Tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin during early summer often form in the Caribbean Sea or the Gulf of Mexico where water temperatures heat up quickly. During the peak of hurricane season, from August through October, tropical systems are more likely to form out across the Atlantic as far east as the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa. Many factors, such as upper level winds, Saharan dust clouds and sea-surface temperatures have an effect on the number and strength of hurricanes.

This year, sea-surface temperatures are running one to five degrees warmer than average. Although this is only one element, it is important because the additional thermodynamic energy made available by increased heat and humidity can make the atmosphere much more explosive, causing tropical systems to grow more rapidly and potentially become stronger and, depending on their paths, more destructive.