(BN) Third-Most Active Atlantic Hurricane Season Ends, U.S. Spared


Third-Most Active Atlantic Hurricane Season Ends, U.S. Spared
2010-11-30 16:50:43.486 GMT

By Brian K. Sullivan and Blake Schmidt
Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) -- The third-most active Atlantic
hurricane season officially ends today after causing at least
$1.6 billion in damage and killing hundreds while leaving the
U.S. virtually unscathed.
The season produced 19 named storms, with winds of at least
39 miles (63 kilometers) per hour, tying for third place with
1995 and 1887, and none made landfall on the U.S. as a
hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Only 1933, which produced 21 systems, and 2005 with a record 28,
had more.
"It was an incredibly active year but we missed it in the
U.S.," said Jeff Masters, co-founder of commercial forecaster
Weather Underground Inc. in Ann Arbor, Michigan. "We lucked out
with the oil spill and Haiti didn't get totally smacked by a bad
Canada, Mexico, Central America and parts of the Caribbean
suffered major impacts. Newfoundland recorded about $100 million
in damage and one death from Hurricane Igor in September, and
Hurricane Tomas in October and November killed 41 and caused
more than $500 million in damage in Costa Rica and St. Lucia.
Igor breached the highway system in the Canadian province
of Newfoundland and Labrador in 100 places and damaged 200
communities, said Kevin O'Brien, provincial minister of
municipal affairs.
"It was one of the most significant events that we have
had in over 100 years," O'Brien said. "It was a big storm."

Central America

Mexico, Belize, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala received
multiple storm hits, with Mexico and Guatemala pummeled by
systems from both the Atlantic and the Pacific.
Tropical Storm Agatha, off the Pacific, combined with the
eruption of the Pacaya volcano to kill at least 235 people in
Guatemala. The Inter-American Development Bank approved $250
million in financing to help the county recover.
In September, Hurricane Karl, an Atlantic storm, killed 23
and caused an estimated $100 million in insured damages to
Mexico, according to the Insurance Information Institute
The U.S. did receive some damage from this year's storms.
Hurricane Alex and Tropical Storm Hermine struck just south of
the U.S.-Mexico border and brought severe flooding to Texas. At
least 13 people died in flooding, according to the Texas
Department of Public Safety.

Close Calls

Hurricane Earl grazed North Carolina's Outer Banks and
Nantucket island in Massachusetts. Tropical Storm Bonnie crossed
southern Florida in July.
Rains triggered by storms off the Atlantic killed at least
70 in Nicaragua and forced 10,000 into shelters, according to
the health ministry.
Evangelina Sanchez, 49, and her four children are among
the 700 people still in a shelter in Managua, Nicaragua, three
months after her home on the shore of Lake Xolotan was flooded.
"The lake came into my house and destroyed it," she said.
"Now we have nothing. The government says it will build me a
house, but who knows."
The U.S. was spared for the most part because weather
patterns established early in the season deflected storms,
keeping many out to sea, said Thomas Downs, a meteorologist with
Weather 2000 Inc. in New York.
Since 1995, 30 percent of all Atlantic hurricanes have hit
the U.S., Masters said. This season, there were 12 hurricanes, a
tie with 1969 for second-most, according to the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration.

Spared Hits

Given the recent trend, the U.S. should have been hit by at
least four, Masters said. This year's storms avoided a direct
path over the BP Plc oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and spared
Haiti a brutal hit on areas still reeling from an earthquake in
Before the season began June 1, Colorado State University
and the U.S. Climate Prediction Center both called for an active
Colorado State called for 18 storms overall, with 10
becoming hurricanes. The climate center originally called for 14
to 23 named storms and later reduced that number to 14 to 20.
"We'll probably never do better; I give all the credit to
Phil Klotzbach, my colleague," said William Gray, co-author of
the Colorado State forecast and the man who started seasonal
hurricane forecasts in the 1980s. "We forecast 18 named storms
and we have 19, we forecast for 90 named storm days and we got
88.25 days, we forecast 10 hurricanes and we have gotten 12, we
undershot there."
This year's season was so active because of record sea
surface temperatures in the Atlantic and a La Nina, or cooling,
in the Pacific. Cooler water in the Pacific lessens wind shear
in the Atlantic that can retard storm development there.
Masters said there is a 25 percent chance La Nina may
linger through next year and a 50 percent chance the Pacific's
warmth will be neutral. Both of which can mean a more active
hurricane season in the Atlantic.
"So you have a 75 percent chance of a pretty darn active
season again next year," Masters said.

For Related News and Information:
Tropical weather affecting the U.S.: STNI USHURRICANES <GO>
Bloomberg weather center: WEAT <GO>
Energy top stories: ETOP <GO>

--With assistance from Alex Morales in London. Editors:
Charlotte Porter, Richard Stubbe

To contact the reporters on this story:
Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at +1-617-210-4631 or
Blake Schmidt in Managua at +50-5-2552-7220 or

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Dan Stets at +1-212-617-4403 or dstets@bloomberg.net