BLOG: How rare is a May tropical storm? - | WBTV Charlotte

BLOG: How rare is a May tropical storm?

Ana became the first named tropical system of the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season late last week, first as a subtropical, or hybrid storm.

This means that it had some warm, tropical features and some cool, winter-style, non-tropical features at that time. However, early Saturday morning, Ana took on solely tropical characteristics and was upgraded with winds peaking at 60 mph.

Ana made landfall at 6 am EDT Sunday as a tropical storm along the Grand Strand, midway between Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach.

Interaction with land forced Ana to weaken to a tropical depression less than eight hours later. Even so, soaking rains over the weekend meant Mother's Day along the coast was a washout.

Nearly 7 inches of rain fell at Kinston and Wilmington, NC and North Myrtle Beach received nearly 6 inches over the weekend. Local street flooding was a big issue in beach communities such as Ocean Isle Beach.

Despite weakening, Ana still brought heavy rain Monday to the mid-Atlantic region and early Tuesday over eastern New England before finally being pushed out to sea by an approaching cold front.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially stretches from June through November. However, May tropical or sub-tropical storms form in the Atlantic basin about once every five years, so they're certainly not rare events.

Neal Dorst of NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, says there is "nothing magical" about the June 1 start of the hurricane season. June through November was selected only because that period captures 97% of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity.

For the record, there have been 19 Atlantic tropical/subtropical storms or hurricanes before June 1 in 17 different years from 1950-2015.

Before Ana this week, the occurrence last happened in May 2012, when both Tropical Storms Alberto and Beryl flared up off the Southeast coast, with Beryl having a direct impact on the Carolina coast, washing out Memorial Day weekend that year.

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