The Atlantic tropical season runs from June 1 through November 30. However, isolated storms do develop outside of that season. In 2012, Tropical Storm Alberto developed on May 19 off the southeastern United States coast.
September marks the peak of hurricane season, representing the point where ocean temperatures and wind patterns combine to create the most favorable conditions across the Atlantic & Caribbean.
Storm names are determined by the World Meteorological Organization. Six lists are used in rotation, with the most costly or deadly storm names (such as Andrew, Katrina, Irene, Sandy) being retired. The lists alternate in male/female order, and no storms beginning with the letters Q, U, X, Y, or Z are used. Other sets of lists are used for storms in the Pacific and other oceans around the world.
For the 2014 hurricane season, most storm forecasts are suggesting a near normal, or slightly below normal, season. This is due, in part, to the development of an El Nino in the Pacific. El Nino occurs when there is a large warming of the ocean waters off the northwest coast of South America. This anomaly causes the jet stream and overall weather patterns to change. One side effect from El Nino is that the Atlantic tropical season is often weaker than normal.
The seasonal outlooks determine the approximate number of storms that will form. The forecasts do not include whether or not they will make landfall, or if they will affect the United States.