Atlantic Hurricane season ends slightly above normal in count, but with major hurricane drought intact

NOAA: First above-normal Atlantic hurricane season since 2012 produced five landfalling U.S. storms

As the Atlantic, eastern Pacific and central Pacific 2016 hurricane seasons end today, NOAA scientists said that all three regions saw above-normal seasons.

For the Atlantic, this was the first above-normal season since 2012. The Atlantic saw 15 named storms during 2016, including 7 hurricanes (Alex, Earl, Gaston, Hermine, Matthew, Nicole, and Otto), 3 of which were major hurricanes (Gaston, Matthew and Nicole). NOAA’s updated hurricane season outlook in August called for 12 to 17 named storms, including 5 to 8 hurricanes, with 2 to 4 of those predicted to become major hurricanes.

Five named storms made landfall in the United States during 2016, the most since 2008 when six storms struck. Tropical Storm Bonnie and Hurricane Matthew struck South Carolina. Tropical Storms Colin and Julia, as well as Hurricane Hermine, made landfall in Florida. Hermine was the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Wilma in 2005.

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Several Atlantic storms  made landfall outside of the United States during 2016: Tropical Storm Danielle in Mexico, Hurricane Earl in Belize, Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas, and Hurricane Otto in Nicaragua.

The strongest and longest-lived storm of the season was Matthew, which reached maximum sustained surface winds of 160 miles per hour and lasted as a major hurricane for eight days from Sept. 30 to Oct. 7. Matthew was the first category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic basin since Felix in 2007.

Matthew intensified into a major hurricane on Sept. 30 over the Caribbean Sea, making it the first major hurricane in that region since Poloma in 2008. It made landfall as a category 4 major hurricane in Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas, causing extensive damage and loss of life. It then made landfall on Oct. 8 as a category 1 hurricane in the U.S. near McClellanville, South Carolina.

Matthew caused storm surge and beach erosion from Florida through North Carolina, and produced more than 10 inches of rain resulting in extensive freshwater flooding over much of the eastern Carolinas. The storm was responsible for the greatest U.S. loss of life due to inland flooding from a tropical system since torrential rains from Hurricane Floyd caused widespread and historic flooding in eastern North Carolina in 1999.

“The strength of Hurricane Matthew, as well as the increased number of U.S. landfalling storms this season, were linked to large areas of exceptionally weak vertical wind shear that resulted from a persistent ridge of high pressure in the middle and upper atmosphere over Caribbean Sea and the western Atlantic Ocean,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “These conditions, along with very warm Caribbean waters, helped fuel Matthew’s rapid strengthening.”

Eastern and central Pacific Hurricane Seasons

The eastern Pacific hurricane basin, which covers the eastern Pacific Ocean east of 140 degrees West, produced 20 named storms during 2016, including 10 hurricanes of which 4 became major hurricanes. July through September was the most active three-month period on record for this basin. NOAA’s eastern Pacific hurricane season outlook called for 13 to 20 named storms, including 6 to 11 hurricanes, 3 to 6 of which were expected to become major hurricanes.

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The central Pacific hurricane basin covers the Pacific Ocean west of 140 degrees West to the International Date Line. This basin saw seven tropical cyclones (includes tropical depressions and named storms) during 2016. All seven became named storms, and included three hurricanes of which two were major hurricanes. Tropical Storm Darby made landfall on the Big Island of Hawaii, marking the first time in recorded history that two storms in three years struck the Big Island (Darby in 2016 and Iselle in 2014). NOAA’s central Pacific hurricane season outlook called for 4 to 7 tropical cyclones. That outlook did not predict specific ranges of named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes.


Meanwhile, the major hurricane drought for Category 3 or greater storms continues, updated today by Dr. Roger Pielke Jr.



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Bill Powers
November 30, 2016 9:22 am

I remember when we started naming Hurricanes but what year did they begin naming tropical storms and what was the reasoning for doing so?

J. Sperry
Reply to  Bill Powers
November 30, 2016 11:36 am

Naming tropical storms started at the same time as naming hurricanes (1950), although there was a higher occurrence of unnamed tropical storms prior to the satellite era.

Bill Powers
Reply to  J. Sperry
November 30, 2016 11:57 am

So can you point me to a website that lists the name and type of storms i.e. hurricane v Trop Storm since 1950?

Bryan A
Reply to  J. Sperry
November 30, 2016 12:22 pm

WIKI has them listed by season (year)

Bryan A
Reply to  J. Sperry
November 30, 2016 12:24 pm

Just change the “2016” date in the http address for other years

Mumbles McGuirck
Reply to  J. Sperry
December 1, 2016 6:11 am

There is a table of Atlantic Tropical Storm, Hurricane, and Major Hurricane numbers as well as ACE by year here:

Bill Powers
Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
December 1, 2016 11:31 am

I am still trying to figure out the logic for naming storm systems that bring much needed rain as part of our eco-system.
Now hurricanes bring destruction so i kind of get that. We numbered them and then in 1950 we started naming them.
But why name a tropical storm? According to the records the first tropical storm of 1950 was “one” after that they got a name. Why?

November 30, 2016 9:22 am

Some years there are more some years there are fewer. That’s why we call it an average.

Jack Dawkins
Reply to  rocketscientist
November 30, 2016 9:51 am

Good point.
Modern usage/propaganda has resulted in many people equating “average” and “normal”. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. You can be above or below average and still be normal.

Smokey (Can't do a thing about wildfires)
Reply to  Jack Dawkins
December 1, 2016 12:55 am

Jack Dawkins: that is a fantastic point.
Where my home is in the American Southeast, we have a 30-year average rainfall total that is quite different from what we normally receive (a.k.a., the “usual”). Typically, 2 out of every 3 years are “below average” in terms of rainfall because those years don’t see the remnants of tropical systems (or the systems themselves, hehe) washing inland to inflate our rainfall totals. About 1-2 well-organized storms out of the Gulf in a single season (which happens every ~6-10 years) is enough to inflate the 30 yr. avg. to the point that the “average” deviates by several inches from what we usually end up with.

Smokey (Can't do a thing about wildfires)
Reply to  Jack Dawkins
December 1, 2016 12:55 am

And the italics bite me again. I’ll never use them again. =(

Reply to  rocketscientist
November 30, 2016 12:37 pm

Yeah, but average is wurst than we thought.
More seriously, since second moments do not particularly exist in these chaotic processed of dimension less than 2, it is perhaps appropriate to just use the median and interquartile spread to describe stuff.

November 30, 2016 9:22 am

More inconvenience for the former politico powers, emphasis on former

November 30, 2016 9:34 am

When it starts cooling off into the next mini ice age, the hurricanes will increase. This will cause the alarmists to insist that they were right that global warming would cause more hurricanes. If we point out that it’s getting cooler, they will … oh wait … as long as The Donald is president, they won’t be able to adjust the temperatures. 🙂

Reply to  commieBob
November 30, 2016 10:23 am

It doesn’t matter whether its warming or cooling. The operative phrase is CLIMATE CHANGE. Because it is always changing the schemers can always attribute any catastrophe to climate change.
What they will never be able to do is legitimately attribute climate change to solely human causes.

Bruce Cobb
November 30, 2016 9:34 am

Somehow, in some way, this hurricane drought must be our fault. We humans being so powerful and all.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
November 30, 2016 11:44 am

Yes, it behooves us to feel some degree of guilt over any unpleasantness in nature, these are all manifestations of our obvious sinfulness in the eyes of Gaia.
(let’s see… sarc factor 6 x 2 I think.)

DD More
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
December 1, 2016 10:37 am

Bruce, not ‘We humans’, just Algore. Mother Nature is really ticked with him claiming he can control her supernatural powers. That is why she follows him around with cold spells. Not the rest of us fault at all, your okay.

November 30, 2016 9:48 am

I would say “above average” rather than “above normal.”

Reply to  daveburton
November 30, 2016 10:26 am

But its so less sexy to simply state “Above average, but within norms”. Not alarmist enough.

geologist down the pub
November 30, 2016 9:52 am

By my calculations using NOAA’s data, the average annual hurricane count since the 1850’s is 8.2 per year, not adjusted for undercounting in the pre-satellite days.

November 30, 2016 10:38 am

I wonder how these ‘alarmist’ categorize their sexual output. If they have to inflate the definitions of storms, is it not possible they also lie about their abilities while masterbating?

November 30, 2016 10:51 am

Something is wrong here. A chap from the Sierra Club, interviewed just yesterday on Alan Colmes’ national “progressive” talk radio program, stated clearly that we are experiencing “more frequent severe weather events”. And “more frequent and severe droughts”. And “more frequent and severe wildfires”. And “rising sea levels”. He wouldn’t lie, would he, on national radio? How could someone from Sierra Club be misinformed about these things? I mean, it’s his job to know.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  brians356
November 30, 2016 1:04 pm

Alan Colmes is still around?

Reply to  Tom in Florida
November 30, 2016 1:22 pm

Yes, on what used to be “Air America” stations. Treat yourself to reformed “comedians” Alan Colmes and Stepanie Miller, folksy Jim Hightower, pompous “Nor-Man” Goldman, and the insufferably pseudo-intellectual Thom Hartmann. Much lamentation and rending of garments of late. Music to the ears!

Christopher Korvin
November 30, 2016 11:17 am

It isnt abnormal to be above or below average. It would be highly abnormal to be never above or below average. Words matter. Lets use them properly.

Bryan A
Reply to  Christopher Korvin
November 30, 2016 12:30 pm

if Ab-normal is the norm, is it then normal to be ab-normal?

Reply to  Bryan A
November 30, 2016 12:34 pm

“Abby Normal”?

Tom Halla
November 30, 2016 11:18 am

If one thinks this through, the lower number and intensity of tropical storms is consistent with polar warming, so there is less of a temperature gradient to drive storms. But, for the advocates of CAGW, that is not scary, so they ignore or misstate it.

November 30, 2016 11:33 am

Should we have expected more storms in the year following a very large El Nino? As far as I’ve heard the ‘climate scientists’ say that higher temps means more energy means more storms. If so, then ‘slightly above average’ is hardly a ringing endorsement of the hypothesis.

November 30, 2016 4:52 pm

The lack of any real change in numbers of named storms has resulted in the championing of a different measure – Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE). With ACE being something that the NOAA can define themselves, this can be consistently rported as increasing without any simple refutation. This year, ACE was reported as being 160% of “normal” for the season after October. Much scarier than one or two extra storms.

Reply to  Rob
November 30, 2016 6:50 pm

This metric soon to be heralded, no doubt.

Reply to  Rob
November 30, 2016 9:17 pm

Yeah, ace is high.

Taylor Pohlman
Reply to  noaaprogrammer
December 1, 2016 7:15 am

And climate science is “dealt” another blow…

Reply to  Rob
December 1, 2016 9:34 am

Good to know. Except that’s not the metric the wanna-be cave-dwellers shout out: “More frequent severe weather events!”
ACE says nothing about severity. Higher ACE could be largely from vastly more frequent lower-energy cyclones, and fewer severe ones. Besides that, while ACE is higher this year than recent years, it still shows a flat or slightly decreasing 40-year trend.

Reply to  brians356
December 1, 2016 9:43 am

“Cyclone” can mean any inward-rotating low-pressure system, however weak. Or (in this context) any tropical storm with 34-kt or higher winds. So ACE must include a lot of fairly innocuous cyclones.

December 1, 2016 9:39 am

Claims by NOAA/NHC that Hermine and Mathew were hurricanes at US landfall are false. Wind speeds recorded by land surface stations and offshore buoys show both storms were well below Hurricane force. Videos by news services during peak winds show tropical storm force conditions. Photos taken after both storms show damage consistent with tropical storms without exception. Observed facts from anyone present as well as all available data conclusively show that Hermine and Mathew were NOT hurricanes.

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