The Atlantic hurricane season is officially from June 1 to November 30. Hurricanes have occurred outside of these six months, but these dates were selected to encompass over 97% of tropical activity. The Atlantic basin shows a very peaked season from August through October, with 78% of the tropical storm days, 87% of the minor (Saffir-Simpson Scale categories 1 and 2) hurricane days, and 96% of the major (Saffir-Simpson categories 3, 4 and 5) hurricane days occurring. Maximum activity is in early to mid September. Once in a few years there may be a hurricane occurring “out of season” -- primarily in May or December.
TROPICAL DEPRESSION An organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds* of 38 mph (33kt**) or less.
TROPICAL STORM An organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39-73 mph (34-63 kt).
HURRICANE An intense tropical weather system of strong thunderstorms with a well-defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 74 mph (64 kt) or higher. In other parts of the world, hurricane is synonymous for typhoons and cyclones.
It is advised to monitor the weather frequently and to heed the advice of local officials during hurricane season. Tropical systems can speed up, change direction and intensify without warning. Several local news stations as well as national weather services offer E-mail notifications by subscribing to their services.
The following terms are used by weather forecasters to describe the strength and probability/proximity of a storm from hitting a specific destination:
HURRICANE WATCH A hurricane may strike your area within 24 - 48 hours
HURRICANE WARNING A hurricane is expected to strike your area within 24 hours
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is a 1-5 rating based on the hurricane’s present intensity. Wind speed is the determining factor in the scale.