June, the first month of 2000 hurricane season, slipped by without a named tropical storm or hurricane forming in the Atlantic Basin. Unusual? Not according to the weather experts.
Statistically, few tropical storms and hurricanes have developed in the Atlantic before July. Of the 938 tropical storm events on record from 1886 to 1997, only 59 happened during June. Based on this data, the National Weather Service calculates that on average such storms occur in June once every other year.
June tropical storms in the Atlantic have formed in three of the past five years. They included Arlene on June 12, 1999, Arthur on June 17, 1996, and Allison on June 2, 1995. Only Allison strengthened to hurricane force, the first spawned in the Atlantic Basin during June since Hurricane Bonnie in 1986.
With the exception of 1999, July has played host to tropical storms in each of the past five years. In all, 11 such storms developed during the period, the last of which was Tropical Storm Alex in 1998. Five of the storms turned into hurricanes, including Bill and Danny in 1997; Bertha and Caesar in 1996; and Erin in 1995.
Interestingly, the last June tropical storm to be declared for federal disaster aid occurred in 1989 and also bore the name Allison. The storm, which made landfall on the Gulf Coast, caused an estimated $500 million in damage and resulted in major disasters being declared for Louisiana and Texas.
Hurricane Agnes, striking the East Coast in 1972, stands out as the only other June Atlantic storm on record that warranted federal assistance. Major disaster declarations were issued for six states-Maryland, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia-as a result of Agnes, which caused an estimated $2.1 billion in damage at the time and ranks as one the most costly hurricanes of the last century.
While the frequency of tropical storms increases in July, the most active part of the Atlantic hurricane season runs between August 1 and October 31. According to the historical record, 740 tropical storm events have taken place during this period, with the most occurring in the peak month of September.
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