July is usually a slow month for Atlantic hurricanes, but it feels like peak season for parts of Florida and the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Emily -- with winds of 115 mph -- is the fifth named Atlantic storm since the beginning of June.
Never before, since scientists began keeping records in 1851, have so many storms have formed so early. There are many reasons why, experts say.
"Really, what you have is a combination of a lot of favorable factors hitting the Atlantic right now, setting up for a very, very active year, which has really already started now," said Stan Goldberg, a research meteorologist with NOAA's Hurricane Research Division.
The first named storms of the season -- Arlene, Bret and Cindy -- formed late and had limited punch. But Hurricanes Dennis and Emily were born from storms blowing off the coast of Africa and forming far out in the Atlantic Ocean. Meteorologists call the formation a tropical box, allowing hurricanes to build strength for days before hitting land.
"At this time of year, we don't expect to see hurricanes coming off the African coast or hurricanes forming off systems that come off the African coast, and this year is no exception to that,"said Bruce Albrecht, a meteorologist and professor at the University of Miami.
Waters in the entire Atlantic hurricane region are already two degrees to four degrees warmer than normal. That produces ideal conditions for major storms to form because warm water is like jet fuel for hurricanes.
Adding to the conditions, the Bermuda High -- a huge, high-pressure system that sits over the north Atlantic -- currently stretches almost to American shores. Hurricanes cannot penetrate it, so they are forced westward to the Caribbean, Florida and the Gulf.
Even wind patterns over the Atlantic Ocean this summer are helping the hurricanes thrive.
"Yes, we're seeing a lot in June and July so far," Goldberg said. "But really, I would expect the worst is yet to come. We still have a lot of activity to go. This is going to be a very, very busy year."
Scientists say the conditions are not related to global warming. It is simply a lot of cyclical climate patterns, which create the perfect conditions for a long season of major storms.
ABC News' Jeffrey Kofman filed this report for "World News Tonight."