As Peak Hurricane Season Arrives, Record Gulf of Mexico Drought Continues

Texas is long overdue for a hurricane, but continues to enjoy an unprecedented quiet period, even as peak hurricane season arrives.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects this to be the most active hurricane season since 2012, with 12-17 named storms. But that bold prediction stands in contrast to the fact that the Gulf of Mexico is experiencing a record hurricane drought.

Jonathan Belles, a Weather Channel meteorologist, reported that the Gulf of Mexico has not seen a hurricane in more than 1,000 days, since Hurricane Ingrid made landfall in Mexico in September 2013. That's the longest period without a hurricane in the gulf since 1886 — when scientists first kept regular records of Atlantic weather patterns.

Forecasters urge Gulf Coast residents against getting complacent, though. Earlier this summer, a National Hurricane Center spokesman described the fact that the United States hasn't been struck by a Category 3-or-higher storm since 2005 as "largely luck."

Several tropical storms have formed in the gulf in the past three years, but none strengthened into a hurricane, defined by sustained winds in excess of 74 mph.

The drought follows an extremely active period for gulf hurricanes, when 12 formed between 2004 and 2008. Those storms included some of the most damaging in U.S. history, including Charley (2004), Katrina (2005) and Houston's own Ike (2008).

Late last week, a low pressure system in the Atlantic Ocean threatened to develop into a stronger storm. But forecasters predict the system, now called Tropical Depression #9, will dump buckets of rain on the Florida Panhandle before dissipating. 

To date, just three hurricanes have formed in the Atlantic (Alex, Earl and Gaston), but only Earl made landfall, in Mexico and Belize. But we are just entering peak hurricane season, which runs from late August through September. The next named storm will be Hermine.

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