Cape Verde-type hurricane

A Cape Verde-type hurricane is an Atlantic hurricane that develops near the Cape Verde islands, off the west coast of Africa. The average hurricane season has about two Cape Verde-type hurricanes, which are usually the most intense storms of the season because they often have plenty of warm open ocean over which to develop before encountering land.


Cape Verde-type hurricanes typically develop from tropical waves which form in the African savanna during the wet season, then move into the African steppes. The disturbances move off the western coast of Africa and become tropical storms or tropical cyclones near the Cape Verde Islands, usually in August or September.

Typical tracks

A typical Cape Verde hurricane will form as a tropical depression just south of the Cape Verde islands. They normally reach hurricane strength in the mid-Atlantic, but sometimes will strengthen closer to Cape Verde or the Caribbean.

Once it begins approaching North America, a Cape Verde hurricane has several basic tracks.

  • It can continue to the west, and if it is far enough south, it will cross the Lesser Antilles into the Caribbean Sea. From there it will often continue westward into Nicaragua, Honduras, or Belize.
  • If the storm is further north, it can travel up the Greater Antilles and into the U.S. Gulf Coast. In 1998, Hurricane Georges took a track of this nature. Slightly further north, and the storm will track through the Bahamas and into Florida in the manner of 1992's Hurricane Andrew.
  • A more northerly storm will begin to have its track affected by the high pressure that generally occurs over the eastern Atlantic in late summer. As these storms pass north of the Antilles, their tracks begin to curve to the north. Often this results in the storms making landfall in North or South Carolina. Hurricane Hugo was a typical example. If the storm's track is affected significantly, it will often curve back out to sea, where it becomes extratropical over cooler water. An example of such was Hurricane Edouard in 1996. Occasionally storms following this track can accelerate to the north and strike New England. The New England Hurricane of 1938 and Hurricane Gloria in 1985 were two such cases.
  • Sometimes, the subtropical ridge is farther west than usual such that the storm recurves quickly and is driven around the east side of the ridge in the central Atlantic, generally missing land completely. An example of such was Hurricane Maria in 2005.

Note that while these tracks are typical, Cape Verde hurricanes are not bound to follow them and often do not.

Because this type of hurricane takes a near-westward path that starts in the eastern Atlantic, they can avoid the two situations that typically end the life of a tropical cyclone: interaction with land, and movement over cool water. Since they can go for several weeks without having either affect them, Cape Verde-type hurricanes are some of the longest-lived storms. Hurricane Faith, the third longest lasting Atlantic hurricane on record, was a Cape Verde hurricane. It lasted 16 days total and was a hurricane for 13.

Major Cape Verde-type hurricanes

The category is the peak intensity of the hurricane, measured on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

Year Name Category
1899 1899 Hurricane San Ciriaco 4
1900 Galveston Hurricane of 1900 4
1926 1926 Miami Hurricane 4
1928 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane 5
1938 New England Hurricane of 1938,

or the Long Island Express
1947 1947 Fort Lauderdale Hurricane 5
1957 Hurricane Carrie 4
1958 Hurricane Cleo 5
1960 Hurricane Donna 5
1966 Hurricane Faith 3
1966 Hurricane Inez 4
1979 Hurricane David 5
1980 Hurricane Allen 5
1985 Hurricane Gloria 4
1988 Hurricane Gilbert 5
1989 Hurricane Hugo 5
1992 Hurricane Andrew 5
1995 Hurricane Luis 4
1996 Hurricane Bertha 3
1996 Hurricane Fran 3
1998 Hurricane Bonnie 3
1998 Hurricane Georges 4
1999 Hurricane Floyd 4
2000 Hurricane Alberto 3
2001 Hurricane Felix 3
2002 Hurricane Lili 4
2003 Hurricane Fabian 4
2003 Hurricane Isabel 5
2004 Hurricane Frances 4
2004 Hurricane Ivan 5
2004 Hurricane Karl 4
2005 Hurricane Emily 5
2005 Hurricane Maria 3
2006 Hurricane Gordon 3
2006 Hurricane Helene 3
2007 Hurricane Dean 5
2008 Hurricane Bertha 3
2008 Hurricane Ike 4

See also

External links

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