The hurricane prognosticators at Colorado State University have enumerated what South Floridians, their pantries still stacked with canned goods and bottled water, already pretty much know: This season, set to end next week, was the quietest since 1995 and marked the first time in 19 years that no major hurricanes formed.
After three straight seasons that were among the busiest on record, the team of William Gray and Phil Klotzbach — and pretty much everyone else — had predicted yet another above-average year.
“It was one of the largest busts for our research team in the 30 years we’ve been issuing this report,” Klotzbach said Tuesday in a release.
The team had predicted 18 named storms, with nine becoming hurricanes and four of those major hurricanes, at Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, with top sustained winds of at least 111 mph. The historical average for 1981 to 2010 is 12, 6½, and two.
But, with the season set to end Nov. 30, the box score is 13, two and — remarkably — zero.
Klotzbach blamed three major factors: Air in the mid-levels in the atmosphere was very dry. Hurricanes are fed when air rises, and more air in mid-levels sank than rose. And there was an “abrupt weakening” of all the factors that have created a multi-decade period, starting in the mid-1990s, of more and greater storms.
It can’t be blamed on an El Niño event, which can reduce the number of hurricanes that form, because there wasn’t one.
- The two hurricanes represent the fewest since 1982.
- No major hurricanes made U.S. landfall. The last one: Wilma in 2005, a storm South Floridians remember all too well.
- The U.S. has now gone eight years without a major hurricane landfall – the longest stretch since reliable landfall records began around 1878. (Sandy was not a major hurricane when it hit; its damage is credited most to its slow movement and the levels of population and property values in the strike area.)