Here's When the 'A' Storm Typically Gets Named in Hurricane Season

Chris Dolce
Published: May 15, 2018

Alberto will be the name given to the first storm that develops during the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season. Although we don't know the precise date for this naming in the weeks ahead, we can take a look back at the history of when the "A" storm has typically arrived.

The earliest in a year the "A" storm has made its appearance was 2016's Hurricane Alex which first formed into a tropical storm Jan. 12. Arlene on Aug. 30, 1967, was the latest in a season the "A" storm developed, according to a tweet from Michael Lowry, a FEMA strategic planner and former hurricane specialist for The Weather Channel.

The earliest and latest date on record the "A" storm has developed in the Atlantic and the average date the first storm arrives by.

That's a more than seven-month span between the earliest and latest-forming first named storms on record, making them extreme outliers from the norm.

What's more typical is a June or July first named storm. July 9 is the average date that the first named system has formed in the Atlantic based on data from 1966-2009, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Lowry added that since 1960 the first named storm has developed before the official June 1 start of the hurricane season about once every 4-5 years.

(MORE: Hurricane Season Doesn't Always Begin on June 1)

The date of formation for the "A" storm has no bearing on the severity of hurricane season in a given year.

Take 2004 for instance when Alex wasn't named until Aug. 1. Alex was followed by 14 additional named storms that year, including the big four hurricanes – Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne – that hammered Florida in 45 days from mid-August to late September.

(MORE: The Big Four of 2004)

On the other extreme is 1982, which had its first named storm Alberto on June 3, more than a month earlier than the average first storm date. The rest of that season there were only five additional storms that roamed the Atlantic basin.

Seven "A" storms have been retired from use since 1954 for the destructive and/or deadly impacts they caused.

Retired Atlantic storms with the letter A since 1954.

Three of those retirees reached a maximum intensity of Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, including Andrew (1992), Allen (1980) and Anita (1977). Category 5 hurricanes are rare, with only 33 known to exist since 1924.

Some of the worst "A" storms to strike the United States include:

  • Allison (2001): Contributed to a multi-billion dollar flood disaster in Houston.
  • Alberto (1994): Disastrous flooding from this tropical storm killed 30 in Georgia and Alabama.
  • Andrew (1992): Caused catastrophic wind damage in South Florida where it made landfall as a Category 5.
  • Alicia (1983): Quickly intensified into a Category 3 hurricane before making landfall on the upper Texas coast where it lashed Galveston and Houston.
  • Allen (1980): Made landfall near Brownsville, Texas, as a Category 3.
  • Agnes (1972): Landfall occurred in the Florida panhandle as a Category 1, but its legacy is the disastrous flooding it contributed to in the Northeast U.S.
  • Audrey (1957): Audrey is the only major (Category 3+) hurricane to make a June U.S. landfall. Audrey is also the seventh deadliest U.S. tropical cyclone of record

The most recent "A" storm to directly affect the United States was Tropical Storm Ana in May 2015. Ana produced minor impacts in the Carolinas.

Arthur in 2014 is the most recent "A" named hurricane to make landfall in the U.S., striking North Carolina's Outer Banks over the Fourth of July holiday.


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