Explained: The Typical Atlantic Hurricane Season
On August 29, 2021, Hurricane Ida hurled into the state of Louisiana at rapid speed. With winds of 150 mph, preliminary reports believe it’s the fifth strongest hurricane to ever hit the U.S. mainland.
As research shows, Hurricane Ida’s impact hit right at the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. Here’s a brief explainer on the basics of hurricanes, how storms are classified, and what a typical storm season looks like in the Atlantic Basin.
Let’s dive in.
Classifying a Storm
Hurricanes are intense tropical storms that are classified by their wind speed. What’s the difference between a hurricane, a typhoon, and a cyclone? They’re essentially the same thing, but are named differently based on their location:
- Hurricane is used for storms that formed in the North Atlantic, central North Pacific, and eastern North Pacific (impacting countries like the U.S.)
- Typhoon is used for storms in the Northwest Pacific (impacting countries like Japan)
- Tropical Cyclone is used for storms in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean (impacting countries like Fiji and India)
Since we’re focusing on the Atlantic, we’ll be using the term hurricane and/or storm throughout the rest of this article.
A storm needs to reach a certain wind speed before it gets classified as a hurricane. Storms with wind speeds of:
- <73 mph are considered Tropical Storms
- 74-110 mph winds are considered Hurricanes
- 111 mph+ winds are considered Major Hurricanes
Breaking Down the Atlantic Hurricane Season
Generally, Hurricanes form in the warm ocean waters in the central Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, following westward trade winds and curving up towards the North American mainland. Hurricanes are formed when these specific elements come into play:
- A pre-existing weather disturbance such as a tropical wave
- Water at least 80ºF (27ºC) with a depth of at least 50 meters
- Thunderstorm activity
- Low wind shear (too much wind can remove the heat and moisture hurricanes use for fuel)
The Atlantic hurricane season technically lasts six months, beginning on June 1st and ending in late November. However, 85% of activity happens between August, September, and October.
Each subregion in the Atlantic has its own unique climatology, which means peak seasons can vary from place to place—for example, south Florida sees the most hurricanes in October, while the entire Atlantic Basin’s peak season is early-to-mid September.
Climate Change and Hurricanes
According to the Center of Climate Change and Energy Solutions, it’s unclear whether climate change will increase the number of hurricanes per year.
However, research indicates that warmer weather and high ocean temperatures will most likely lead to more intense storms, ultimately causing more damage and devastation.
» Want to learn more about climate change? Here’s an article on The Paris Agreement: Is The World’s Climate Action Plan on Track?
Can You Calculate Your Daily Carbon Footprint?
Discover how the average person’s carbon footprint impacts the environment and learn how carbon credits can offset your carbon footprint.
Your Everyday Carbon Footprint
While many large businesses and countries have committed to net-zero goals, it is essential to acknowledge that your everyday activities also contribute to global emissions.
In this graphic, sponsored by Carbon Streaming Corporation, we will explore how the choices we make and the products we use have a profound impact on our carbon footprint.
Carbon Emissions by Activity
Here are some of the daily activities and products of the average person and their carbon footprint, according to Clever Carbon.
|Household Activities & Products
|CO2 Emissions (g)
|💡 Standard Light Bulb (100 watts, four hours)
|📱 Mobile Phone Use (195 minutes per day)*
|👕 Washing Machine (0.63 kWh)
|🔥 Electric Oven (1.56 kWh)
|♨️ Tumble Dryer (2.5 kWh)
|🧻 Toilet Roll (2 ply)
|🚿 Hot Shower (10 mins)
|🚙 Daily Commute (one hour, by car)
|🍽️ Average Daily Food Consumption (three meals of 600 calories)
|*Phone use based on yearly use of 69kg per the source, Reboxed
Your choice of transportation plays a crucial role in determining your carbon footprint. For instance, a 15 km daily commute to work on public transport generates an average of 1,464 g of CO₂ emissions. Compared to 3,360 g—twice the volume for a journey the same length by car.
By opting for more sustainable modes of transport, such as cycling, walking, or public transportation, you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.
Addressing Your Carbon Footprint
One way to compensate for your emissions is by purchasing high-quality carbon credits.
Carbon credits are used to help fund projects that avoid, reduce or remove CO₂ emissions. This includes nature-based solutions such as reforestation and improved forest management, or technology-based solutions such as the production of biochar and carbon capture and storage (CCS).
While carbon credits offer a potential solution for individuals to help reduce global emissions, public awareness remains a significant challenge. A BCG-Patch survey revealed that only 34% of U.S. consumers are familiar with carbon credits, and only 3% have purchased them in the past.
About Carbon Streaming
By financing the creation or expansion of carbon projects, Carbon Streaming Corporation secures the rights to future carbon credits generated by these sustainable projects. You can then purchase these carbon credits to help fund climate solutions around the world and compensate for your own emissions.
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