Will There Be A Gulf Coast Hurricane This Year?
Most seasonal hurricane forecasts for this year continue to call for a below normal number of tropical storms and hurricanes to form in the Atlantic Basin. But does this mean that the Northern Gulf Coast will likely escape hurricane activity this year?
And the answer is...not necessarily.
Some memorable hurricanes have affected the Northern Gulf Coast during years that below normal activity occurred.
Memorable Northern Gulf Coast Hurricanes During Years With Below Normal Activity
1960 - There were only seven named storms, but two of these affected portions of the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Donna struck the Florida Keys with winds of 130 mph and then moved northward up the peninsula, producing widespread damage. Less than one week later Hurricane Ethel formed rapidly in the Central Gulf of Mexico and moved northward into Mississippi near Pascagoula.
1965 - Only six named storms occurred, but they were highlighted by one called Hurricane Betsy. Hurricane Betsy struck the New Orleans area and wreaked havoc with winds of 145 mph and a devastating storm surge.
1975 - There were only eight named storms in 1975, but Hurricane Eloise slammed the Northwest Florida coastline between Destin and Panama City with winds gusting over 125 mph and a storm surge of 12 to 16 feet. Beaches were devastated from Panama City to Fort Walton, with hurricane force winds extending far inland through the Florida Panhandle and extreme Southeast Alabama as the storm raced across the area.
1979 - Once again there were only eight named storms, but Alabamians will long remember one called Frederic. Hurricane Frederic moved ashore in the Mobile Bay area with winds gusting as high as 145 mph and a storm surge of 8 to 12 feet. High winds and heavy rain spread northward across eastern sections of Mississippi and much of Alabama as the storm moved northward near the Alabama and Mississippi state line.
1992 - There were only six named storms, but one of them was named Andrew. Hurricane Andrew slammed the southern sections of Florida as a Category Five hurricane and then turned northwest, eventually moving into the Central Louisiana coastline as a Category Three Hurricane, and then tracking northeast across Mississippi producing rainy, windy conditions across much of Alabama.
As you can tell from the information above, below normal hurricane activity in a given year does not necessarily mean there will not be a hurricane affecting the Northern Gulf Coast. So, continue to monitor the tropics during the next several weeks as we head into the peak of our tropical storm season.