The start of hurricane season and Junes of the recent past
June 1, 2006
Brendan Loy wrote a very nice note on the start of hurricane season. This year has shown positively anomalous interest in the start of the season. I noticed tonight that last year I wrote nothing about the tropics until the formation of Tropical Depression One on June 8, while this year I've already authored many posts on the topic.
Brendan correctly points out the not-so-specialness of June 1 (see my On hurricane seasons post for a related discussion), and raises the valid concern that all of this pre-season run-up discussion may have raised unrealistic expectations on the start of the season. That is, if we go a couple of weeks without something developing then people will start running around saying "Season cancel", when the reality is that's actually normal and has no bearing on activity for the rest of the season.
To drive this point home, here's what the June activity has been since we entered the period of above average activity starting in 1995….
1995: What became Hurricane Allison formed on June 3, but died on June 6. It would be a full month before another storm developed. 17 named storms followed.
1996: Tropical Storm Arthur started to come about on June 17, the only activity that month. Six major hurricanes formed later in the season.
1997: The depression that became Tropical Storm Ana formed on June 30. El Niño restricted activity to seven named storms, making it the most recent season to not have any storm names retired.
1998: Nothing formed in June. The TD that became Alex began formed on July 27. Nine hurricanes followed.
1999: The future TS Arlene formed on June 11. The next tropical storm didn't form until mid-August, yet there were five major hurricanes that season.
2000: Nothing became of the tropical depressions that formed on June 7 and June 24. Tropical Storm Alberto didn't form until August 4. It was the first of 14 named storms.
2001: Tropical Storm Allison was born June 5, but the first of the nine hurricanes that season did not form until September 8th.
2002: The other El Niño season (but not as subdued as 1997). The first TS did not form until July 15. The first hurricane did not come about until September 11. Two later hurricanes (Isidore and Lili) were notorious enough for their names to be retired.
2003: There had already been a tropical storm before June 1 came around, but there wasn't another one until June 29. All three major hurricanes that year got their names retired.
2004: Absolutely nothing until July 31. Two months and four hurricanes later, Florida wished things had stayed that way.
2005: Two tropical storms, which formed on June 9 and 28. Of course, not the only way that the season was superlative to the others on this list.
So, if you crunch the numbers for these seasons, you find that even with all of the above average activity, on average, the first tropical storm didn't form until 30 days into the season, and the first hurricane didn't form until 63 days into the season. (Note that 2003's Ana, which formed in April was so anomalous, that I omitted it from the tropical storm calculation).