For dwellers near the coast, hurricane season is a harrowing, unpredictable time billowing with high-speed winds, hail and spurts of storms seemingly every few weeks.
Often thought of as a summer threat to weather conditions, hurricanes actually can hit the coasts of Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Texas and South Carolina well into fall.
Whether you live near the coast or are tangentially affected by the often-violent storms, you may have wondered when does the threat of hurricanes cease.
Below, you will find some details about hurricanes, 2019’s hurricane season and when the season ends.
What exactly is a hurricane?
Hurricanes are tropical cyclones. When a tropical cyclone's sustained winds reach 39 mph to 73 mph, it is considered a tropical storm and it gets a name from a list put out by the World Meteorological Organization, according to science news site LiveScience. Once those sustained winds reach 74 mph to 95 mph, the storm elevates to a Category 1 hurricane.
According to the Saffir-Simpson scale, the hurricane wind scale, here are the sustained winds linked to categories 2 through 5 hurricanes:
- Category 2: 96 to 110 mph (154 to 177 km/h)
- Category 3: 111 to 129 mph (178 to 208 km/h)
- Category 4: 130 to 156 mph (209 to 251 km/h)
- Category 5: 157 mph or higher (252 km/h or higher)
Though hurricanes often seem unpredictable, specific weather conditions predict their onset, such as warmer weather, which leads to lower pressure over tropical waters, said Phil Klotzbach, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University.
"There are two dominant climate patterns that really control the wind and pressure patterns across the Atlantic," Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster for NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, told Live Science. “When this pattern is in its warm phase, or a warmer tropical Atlantic Ocean, we tend to see stronger hurricane patterns for decades at a time."
When is a hurricane considered major?
A number of elements contribute to a hurricane being major, according to the National Hurricane Center. When a hurricane reaches Category 3, it is considered major because the winds become dangerous to the degree that they will cause structural damage, destroy mobile homes and possibly uproot trees. A hurricane warning indicates that sustained winds of at least 74 mph are expected within 36 hours.
What hurricanes have occurred so far in the U.S. in 2019?
Hurricane Barry was the first hurricane that hit American coasts this year. It landed in the northern Gulf of Mexico and struck Louisiana in mid-July.
The next hurricane, which caused much more widespread damage, was Hurricane Dorian, which landed in the U.S. Virgin Islands initially in late August. Its effects were felt in Puerto Rico, Florida and Georgia. In the Bahamas, the devastating cyclonic storm led to more than 60 deaths and ravaged entire communities.
In September, Hurricane Humberto made landfall in Texas, the Gulf of Mexico and Bermuda, where it brought strong winds and heavy rain.
When does hurricane season end this year?
Officially, the hurricane season began June 1. In the Eastern Pacific Ocean, hurricane season starts a bit earlier on May 15, according to Live Science. Most storms hit their peaks between August and October, on both coasts. On the Western and Eastern coasts, hurricane season ends Nov. 30.
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