The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season was an active and fairly destructive Atlantic hurricane season, though less active and costly than the previous season. This season produced 16 tropical cyclones, 14 named storms, 9 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes. The strongest storm of the season was Hurricane Leslie, which caused extensive damage in the Yucatan Peninsula and Southwestern Florida before turning northeastward out to sea as an extratropical cyclone. The first storm of the season, Alberto, formed on June 29, while the last storm of the season, Nadine, dissipated on December 2, two days after the official end of the season.
This season featured above average activity primarily because of ENSO-Neutral conditions as well as warmer than normal sea surface temperatures in most of the Atlantic basin, including the Atlantic Main Development Region (MDR). Seasonal forecasts for this season were very accurate.
Predictions of tropical activity in the 2018 season
* June–November only. † Most recent of several such occurrences.
The first forecast was released by Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) on December 7, 2017, predicting slightly above average activity with 15 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.
On April 5, 2018, Colorado State University released its first quantitative forecast, also predicting 15 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes, based on warmer-than-normal Atlantic sea surface temperatures and a lack of El Nino. That same day, TSR kept their numbers the name, except for raising their predicted hurricane total to 8. On April 16, North Carolina State University (NCSU) released its forecast, predicting 12-16 named storms, 5-9 hurricanes and 2-4 major hurricanes. The Weather Company released its first forecast a week later, predicting 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes. They subsequently kept the same forecast numbers a month later. On May 25, NOAA released its first forecast, predicting an above average season was most likely with 12-18 named storms, 6-10 hurricanes and 2-5 major hurricanes. That same day, TSR increased their number of predicted named storms to 16. CSU released an updated forecast on June 1, predicting 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes. UKMO also released their prediction that day, predicting 14 named storms and 9 hurricanes would form. CSU raised their predicted number of hurricanes to 9 on July 2, while TSR did the same, to account for Hurricane Alberto. CSU and TSR then lowered their numbers slightly in early August, as La Nina conditions had not materialized and ENSO-neutral conditions continued. NOAA released its final forecast on August 8, predicting 12-17 named storms, 6-10 hurricanes and 3-5 major hurricanes.
The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1, and ended on November 30. It was an above average season in which 16 tropical cyclones formed. 14 of these tropical cyclones became named storms, 9 of which became hurricanes and 5 of which became major hurricanes.
On June 18, a tropical wave exited the coast of Africa. The wave did not initially develop due to its low latitude. However, the wave emerged into the Caribbean Sea on June 26. Strong wind shear and the wave's fast movement limited organization for the next two days. However, on June 28, the wave began to show signs of organization, developing into the first tropical storm of the season by 18:00 UTC on June 29, while located over the Northwestern Caribbean Sea. Operationally, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) initiated advisories on a Potential Tropical Cyclone at 21:00 UTC that day, as it was inconclusive that the system had developed a well-defined circulation. Alberto began to strengthen slightly after formation,
before making landfall in Quintana Roo, Mexico early June 30 with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. Alberto weakened to a tropical depression on July 1 due to land interaction, but began to restrengthen late that same day as it emerged into the warm waters of the southwestern Gulf of Mexico. Alberto steadily intensified, becoming a minimal Category 1 hurricane at 18:00 UTC on July 3 while located east of Brownsville, Texas, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. This made Alberto the first July Atlantic hurricane since Arthur in 2014. Alberto made landfall at this intensity in extreme southern Texas at 00:00 UTC on July 4. Alberto quickly weakened inland, and eventually dissipated by 12:00 UTC on July 5.
A shortwave trough moved off the southeastern coast of North Carolina on July 13. The system turned to the northeast over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, eventually coalescing into a tropical depression by 12:00 UTC on July 14. The depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Beryl 12 hours later. Beryl slightly strengthened over the Gulf Stream on the afternoon of July 15, before cooler waters and increasing wind shear resulted in Beryl transitioning into an extratropical low by 12:00 UTC on July 16.
A vigorous tropical wave emerged off the western coast of Africa on July 25. Initially located in a marginally favorable environment, the wave gradually acquired sufficient organization to be classified as a tropical depression by 00:00 UTC July 27 while located southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands. The depression failed to intensify into a tropical storm and only strengthened slightly as it moved northwestward into an outbreak of Saharan Air Layer, degrading to a remnant low by 06:00 UTC July 28 as all of its deep convection dissipated.
On August 7, a strong tropical wave exited the western coast of Africa, along with a moisture envelope. The wave developed into a tropical depression at 06:00 UTC on August 11, the fourth of the season, while located west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands. Six hours later, the depression strengthened into a tropical storm and was named Chris. Initially in an environment with low wind shear and warm waters, Chris rapidly intensified over the next 30 hours, strengthening into a Category 2 hurricane by 18:00 UTC on August 12. However, cooler water and mid-level dry air weakened Chris slightly on August 13 to a Category 1 hurricane. Chris began to restrengthen the next day as it moved over warm waters, becoming the first major hurricane of the season by 00:00 UTC on August 15 - the earliest Atlantic major hurricane since Bertha in 2008. Chris reached its peak intensity six hours later, with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph and a minimum pressure of 961 mbar, a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Chris began to weaken thereafter due to eyewall replacement cycles and increasing wind shear, weakening to a Category 1 hurricane at 06:00 UTC on August 16. However, Chris briefly re-intensified to a Category 2 hurricane on August 17 as it turned to the east-northeast. Cooler waters and increasing shear limited further restrengthening, with Chris falling to Category 1 intensity by 00:00 UTC on August 18 and tropical storm intensity by 18:00 UTC on August 19. Chris transitioned into an extratropical cyclone at 12:00 UTC on August 20, while located north of the Azores. The extratropical cyclone continued to the northeast, remaining away from the British Isles.
A strong tropical wave developed into a tropical depression at 18:00 UTC on August 19, while located east of the Lesser Antilles. The depression strengthened into a tropical storm 12 hours later and was named Debby. Debby steadily strengthened as it moved towards the Windward Islands, becoming the third hurricane of the season by 12:00 UTC on August 21 while located north of Barbados. Debby changed little in intensity for the next couple days as it moved into the Caribbean Sea, before it began to rapidly intensify late on August 23. Debby reached its peak intensity over the central Caribbean Sea at 06:00 UTC on August 24, with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph and a minimum pressure of 942 mb. Debby fluctuated in intensity for the next few days, before making landfall in central Louisiana at 06:00 UTC on August 29 with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph. Debby then weakened rapidly over the next two days, becoming a remnant low by 06:00 UTC on August 31.
A weak tropical wave developed into a tropical depression at 12:00 UTC on August 25, while located east of Florida. The depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Ernesto 18 hours later. Ernesto moved generally northward while strengthening slightly, and made landfall near Calabash, North Carolina at 11:00 UTC on August 27, with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and 997 mbar. Ernesto remained a tropical storm as it accelerated northeastward over the Northeastern United States, before transitioning into an extratropical cyclone by 06:00 UTC on August 29.
A tropical wave exited the coast of Africa on August 31. The system organized very rapidly, developing into a tropical depression at 18:00 UTC on September 1 east-southeast of the Cabo Verde Islands. The depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Florence six hours later. Florence then rapidly intensified to its peak intensity as a Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph and a minimum pressure of 968 mbar by 18:00 UTC on September 3 over the far eastern Atlantic. Immediately after peak, drier air and cooler waters caused Florence to begin to rapidly weaken, and Florence was declared a remnant low 48 hours after its peak intensity as it had become devoid of deep convection. Florence began to reorganize the next day and took on some subtropical characteristics, regenerating into a subtropical depression by 00:00 UTC on September 7. Florence strengthened into a subtropical storm 12 hours later while moving north-northeastward, and passed through the Azores Islands as a subtropical storm on September 9. Florence then transitioned into an extratropical cyclone at 06:00 UTC on September 10.
A small area of low pressure rapidly organized into the eighth tropical depression of the season at 12:00 UTC on September 5 over the southern Bay of Campeche. 12 hours later, it strengthened into Tropical Storm Gordon. Gordon only strengthened slightly,
making landfall in Veracruz, Mexico around 06:00 UTC on September 6 with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and a minimum pressure of 1003 mb. Gordon then rapidly dissipated over the mountainous terrain of Mexico by 18:00 UTC that same day.
A vigorous tropical wave developed into Tropical Depression Nine at 06:00 UTC on September 8, while located west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands. The depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Helene 30 hours later. Helene only slightly intensified for the next couple days, but began to rapidly intensify on September 11, acquiring hurricane intensity by 18:00 UTC that day. Only 18 hours after becoming a hurricane, Helene explosively intensified into a strong Category 4 hurricane over the tropical Atlantic, with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph and a minimum pressure of 936 mbar. Helene fluctuated in intensity for the next several days, but remained a strong hurricane as it moved west-northwestward over the tropical Atlantic. Helene made landfall near Morehead City, North Carolina as a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph at 12:00 UTC on September 21. Helene transitioned into an extratropical cyclone at 18:00 UTC the next day, while located over the Northeastern United States.
Early on September 15, a tropical wave exited the coast of Africa, gradually consolidating into a tropical depression by 18:00 UTC the next day south of the Cabo Verde Islands. At 06:00 UTC on September 17, the depression strengthened into a tropical storm and was named Isaac. Moderate wind shear and mid-level dry air limited intensification, and Isaac weakened to a tropical depression by 12:00 UTC on September 18. Isaac became a remnant low by 06:00 UTC on September 19, dissipating shortly thereafter.
A non-tropical area of low pressure formed along a frontal boundary on September 22. It gradually acquired tropical characteristics over the central subtropical Atlantic, becoming a tropical depression by 00:00 UTC on September 24 while moving erratically. The depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Joyce six hours later. The small storm then steadily intensified over the coming days, becoming the season's fourth major hurricane by 12:00 UTC on September 26. After peaking as a Category 3 hurricane, Joyce slowly weakened as it moved east-northeastward into cooler waters. Joyce passed through the Azores Islands as a minimal hurricane early on September 29, before degrading to a post-tropical remnant low by 12:00 UTC that same day.
In late September, a broad cyclonic gyre formed over the Northwestern Caribbean Sea. It eventually consolidated into a single circulation, developing into Tropical Storm Kirk at 18:00 UTC on September 30. Despite its broad nature, Kirk rapidly intensified over very warm waters, becoming a Category 1 hurricane just 24 hours after formation. Kirk acquired its peak intensity over the Northwestern Caribbean Sea at 00:00 UTC on October 2, with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph. However, Kirk was unable to develop a well-defined eye and did not strengthen further. Kirk weakened to a tropical storm before making landfall near St. Vincent Island, Florida at 06:00 UTC on October 3 with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph. Kirk then quickly weakened after landfall, becoming an extratropical low by 06:00 UTC on October 4. Kirk's extratropical remnants dissipated twelve hours later.
A large tropical wave, which had exited the coast of Africa in late September, developed into a tropical depression east of the Leeward Islands at 06:00 UTC on October 3. Originally, the depression was expected to intensify into a tropical storm, and was expected to affect many of the same areas still recovering from Hurricane Irma the previous year. Strong westerly wind shear caused the depression's low-level circulation to become exposed to the west of the convective mass, and the depression did not intensify into a tropical storm. Instead, it opened up into a tropical wave at 12:00 UTC on October 5, while located east of Puerto Rico.
The following names were used to name tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin in 2018. This is the same list used in 2012, with the exception of the name Sara, which replaced Sandy. Sara was not used in this season and remains unused.
On April 16, 2019, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) retired three names for their impact in the 2018 season: Debby, Helene and Leslie. They were replaced with the names Delaney, Haley and Layla respectively.