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Does an early tropical storm hint at an active hurricane season?

5 years 6 months 3 weeks ago Monday, May 14 2018 May 14, 2018 May 14, 2018 5:29 PM May 14, 2018 in Weather
Source: WBRZ weather

As the tropics heat up and the first disturbances emerge, one cannot help but wonder about the upcoming season. Are these disturbances that are developing, an early indication of a potentially strong and above average year?

Technically, that answer is yes. In recorded history, since 1851, 19 of the 30 years we have experienced an early tropical system, have been an above average year for named storms. That means that if this disturbance does get named, we would have a 63% chance of this year being above average. Odds are not overwhelming, but a better chance of being above average, than normal or below. We have a 27% chance of experiencing a below average year, and a 10% chance of an average year. The table is listed below:

1851 – 2017 (Recorded History)


19 (4 with multiple pre-season storms)




3 (1 with multiple pre-season storms)


The earliest storm on record was Tropical Storm #1, occurring on January 4, 1951. Hurricane “Amanda” occurring on May 24, 1863, was the strongest early storm, attaining a strong category 2 hurricane status. This hurricane happened before the United States began naming tropical storms. The name “Amanda” actually refers to the USS Amanda warship, which was a Navy gunboat that was driven ashore by the storm. It actually slowed the Civil War slightly, striking Florida’s panhandle about a month before the Battle of Gettysburg. It was also the earliest hurricane on record to strike Florida, and the only hurricane to hit the U.S. coastline in the month of May. The most costly pre-season storm was Tropical Storm Arthur in 2008, costing an estimated $78 million.

Current forecast models are not looking promising for tropical development for the current system that is moving into the Eastern Gulf, but the month is not done just yet. There is a potential to see a development over the last two weeks of May, as Gulf temperatures are slightly warmer than the May average. The largest weather team in the Pelican State will continue to keep an eye on the tropics, and alert you to any updates in the forecast.

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