a storm or hurricane was within about 100 miles (165 km). This figure is created by Todd Kimberlain.

    For example, people living in New Orleans, Louisiana have about a 40% chance (the green-orange color) per year of experiencing a strike by a tropical storm or hurricane. For the U.S., the locations that have the highest chances are the following: Miami, Florida – 48% chance; Cape Hatteras, North Carolina – 48% chance; and San Juan, Puerto Rico – 42% chance.

    For any particular location the chance that a hurricane will directly affect the area sometime during the whole June to November hurricane season is shown here.

    We utilized the years 1944 to 1999 in the analysis and counted hits when a hurricane was within about 60 miles (110 km). This figure is created by Todd Kimberlain. (For example, the chance for Miami, Florida is about 16%.)

    For any particular location what the chance is that a major hurricane (Category 3, 4 or 5) will directly affect the area sometime during the whole June to November hurricane season is shown here.

    We utilized the years 1944 to 1999 in the analysis and counted hits when a hurricane was within about 30 miles (50 km). This figure is created by Todd Kimberlain. (For example, the chance for Miami, Florida is about 4%.)

    Many folks are are concerned about the possible impacts that a hurricane could have on their vacation. If so, please check with your hotel, cruise company, etc. to find out how they inform their guests when a hurricane is coming, what actions they plan and what refund policies they have (if any). Keep in mind that a direct hit by a major hurricane is an extremely rare event and if I had a chance – for example – to go on a cruise in the Caribbean Sea during hurricane season, I would go without hesitation.

  • What is my chance of having a tropical storm or hurricane strike by each month?

    at any particular location what the chance that a tropical storm or hurricane will affect the area sometime during an individual month. We utilized the years 1944 to 1999 in the analysis and counted hits when a storm or hurricane was within about 100 miles (165 km).

    At any particular location what the chance that a tropical storm or hurricane will affect the area sometime during an individual month. We utilized the years 1944 to 1999 in the analysis and counted hits when a storm or hurricane was within about 100 miles (165 km).

  • What is the peak number of tropical storms and hurricanes to affect my town?

    The figure here (created by Todd Kimberlain) shows for any particular location what the highest number of tropical storms and hurricanes is that affect the area sometime during the whole June to November hurricane season. Blue indicates a peak of just 1 storm, orange is 2 storms, brick red is 3 storms, green is 4 storms and red is 5 storms. We utilized the years 1944 to 1997 in the analysis and counted hits when a storm or hurricane was within about 100 miles (165 km).

  • What is the average forward speed of a hurricane?

    The forward speed of hurricanes is very latitude dependent. Typically, Atlantic hurricanes track along the western side of the subtropical ridge in the western Atlantic. As they recurve (turn more northerly) from their westward track they usually slow down. If they reach the midlatitudes, they can interact with upper-level troughs and pick up speed.

    In the table below, the forward speed of hurricanes in the HURDAT database have been averaged in 5 degree latitude bins :


    Forward speed of Atlantic hurricanes
    averaged by 5 degree latitude bins
    Speed No.
    km/hr knt mph
    0°- 5°N 25.9 14.0 16.1 186
    5°-10°N 22.0 11.9 13.7 4678
    10°-15°N 19.2 10.4 11.9 7620
    15°-20°N 17.4 9.4 10.8 7501
    20°-25°N 17.5 9.4 10.8 8602
    25°-30°N 20.1 10.8 12.5 6469
    30°-35°N 27.1 14.6 16.9 3397
    35°-40°N 39.0 21.0 24.2 1120
    40°-45°N 49.3 26.6 30.6 264
    45°-50°N 51.5 27.8 32.0 34
    50°-55°N 51.4 27.8 32.0 15
    55°-60°N 55.8 30.1 34.7 1

    While there are many cases where the forward speed over the 6 hour interval in the hurricane database is zero, such as Mitch in 1998, the highest speed in the database is for unnamed Tropical Storm #6 in 1961. As it got caught up by a midlatitude trough over the midatlantic states, it went speeding off northeastward over Maine and New Brunswick at a maximum speed of 112.25 km/hr (60.57 kt or 69.75 mph). The fastest hurricane in the record was Emily in 1987, whose maximum speed reached 110.48 km/hr (59.61 kt or 68.65 mph) as it raced over the North Atlantic, before it turned extratropical.

    Last updated May 29, 2014

  • I'm vacationing in the Caribbean/the Bahamas/ Central America/Miami or elsewhere in the tropics during hurricane season. What's my chance of getting hit by a hurricane?

    Typically, for someone visiting the tropics during June through November, the chance to experience (or even be threatened by) a hurricane is very small.

    As an example, this figure shows the chances to have a direct hit by a hurricane during the month of September, which is usually the busiest month. If we look at Puerto Rico, the chance is 8% of experiencing a hurricane, if you are there for the WHOLE month. If you are there for, say, only a week, then the chance would be one fourth of that – or only about 2% chance.

    To put this into perspective, if you made 50 one week trips to Puerto Rico in September, you would only experience a direct hit in ONE of those 50 visits. So the chances to get impacted by a hurricane are quite small for relatively short trips. (And the case chosen here is the WORST possible, as all other locations in all other months have smaller chances of being hit by a hurricane.)

    Despite the chance being small, one should know in advance what your hotel’s, cruise company’s, etc. policy is for guests when a hurricane is coming, what actions they plan and what refund policies they have (if any). As is described above, a direct hit by a hurricane is a very rare event for a short visit and if I had a chance – for example – to go on a cruise in the Caribbean Sea during hurricane season, I would go without hesitation.

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