2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season
December 11, 2018
Prior to the onset of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season, most scientific agencies predicted a near average to above average season. As the season drew near, some agencies refined their prediction to slightly below average or average. Further refinements to the forecast took place during the season to indicate a near average season and most notably to reduce the number of major hurricanes.
Despite the season not officially commencing until June 1, the formation of subtropical storms before that time has become “par for the course” over the past several years. Subtropical Storm Alberto formed on May 25 across the western Caribbean becoming the fourth subtropical system to begin the season prior to June 1 in as many years. Ironically enough after the season officially began on June 1, the month of June saw no tropical cyclone activity. The next cyclone to form also became the first hurricane of the season in early July. This cyclone became known as Tropical Storm Beryl on July 5 and intensified to a hurricane on July 6 across the Tropical Atlantic basin. Another cyclone formed the day after Beryl and eventually became known as Tropical Storm Chris on July 8. Chris would also strengthen to hurricane status well offshore the East Coast of the United States on July 10.
The month of August saw very little activity with just two tropical storms in Debby and Ernesto. However, on the last day of the month, Tropical Cyclone Florence developed near the Cape Verde Islands. Florence would eventually become the season’s first major hurricane. Florence would track across the Atlantic and ultimately make landfall across North Carolina as a Category 2 hurricane. Florence would produce the most amount of rainfall from a tropical cyclone recorded in the Carolinas. Florence produced a total of 35.93 inches of rain in Elizabethtown, North Carolina.
While Hurricane Florence was making the long haul across the Atlantic, four more cyclones would develop during her lifetime including two hurricanes in Helene and Isaac. The month of September would become the most active month of the season. Florence, Helene, Isaac, and Joyce would become the first time since 2008 that four storms were active at the same time.
September would remain active through the end of the month with the development of Subtropical Storm Leslie. Leslie would briefly become a Category 1 hurricane on October 3 then again on October 10.
While the number of overall storms dramatically decreased in October, the second major hurricane of the season developed across the Gulf of Mexico in Michael. Michael would become the strongest storm of the season and third strongest landfalling US hurricane on record in terms of central pressure.
The final cyclone to develop in the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane season would become a hurricane. Furthermore, the formation of Oscar on 27 October as a sub-tropical Storm marked the most sub-tropical cyclones (seven) to develop in one season.
Despite most forecast agencies calling for a below average season due to an anticipated El Niño, the season saw slightly above average total cyclones, slightly above-average number of hurricanes, and near-average number of major hurricanes. The predicted El Niño failed to develop early enough to suppress activity and as a result, most predictions fell shy of actual activity.