BY JOE MARIO PEDERSEN
ORLANDO – September earned its title as the peak month of hurricane season this year setting a new record as part of the three busiest consecutive Septembers on record, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Since the start of September there have been eight different named tropical systems spiraling around the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
Hurricane Dorian first caught meteorologists’ attention in Aug. 24, but became a Category 5 hurricane, one of the strongest in history, on Sept. 1.
The storm reached maximum sustained wind speeds of 185 mph matching the most powerfully recorded system to make landfall, the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.
Dorian flattened parts of Grand Bahama and Great Abaco Island while flooding areas with huge amounts of rainfall and storm surge. The Grand Bahama International Airport reported it was 6 feet underwater, according to The Associated Press.
The storm then skirted Florida and traveled up the east coast bringing heavy rainfall and dangerous winds to the Carolinas.
Hurricane Dorian lasted 17 days, the longest lifespan of a storm in 2019, before it fizzled out just off the coast of Nova Scotia. It was responsible for $7.5 billion worth of damage and the deaths of 68 people.
12 NAMED STORMS
Following Dorian, seven other September storms churned the tropics and turned heads. Tropical Storm Erin fizzled out before September started, but then the month saw Tropical Storms Fernand, Gabrielle and Imelda along with Hurricanes Humberto, Jerry, Karen and Lorenzo.
As a result, meteorologists measured a huge amount of accumulated cyclone energy, or ACE, in September, according to NHC scientist Eric Blake. ACE accounts for the total strength and duration of tropical system in a given period.
The Atlantic hurricane season is from June 1 to Nov. 30, with the peak of the season observed in September, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Before the 2019 season officially started NOAA predicted a near-normal hurricane season in its outlook for the year with a projected formation of nine to 15 named storms and four to eight hurricanes.
So far, 2019 has had 12 named storms and five hurricanes — four of which were formed in September, according to the NOAA.
The frequency of the eight named storms measured in September is rated as above normal.
The recorded ACE is the largest observed total in three consecutive Septembers since the previous record of 2003 to 2005, Blake said. The previous record saw historically powerful storms such as Francis, Ivan and Jeanne in 2004 as well as Hurricane Rita in 2005.
The 2016 to 2019 September total is as high as it is thanks in part to Hurricane Lorenzo — the largest hurricane to form in the eastern Atlantic, Blake said.
Lorenzo formed last week near the Cabo Verde Islands and quickly became major hurricane Thursday with maximum sustained winds greater than 110 mph.
Lorenzo lost strength shortly after, but then quickly restrengthened Saturday into a Category 5 hurricane with powerful maximum sustained winds of 160 mph.
The storm has since lost strength and remains a Category 2 storm as of 11 a.m. Monday, but remains a wide reaching system with hurricane-force winds extending 90 miles away from Lorenzo’s Center and tropical-storm-force winds observing detection as far as 255 miles away, the NHC said.
Lorenzo’s strength can be felt as far as South America in the form of dangerous swells and riptide like conditions, the NHC said Friday.
Meteorologists project Lorenzo’s lifespan could last another five days before dissipating and could bring heavy rainfall to Ireland and Scotland by Friday as a tropical storm.
While September is coming to an end, the 2019 season is unlikely to see inactivity in the tropics. Coming off the peak season, October has been known to produce strong storms such 2018’s Hurricane Michael.
The storm measured in Category 5 winds before making landfall on Florida’s panhandle and journeying through the southeastern United States causing $25 billion worth of damage of 16 deaths.