This hurricane season has been brutal — but it's not over yet. What's coming next?


We’re finally past the peak of hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean. This is welcome news for folks who live along the coast, but by no means are we out of the woods yet. Hurricane seasons—especially years this active—can crank out some ugly storms in October and even November. The arrival of fall is a sign that the season will soon start to calm down, but we shouldn't lower our guards quite yet.

In some ways, the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season has only been slightly above average so far. We’ve seen 13 named storms, eight hurricanes, and five major hurricanes. The average season sees 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three that reach category three or stronger. This is in line with most major forecasts that called for an above-average hurricane season this year.

But the speed with which this season spat out extremely strong storms is far from typical. Eight consecutive named storms strengthened into hurricanes within a 45-day period between mid-August and late-September, and six of those eight storms made landfall as hurricanes. Even worse, three of those storms—Harvey, Irma, and Maria—hit land as a category four or five.

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Hurricane Maria makes landfall in Puerto Rico
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Hurricane Maria makes landfall in Puerto Rico
A man looks for valuables in the damaged house of a relative after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A damaged house is seen after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria en Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A damaged supermarket is seen after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Damaged electrical installations are seen after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria en Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A man rides a bicycle next to a flooded road after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Debris and damaged electrical installations are seen after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria en Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A woman cuts a fallen tree into pieces after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Toys are seen in a damaged house after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A damaged pier is seen after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Puerto de Jobos, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Damages are seen in a supermarket after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A man runs on the street next to debris and damaged cars after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Damages are seen in a supermarket after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Constructions debris are carried by the wind after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Agapito Lopez looks at the damage in his house after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Branches lie on the ground as trees blow in the wind from the passage of the Hurricane Maria, seen outside Roberto Clemente Coliseum where residents have sought shelter in San Juan, Puerto Rico, early on September 20, 2017. Hurricane Maria closed in on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on September 20 as forecasters warned of a 'potentially catastrophic' storm that has already killed at least two people in the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
This view shows the rain from the passage of the Hurricane Maria from Roberto Clemente Coliseum where residents have sought shelter in San Juan, Puerto Rico, early on September 20, 2017. Hurricane Maria closed in on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on September 20 as forecasters warned of a 'potentially catastrophic' storm that has already killed at least two people in the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents seek shelter inside Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, early on September 20, 2017, as Hurricane Maria passes the island. Hurricane Maria closed in on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on September 20 as forecasters warned of a 'potentially catastrophic' storm that has already killed at least two people in the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
A general view of Aguirre thermoelectric plant during the rain before the arrival of the Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Residents seek shelter inside Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, early on September 20, 2017, as Hurricane Maria passes the island. Hurricane Maria closed in on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on September 20 as forecasters warned of a 'potentially catastrophic' storm that has already killed at least two people in the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
The top of a church is seen through branches as Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico in Fajardo, on September 20, 2017. Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico on Wednesday, pummeling the US territory after already killing at least two people on its passage through the Caribbean. The US National Hurricane Center warned of 'large and destructive waves' as Maria came ashore near Yabucoa on the southeast coast. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico in Fajardo on September 20, 2017. Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico on Wednesday, pummeling the US territory after already killing at least two people on its passage through the Caribbean. The US National Hurricane Center warned of 'large and destructive waves' as Maria came ashore near Yabucoa on the southeast coast. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
A man looks as trees are toppled in a parking lot at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 20, 2017, during the passage of the Hurricane Maria. Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico on Wednesday, pummeling the US territory after already killing at least two people on its passage through the Caribbean. The US National Hurricane Center warned of 'large and destructive waves' as Maria came ashore near Yabucoa on the southeast coast. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Trees are toppled in a parking lot at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 20, 2017, during the passage of the Hurricane Maria. Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico on Wednesday, pummeling the US territory after already killing at least two people on its passage through the Caribbean. The US National Hurricane Center warned of 'large and destructive waves' as Maria came ashore near Yabucoa on the southeast coast. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico in Fajardo. on September 20, 2017. Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico on Wednesday, pummeling the US territory after already killing at least two people on its passage through the Caribbean. The US National Hurricane Center warned of 'large and destructive waves' as Maria came ashore near Yabucoa on the southeast coast. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
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We still have two full months left to the hurricane season, and it looks like conditions will be favorable for storms to develop through at least the first half of October. The National Hurricane Center’s forecast on September 28, 2017, highlighted an area of interest in the Caribbean for potential tropical cyclone development over the next five days. Models are suggesting that more activity is possible in the western Caribbean within the next week or two.

The western Caribbean is about where you would expect storms to start forming around this time of the year. The origin points for tropical cyclones depend on the season. Storms commonly get their start out near Africa during the peak of the season, when the heat of the summer helps tropical waves form on the African continent and push out over the water. These are the seeds that sprout storms like Irma and Maria, ones we can sometimes watch for weeks before they ever threaten land.

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Disney World after Hurricane Irma
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Disney World after Hurricane Irma
Visitors wait to go through security at Walt Disney World Resort Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, on September 12, 2017 two days after Hurricane Irma hit Florida. The resort reopened its doors Tuesday, welcoming locals and tourists who remain without power and air conditioning after Irma battered Florida. 'We are here because we are without power in Melbourne, Florida, and so we decided if we're going to bake, we might as well do it at Disney,' Veann Grigajtis, who travelled to Orlando with her family, told AFP. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Visitors board a tram to get to Walt Disney World Resort Magic Kingdom from the parking lot in Orlando, Florida, on September 12, 2017 two days after Hurricane Irma hit Florida. The resort reopened its doors Tuesday, welcoming locals and tourists who remain without power and air conditioning after Irma battered Florida. 'We are here because we are without power in Melbourne, Florida, and so we decided if we're going to bake, we might as well do it at Disney,' Veann Grigajtis, who travelled to Orlando with her family, told AFP. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Damage near Cinderella's Castle :( https://t.co/Sg9q5UmETi
A look at Epcot this morning. Trees down and flooding, but it doesn't look like any major damage occurred #IrmaWDW https://t.co/KRvy9Sqr51
More from the Yacht Club. A couple trees uprooted. #LiveFromWDW #IrmaWDW #YachtClub https://t.co/VgCtUC2KDO
Yes, Cinderella Castle is still here. No, Disney doesn't take it apart for hurricanes #LiveFromWDW #IrmaWDW https://t.co/aYKY9Ofog5
We had some photos sent to us of a look at Typhoon Lagoon this evening. Targeted to reopen "later this week"… https://t.co/gwNeRQyLOk
The contemporary on Disney property survived the storm last night... trees down, 90 MPH winds but alive and well!… https://t.co/9fzNRxyhIA
Chip & Dale are now welcoming all guests to check in at Yacht Club #irmawdw #wdw https://t.co/mXYeFcMBXd
Shutter down @WaltDisneyWorld #caribbeanbeachresort. Still a little windy because of #IrmaWDW . https://t.co/FzRGJXYjlc
GUYS! Tinker bell's line is gone from Cinderella Castle!! Very rare sight!!! #HurricaneIrma #LiveFromWDW #IrmaWDW https://t.co/eoPos9kqwz
Trees down at Animal Kingdom this morning #IrmaWDW https://t.co/3EF5kNgXGn
Hurricane Irma damage at the Resort #IrmaWDW https://t.co/ZP1XrQB9pK
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Tropical cyclones that form earlier and later in the season tend to form closer to shore, as their formation is often influenced by active weather patterns associated with the changing seasons. These storms tend not to be as intense as those classic hurricanes that spend weeks pinwheeling across the Atlantic, but they can get pretty strong—and their proximity to land gives us a little less time to prepare before they become a threat.

A storm forming close to land doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t have time to strengthen. Hurricane Harvey blew up from a tropical depression to a category four hurricane in just a couple of days as it spun across the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Wilma grew into the most intense hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic (by minimum air pressure) without moving more than a few hundred miles from where it started life as a tropical depression near Jamaica.

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Houston, Texas post Hurricane Harvey
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Houston, Texas post Hurricane Harvey
Ginger Benfield works to save family photos in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in west Houston, Texas, U.S. September 11, 2017. "Memories are the hardest thing, but at least they are in your heart," said Benfield. Benfield's home flooded after controlled releases from Addicks Reservoir and neighboring Barker reservoir. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Mechanic Sebastian Ramirez pours new oil into a truck that was flooded by tropical storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 10, 2017. Picture taken September 10, 2017. Ramirez has worked on more than 100 flooded vehicles since the storm, but always tells the automobile owners that he can't guarantee how long the vehicle will run if he's able to fix the immediate problem. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
James Giles pauses for a moment as Do'nie Murphy gets a breath of fresh air as they clean out a Mexican restaurant that was completely immersed in water in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in Kingwood, Houston, Texas, U.S. September 9, 2017. "We never thought it would come to this point," said Giles. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
From left, Kameron Smith, 4, Darius Smith, 9, and Deandre Green, 10, play with toys that they found in the piles of destroyed property at Crofton Place Apartments in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 8, 2017. The children's apartment was destroyed by the flood waters. Picture taken September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Carlos Crane, 54, of Crane's Service Center, cleans a padlock so he can lock up tools after the shop was completely immersed in water in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in Kingwood, Houston, Texas, U.S. September 9, 2017. "Just cleaning and keep going, we take it one day at a time," he said. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Vainer Fredrick, 26, cleans out a convenience store that was completely immersed in water in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in Kingwood, Houston, Texas, U.S. September 9, 2017. "I'm glad I'm working and making good money," said Fredrick. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Janice Young, 63, waits for FEMA outside of her Crofton Place Apartment, north Houston, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Texas, U.S. September 8, 2017. "I lost everything I got, I thank God I didn't loose my life," she said. Picture taken September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Kalacedtra Smith, eight months pregnant, is joined by her son Kameron Smith, 9, as she rests for a moment after inspecting the water damage in her Crofton Place Apartment in north Houston during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Texas, U.S. September 8, 2017. Picture taken September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Jacob Chaisson, 9, and his brother Joseph Chaisson, 10, play with items that they found in the piles of destroyed property at Crofton Place Apartments in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 8, 2017. Picture taken September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
A pile of destroyed property surrounds a pillow with the word "Hope" inscribed on it in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in west Houston, Texas, U.S. September 11, 2017. This neighborhood flooded after controlled releases from Addicks Reservoir and neighboring Barker reservoir. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Isom Horace, 61, sits on the from porch of his north Houston apartment in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 8, 2017. Although he still has to pay rent, Horace doesn't know where he will stay the night. He can't stay in his apartment because it is so badly damaged and lined with mold and mildew. "It was like a river was running through the apartment...home sweet home," he said. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Vera Hsiung cleans off her husband, Elliot Wu's, neck and face as they clean out their home which was flooded with water for twelve days in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in west Houston, Texas, U.S. September 11, 2017. "We're really worried about contacting disease from exposure to mold," said Hsiung. Their home flooded after controlled releases from Addicks Reservoir and neighboring Barker reservoir. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Pamela Shaffer photographs a portrait from her 1984 wedding in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in west Houston, Texas, U.S. September 11, 2017. "It's hard to let go of these things, just pack stuff up and hope for the best," said Pamela. Shaffer's home flooded after controlled releases from Addicks Reservoir and neighboring Barker reservoir. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Savannah Shaffer (L) hugs her mother Pamela Shaffer after finding a pair of boots that weren't damaged by the flooding in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in west Houston, Texas, U.S. September 11, 2017. "We celebrate every victory," said Pamela. The Shaffer's home flooded after controlled releases from Addicks Reservoir and neighboring Barker reservoir. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Jon Shaffer salvages what he can from his home, which was flooded for twelve days, in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in west Houston, Texas, U.S. September 11, 2017. Shaffer's home flooded after controlled releases from Addicks Reservoir and neighboring Barker reservoir. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Francile Lovings, 52, sits on her front porch to avoid the odour of mould and mildew in her home during the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in Acres Homes, Houston, Texas, U.S. September 10, 2017. Picture taken September 10, 2017. Lovings, who is waiting for assistance from FEMA, is still sleeping in the home although it doesn't have electricity and the mould gets worst everyday. "Im just praying and hoping I can survive until I get out of this situation," said Lovings. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Cynthia Cochran plays with her granddaughter Elizabeth Thomas, 2, as her husband Edward Stanton sits by the window in their FEMA provided hotel room in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 10, 2017. Picture taken September 10, 2017. Cochran, who lost all of her belongings in the flood said, "This is just another stumbling block. I don't know how I'm going to step over it, but I'm going to step." REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Joderrica Cornealius, 18, reads to her cousin, Elizabeth Thomas, 2, in a FEMA provided hotel room in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 10, 2017. Picture taken September 10, 2017. Cornealius' home didn't flood, but she came to the hotel to show support to her family members who lost everything in the flood. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Dameon Horton, (L) and his father Paul Horton grill ribs outside their FEMA provided hotel room in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 10, 2017. Picture taken September 10, 2017. Talking about the the flooding, Paul said, "I didn't know what to do, but I couldn't crack under pressure, I got kids, I had to go into survival mode. Texas is strong, for real, we gonna get ourselves together and get back to work." REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Elizabeth Thomas, 2, watches videos on her mother's phone outside their FEMA provided hotel room in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 10, 2017. Picture taken September 10, 2017. Thomas' family lost all of their belongings in the flood and are living in a hotel room temporarily. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Quincy Smith, 59, and his wife Francile Lovings, 52, sit outside their home to avoid the odour of mould and mildew in their home during the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in Acres Homes, Houston, Texas, U.S. September 10, 2017. Picture taken September 10, 2017. The couple is waiting for assistance from FEMA. They are still sleeping in the home although it doesn't have electricity and the mould gets worst everyday. "Im just praying and hoping I can survive until I get out of this situation," said Lovings. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Mike Taylor, 59, drains water from the gas line in his car in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in Acres Homes, Houston, Texas, U.S. September 10, 2017. Picture taken September 10, 2017. "I got it bad, I'm so hot and tired," said Taylor. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Coby Cochran, plays peek-a-boo with her daughter, Melanie Thomas, 7, outside their FEMA provided hotel room in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 10, 2017. Picture taken September 10, 2017. "I'm a single mom and it's hard losing everything, but God is going to take care of us no matter what. Just live and love," said Cochran. "Momma I'm happy as long as we're together," said Melanie Thomas. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Coby Cochran, (L) and her daughter Elizabeth Thomas, 2, receive a visit in their FEMA provided hotel room from family member, Joderrica Cornealius, in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 10, 2017. Picture taken September 10, 2017. "I'm a single mom and it's hard losing everything, but God is going to take care of us no matter what. Just live and love," said Cochran. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Quincy Smith, 59, is seen inside his bathroom during the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in Acres Homes, Houston, Texas, U.S. September 10, 2017. Picture taken September 10, 2017. Smith and his wife are still sleeping in the home although it doesn't have electricity and the mould gets worse everyday. "It's rough trying to live day by day, especially when you don't have any money, we're just trying to make it through until FEMA comes," said Smith. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Coby Cochran, (L) and her daughters Elizabeth Thomas, 2, and Melanie Thomas, 7, receive a visit in their FEMA provided hotel room from family members in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 10, 2017. Picture taken September 10, 2017. "I'm a single mom and it's hard losing everything, but God is going to take care of us no matter what. Just live and love," said Cochran. "Momma I'm happy as long as we're together," said Melanie Thomas. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Evelyn Teague, 88, heads home after Sunday service at True Vine Missionary Baptist Church in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 10, 2017. Picture taken September 10, 2017. Although no water came into Teague's home parts of her ceiling caved in. "God's taking care of me," said Teague. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Damaged property is piled up on the streets as mechanic, Sebastian Ramirez, prepares to put new oil into a truck that was flooded by tropical storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 10, 2017. Picture taken September 10, 2017. Ramirez has worked on more than 100 flooded vehicles since the storm, but always tells the automobile owners that he can't guarantee how long the vehicle will run if he's able to fix the immediate problem. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Paris Thomas, 3, sings along during the Sunday service at True Vine Missionary Baptist Church in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 10, 2017. Picture taken September 10, 2017. Thomas' family lost all of their belongings in the flood and are living at a hotel with the assistance of FEMA. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Coby Cochran, tries to figure out how to get her daughter, Melanie Thomas, 7, to school in the morning as they spend time outside their FEMA provided hotel room in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 10, 2017. Picture taken September 10, 2017. "I'm a single mom and it's hard losing everything, but God is going to take care of us no matter what. Just live and love," said Cochran. "Momma I'm happy as long as we're together," said Melanie Thomas. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Melanie Thomas, 7, wears a donated dress and shoes at the Sunday service at True Vine Missionary Baptist Church in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 10, 2017. Picture taken September 10, 2017. Her family lost all of their belongings in the flood and are living at a hotel with the assistance of FEMA. "Momma I'm happy as long as we're together," said Thomas. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Paris Thomas, 3, thumbs through the Bible as she attends Sunday service at True Vine Missionary Baptist Church with her sister Elizabeth Thomas, 2, and mother, Coby Cochran, in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S. September 10, 2017. Picture taken September 10, 2017. The family lost all of their belongings in the flood and are living at a hotel with the assistance of FEMA. "I'm a single mom and it's hard losing everything, but God is going to take care of us no matter what. Just live and love," said Cochran. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
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One particular note of concern for the rest of the season is that the waters of the western Caribbean are still extremely warm. Warm sea surface temperatures feed hurricanes the fuel they need to survive and thrive, but the surface will only feed these storms their energy for so long. The violent winds in a hurricane churn the ocean as these storms move along. This churning causes upwelling, drawing cold water to the surface from below. The cold water can help suppress later hurricane activity in a strong storm’s wake.

We haven’t seen any strong storms move over the western Caribbean this year, so the water there has been baking almost uninterrupted all season long. The oceanic heat content—a metric that takes into account the depth of warm water—is almost off the charts in this part of the ocean basin. This means that any storms that do manage to form in the Caribbean this year have a deep reservoir of steamy water to tap into as they strengthen. This raises the prospect that any storm that forms could encounter rapid intensification if atmospheric conditions are right. Rapid intensification is the same process that allowed all four powerful storms this year to reach their scale-topping intensities.

The good news is that the hurricane season will eventually start to shut down. As the cooler air of fall starts to take hold over land, hostile weather patterns will soon make the atmosphere over the ocean inhospitable for tropical cyclones. The water will grow too cold, the air will dry out, and winds will blow apart any thunderstorms that try to take root. Unfortunately, we’re a long way from that point. So keep your guard up—and keep an eye on the forecasts—for at least the next month or two.

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