Eight Straight Hurricanes Have Formed in the Atlantic Basin, a First Since the Late 1800s, Thanks to Hurricane Lee
The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season added another superlative when Lee became the eighth straight hurricane to form in the basin, something that hadn't happened in the same hurricane season since the 19th century.
Popping an eye in infrared satellite imagery, Lee was upgraded to hurricane status by the National Hurricane Center in the pre-dawn hours early Sunday morning.
While needing a second chance after fizzling well to the south late on September 18, and occurring one week after Maria first became a hurricane, this tiny Lee nonetheless became the eighth straight Atlantic hurricane.
This streak started with Franklin, the first hurricane of the 2017 season, forming on August 9.
Over the next roughly six-week period, three of those eight hurricanes - Harvey, Irma, and Maria - would make a Category 4 landfall in the U.S., a first in the record books.
On average, an entire Atlantic hurricane season - June through November - picks up only six hurricanes.
Not Since 1893...
According to the NOAA HURDAT best track database, such a hurricane streak had never been documented in the era when satellites had full surveillance of the tropical Atlantic Basin, since 1966.
The previous hurricane streak within one season in this "satellite era" was six, both during the record-smashing 2005 hurricane season and also in 1998, a stretch that included infamous hurricanes Georges and Mitch.
Prior to the satellite era but while aircraft reconnaissance was occurring in at least part of the Atlantic basin, seven straight hurricanes formed in the 1950 hurricane season.
The last time we had a hurricane streak as long or longer as what we've seen in 2017 was 124 years ago, in 1893, during the second term of President Grover Cleveland.
Two of the top five deadliest U.S. hurricanes of record - Cheniere Caminanda, Louisiana, and Sea Islands, Georgia - were part of that streak in 1893.
Acknowledging some open-ocean hurricanes may have been missed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries without satellite or reconnaissance data, the NOAA best track database only found four other seasons with more consecutive Atlantic hurricanes, all in the late 19th century.