Gaston Becomes First Major Hurricane of 2016 Atlantic Season

The Aug. 28 development is right on time, according to NOAA, because we've reached "the most active and dangerous time for tropical cyclone activity" -- mid-August through mid-October.

The National Hurricane Center announced Aug. 28 that Hurricane Gaston has become the first major hurricane of the 2016 Atlantic season. And this came right on time because the center's parent agency, NOAA, reported Aug. 22 that we've reached "the most active and dangerous time for tropical cyclone activity" -- mid-August through mid-October.

"From mid-August through mid-October, the activity spikes, accounting for 78 percent of the tropical storm days, 87 percent of the category 1 and 2 hurricane days (Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale), and a whopping 96 percent of the major (category 3, 4, and 5) hurricane days," NOAA reported. "Why does this peak period of activity begin so deep into summer? There certainly is no lack of disturbances throughout the entire six-month hurricane season. Tropical waves are coming off of the coast of Africa roughly every three days, and the very early and late parts of the year provide additional types of potential seedlings. What's different, though, is the environment that these potential tropical cyclones tend to encounter. Both dynamics (wind factors) and thermodynamics (temperature and moisture) play a role."

The center is tracking two disturbances, Gaston and a storm named Tropical Depression Eight. Eight is closer to the U.S. mainland and is expected to pass near North Carolina's Outer Banks on Aug. 30. Gaston, a category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 115 mph, is expected to turn north and then northeast and is considered no threat to land.

A tropical depression is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained surface wind speed of 38 mph or less. A tropical storm has a maximum sustained surface wind speed of 39 mph to 73 mph, while a hurricane has a maximum sustained surface wind speed of 74 mph or more.

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