Published: July 6,2017
Hurricanes are a rarity in the Atlantic during July with only 55 forming in the month since 1851. But July has still featured some notorious hurricanes despite how infrequently they occur.
(MORE: Hurricane Central)
One Category 5 July HurricaneEmily in 2005 is the only July hurricane to reach the highest rating of Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
Emily's stint as a Category 5 was a brief one, lasting only about six hours when it was centered just southwest of Jamaica late July 16 into early July 17, 2005.
Satellite image of Emily just before it reached Category 5 strength on July 16, 2005. (NASA)After cruising through the northwest Caribbean, Emily struck Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 4. Damage was fairly light because its strongest winds were across a small area. No deaths were reported in Mexico, partially due to massive evacuations that occurred before Emily's arrival.
Two Retired July HurricanesJust two July hurricanes have had their names retired. That accounts for 2 percent of the 82 tropical storm and hurricane names retired since 1954.
Damage from Dennis' storm surge and wind at Navarre Beach, Florida. (FEMA)Hurricane Dennis in 2005 is the most recent July retiree. Dennis was an unusually strong early-season hurricane that caused destruction in the Caribbean before it roared into the Florida Panhandle on July 10, 2005.
Dennis' maximum strength as a Category 4 with 150 mph winds near Cuba on July 8 made it the strongest July Atlantic Basin hurricane on record. Just a little more than a week later, Hurricane Emily broke that record.
There were 42 deaths directly related to the impacts from Dennis, mostly in Haiti and Cuba. In the United States, Dennis killed three people and caused $2.5 billion in damage.
Hurricane Cesar in 1996 is the only other July storm to have its name retired.
At least 51 were killed from Cesar's flooding and mudslides when it struck Nicaragua on July 28, 1996. Interestingly, Cesar crossed Central America and reintensified in the eastern Pacific where it was renamed Hurricane Douglas.
Cape Verde Bertha DuoThe 1996 and 2008 versions of Hurricane Bertha are notable as they were rare July Cape Verde storms. This portion of the tropical Atlantic typically sees little activity early in the season before things ramp up in August and September.
NOAA says Bertha in 1996 was the "earliest Cape Verde hurricane ever witnessed to cross the Atlantic unscathed."
(MORE: What is a Cape Verde Hurricane?)
Bertha in 1996 is the most notorious of the two hurricanes since it had the most significant impact on land areas. The hurricane moved on an arcing path through the northeast Caribbean Islands to east of the Bahamas before making landfall in southeastern North Carolina as a Category 2.
Satellite image of Bertha making landfall on the North Carolina coast in July 1996. (NOAA)Bertha's maximum intensity as a Category 3 northwest of Puerto Rico made it the first major Atlantic hurricane to occur in July since 1926.
The U.S. Virgin Islands and North Carolina were declared federal disaster areas after Bertha struck. About 5,000 homes were damaged in North Carolina, mainly from storm surge. Bertha was blamed for 12 deaths in the northeast Caribbean and the United States.
Hurricane Bertha in 2008 went on to become the longest-lived July Atlantic tropical cyclone on record, lasting over 17 days from July 3-20. Fortunately, most of the track occurred over the open waters of the central Atlantic Ocean. Only Bermuda experienced tropical storm conditions from Bertha.
However, swells generated by the hurricane led to 1,500 ocean rescues in Ocean City, Maryland, in the seven days beginning July 9, 2008. Three people drowned near the New Jersey coast.
Deadliest July Hurricanes in Past 100 YearsAn estimated 287 people were killed by an unnamed hurricane in July 1926, making it the deadliest to occur in the month in the last 100 years.
The July 1926 hurricane first swept across the northeast Caribbean Islands as a Category 1-2, and then raked through the Bahamas as a Category 4 where major damage occurred. It's sometimes referred to as the "Nassau Hurricane" since it made a direct hit on the Bahamian capital.
Hurricane Cesar is the most deadly recent July Atlantic hurricane. As mentioned earlier, it killed 51 people in Central America in July 1996.
Another deadly July storm in recent memory never attained hurricane strength. Flooding from Tropical Storm Alberto in 1994 killed 31 people in Georgia and two in Alabama. Despite the high death toll, the name Alberto was not retired.
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