The six costliest hurricanes in United States history have all occurred since 1992, with five of the six happening since 2004 – Hurricane Katrina in 2005 of course being the worst of all. Most of these storms took place during the month of August.
Speaking of August, we're not even one week into the first peak month of hurricane season, and to many, the season already is being considered a bust. But alas, tropical pessimists hold your breath! After reading today's NEQ Friday Review you might reconsider that thought.
I've been saying for months now it's not all about the numbers this season – it's about impact. The Atlantic is prime and the pattern set up now very much favors tropical cyclone activity to reach coastlines from the Gulf to the northeast. Let's look back at prior seasons with a similar set up...
With 21 storms, the 1933 Atlantic hurricane season was the second most active on record. The season produced several deadly storms and all but one affected land at some point. 19 storms that season made landfall as tropical cyclones, and one as an extratropical storm. Of these, eight tropical storms, including six hurricanes, hit the United States alone, including the Chesapeake Potomac Hurricane, which is considered one of the most severe in history along the mid-Atlantic.
The 2004 Atlantic hurricane season was one of the deadliest and most costly seasons on record. The season produced 16 tropical cyclones, including 15 tropical storms, nine hurricanes and six majors. The most noteworthy storms for the season were the five that made landfall in Florida and Alabama, three of which were majors. Those were Tropical Storm Bonnie and Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. What is important to note about this season is that when you compare it to the 2010 season thus far, we are already ahead!
The impact of the 2005 season was widespread and severe to say the least, and conditions this year eerily mirror that of this epic season. A record 28 tropical and subtropical storms formed, of which a record 15 became hurricanes. Of these, seven strengthened into major hurricanes, while five became Category 4 hurricanes and four reached Category 5 strength. The storms of the 2005 season were extraordinarily damaging and were responsible for significant loss of life. The hardest-hit area was the United States Gulf Coast from eastern Texas to the Florida Panhandle. Of the storms that made landfall, five of the season's seven major hurricanes – Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma – were responsible for most of the destruction.
Now you might be wondering why I did not include 1992? After all, that was the year category 5 Hurricane Andrew barreled through south Florida and later made a second landfall along the Louisiana coast. Well, 1992 was a pretty quiet year. Sure it only takes one bad hurricane to have huge impacts, such as Andrew did... but the season itself was generally pretty quiet and non-comparable to the set up we have now.
So that's that - remember, it's not about the numbers so put your calculators away. The tropics are about to kick up in full force over the next several weeks so now is the time to brace for impact!
Have a great weekend and be hurricane ready!
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