GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After a slow start to the Atlantic hurricane season, storms are starting to gain some steam in the eastern Atlantic. While every hurricane season is different, the overall peak usually occurs around Sept. 1. In fact, 88% of all Atlantic tropical activity usually occurs after Aug. 15.
As of this week, only a few storms have formed in the Atlantic basin to reach tropical storm or hurricane status. A storm is not given a name until it reaches at least tropical storm strength. A storm is considered to have reached tropical storm strength if a sustained wind speed within the storm reaches 39 mph or stronger.
The next storm to gain enough strength will take the name Emily. Things can change quickly in the realm of the tropics. Last season, there were zero named storms as of August. September 2022 produced six named storms, including major Hurricane Ian, which left massive devastation after landfall in eastern Florida.
The Atlantic tropical season technically runs through the end of November, with activity slowly ramping down after the September peak. An updated forecast from the National Hurricane Center shows experts expect a total of about 12 to 17 named storms this season, with as many as five to nine hurricanes. There is a likelihood that at least one of those hurricanes will reach Category 4 or 5 status with sustained winds of at least 130 mph or higher.
It can take just one hurricane to make the tropical season deadly.
While more expected storms mean more opportunities for landfall, even a low-producing year can have deep impacts if the storm makes landfall in a highly populated area and has attributes that can contribute to destruction.
Storms with slower winds can still create devastating storm surges and flooding rains. Some tropical storms can even create more damage with heavy rain and surge than a small, fast-moving hurricane.
Click here for the latest on current storms or areas of investigation the National Hurricane Center is watching.