• Since 1950, 19 hurricanes have made a U.S. landfall in October, 10 of which occurred in Florida.
  • Five hurricanes have struck the U.S. in October since 2016.
  • Parts of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and western Atlantic are the breeding grounds for storms.

H​urricane season quickly flipped a switch in recent weeks from one of the quietest starts in decades to a pair of devastating storms: Ian and Fiona. Now, we are heading through the final two months of the season, and recent years illustrate why we still must keep a close watch on the Atlantic.

P​ortions of the Gulf and Southeast coasts are most favored to see hurricane landfalls in October based on past history, and that’s especially true for Florida. It becomes more difficult for hurricanes to make landfall farther north in October as the upper-level wind pattern changes and the jet stream slides farther south, but Superstorm Sandy broke many meteorological rules of thumb when it hit the Northeast in 2012.

F​rom 1950 to 2021, 19 hurricanes have made a United States landfall in October, not including Sandy since it did not officially make landfall as a tropical cyclone. Ten of those occurred in Florida, followed by Louisiana with six.

R​ecent years have shown the impacts hurricanes can still bring to the U.S. in October.

Hurricanes Matthew, Nate, Michael, Delta and Zeta all made a U.S. landfall in October since 2016. The U.S. was spared from any late-season hurricane strikes last year.

Michael had the most devastating impacts of those recent hurricanes since it was an extremely rare Category 5 U.S. landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Oct. 10, 2018.

Storm surge from Michael produced catastrophic damage in Mexico Beach, Florida. Wind damage was extreme along its path from the Florida Panhandle all the way into southern parts of Georgia.

Late-Season Typical Development Areas and Tracks

Even though the climatological peak of the hurricane season – Sept. 10 – has passed, residents along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts need to remain prepared for a tropical storm or hurricane. Roughly one-fifth of all U.S. hurricane landfalls have occurred in October and November.

On average, one hurricane forms every year in October, according to NOAA. The most hurricanes to form in October was five in 2010, although 2020 came close with four.

By October, the formation zones of tropical storms and hurricanes shift westward toward the western Caribbean Sea, eastern Gulf of Mexico and far western Atlantic Ocean as the “Cabo Verde” portion of the hurricane season, featuring the development of African easterly waves in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, fades.

Hurricane season quiets down as we head into November, especially for the U.S. There are just three known U.S. hurricane landfalls in the month of November dating to 1861.

Hurricane Kate in 1985 was the latest-in-season hurricane landfall in the U.S. Kate came ashore at Mexico Beach, Florida, on Nov. 21, a week before Thanksgiving.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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