Friday, June 1, 2012

Tropical Weather Season 2012 "Officially" Underway in the Atlantic...

June 1 marks the "official" beginning of the tropical weather season in the Atlantic Basin.

All Known Tropical Storm/Hurricane Tracks in the Atlantic Basin

As we all know, however, the weather isn't particularly fond of following a calendar, and that has certainly been the case in the tropics so far this year.  We've already seen tropical storms Alberto and Beryl, so you can scratch those two off of the list of 2012 Atlantic storm names below:


Remember that in both the Pacific and Atlantic basins, a system becomes "named" when it reaches Tropical Storm or Hurricane strength.  Tropical Depressions are given a number.

In case you'd like a brief 
refresher course, below is how things typically progress in the tropics (Pacific or Atlantic) as far as the formation and classification of a system are concerned: 

(1). Tropical Wave - developing area of low pressure where thunderstorms are still relatively disorganized.  No real center or sustained wind field.  A name or number is not formally assigned to this type of system, however it may eventually be given an "Invest" (or area of investigation) number as it develops further. 

(2). Tropical Depression - developing area of low pressure with more organized thunderstorm activity.  Develops an area with sustained winds of 38 mph or less.  A number is assigned to the system once it reaches this stage (i.e., Tropical Depression One, Two, Three, etc.) 

(3). Tropical Storm - organized area of low pressure & thunderstorm activity with sustained winds of 39-73 mph.  A formal name is given to the system at this stage. 

(4). Hurricane - organized area of low pressure & thunderstorm activity with sustained winds greater than 73 mph.  Continues with the same name assigned once it reached Tropical Storm strength. 

Once a system reaches Hurricane strength, it is also assigned an intensity on the "Saffir-Simpson Scale" (similar to the EF-scale used for tornadoes).  For more on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, see this post

During the month of June, the most common origin points of tropical storms and hurricanes are located in the southern Gulf of Mexico and across the southwest Atlantic, adjacent to the southeast U.S coast:

Keep in mind, the above are just the "average" starting points during the month of June, which is the least active month of the entire tropical season (which ends in November).  The bar chart below will give you an idea as to how each season behaved since the late 1800s (click to enlarge):

Please view this post for a complete rundown of tropical weather safety and preparedness tips, as well as information on the differences between various tropical weather watches and warnings. 

As I always like to point out, there is no reason to fear a particular severe weather season if you are prepared.  Taking a few minutes right around the start of the season, followed by a "refresher" course every once and awhile throughout the season will keep you up to date and prepared in the event that a system threatens your area. 

For the latest updates on tropical weather activity throughout the season in both the Pacific and Atlantic basins, be sure to check out the Tropical Weather Headquarters on our sister site,

For more information, including "live blogging" during rapidly changing weather events, please be sure to follow me on facebook and/or twitter:


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