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#423469 - 11/28/11 09:12 PM The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season
Marty Offline
Another strangely active one
Wednesday marks the final day of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, and it was another very odd year. The season featured a huge number of named storms--nineteen--tying 2011 with 2010, 1995, and 1887 as the 3rd busiest year for tropical storms. Only 2005 and 1933 had more named storms since record keeping began in 1851. However, 2011 had an unusually low percentage of its named storms reach hurricane strength. The year started out with eight consecutive tropical storms that failed to reach hurricane strength--the first time on record the Atlantic has seen that many storms in row not reach hurricane strength. We had a near-average average number of hurricanes in 2011--seven--meaning that only 37% of this year's named storms made it to hurricane strength. Normally, 55 - 60% of all named storms intensify to hurricane strength in the Atlantic. There were three major hurricanes in 2011, which is one above average, and the total Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE)--a measure of the destructive potential of this season's storms--was about 20% above average. The rare combination of near-record ocean temperatures but unusually dry, stable air over the Atlantic is no doubt at least partially responsible for 2011's unusually high count of named storms, but near-average number of hurricanes and ACE. Both 2010 and 2011 had nineteen named storms, making it the second busiest 2-year period in the Atlantic behind 2004 - 2005. Even when one considers that 2 - 4 tropical storms from both 2010 and 2011 would likely have been missed before the advent of satellites, the tropical storm activity of 2010 - 2011 is still very remarkable (in 2011, Tropical Storm Franklin, Tropical Storm Jose, and the unnamed 19th tropical storm of September 1 would probably have been missed before satellite technology came along, since they were all weak, short-lived storms that did not impact land or shipping.)


FIgure 1. Tracks for the Atlantic tropical cyclones of 2011.

Another below-average hurricane season for the U.S.
For the second consecutive year, despite a near-record number of named storms in the Atlantic, the U.S. had far fewer strikes by tropical storms and hurricanes than average. Favorable steering currents steered most of the storms in 2010 and 2011 past Bermuda and out to sea. During 2010, only one tropical storm hit the U.S., despite a season with the 3rd highest number of named storms--nineteen. Only two named storms hit the U.S. in 2011: Tropical Storm Lee, which hit Louisiana with 60 mph winds, and Hurricane Irene, which hit North Carolina on August 27 with 85 mph winds, and made two additional landfalls in New Jersey and New York the next day. Tropical Storm Don hit Texas on July 29 as a tropical depression and did not count as a landfalling named storm, according to post analysis by NHC. Wind shear and dry air from the Texas drought made Don rapidly weaken before landfall on Padre Island National Seashore north of Brownsville. During the 15-year active hurricane period from 1995 - 2009, 33% of all named storms in the Atlantic hit the U.S., and 30% of all Atlantic hurricanes hit the U.S. at hurricane strength. The U.S. averaged seeing six named storms per year, with four of them being hurricanes and two being intense hurricanes. Thus, the landfall of only three named storms in a two-year period is a major departure from what happened the previous fifteen years. The past six years is the first six-year period without a major hurricane strike on the U.S. since 1861 - 1868. The last major hurricane to hit the U.S. was Category 3 Hurricane Wilma of October 2005. One caveat to keep in mind, though: Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Gustav of 2008 both hit the U.S. as strong Category 2 hurricanes, and had central pressures characteristic of Category 3 hurricanes. Had these storms occurred more than 65 years ago, before the Hurricane Hunters, Ike and Gustav would likely have been classified as Category 3 hurricanes at landfall (assuming that few quality wind observations would have been available at landfall, which is usually the case.)


Figure 2. The scene in Nassau in the Bahamas at daybreak on August 25, 2011 during Hurricane Irene. Image credit: Wunderblogger Mike Theiss.


Figure 3. The eye of Hurricane Irene as seen by hurricane hunter and wunderblogger LRandyB on August 24, 2011, when the hurricane was approaching the Bahama Islands.

The strongest, deadliest and longest-lived storms of 2011
The strongest hurricane of 2011 was Hurricane Ophelia, which peaked as a Category 4 hurricane with 140 mph winds and a central pressure of 940 mb on October 2, when it was just northeast of Bermuda. Ophelia hit Southeast Newfoundland as a tropical storm with 70 mph winds on October 3, but caused little damage. The strongest hurricane at landfall was Hurricane Irene, whose 120-mph eyewall winds raked Crooked Island, Long Island, Rum Cay, Cat Island, Eleuthera, and Abaco Island in the Bahamas. Wind gusts as high as 140 mph were reported in the Bahamas.The longest-lived storm of 2011 was Hurricane Phillipe, which lasted 15 days, from September 24 to October 8. The most damaging storm was Hurricane Irene, which caused an estimated $7.2 billion in damage from North Carolina to New England, according to re-insurance broker AON Benfield. Irene was also the deadliest storm of 2011, with 55 deaths in the Caribbean and U.S.



Figure 3. Pre-season Atlantic hurricane season forecasts issued by seven major forecast groups. The average of these forecasts called for 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, 4 intense hurricanes, and an ACE index 150% of normal. The actual numbers were 19 named storms, 7 hurricanes, 3 intense hurricanes, and an ACE index 120% of normal.

Pre-season hurricane forecasts did a decent job
The pre-season Atlantic hurricane season forecasts issued by seven major forecast groups were generally decent. The average of these forecasts called for 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, 4 intense hurricanes, and an ACE index 150% of normal. The actual numbers were 19 named storms, 7 hurricanes, 3 intense hurricanes, and an ACE index 120% of normal. Phil Klotzbach and Bill Gray of Colorado State will be releasing their end-of-season verification and summary of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season on November 30.


Figure 4. Portlight volunteers at work in Pink Hill, North Carolina, after Hurricane Irene.

Portlight disaster relief efforts for 2011
My favorite disaster relief charity, Portlight.org, has posted a summary of their efforts during the hurricane season of 2011. Portlight mobilized in the wake of Hurricane Irene to help out in North Carolina, Delaware, and Maryland on cleanup efforts, food, and supply distribution. Portlight also provided financial assistance to survivors, including a commercial fisherwoman and single mother of two who lost her boat and home in the storm, after having been diagnosed with breast cancer two days before Irene struck. See the portlight blog for the full story; donations are always welcome. Wunderground is proud to be a major sponsor of Portlight again this year.

Jeff Masters


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#423915 - 12/02/11 01:40 PM Re: The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season will go down in history as one of the most active on record.

On Monday, Nov. 28, 2011, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials released a list of final statistics for the season, which included a post-storm upgrade of Tropical Storm Nate to hurricane status and the addition of a previously unclassified, unnamed tropical storm.

In all, 19 named tropical systems prowled the Tropical Atlantic Basin this season, with seven achieving hurricane status and three gaining major hurricane status (Category 3 hurricane or stronger).

With 19 storms, 2011 goes in the record books as tied for the third-highest total since records began in 1851 (joining 1887, 1995 and 2010).

The unnamed tropical system, which formed in early September between Bermuda and Nova Scotia, was added to the list after an analysis of past satellite images by NOAA. The agency points out this storm could have gone undetected in the pre-satellite era.

Concerning the number of hurricanes, 2011 was fairly ordinary.

According to Tropical Weather and Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski, "Despite the high number of named systems, most storms were underachievers this year."

In a typical year, 11 storms are named, with six becoming hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

The strongest hurricane was Ophelia, which maxed out at 140-mph sustained winds.

"Most hurricanes formed well away from the U.S. and stayed away from the U.S.," Kottlowski said.

There were three tropical cyclone landfalls this season, which is about typical.

However, Hurricane Irene stood above the rest in reminding the East coast of the U.S. that it takes only one hurricane to make a memorable season.

On Aug. 27, Irene became the first hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. mainland since Ike in 2008.

"Irene broke the 'hurricane amnesia' that can develop when so much time lapses between landfalling storms," said Jack Hayes, Ph.D., director of NOAA's National Weather Service.

According to Kottlowski, "A northwesterly flow of dry air and wind shear kept most of the storms away from the U.S. However, the flow backed off just long enough to let Irene, then Lee come ashore."

Irene was responsible for widespread flooding, 56 fatalities and $10.1 billion in damage, with homes, bridges and roads still in the process of being rebuilt from North Carolina to New England more than three months later. Extensive damage also occurred in the Bahamas.

Rainfall from Irene and Lee combined to set rainfall records in a number of locations in the mid-Atlantic and even topped record flood stages along the Susquehanna set during Agnes in 1972.

Both AccuWeather.com and NOAA's long-range forecast teams correctly predicted a busier-than-normal season.



Accuweather

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#424010 - 12/03/11 01:58 PM Re: The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

2011 Hurricane Season Ends on a High

Despite same number of storms as 2010, insured losses in 2011 are higher, with Hurricane Irene contributing the lionís share of a recorded total of $5 billion.

Property/casualty insurers may well be relieved that the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially ended this week. This year, the season counted 19 tropical storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes (Category 3 or above on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale) resulting in insurance claims.

Despite the same total number of storms forming in 2011 as 2010, the total insured losses will be significantly higher than those seen in 2010, reports risk management solutions provider RMS, which estimates that total insured losses from the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season will be in the region of $5 billion. The majority of losses are driven by Hurricane Irene in the United States, which impacted a total of 14 states, with North Carolina, New Jersey and New York experiencing the majority of the losses.

The 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season ties for third with the 1887, 1995 and 2010 seasons in terms of number of storms, since records began in 1851, notes RMS. The Atlantic remains in a period of heightened storm activity, with numbers in 2011 being almost twice as high as the long-term average (1950-2010) of 10.5.

Insurers braced for Hurricane Irene, which made landfall over the east coast in August this year, and in September, Tropical Storm Lee tracked over the coast of Louisiana.

Elsewhere across the North American continent, Hurricane Maria and Tropical Storm Ophelia made landfall over extreme eastern Newfoundland, Canada. Arlene, Nate and Rina made landfall as tropical storms over Mexico, and Tropical Storm Harvey tracked over the Belize coast. Emily, Irene and Maria tracked through the Caribbean.

Insurance Networking News


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#424017 - 12/03/11 02:10 PM Re: The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The 2011 Hurricane Season in 4.5 minutes

The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season officially ends on Nov. 30 and produced a total of 19 tropical storms of which seven became hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. This level of activity matched NOAA's predictions and continues the trend of active hurricane seasons that began in 1995.

Surprisingly, none of the first eight tropical storms reached hurricane status, a record since reliable reports started in 1851. Hurricane Irene's effects in the Caribbean and the United States led to 43 deaths and accounted for the bulk of this season's damage at $7.3 billion. Irene was the first landfalling hurricane in New Jersey in 108 years. Hurricane Katia had far-reaching effects causing severe weather in Northern Ireland and Scotland and power blackouts as far east as Saint Petersburg in Russia. Tropical Storm Lee caused major flooding in Pennsylvania, New York and into the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario. The strongest storm of the season was Ophelia, which reached category four strength in the Atlantic Ocean east of Bermuda.

An integral part of NOAA's ability to monitor and predict hurricane formation and movement is the data that is provided by the GOES satellite, with its visible imagery, infrared sensors, and sounding capabilities. This animations merges both the visible and infrared imagery taken by the GOES East (GOES-13) satellite every 30 minutes over the Northern Hemisphere from June 1 -- November 28, 2011.


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