Talking the Tropics With Mike: 2018 season review

Two U.S. hurricane landfalls cause horrific damage

Talking the Tropics With Mike: 2018 season review

Joyce Walker sits on her porch in front fallen trees outside her home in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Nov. 30, 2018 — The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season will be remembered for two very damaging U.S. landfalling hurricanes - Florence in the Carolina's in September & Michael slamming the Florida Panhandle in October.  Some "highlights":

* 4th straight year that a tropical cyclone formed before the "official" start of the season, June 1st. ("Alberto" formed May 25th)

* First year since 2008 to have 4 named storms at once - "Florence", "Helene", "Isaac" & "Joyce"

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* Michael was the strongest hurricane to ever hit the Fl. Panhandle... 3rd most intense to make a U.S. landfall with a central pressure of 919mb (27.14" of mercury!)... 4th strongest winds at 155 mph (final analysis/report still pending)

* Florence set tropical cyclone records for total rainfall in S. Carolina (23.63" & N. Carolina (35.93")

The number of storms was slightly above average & generally higher than early or preseason forecasts.  The uptick in activity can be blamed on - or at least partially attributed to - a very slow to develop El Nino (warming of the equatorial Pacific that usually cuts down the number of storms due to higher shear throughout & near the tropics) & a pretty decent increase in ocean temps. late in Aug. through Oct. vs. cooler than avg. temps. that dominated the first few months of the season - especially over tropical Atlantic.

The four storms that made a U.S. landfall: Alberto (TS) - late May... Gordon (TS) - early Sept.... Florence (Cat. 1 hurricane) - mid Sept.... Michael - Cat. 4 hurricane - Oct.......

Courtesy Dr. Phil Klotzbach, Colorado State U:

A satellite animation showing the 2018 hurricane season in its entirety:

A month by month breakdown:


25th - subtropical storm Alberto develops over the Yucatan Channel

28th - tropical storm Alberto makes landfall in the Florida Panhandle northwest of Panama City as relatively weak tropical storm heavily weighted with rain & wind on the eastern side (typical of early season storms).

JUNE: No storms

JULY: (2 tropical cyclones)

5th - tropical depression #2 forms over the East Central Atlantic & becomes tropical storm Beryl.  Noteworthy since Beryl developed over the Main Development Region (MDR) so early in the season, so far south & east & over relatively cool water.

6th - Beryl becomes a hurricane over the Central Atlantic - farthest south & east that a hurricane has formed so early in the season... tropical depression #3 forms 450 miles NE of Jacksonville.  Beryl degenerated into an open wave on July 8th only to become subtropical storm on the 14th well east of the N.E. U.S. with the final advisory from the NHC on the 15th.

8th - tropical depression #3 becomes tropical storm Chris over SW Atlantic

10th - Chris becomes a hurricane over the W. Atlantic

AUGUST: (3 tropical cyclones)

6th - subtropical storm Debby forms over the N. Atlantic

15th - subtropical storm Ernesto forms over the NE Atlantic & becomes a tropical storm on the 16th

31st - tropical depression #6 forms over the E. Atlantic

SEPTEMBER: (8 tropical cyclones)

1st - tropical depression #6 becomes tropical storm Florence

3rd - tropical storm Gordon forms near Key Largo, Fl. then makes landfall as tropical storm on the 4th near Pascagoula

4th - Florence becomes a hurricane over E. Atlantic & becomes a Cat. 4 on the 5th

7th - tropical depressions 8 & 9 develop over the E. Atlantic - #8 becomes tropical storm Helene

8th - tropical depression #9 becomes tropical storm Isaac

9th - Florence becomes a hurricane again after weakening to a t.d. on the 5th.... Helene & Isaac become hurricanes

12th - tropical storm Joyce forms over the N. Atlantic

14th - Hurricane Florence landfall - Cat. 1 - Wrightsville, NC about 7:15pm EDT - Buresh Blog: "Florence & its Nuances".  Tropical cyclone rainfall records were set in N. & S. Carolina.  Flooding below is in Jacksonville, NC.  Most rivers did not fall below flood stage for at least 2 weeks & - in the longest case - not until a month later!

The landfall forecast from the NHC was spot on 5 days in advance!  Still some difficulties with intensity, but there was plenty of warning for Florence.


21st - tropical depression #11 forms east of Lesser Antilles

22nd - tropical storm Kirk forms over the E. Atlantic

23rd - subtropical storm Leslie forms over N. Atlantic

26th - tropical storm Kirk reforms after weakening to an open wave on the 24th

OCTOBER: (4 tropical cyclones)

3rd - Leslie becomes a hurricane Central Atlantic

7th - tropical depression #14 forms over the Southern Gulf of Mexico & becomes tropical storm Michael

8th - Michael strengthens into a Cat. 3.... tropical storm Nadine forms over the E. Atlantic

9th - Michael becomes a Cat. 4 with a landfall at Mexico Beach, Fl. southeast of Panama City about 2pm EDT.  See the Buresh Blog: "Forecasting monster hurricane Michael".  Photos & video * here *.


Funnel cloud over Western Clay Co. about 40 miles SW of Jacksonville within an outer band east of Michael:

NOAA hurricane hunter WP-3D passing through the eye of Michael on Oct. 10th: *

26th - subtropical storm Oscar forms over the Central Atlantic & becomes a hurricane on the 28th before becoming post-tropical on the 31st - the last NHC advisory of the season.

NOVEMBER: No storms

2019 Atlantic storm names which "officially" begins June 1st: