Farm and Ranch
Tropical Storm Barry kicks off Texas’ hurricane season
By Adam Russell, Texas A&M
Jul 17, 2019
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College Station, Texas -- Tropical Storm Barry didn’t create major problems for Texans, but storm season is just getting underway, said the Texas State Climatologist.

Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, College Station, said southeastern parts of the state received up to 5 inches of rain, but Barry, for the most part, avoided Texas. However, he added, the annual hurricane season typically ramps up in July to mid-August.

It’s early in the season still,” he said.

There are two types of storms/hurricanes – tropical, which originate farther southward in the Atlantic; and storms that originate further north such as in the Gulf of Mexico’s warmer waters, Nielsen-Gammon said. Storms like Barry are triggered by upper-level disturbances and convection that can occur when they move over warmer waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

“June and early July typically kick off the hurricane season with these types of storms forming in the Gulf of Mexico,” he said. “Later in the season, storms are more common and form in the Caribbean or farther south in the Atlantic.”

About 15% of U.S. landfalling hurricanes are early season hurricanes, Nielsen-Gammon said.

There were four hurricanes and seven other tropical storms in 2015, the last time there was an El Niño system and warmer tropical waters as there is this year, Nielsen-Gammon said. Tropical Storm Bill was the only storm to make landfall along the Gulf of Mexico that year. It delivered almost 14 inches of rain near Port Lavaca and flooding throughout parts of Texas and Oklahoma, and two people died as a result of floodwaters.

Storm forecasts don’t predict anything forming in the near future, he said, and long-term outlooks for the tracks of specific tropical storms and hurricanes are impossible to predict. 

Overall, the hurricane season is expected to be close to average. Meanwhile, the seasonal forecast indicates below-normal precipitation across the state for the next few weeks.

Nielsen-Gammon said most of the state west of Interstate 45 has been fairly dry for more than a month. Eastern parts of the state, including Houston and Dallas, received up to three times the normal rainfall during that time.