The 1982 Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1, 1982, and lasted until November 30, 1982, and was a below average season. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. Only six storms formed during this hurricane season: five named storms (this was the record for the smallest number of named cyclones in the Atlantic basin since naming began in 1950, until the following year (1983) when only 4 named storms formed) and an unnamed subtropical storm (no subtropical storms were named between 1974 and 2001). The season only produced two hurricanes (record low since 1944) one of which reached major hurricane status. The season started early with Hurricane Alberto forming on the first day of the season. Alberto threatened the Southwestern Florida coast as a tropical storm, causing twenty-three fatalities in Cuba. The next storm, a subtropical storm, formed in June and affected the same area as Alberto, causing $10 million in damage.
Tropical Storm Beryl formed on August 28, after a quiet July in the open Atlantic Ocean. Beryl grazed Cape Verde, killing 3 people. Tropical Depression Three formed just behind Beryl, tracking east and north of the Caribbean sea in early September. Soon after the dissipation of Beryl, Tropical Storm Chris formed in the Gulf of Mexico on September 9. Chris stayed as a weak storm, making landfall near Sabine Pass, Texas, and dissipated over land on September 13. Hurricane Debby was the next storm and the strongest of the season. The formative stage of Debby produced rainfall in Puerto Rico and soon strengthened into a Category 4 Major Hurricane. Debby passed by Newfoundland on September 18 and merged with a non-tropical low on September 20. In mid-September, Tropical Depression Six formed west of Africa, and tracked west-northwest, dissipating before reaching the Leeward Islands on September 20. Its remnant thunderstorm activity continued moving west-northwest, forming Tropical Depression Seven which moved near Bermuda on September 25 before dissipating offshore Nova Scotia. The final storm of the season, Tropical Storm Ernesto, was the shortest lasting storm of the season and stayed out to sea, dissipating on October 2.
The season was very inactive because of strong vertical wind shear due to stronger than normal westerly winds aloft. The wind shear was contributed by a variety of factors including a strong El Niño. Vertical wind shear was strong enough to disrupt convection in areas of disturbed weather so they could not develop further. The El Niño which affected this hurricane season extended into the 1983 Atlantic hurricane season. Higher than average values of African mineral dust during the most active portion of the hurricane season could have also suppressed tropical cyclone activity.
The season's activity was reflected with a cumulative accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) rating of 32, which is classified as "below normal". ACE is, broadly speaking, a measure of the power of the hurricane multiplied by the length of time it existed, so storms that last a long time, as well as particularly strong hurricanes, have high ACEs. ACE is only calculated for full advisories on tropical systems at or exceeding 34 knots (39 mph, 63 km/h) or tropical storm strength. Although officially, subtropical cyclones are excluded from the total, the figure above includes periods when storms were in a subtropical phase.
On June 1, a tropical depression formed off western Cuba from an organized cloud system. It moved slowly northeastward through the Gulf of Mexico, and strengthened into Tropical Storm Alberto on June 3. Alberto traveled generally northeast on an erratic course, and briefly intensified to a Category 1 hurricane, one of the earliest hurricanes of June, and the earliest date for a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean since Hurricane Alma in May 1970. Due to strengthening vertical wind shear, Alberto then quickly weakened into a tropical storm, doubled back to the west, and dissipated near the Florida Keys on June 6. Alberto is an example of a storm to enter the Gulf of Mexico and dissipating while never make landfall, which is an unusual event.
Though the storm never made landfall, 23 deaths were reported in Cuba from significant flooding, the worst in 32 years. Southern Florida experienced moderate rainfall, with a peak of 16.47 inches (418 mm) occurring in Tavernier.
The first subtropical storm of the season formed in the east-central Gulf of Mexico on June 18, and moved northeast for its entire life cycle. It crossed the Florida peninsula that night, causing the issuance of numerous severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings. The cyclone also dropped heavy rainfall, peaking at 10.72 inches (272 mm) eight miles (13 km) southwest of DeSoto City, Florida. The storm continued, crossing the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and retained its strength until June 20 when it became extratropical near Newfoundland. The cyclone caused three deaths in Florida, sank a fishing trawler off the coast of North Carolina, and caused $10 million in damage (1982 USD). This was the only subtropical or tropical cyclone to impact the Eastern seaboard this season.
A well-developed tropical wave exited Africa on August 27. The next day, it developed into a tropical depression, and shortly thereafter it intensified into Tropical Storm Beryl. On August 29, it passed just south of Cape Verde as it continued intensifying on its west-northwest track. An eye feature appeared in the convection on August 31, suggesting winds of near hurricane status; since the feature was located on the western side of the deep convection and the storm was slightly asymmetric, the intensity was held just below hurricane status. Shortly after, strong wind shear caused the storm to deteriorate, leaving the low-level circulation exposed on the western side. Beryl weakened to a tropical depression the next day due to the lack of convection, and it continued westward without redevelopment. On September 5, a reconnaissance flight into the depression found winds of 65 mph (100 km/h); this was deemed unrepresentative of the actual intensity as it was recorded in a squall line. The depression became disorganized once more and by September 6, it was no longer identifiable on satellites.
Early in its duration, Tropical Storm Beryl produced heavy rainfall and gusty winds on the Cape Verde island of Sal. The storm caused moderate damage across the archipelago, totaling $3 million (1982 USD). The passage of Beryl resulted in three casualties in Brava Island, as well as 122 injuries. In the period after the storm's passage, the United States provided humanitarian aid and economic assistance to the country, helping the archipelago to reverse the effects of Beryl.
This system formed east of the Lesser Antilles on September 6 to the southeast of Tropical Storm Beryl in the tropical North Atlantic Ocean. The depression moved northeast of the Leeward Islands during the afternoon of September 7 while experiencing southwest vertical wind shear, and moved into the southwest North Atlantic before dissipating east of the Bahamas on September 9.
A surface low pressure area developed on September 8 in the Gulf of Mexico. It drifted westward, and the next day it organized into a subtropical depression. Under the influence of a trough of low pressure, the depression turned northward, and after steadily becoming better organized it transitioned into Tropical Storm Chris by late on September 10. The storm attained peak winds of 65 miles per hour (105 km/h) before moving ashore near Sabine Pass in Texas. Chris continued inland until it dissipated over central Arkansas on September 13. Prior to making landfall, as many as 6,500 people evacuated from southern Louisiana, while offshore many oil workers were evacuated inland.
Chris produced moderate rainfall along its path, peaking at 16 inches (410 mm) in Delhi, Louisiana, with totals of over 10 inches (250 mm) in Mississippi and Tennessee. The rainfall caused locally severe flooding as far inland as Tennessee and Kentucky, with flooding of some rivers reported. The storm spawned nine tornadoes, of which four were F2 or stronger on the Fujita scale. Upon moving ashore, the hurricane produced a 5 feet (1.5 m) to 6 feet (1.8 m) storm tide, resulting in severe damage to several boats in the Gulf of Mexico. Throughout its path, damage totaled $2 million (1982 USD).
A tropical wave moved westward offshore the coast of Africa. The wave traveled across the Atlantic, and organized into a tropical depression off the northern coast of Haiti on September 13. The depression turned north and strengthened into a tropical storm and then a hurricane. Hurricane Debby moved north-northeast, brushing Bermuda with tropical storm-force winds. It continued strengthening as it moved north, peaking at 130 miles per hour (210 km/h). Hurricane Debby was the only known hurricane on record to reach category 4 north of 38°N latitude, at 38°8 North. Debby was also the second northernmost known category 4 hurricane Atlantic hurricane, behind Hurricane Ella of 1978. Tropical storm-force winds were also recorded at Cape Race in Newfoundland when Debby passed on September 18. The storm accelerated and began weakening over the colder waters of the north Atlantic. Debby merged with a strong non-tropical system over the British Isles on September 20.
The precursor disturbance to Debby dropped heavy rainfall across Puerto Rico, peaking at 12.86 inches (327 mm) in the southwestern portion of the island. Debby had little effect on Atlantic Canada, outside of heavy rainfall.
This tropical depression formed 900 miles (1,400 km) west of the Cape Verde Islands on September 16, and moved west-northwest across the tropical Atlantic Ocean. The system moved within 750 miles (1,210 km) east of the Leeward Islands before dissipating on September 20.
The remnant area of disturbed weather from Tropical Depression Six continued moving west-northwest into the southwest north Atlantic. A tropical depression formed from this area 275 miles (443 km) west of Bermuda on September 25. The system recurved off the north and northeast, dissipating in north Atlantic shipping lanes southeast of Nova Scotia on September 27.
A tropical wave formed off the coast of Africa on September 23. The west side of the wave expanded and was declared as Tropical Depression Six on September 30. The depression intensified, making a sharp turn on October 1. An Air Force plane found 40 miles per hour (64 km/h) winds with a pressure of 1,003 hectopascals (29.6 inHg) and the depression was given the name Ernesto. A second Air Force plane on October 2 found 71 miles per hour (114 km/h) winds with a pressure of 997 millibars (29.4 inHg). By October 3, Ernesto was not identifiable after merging with an extratropical low. Ernesto never approached land and caused no reported damage.
The following names were used for named storms that formed in the north Atlantic in 1982. These names were used again in the 1988 season. This is the first time this name set was used since the post-1978 naming change, except for Florence and Helene which had been previously used in 1954, 1958, 1960, and 1964. Names that were not assigned are marked in gray.
The World Meteorological Organization retired no names used in the 1982 season.