At the stroke of midnight on December 1, this year's hurricane season will officially come to a close. For a region that bears the scars of several historic hurricanes, it's a breath of fresh air for South Mississippians as it seems we have dodged another bullet.
Just before the season officially began on June 1, the Climate Prediction Center forecasted an unusually active season for the Atlantic Basin. It was a forecast that had many coastal residents worried, especially since the clean-up from Sandy was still underway in much of New England.
Thankfully, their predictions proved to be mostly inaccurate. In fact, this year's season will go down in history as the 6thmost inactive season since the National Hurricane Center began naming tropical systems in 1950.
Their forecast called for 13 to 20 named storms, 7 to 11 hurricanes, and 3 to 6 major hurricanes. While the predicted number of named storms wasn't terribly inaccurate, the rest of their figures were over-estimated quite a bit. By the end of November, we had seen the typical 12 named storms we see on average each year. However, only two of those reached hurricane strength. None of those reached Category 3 status, which is the threshold required for a storm to be called a major hurricane.
Though there was little activity overall, the season kicked off earlier than usual. Tropical Storm Andrea developed only four days into the season, several days earlier than the average first day of development on June 9. Unlike many of this year's systems, it actually made landfall. Several inches of rain fell over Florida during the first weeks of this summer's tourist season, putting a damper on many people's summer vacation.
Conditions proved to be unfavorable for any significant development in the following months. For the first time since 2002, we went through the entire month of August without seeing a hurricane. In fact, the record for the latest developing hurricane was held by Hurricane Gustav that same year on September 11.
Almost immediately after Hurricane Humberto became the first hurricane of the season, Hurricane Ingrid developed in the Bay of Campeche. While Humberto made a turn back into the open waters of the Atlantic, Ingrid made a quick landfall in the Mexican state of Veracruz where 23 people were killed. Though the only two hurricanes of this year's season were different in many ways, they both reached peak intensities of 85 mph.
A few weeks later, Tropical Storm Karen developed in the Gulf of Mexico. As many of us remember, this storm had its eyes set on the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coastlines. Thanks to very slow movement and a frontal system diving into the region, the system became stationary and dissipated off the coast of Louisiana with little impact to South Mississippi.
On the other side of the globe, the Pacific Typhoon Season has been one of the most active in history. While the dynamics behind tropical cyclones are very different on that side of the world, the value of human life is not. As we look back on this year's season, we're thankful that we haven't been faced with the mass destruction and loss of life that we've seen in years past. However, let's not forget those who continue to pick up the pieces in the Western Pacific.
Although the end of the season has finally arrived, it isn't impossible to get tropical development well into the month of November. Stay tuned to WLOX News and WLOX.com for updates as we continue to monitor the tropics and any weather that may affect us here in South Mississippi.
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