Tropical disturbances, depressions and storms off the U.S. Coast: Has this happened before or is this a new pattern?

Feb 20, 2018
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Wilmington, NC
Hopefully this isn't a 'stupid' question, but I've noticed over the ten years I've lived in Southeastern North Carolina - especially starting around 2018 or so - that there have been a number of tropical disturbances, depressions and even a couple of tropical storms that formed off our coast.

Granted, these storms did not impact us directly aside from rough surf conditions, and eventually moved out over the ocean and away from land, but I'm confused as to why this keeps happening, being more used to the stereotypical hurricane or tropical storm forming from an easterly wave off the coast of Africa and then moving towards land.

Is this something that has happened before - as in farther back in the past - or is this a new pattern?
 
Jul 5, 2009
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
I’m no expert, just a long-time observer relying upon pattern recognition, and I can’t speak statistically to whether it is happening more often than it did historically, but I don’t think it’s all that unusual. Not every tropical system originates off the coast of Africa; in fact, my understanding is that early season and late season systems are more likely to *not* originate there. Remember you’ve got the warm waters of the Gulf Stream off the southeastern NC coast, so you can get a low originating on land moving offshore in the westerlies and intensifying into a tropical or subtropical low. Or lows originating over the ocean and getting fuel from the Gulf Stream. Winter nor’easters intensify over the Gulf Stream also. But the mets and others with more knowledge can correct or elaborate on this.
 
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Jeff House

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Jun 1, 2008
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James is right. MDR peaks in late August through late September, not usually even through 30 Sept. Closer to home is bi-modal early and late season. I usually think of the western Caribbean or Gulf. Off the Carolina Coast is another one, esp with stalled fronts.

Hurricane seasons ebb and flow from quiet years to active years. Majors debate and exceptional QPF debate might go in climate change threads. Otherwise I don't see hurricane seasons much differently over the last 40 years.
 
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