Atlantic Has Its First Pair of July Hurricanes in a Decade

Chris Dolce
Published: July 10, 2018

Chris attained hurricane-strength late Tuesday afternoon as it spun off the U.S. East Coast, making it a rare second hurricane to form in the Atlantic during July.

The first hurricane of 2018 arrived on July 6 when Beryl developed in the tropical Atlantic Ocean. Beryl's formation spot was an odd one for early July. It was just one of two such hurricanes to form that early in the season east of the Lesser Antilles.

Enhanced satellite of Hurricane Beryl on July 6, 2018.

(MORE: Hurricane Central)

July hurricane formations are infrequent, with 55 of them occurring in the Atlantic Basin in the 166 years spanning 1851 to 2017, according to NOAA's Hurricane Research Division. That's an average of about one July hurricane every three years.

Beryl was the first Atlantic hurricane to form in July since Arthur in 2014.

Two hurricanes forming in July is even less common. The last time that happened was in 2008. Hurricane Dolly struck south Texas as a Category 1, and Hurricane Bertha roamed the central Atlantic and brought tropical storm conditions to Bermuda.

Before that, only five other years since satellite observations began in 1966 have had two or more hurricanes form in July: 2005, 2003, 1997, 1996 and 1966. In 2005 (Cindy, Dennis, Emily) and 1966 (Becky, Celia, Dorthy), three hurricanes formed in July.

Six years since 1966 have had multiple July hurricanes in the Atlantic. Displayed is the track and name of each hurricane for those six years.

The peak of the Atlantic season is typically August through October. In July, tropical waves, the seeds for development in the Atlantic, are less organized compared to August or September as they push westward from Africa every few days.

More than one July hurricane doesn't necessarily mean the rest of the hurricane season will be active.

Of the six Atlantic seasons since 1966 with two or more July hurricanes, three years had an above-average number of storms (2008, 2005, 2003), two had a near-average number of storms (1996, 1966) and one year was well below-average (1997). The number of storms in those years ranged from as many as 28 in 2005 to eight in 1997.

Forecasters are projecting a below-average number of tropical storms and hurricanes this year in the Atlantic, namely due to cooler-than-average water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and the possible development of El Niño.

(MORE: Hurricane Season Outlook)

As we say every hurricane season, it's not how many storms form, but rather where they track. An overall inactive hurricane season can still have a devastating impact, as happened with Andrew in 1992.

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