Outer Banks – Hurricane Season

Hurricane Season is in full swing, and it can be a major concern on the Outer Banks.  A large storm can interrupt vacations and wreak havoc on local living conditions. 

Hurricane Season refers to the period in the year when hurricanes usually form.

Worldwide, tropical cyclone activity peaks in late summer, when the difference between temperatures aloft and sea surface temperatures is the greatest. However, each particular basin has its own seasonal patterns. On a worldwide scale, May is the least active month, while September is the most active.

In the Northern Atlantic Ocean, a distinct hurricane season occurs from June 1 to November 30, sharply peaking from late August through September.

Tropical disturbances that reach tropical storm intensity are named from a pre-determined list. On average, 10.1 named storms occur each season, with an average of 5.9 becoming hurricanes and 2.5 becoming major hurricanes (Category 3 or greater). The statistical peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is September 10. 

We are in the midst of the most active period of the Northern Atlantic Hurricane season, and the statistical peak of September 10 is fast approaching.  The activity in the tropics seems to be falling in line with these statistics.  We presently have Hurricane Gustav bearing down on the Gulf Coast, and a tropical depression is growing in the mid-Atlantic. 

For all of the grief we give weather predictors, their predictions seem to be improving.  The 2008 Hurricane Season is coming pretty close to the predictions climatologists made preceding the season.  “NOAA scientists predict(ed) 12 to 16 named storms, with six to nine becoming hurricanes, of which two to five could become major hurricanes of Category three strength or higher.”  An average season sees 11 named storms, with six becoming hurricanes, including two major hurricanes.


Up to this point, the 2008 Northern Atlantic Hurricane Season has seen:

  1. Tropical Storm Arthur – First reported Tropical Storm to form in May since 1981, but died out quickly.
  2. Hurricane Bertha – Intensified as high as a Category II, but stayed in the Atlantic.  Bermuda felt the brunt. 
  3. Tropical Storm Cristobal – Stayed parallel to the Carolina coast, but never made landfall.
  4. Hurricane Dolly – Intensified to a Category II and made landfall in Texas
  5. Tropical Storm Eduardo – Made landfall in Texas
  6. Tropical Storm Fay – Made landfall four times in Florida. 
  7. Hurricane Gustav – Predicted to make landfall in the Gulf Coast in the next few days
  8. Tropical Depression Eight  - Computer models have it tracked to stay in the Atlantic Ocean

So far, the Outer Banks has faired very well this season (knock on wood).  We felt the impact of Bertha in the form of increased wave swell, and from a surfer’s perspective, this is not a bad thing…especially in July!  We are currently feeling the effects of Fay’s remnants in the form of a couple days of rain.  Lastly, Tropical Depression Eight seems to be tracking into the mid-Atlantic (more hopes of good surf?!). 


As we move past the peak and into the tail end of hurricane season, hopefully the Outer Banks’ good fortune continues.  All in all, the summer has been beautiful, and it seems the fall should be as well.


This is a great time to take advantage of all the Outer Banks has to offer.  The weather is mild, the water is warm, the crowds are decreasing, and with the help of a mid-Atlantic storm (or two), the surfing and fishing could be second to none. 


Great rental homes are still available.  Your vacation may be more affordable than you think.  (www.OuterBanksVacations.com)

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