One Year Ago, 2017's Siege of 10 Straight Atlantic Hurricanes Began

Jonathan Erdman
Published: August 9, 2018

Given the recent inactivity in the tropical Atlantic Basin, you might have forgotten that one year ago Thursday, the 2017 hurricane season began a frenetic streak that would tie or smash several records.

On Aug. 9, 2017, Franklin became the season's first hurricane over the southwest Gulf of Mexico, just east of the Mexican coast.

Franklin wasn't a particularly strong or destructive hurricane, but over the next 10 weeks, 10 straight Atlantic storms became hurricanes from early August through mid-October 2017.

The 10 straight hurricanes of 2017. Harvey was not continuous, as it degenerated to a tropical wave on August 19 in the Caribbean Sea, then regenerated the following week in the Gulf of Mexico. Track intensity is shown by the legend in the lower right.

This included three Category 4 U.S. hurricane landfalls – Harvey, Irma and Maria – responsible for over a quarter-trillion dollars in damage, according to NOAA estimates.

(MORE: 17 Moments We'll Never Forget About the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season)

The streak also included an early-October U.S. hurricane landfall, Hurricane Nate. The following spring, all four of those hurricane names were retired from future use by a committee of the World Meteorological Organization.

This tied a record for the most Atlantic storms to become hurricanes consecutively, which happened three other years but hadn't happened since the late 19th century: 1878, 1886 and 1893, according to Colorado State University tropical meteorologist Dr. Phil Klotzbach.

The 10 straight named storms that all became hurricanes in 2017, tying an Atlantic Basin record for consecutive hurricanes, starting with Franklin becoming a hurricane on August 9, 2017.
(Images: NASA, CIRA/RAMMB)

It was also four more hurricanes in that 10-week stretch than an entire hurricane season (six), on average.

Only seven other full Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1851 had more than 10 total hurricanes.

Using an index called accumulated cyclone energy, or ACE, calculated by adding each tropical storm or hurricane's wind speed through its life cycle, Klotzbach found September 2017 was the most active single month on record in the Atlantic Basin.

The hurricane season typically ramps up by late August, remaining active through September into early October.

Most indications suggest the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season is trending much quieter than 2017's frenetic, destructive footprint due to a number of factors, such as wind shear and cooler-than-average water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic between Africa and the Lesser Antilles.

(MORE: 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook)

Though it only takes one destructive landfall to transform into an infamous hurricane season, it's unlikely we'll see anything like the 10-hurricanes-in-10-weeks streak from 2017 anytime soon.

Jonathan Erdman is a senior meteorologist at weather.com, an incurable weather geek since a tornado narrowly missed his childhood home in Wisconsin at age 7, and a contributor to The Weather Channel Podcast. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.


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