Although there are no tropical disturbances in the Atlantic basin that show a potential for tropical cyclone development at the moment, I would like to jog our memories a little with a reminder of some recent late season hurricanes that impacted South Florida.
In October 1999, Hurricane Irene was a Category 1 hurricane that became a tremendous rainfall event for South Florida. The National Hurricane Center was forecasting 10 to 20 inches of rain and we had reports ranging from 10 to 18 inches. There were eigtht indirect deaths in South Florida: five electrocutions and three from drowning. The drownings occurred when people drove their cars into canals because they couldn’t see where the road stopped and the canal started.
In late October 2001, Michelle formed over the western Caribbean, struck Cuba as a Category 4 hurricane in early November, and brought tropical storm conditions to the Florida Keys and the southeast Florida coast.
Everyone in South Florida will remember Hurricane Wilma in October of 2005. Wilma became a Category 5 hurricane over the northwest Caribbean with the all time lowest central pressure for an Atlantic basin hurricane, caused tremendous damage on the Yucatan peninsula, made landfall on the southwest Florida coast as a Category 3, and brought mostly Category 1 and 2 winds to the southeast Florida coast. This resulted in over $20 billion in damages in Florida and made Wilma the 3rd costliest hurricane in U.S. history.
Noel formed in late October and brought large loss of life over Hispaniola from heavy rains and mudslides. It became a hurricane near the northwestern Bahamas. Noel missed South Florida but it was close enough for the National Hurricane Center to post tropical storm warnings for the southeast Florida coast. Only a slight change in the steering currents could easily have brought that hurricane closer to South Florida.
October has been very inactive in the Atlantic so far. But officially we still have 1 ½ months left in the hurricane season. I’ll be surprised if this season doesn’t produce another tropical cyclone somewhere within the Atlantic basin.