With the new hurricane forecast coming out a couple of weeks ago and the potential for another big hurricane season this year, I wanted to take a look back at the past five seasons since the record breaker in 2005.
First, here’s NOAA’s official hurricane outlook for 2011:
12 - 18 named storms
6 - 10 hurricanes
3 - 6 major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher, winds of 111 m.p.h. or higher)
This forecast is above normal as there are typically on average 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes. Reasons for the potentially heightened hurricane season this year is a weakening La Nina and more ENSO Neutral conditions, warm sea-surface temperatures and the fact that we are still in a period of high activity in the Atlantic.
2010 - Last year was considered by many “a gentle giant,” with 21 tropical depressions, including 19 named storms, 12 hurricanes and five major hurricanes. The only storm that came relatively close to the D.C. area was Hurricane Earl, which did cause a bit of erosion to the Eastern Shore but didn’t come close enough to cause much wind damage. It was gentle because of the number of named storms and the lack of strikes to the United States. Only Tropical Storm Bonnie and Hermine made landfall in the U.S. but importantly, no storms of hurricane strength made landfall.
2009 - El Nino was blamed for a below-normal hurricane season in 2009, when 11 depressions, nine named storms, three hurricanes and two major hurricanes occurred. Two storms that affected the U.S. that year were Claudette which entered around Pensacola, Fla., and Ida, which entered as a depression in Alabama then eventually led to energy that turned into a Nor’easter along the Mid-Atlantic coastline.
2008 - A very active season occurred in 2008, with 17 depressions, 16 named storms, eight hurricanes and five major hurricanes. This season will definitely be remembered most for Hurricane Ike, which devastated a large portion of Galveston, Texas. This was the third most costly hurricane on record behind Katrina and Hurricane Andrew in 1992. After Texas, it continued into the Midwest and moved east all the way to Pennsylvania, producing major flooding along the way.
2007 - 2007 was an active season with 17 depressions, 15 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes. This was one of four years on record with more than one Category 5 hurricane. Dean was the seventh most intense hurricane on record with a central low pressure recorded at 905 mb. Humberto was the only hurricane to make landfall in the U.S., striking High Island, Texas.
2006 - After the record-breaking year of 2005, 2006 was drastically improved, with no hurricanes making landfall through the season and only 10 named storms, five hurricanes and two major hurricanes. The East Coast still had to deal with Tropical Storm Alberto, Beryl and Ernesto, whose remnants tracked up the Chesapeake Bay.
2005 - In 2005, the hurricane season was an absolute monster, with 31 depressions, 28 named storms, 15 hurricanes and seven major hurricanes. This season not only included devastating Hurricane Katrina, but also the most intense hurricane on record, Wilma, which recorded a central pressure of 882 mb. There were over 3,800 deaths attributed to the hurricane season and over $130 billion in damages. More storm names were needed for storms so names were eventually taken from the Greek alphabet.