Note: This report catalogs recent tropical cyclones across the North Atlantic and East Pacific and places each basin’s tropical cyclone activity in a climate-scale context. It is not updated in real time. Users seeking the real time status and forecasts of tropical cyclones should visit The National Hurricane Center.

Atlantic Basin

There were five named tropical systems in September (Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Phillipe and Rita), all of which became hurricanes. Two of the hurricanes in September, Rita and Maria were classified as 'major' (category 3-5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale). Hurricane Rita impacted the Gulf coast of the U.S. causing serious damage and destruction, while Maria remained in the central North Atlantic and did not affect any land. There is a dedicated report available that summarizes major Hurricane Rita's development and impacts.

Hurricane Maria developed into a tropical storm on September 2nd in the central Atlantic from a wave off the coast of Africa several days prior. Becoming a hurricane on the 4th, Maria tracked north-northwest and reached a peak intensity of 115 mph (100 kts; category 3 status) about 470 miles east of Bermuda. Moving to the north-northeast, Maria weakened to a tropical storm and then regained hurricane strength on the 7th. Slowly weakening back to a tropical storm by the 9th, Maria eventually became a strong extra-tropical storm and moved northeast towards Scandinavia.

Hurricane Nate followed a similar track to Maria, becoming a tropical storm on September 5th about 300 miles southwest of Bermuda.

Over the next 2 days, Nate tracked northeastward strengthening to hurricane intensity, with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph (78 kts) by the 7th. The hurricane's forward speed increased as it passed to the southeast of Bermuda and then weakened back to a tropical storm by the 9th. Nate continued to weaken and became an extra-tropical low pressure system on the 10th.

Hurricane Ophelia developed on September 7th about 115 miles east-southeast of Cape Canaveral, FL, from a tropical depression which had been located in the northwestern Bahamas before moving north-northwestward. Ophelia drifted off the coast of Florida during the next 2 days briefly becoming a hurricane on the 8th. Reaching hurricane strength twice more during the next several days, Ophelia moved northeastward before stalling again on the 11th about 235 miles south of Cape Hatteras, NC. Ophelia looped slowly during the 12th and 13th before tracking north towards the North Carolina coast, reaching hurricane strength for a 4th time with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (74 kts; category 1 strength).

The northern eyewall of the storm brushed the coast near Cape Fear on the 14th and then Ophelia turned to the east-northeast moving parallel to the coast, passing south of Cape Fear, NC. The hurricane once again weakened to a tropical storm on the 16th and then tracked to the northeast passing east of Cape Cod on the 17th. Ophelia transitioned to an extratropical system on the 18th near Nova Scotia.

Philippe developed into a tropical storm on September 17th from a depression located about 300 miles east of Barbados. As Philippe moved north-northeastward to the east of the Lesser Antilles, the storm strengthened and reached hurricane intensity on the 19th. Maximum windspeeds of 80 mph (70 kts; category 1 strength) were attained early on the 20th and as Philippe continued to the north-northwest it weakened to a tropical storm later the same day. Philippe dissipated to a tropical depression on the 21st as it became embedded in the circulation of a larger low pressure system.

Hurricane Rita developed on September 18th from a tropical depression that formed early the same day. The storm increased in intensity over the next 48 hours, becoming a category 1 hurricane on the 20th and a category 2 hurricane later that afternoon. Tracking through the Florida Straits, Hurricane Rita neared the Florida Keys on the 20th, causing sustained tropical storm force winds on Key West with gusts of up to 76 mph (66 kts).

Rapidly intensifying, Hurricane Rita tracked westward into the Gulf of Mexico and by the afternoon of the 21st, Rita had reached category 5 strength on the Saffir-Simpson scale, with winds of 165 mph (143 kts). Continuing to intensify to reach windspeeds of 175 mph (152 kts), the minimum central pressure of the storm dropped to 897 mb, the third lowest on record for the Atlantic Basin, after Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 (888 mb), and the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane (892 mb). This year marks the first time in recorded history that two hurricanes (Katrina and Rita) have reached category 5 strength in the Gulf of Mexico in a single hurricane season.

Weakening during the afternoon of the 22nd, due to an eyewall replacement cycle and perhaps some influence of slightly cooler sea-surface temperatures, Rita's intensity dipped to a sustained windspeed of 145 mph (125 kts) and continued to weaken gradually over the next 36 hours prior to landfall. Rita tracked west-northwest on the 23rd and made landfall at the Texas/Louisiana border early on the 24th, at category 3 strength with sustained winds of 120 mph (105 kts). Hurricane force winds were observed more than 150 miles inland and tropical storm force winds were felt as far north as the LA-TX-AR border. Rita's pressure as it came ashore was 937 mb. More information on the storm, including some details regarding impacts can be found on NCDC's dedicated Hurricane Rita Summary page.

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Pacific Basin

Four hurricanes and two tropical storms formed in September in the eastern tropical Pacific, one of which impacted Mexico and the U.S. (Otis). The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) Index values are available for all eastern North Pacific storms in 2005.

Hurricane Jova formed as a tropical storm on September 15th about 1300 miles west-southwest of Cabo San Lucas and tracked west over the next 2 days while strengthening to reach hurricane intensity. Becoming a major hurricane on the 19th, Jova was moving northwest towards Hawaii when it encountered cooler water and began slowly weakening. Jova weakened to a tropical storm on the 23rd and eventually dissipated on the 25th about 250 miles northeast of Honolulu, HI.

Kenneth became a tropical storm on September 15th and intensified into a hurricane the following day as it moved west-northwest. Reaching a peak intensity of 130 mph (115 kts) or a minimal category 4 storm on the 18th, it then weakened back to tropical storm strength on the 20th. Re-intensifying over the next several days, Kenneth reached hurricane strength for a second time on September 25th and then drifted slowly into the Central Pacific where it weakened again. Kenneth continued to weaken and dissipated just east of the Big Island of Hawaii on September 30th.

Short-lived Tropical Storm Lidia formed on the 17th about 800 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas. On September 18th Lidia was eventually absorbed by the low pressure area that developed into Hurricane Max.

Hurricane Max formed as a tropical storm about 575 miles south-southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico on September 18th while absorbing the smaller circulation of Tropical Storm Lidia. Max strengthened into a hurricane on the 20th while moving to the northwest and then reached its peak intensity of 80 mph (70 kts) later the same day. Thereafter, rapid weakening occurred and Max dissipated into a tropical depression on the 22nd and a remnant low later that same day.

Tropical Storm Norma formed on September 23rd from a depression that developed a few hundred miles south of Manzanillo, Mexico. Moving to the north-northwest, Norma reached a peak intensity of 64 mph (55 kts) the next day after which northeasterly shear weakened the storm. Norma dissipated into a tropical depression again on the 27th and further weakened to a remnant low pressure system the same day.

Hurricane Otis formed as a tropical storm on September 29th and became a hurricane the next day as it moved northwestward. Strengthening to a category 2 hurricane, Otis threatened the Baja Peninsula, prompting hurricane warnings for portions of Mexico's northwest coast. However, the storm weakened and moved farther to the northwest in early October avoiding a landfall. Heavy rain occurred across portions of Baja and the rainfall spread northward into the U.S. Southwest.

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Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Monthly Tropical Cyclones Report for September 2005, published online October 2005, retrieved on March 20, 2023 from