The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season was a near-average season which produced 14 depressions, of which 12 became named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 further strengthened to major hurricane status (C3+) on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. The season began on June 1, 2018, and it ended on November 30, 2018, dates of which conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. However the season exceeded these bounds when Tropical Storm Leslie existed in early December.
The first storm, Alberto, formed on June 19. The season was relatively inactive at first due to wind shear scattered across the Atlantic, then it exploded in late-August after wind shear diminished across the basin, beginning with the formation of Chris and lasting through October before activity finally calmed down. The strongest storm, Chris, strengthened to a peak of 165 mph/911 mbars due to very favorable conditions in the Gulf of Mexico during this time. Chris was also the costliest storm of the season, causing damages exceeding $50 billion (2018 USD) after striking the US Gulf Coast full-force as a borderline Cat.5. The deadliest storm of the season wasn't Chris, however. The other major in this season, Gordon, caused a death toll exceeding 5,000 after striking Haiti as a C4 and attacking the US east coast as a minimal hurricane. Most of the other storms in this season affected land too, but they weren't nearly as destructive as the two majors. The names Chris and Gordon were retired in the spring of 2019 due to their damages, and the replacement names for 2024 are Conner and Gary respectively.
Predictions of tropical activity in the 2018 season
* June – November only: 11 storms observed in this period. † Most recent of several such occurrences. (See all)
The Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1, 2018. It was a near-average season with 14 depressions, 12 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 majors forming. Nine of the storms made landfall somewhere in the Atlantic basin, this includes two landfalls at hurricane strength and both landfalls were also at major hurricane strength. These landfalling storms were Chris and Gordon and they were the most destructive of the season, both of them being retired due to causing extreme destruction.
Tropical cyclogenesis began in mid-June with TS Alberto developing in the Bay of Campeche and moving northwest to strike near the Mexico/Texas border. Later, in early July, the second cyclone (Beryl) formed. It was a Category 2 that existed in the northwestern Atlantic near Bermuda. After that, dry air and wind shear dominated the Atlantic, suppressing any development until mid-August, when a strong MJO combined with rapidly decreasing wind shear/dry air caused increasingly good conditions across the Atlantic, especially in the Gulf of Mexico region, where SSTs were said to be as high as 93 F and almost no wind shear existed by the time Chris formed. However, the Main Development Region still remained slightly unfavorable. On August 22, the third TC, named Chris, formed in the western Caribbean. Chris took advantage of the very favorable conditions in the area and rapidly strengthened to attain C5 strength before making a devastating landfall on the US Gulf Coast. Late August saw an explosion of activity, with Debby and Ernesto also forming during this time. Debby was a weakling in the central Atlantic that lasted for a short time before succumbing to dry air and wind shear, and Ernesto affected the Lesser Antilles before moving out into the Atlantic and strengthening to a hurricane. September saw the formation of 5 tropical cyclones, TD Six, TS Florence, C4 Hurricane Gordon, TS Helene, and TS Isaac. TD Six formed within the Gulf of Mexico's very favorable conditions but was too close to Texas to be able to strengthen, and it made landfall very soon after forming. TS Florence also formed in the Gulf of Mexico, but it struck Mississippi instead. Gordon, the other big one, was a Category 4 that ripped through the Windwards, Lesser Antilles, Haiti, Bahamas, and the US east coast, and caused massive destruction along the way. Helene and Isaac were just more tropical storms, but Helene was a Central Atlantic fishspinner and Isaac affected the Bahamas, Florida, and the Carolinas. Now we're moving on to October, which saw two TCs forming, TD 11 and Joyce. TD 11 existed in the Bay of Campeche but formed too close to land to strengthen, and it made landfall shortly afterwards in Mexico. Joyce was a C1 hurricane in the northwestern Atlantic with barely any land affects, although it did slightly affect Newfoundland while dissipating. November saw the formation of Tropical Storm Kirk in the western Caribbean, it existed in the early part of the month and affected Central America, Yucatán, and Cuba. Finally, Tropical Storm Leslie was a post season storm in early December, it formed subtropical but turned tropical before dissipating in the Central Atlantic without affecting land.
Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE)
The season's activity was reflected with an Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) rating of 73.8775. ACE is, broadly speaking, a measure of the power of a tropical or subtropical storm multiplied by the length of time it existed. Therefore, a storm with a longer duration, such as Chris, will have high values of ACE. It is only calculated for full advisories on specific tropical and subtropical systems reaching or exceeding wind speeds of 39 mph (63 km/h). Accordingly, tropical depressions are not included here. After the storm has dissipated, typically after the end of the season, the NHC reexamines the data, and produces a final report on each storm. These revisions can lead to a revised ACE total either upward or downward compared to the operational value.
Alberto's origins were from a tropical wave that tracked across the Caribbean in mid-June. When it entered the western Caribbean it started to become better organized and the NHC monitored it as it passed through the Yucatán. A depression formed in the Bay of Campeche on June 19 from the tropical wave. The depression strengthened into a named storm and won the name "Alberto" twelve hours later whilst moving northwestward. This newly named storm began to strengthen faster due to some favorable conditions in the area, and its peak of 60 mph/994 mbars was reached late on June 20 as it was just about to make landfall near the Mexican/Texas border. It made landfall soon afterwards and rapidly degenerated due to dry air over Texas associated with an extreme drought. Along its path, Alberto caused minimal damage and 1 death.
The NHC began to monitor a low pressure area that formed into a depression north of the Bahamas on July 6. Twelve hours later it became a named storm earning the name Beryl. Gradual strengthening was forecasted and it became a hurricane July 9. Early on the 10th it became a C2 and reached its peak of 105 mph/977 mb later that day. Beryl then performed a loop halfway between Bermuda and Newfoundland weakening to TS in the process because of a wind shear increase. Looping back eastward it continued to weaken before dissipating on July 14. Since it didn't affect land, it didn't cause any damage/deaths.
After a quiet period lasting more than a month, a tropical wave began developing on August 20 and the NHC began monitoring it. On August 22, the wave developed into a depression in the west Caribbean, becoming a named storm twelve hours later. Quick strengthening was forecast in the long run due to very favorable conditions ahead. In fact the NHC noted that it had major hurricane potential. On August 24 Chris became a hurricane and it became a C2 that night. During this time, hurricane watches and warnings were put up for the Yucatán Peninsula as Chris approached. The storm strengthened further into a C3 before reaching the Yucatán on August 25. It only skirted the peninsula without making landfall (they felt a lot of impacts though), before it moved out into the Gulf of Mexico and strengthened to a C4 on August 26. Now the US Gulf Coast was directly in the path of Chris and they were advised to really prepare for the upcoming beast. Finally, on August 27, Chris strengthened to a Category 5 beast, and later that day, its peak of 165 mph/911 mbars was reached. Chris then made landfall at the strike of midnight early on August 28 and moved through New Orleans later that morning as a C4, resulting in levees breaking and extreme widespread flooding and damage that rivaled Katrina in 2005. Chris rapidly weakened as it moved inland, causing widespread rain and extreme winds over the central US, before finally dissipating on August 30 as it entered Michigan. A grand total of $72 billion in damage and 955 deaths occurred due to Chris along its path and the name was later retired with its replacement for 2024 being Conner.
A tropical wave rushed off the African coastline on August 22. It was well-organized when it made it to the central Atlantic on August 24, but conditions were only going to be favorable for a couple days before strong wind shear/dry air strikes. So it had a pretty small window of development. On August 25, the wave developed into a depression, and six hours later it became a named storm earning the name "Debby". Due to the upcoming hostile conditions it wasn't expected to strengthen much. A peak of 40 mph/1001 mbars occurred before entering the hostile conditions. Debby dissipated a day after formation, on August 26. Since it didn't affect land, no damage/deaths were caused.
The NHC monitored a tropical wave in the central Atlantic beginning August 25. It gradually developed before becoming a tropical depression on August 28. Twelve hours later it strengthened to a tropical storm winning the name "Ernesto" whilst striking the Windwards. Ernesto moved through the Windward Islands, Lesser Antilles, and Puerto Rico, resulting in a large amount of flooding and damage in the affected areas. It then moved north out to sea, with a hurricane in the forecast now. Early on August 31, Ernesto strengthened to a hurricane as it turned northeast, and its peak of 90 mph/979 mbars was reached that night. It passed south of Bermuda during this time, and afterwards it began to weaken under cooling waters. Late on September 1, Ernesto weakened to a tropical storm and became extratropical the next day near Newfoundland. Ernesto, along its path, caused a total of $85 million in damage and 7 deaths, all in the Lesser Antilles, Bermuda, and Newfoundland.
An upper-level low moved southward from the central US, and the NHC began to monitor it as it moved south into the Gulf of Mexico, where it would encounter very favorable conditions. However, there wasn't much time for it to develop after emerging, but it still remained organized. After a big burst of convection it was declared Tropical Depression Six on September 2. Very soon after forming, it made a Texas landfall, halting any chances of it becoming a named storm. Six dissipated early on the 3rd. The depression caused minimal damage and no deaths.
A tropical wave spawned an area of disturbed weather near Cuba on September 5. The NHC monitored it afterwards and it was located in very favorable conditions. It organized as it moved northwest and approached the US Gulf Coast, and it was declared a tropical depression on September 7. Six hours later it won the name "Florence" after strengthening to a tropical storm, but it didn't have much time for strengthening as it approached landfall. Florence peaked at 45 mph/999 mbars before making landfall near Mobile, Alabama on September 8. It quickly weakened over land before dissipating that night. Little impact was reported but it did cause $112 million in damage and 5 deaths along its path.
A tropical wave emerged off the coast of Africa on September 4. As it tracked into the Central Atlantic, it gradually organized as the NHC monitored it. It became a depression on September 8, and strengthened to a tropical storm earning the name Gordon six hours later. Gordon was forecast to move into favorable conditions and threaten Windwards and Hispaniola in the long run. Late on September 9, Gordon strengthened to a hurricane and C2 strength was achieved on September 10 before it ripped through the Windwards at that strength, causing plenty of destruction in the islands. On 9/11, Gordon became a major hurricane and was now a huge threat for Hispaniola. Continued favorable conditions resulted in it becoming a C4 that night, and it reached its peak of 145 mph/939 mbars before punching Haiti full-force as a full-blown Cat. 4 on the afternoon of September 12. This caused massive devastation and thousands of deaths in the region. After emerging from Haiti, it passed through the Bahamas as a Category 3 and weakened to a Cat. 2 late on September 13 as it really threatened the US East Coast. On the afternoon of the 14th, Gordon struck the Carolinas and the east coast region whilst weakening to a C1. The storm then moved inland New York City and weakened to a TS over New England before dissipating on September 15 as it entered Canada. Throughout its path, a grand total of $43 billion in damage and 5,485 deaths was caused, all these deaths were mainly due to its Haiti strike and the damages were from all the landmasses it affected along its path. The name was later retired and its replacement for 2024 is Gary.
A tropical wave emerged off the African coast September 14. It then became better organized as it moved westward and then it developed into a depression on the 16th. Six hours later, the depression strengthened and earned the name Helene. Helene turned northward and gradually strengthened to its peak of 50 mph/996 mbars. After that, however, it encountered unfavorable conditions causing it to weaken and dissipate on September 18. Its remnants approached the Azores afterwards but only brought moderate rain at most. Since Helene didn't really affect land, no damage/deaths were caused from it.
A disturbance moved through the Bahamas before becoming a depression on September 27. It then strengthened to Tropical Storm Isaac six hours later and moved northwest towards Florida. It moved near the state before turning directly northward and approaching the Carolinas, where they were told to prepare. It made landfall early on September 29 before dissipating later that day. Isaac caused $265 million in damage along with 3 deaths.
Tropical Depression Eleven formed on October 1 from a tropical wave that has been moving westward through the Caribbean and into the Bay of Campeche. It made landfall very shortly afterwards and rapidly weakened, dissipating early on October 2 over Mexico's mountains. TD Eleven caused 10 deaths (mainly due to flooding) but only $25 million in damage.
A depression formed on October 19 near Bermuda from an area of disturbed weather in the central Atlantic. It strengthened into TS Joyce as it moved northeastward. Joyce continued to gradually strengthen after that and it became a hurricane on October 21 in a very high latitude for strengthening. However, this strengthening wouldn't last for long, as Joyce would peak at 80 mph/985 mbars before approaching Newfoundland as a TS. The storm passed near Newfoundland right before becoming extratropical on October 22. Joyce caused minimal damage along its path and no deaths.
A tropical wave in the southwest Caribbean developed into Kirk on November 3. Soon afterwards, it made landfall near the Nicaragua-Honduras border and weakened to a depression as it entered the western Caribbean. After that, Kirk quickly strengthened to its peak of 65 mph/993 mbars as it skirted very close to the Yucatán Peninsula. It then passed close to Cuba without making landfall, and due to high amounts of shear in the region, Kirk dissipated on November 6 as it was just approaching the Bahamas. Throughout its path, Kirk caused $315 million in damage and 8 deaths, especially in Central America.
An extratropical cyclone in the Central Atlantic was monitored for signs of subtropical cyclogenesis beginning early on December 7. It then became a subtropical depression the next day and soon afterwards, a subtropical storm earning the name Leslie. This was unusual, as storms rarely form after November 30, the official end of the season. Leslie gradually became more tropical as it moved westward, and it officially became tropical when it started turning northward. The tropical phase didn't last long however, as the storm would die out due to very hostile conditions typical for the time of the year in the northern Atlantic. Since Leslie didn't affect any land, it didn't cause any damage/deaths.
The following names were used to name tropical cyclones this year. This is the same list used in the 2012 season. Unused names are marked in gray.
Due to extensive damage and deaths, the names Chris and Gordon were officially retired, and will never be used again to name an Atlantic hurricane. They were replaced by Conner and Gary for the 2024 season.
List for 2024:
This is a table of the storms and their effects in the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season. This table includes the storm's names, duration, peak intensity, Areas affected, damages, and death totals. Damage and deaths include totals while the storm was extratropical, a wave or a low. All of the damage figures are in 2018 USD (the listed damage figure is in millions).
Windward Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Cuba, Jamaica, Turks & Caicos Islands, Bahamas, The Carolinas, US East Coast, New England
September 16 – September 18
September 27 – September 29
Turks & Caicos Islands, Bahamas, Florida, The Carolinas, Southeast US
October 1 – October 2
October 19 – October 22
Category 1 hurricane
November 3 – November 6
Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize, Yucatan Peninsula, Cuba, Florida Keys, The Bahamas
December 8 – December 10
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