RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – November 30 marks the official end of the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season. Even though the number of named storms was “average,” there are several notable points from this year that make it one of our weakest seasons on record.
First, let’s recap 2013. The Atlantic Basin had:
- Two hurricanes (Humberto and Ingrid, both Category One systems, both in September),
- 11 other Tropical Storms (Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand, Gabrielle, Jerry, Karen, Lorenzo and Melissa).
- One other Tropical Depression (TD Eight).
That means although this year has had an average season for the number of named storms (10-12 is average), we ended well below-average for the number of hurricanes (6 is average), and we didn’t even hit the major hurricane range (2-3 majors in a season is average).
It is notable that there have been no major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or stronger this year because of how rare it is to escape a season without any major storms (whether they reach land or not). You may remember 1994 was the last Atlantic hurricane season without a major hurricane. Since the satellite era, only 2013, 1994, 1986, and 1968 had no major hurricanes.
The other notable quirk of this year’s season is that it took until September 11 to get our first hurricane. Hurricane Humberto officially reached Category One hurricane intensity at 5 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, September 11, about three hours shy of tying the latest first hurricane to form in a season on record. That record remains with Hurricane Gustav from 2002. The latest first Atlantic hurricanes known since 1950 are:
- Gustav, 9/11/2002 (8 a.m. ET formation)
- Humberto, 9/11/2013 (5 a.m. ET formation)
- Diana, 9/10/1984
- Erin, 9/8/2001
Another way tropical meteorologists can analyze a season is to look at the “Accumulated Cyclone Energy,” which is a measure of the combined strength and duration of every tropical storm and hurricane in the season. When all that energy from every 2013 cyclone is compiled, it is far below the 30-year average. The National Hurricane Center analyzed the data through the end of October, already concluding the Tropical Cyclone Energy was about 70 percent below average.
Despite a long-term trend of increasing tropical activity, there will continue to be years that are abnormally quiet or weak in certain regions of the world. This is one of those years for the Atlantic Basin. Even though we in the U.S. had a quiet season (only one storm, TS Andrea, directly made landfall in the U.S.), Mexico bore the brunt of tropical cyclones in 2013 with storm after storm on both their east and west coasts. In addition, the Pacific cyclone season was active, most notably producing the most destructive, strongest tropical cyclone known on record – Super Typhoon Haiyan.
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