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Tropical Tracker: Have there been storms after hurricane season ends?

climate change

Hurricane season runs through Nov. 30

ORLANDO, Fla. – There is still about five weeks to go until the official end of hurricane season and it can’t come soon enough. Most of the records that have been broken this year are from 2005. While the 2005 season to date was much more intense in terms of the quality of storms, 2020 is chasing down its quantity record.

In 2005, the name Zeta was reached on the Greek Alphabet and 2005 also included a postseason storm, forming after the official end to hurricane season. Notably, Zeta that year developed on December 30 and lasted through the first week of January.

While the following hurricane season doesn’t start again until June, any storm that develops from January to May will get the next set of names. Because of this we will focus on the month of December for postseason storms. The last time a postseason storm developed was 2013.

Since 1966, the satellite era, there have been seven named storms forming in December. There have been twelve storms active in the month of December, but five of them developed before the season officially ended Nov 30. None of those storms made landfall in the continental U.S., but Puerto Rico was impacted by Tropical Storm Olga in 2007. Going back to the start of record keeping in the late 1800s, only 31 storms of tropical storm force or stronger were active in December.

Of those 31 storms, only 16 developed in December. There has only been one landfall in the continental U.S. in December.

That one time, however, was Florida with an unnamed tropical storm making landfall on the west coast Dec 1. The storm itself developed in November, but made a rare December landfall in the Sunshine State.

With the water turning cooler due to winter in the Northern Hemisphere, tropical systems, of course, become less probable. With cold fronts sweeping across the U.S. becoming much more common, impacts to the lower 48 are even more rare.

Even though storms developing in January would count toward next season, development becomes even more unlikely. There have only been four storms since records began that developed in January. The most recent was Hurricane Alex in 2016.


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