Frequency and Intensity of Recorded Mid-Atlantic Tropical Storms and Hurricanes

This tool is excerpted from Chesapeake Bay Watershed Climate Impacts Summary and Outlook for Summer 2019.

Key Findings

  • Since the 1980s, North Atlantic hurricanes have increased in intensity, frequency, and duration. The strongest hurricanes, categories 4 and 5, have also increased in frequency.1 The North Atlantic includes the Atlantic Ocean north of the equator, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea.2
  • The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions have historically experienced a lower frequency of tropical storms and hurricanes compared to other regions of the United States, receiving 6% of such storms annually over the continental U.S. from 1990 to 2017.3
  • Figure 4 below shows the number of storms by month (top panel) affecting the Mid-Atlantic region from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center's North Atlantic hurricane database (or HURDAT) for hurricanes and tropical storms.4
  • From the top panel of Figure 4, the majority of storms fall in this region in September, then August. The distribution of storms across hurricane season months has remained relatively constant.
  • According to the data available for the Mid-Atlantic, as shown in the bottom panel of Figure 4, no significant changes in the intensity of frequency of hurricanes or tropical storms is apparent.

How To Use the Tool

To view changes in hurricane frequency by month (top panel) and by windspeed (bottom panel), users can select a time period of interest (top right slider), as well as a specific hurricane category or tropical storm. Users can view a pop-up window of hurricane or tropical storm name, windspeed, and other useful information by hovering their mouse over a given data point on the two figures.

Technical Notes

Major hurricanes are those at a Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale of 3 or 4 (no Category 5 storms appear in the HURDAT database), and minor hurricanes are those at a Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale of 1 or 2. The Hurricane Category filter allows users to select the magnitude of hurricane by Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. More information on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale can be found at: https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutsshws.php. Mid-Atlantic is defined as the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, West Virginia. Hurricanes and Tropical Storms that made landfall in any bordering states, such as North Carolina, were also included as these storms may have impacted areas outside of where they made landfall. While the data used for this figure is generally based on observed records, estimates of the magnitude, windspeeds and landfall patterns of hurricanes and Tropical Storms included in the HURDAT database are subject to limitations of this dataset. More information on HURDAT can be found at: https://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/data_sub/re_anal.html.

View all the climate data tools