Thursday, January 15, 2009

Atlantic Hurricane Season Sets Records

The 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season produced a record number of consecutive storms to strike the United States and ranks as one of the more active seasons in the 64 years since comprehensive records began.

NOAA's National Hurricane Center estimates a total of 16 named storms formed during the season, including eight hurricanes, five of which were major hurricanes at Category 3 strength or higher. An average season has 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

This year’s hurricane season continues the current active hurricane era and is the tenth season to produce above-normal activity in the past 14 years. Overall, the season is tied as the fourth most active in terms of named storms (16) and major hurricanes (five), and is tied as the fifth most active in terms of hurricanes (eight) since 1944, which was the first year aircraft missions flew into tropical storms and hurricanes.

For the first time on record, six consecutive tropical cyclones (Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike) made landfall on the U.S. mainland and a record three major hurricanes (Gustav, Ike and Paloma) struck Cuba. This is also the first Atlantic season to have a major hurricane (Category 3) form in five consecutive months (July: Bertha, August: Gustav, September: Ike, October: Omar, November: Paloma). This above-normal season is attributed to:
  • An ongoing multi-decadal signal. This combination of ocean and atmospheric conditions has spawned increased hurricane activity since 1995.
  • Lingering La Niña effects. Although the La Niña that began in the Fall of 2007 ended in June, its influence of light wind shear lingered.
  • Warmer tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures. On average, the tropical Atlantic was about 1.0 degree Fahrenheit above normal during the peak of the season.

NOAA's National Hurricane Center is conducting comprehensive post-event assessments of each named storm of the season. Some of the early noteworthy findings include:

  • Bertha was a tropical cyclone for 17 days (July 3-20), making it the longest-lived July storm on record in the Atlantic Basin.
  • Fay is the only storm on record to make landfall four times in the state of Florida, and to prompt tropical storm and hurricane watches and warnings for the state’s entire coastline (at various times during its August lifespan).
  • Paloma, reaching Category 4 status with top winds of 145 mph, is the second strongest November hurricane on record behind Lenny in 1999 with top winds of 155 mph).

1 comment:

Uku said...

Holy crap, it's hard to imagine what it's like to face a hurricane etc. because I live in Finland. Our "storms" ain't nothing compared to your cyclones, hurricanes, tropical storms and so on. Nature, ooh la laa!

Take care,