2012 Atlantic Hurricane season “above-normal”

Busy season continues decades long high-activity era: NOAA

The Atlantic Hurricane season, which ended on November 30, produced 19 named storms, well above the average of 12.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the season saw 10 hurricanes, which is also above the average of six. Only one of the 10 hurricanes, however, was a major hurricane, which is below the average of three.

Read: Sandy caused an estimated $100 million in insured losses in Ontario and Quebec

NOAA has classified the season as “above-normal.” Since 1995, more than 70% of seasons have been above normal.

According to NOAA, Atlantic high-activity eras have historically lasted 25-40 years, with the previous one occurring from the mid-1930s until 1970.

Though 2012 was a “busy” year, it was not exceptionally so, says the organization. There have been 10 busier years in the last three decades. That being said, 2012 was the second consecutive year that the mid-Atlantic and Northeast suffered “devastating” impacts from a storm.

Read: Sandy costs New York $42 billion 

Sandy, which made landfall on October 29, and last year’s Irene, caused fatalities, injuries, and tremendous destruction from coastal storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, and wind.

Other storms struck many parts of the United States this year, including tropical storms Beryl and Debby in Florida, Hurricane Isaac in Louisiana, and Post-tropical Cyclone Sandy in New Jersey.

“This year proved that it’s wrong to think that only major hurricanes can ruin lives and impact local economies,” said Laura Furgione, acting director of NOAA’s National Weather Service, in a press release. “We are hopeful that after the 2012 hurricane season, more families and businesses all along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts become more “weather ready” by understanding the risks associated with living near the coastline.  Each storm carries a unique set of threats that can be deadly and destructive. Mother Nature reminded us again this year of how important it is to be prepared and vigilant.”

An interesting aspect of the season was its early start, with two tropical storms, Alberto and Beryl, developing in May before the season officially began. Also, this is the seventh consecutive year that no major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5) have hit the United States. The only major hurricane this season was Hurricane Michael, a Category 3 storm that stayed over the open Atlantic.

Several storms this year were short in duration, weak in intensity, and went largely unnoticed by the general public because they stayed out over the Atlantic, says NOAA. A persistent jet stream pattern over the eastern portion of the nation helped steer many of this season’s storms away from the United States. The number of named storms and hurricanes was higher than predicted in NOAA’s pre-season outlook, in large part because El Nino – which likely would have suppressed overall storm activity – never materialized as predicted by many climate models.

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