When you average the last 100 years of tropical record books, the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season falls on September 10th. This year, that seems to be holding true. There are 3 hurricanes spinning over the Atlantic Ocean right now, including Florence, Helene, and Isaac.
Two of these hurricanes pose a threat to land, but Hurricane Helene will take a turn to the north, staying over the waters of the central Atlantic.
Hurricane Isaac is heading west, towards the Caribbean. It will impact the Lesser Antilles as it crosses into the Caribbean on Thursday. At that point, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) expects the storm to weaken from a hurricane into a tropical storm.
The strongest storm, Hurricane Florence, is also the one heading towards the U.S. mainland. Monday morning, a hurricane hunter aircraft recorded 130 mph sustained winds as it flew through Florence. This ranked it as a major category 4 storm.
Florence is expected to maintain its category 4 strength as it makes landfall in or near North Carolina on Thursday.
This would bring devastating winds and significant storm surge to areas near and north of the storm's center. There are also concerns the storm's forward movement will slow down late in the week, which could dump more than a foot of rain on parts of the Carolinas and Virginia. Current forecasts, as of September 10, also show the potential for a few areas to see closer to two feet of rain. If these trends hold, Florence will cause widespread flooding.
Florence will pose a great threat to life and property. If you have friends or family along the east coast, make sure they are keeping up to date on the storm's forecast and potential impacts where they live. This will not just be a coastal event. Impacts will be felt well inland. Families there should be making preparations as quickly as possible. If told to evacuate by local officials, they should do so.
Along with the 3 named storms in the Atlantic, the NHC is also monitoring two other areas of concern for future tropical formation. These are highlighted in orange on the NHC map below.
The area of concern in the Atlantic will likely pose no threat to the United States, since it is so far north. The same can't be said for the Gulf of Mexico in the coming week. A tropical system may form near the Gulf coast of Texas before moving over Texas.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 each year, but storms can, and do, form outside of that range.