How Long Does Houston Realistically Have Left Before Hurricane Season is Over?

The tracks of every storm in 2018 thus far. How much longer do we have to watch this with concern?
The tracks of every storm in 2018 thus far. How much longer do we have to watch this with concern? Wikimedia Commons
Update: As a few kind folks have pointed out, Hurricane Jerry actually struck the Texas coast in mid-October 1989 as a minimal category one hurricane. It is the only hurricane to strike the Texas coastline after October 1 ever recorded.

Sitting in the middle of the busiest part of hurricane season, it feels like the end is a pretty good distance away. The statistical peak of hurricane season is September 10, but the season doesn't officially end until December 1. Waters in the tropical Atlantic can stay warm enough to support tropical storms well into the fall.

So, what about Texas? For those who grew up along the Texas coast, we recognize the rules for hurricane season are a little different. The peak of the season, like the rest of the Atlantic, is between mid-August and mid-September. But, while other parts of the Atlantic Basin remain active for weeks after that, there is a rapid decline for the Texas coastline.

In fact, no hurricane has ever made landfall in Texas after September 23. The closest we ever came was Hurricane Rita in 2005 (remember the storm where the traffic killed more people than the weather?). It made landfall on September 24 just across the border in Louisiana. Beyond that, only three hurricanes have struck the Texas coast on or after September 20: Beulah (September 20, 1967), Unnamed category 2 hurricane (September 21, 1887) and Unnamed category 3 hurricane (September 23, 1941).

We have had a handful of tropical storms threaten the coastline in later September and even October, but it's rare, much like the hurricanes. The reason is we typically get our first blast of cool autumn air the second or third week of September, which both cools down the region (including the Gulf) and tends to steer storms north and east.

While there are no big cold fronts on the immediate horizon, there are hints on forecast models of our first legitimate norther in about two weeks. That is still a LONG way out from a forecasting perspective, but the timing is appropriate considering the climatology of the region.

Regardless, the practical end to hurricane season for Texas is after that first cold front or right around September 24, whichever comes first. That still leaves just under three weeks of watching the tropics and keeping our fingers crossed for cooler weather. It could be worse. It could be July.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke