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Humberto Is First Hurricane of 2013

We were expecting a busy hurricane season, but the first hurricane of the year, Humberto, has formed just past the Sept 10 peak of hurricane season. It narrowly missed out on being the latest forming storm on record.

Humberto increased to hurricane strength at 5AM Wednesday, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. The storm is expected to strengthen even more today before weakening on Thursday.

Humberto’s transition to hurricane happened on the same day as 2002’s Hurricane Gustav, but occurred three hours earlier, meaning the 2013 storm avoids being placed in the record books. Hurricanes Diana (1984) and Erin (2001) were the next latest storms to form.

September 10 is recognized as the peak of hurricane season, with the most activity in the Atlantic basin during that period, when the ocean waters are the warmest after heating up all spring and summer. Warm water acts as the fuel that drives hurricanes and tropical storms.

There were eight named storms during the first half of the season, none reached hurricane status. Most of these were hampered by strong wind shear, a condition where winds change direction rapidly, not to mention drier air blowing off of Africa. These conditions are now fading, which allows activity in the region to ramp up.

Humberto’s predecessor, Tropical Storm Gabrielle, reformed earlier this week and will impact the East Coast and possibly Nova Scotia and Newfoundland before blowing herself out in the Northern Atlantic.

There are also two other areas of development that are currently being watched, one to the east of the Lesser Antilles, which stands a small chance of strengthening, and one in the Gulf Of Mexico, which has a 40 percent chance of becoming stronger. If it does become a hurricane, the next name on the list is Ingrid, and she could conceivably pose a flood threat to the US Gulf Coast in the coming days.

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