Hurricanes: The gentle season

After the incredible devastation of Katrina and the unprecedented 2005 hurricane season, residents and property owners along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts had every reason to dread the sequel potential.

Yet no one could have predicted what was to follow.

Since Wilma – perhaps the most-underrated hurricane on record – tore through South Florida in October 2005, not a single major hurricane (with winds of at least 111 m.p.h.) has made U.S. landfall.

In addition, that is the last hurricane of any strength to make landfall on Florida – both those stretches are records, points out Dennis Feltgen at the National Hurricane Center.

So far, only two hurricanes have formed this season in the Atlantic Basin, which includes the Gulf and the Caribbean, the fewest since 1982.

Not a single major hurricane has formed; 1994 was the last year without one.

The total number of named storms – 12 – actually is slightly above normal for this point in the season, which ends on Nov. 30, but barring an unprecedented late rally, the post-mortem season will be a busy one for the seasonal forecasters.

To recap, AccuWeather, WSI Corp., and the Colorado State University team all called for 16 named storms. AccuWeather predicted that eight of those would become hurricanes, with four majors; WSI, 9 hurricanes, 5 majors, and Colorado, 9 and 4.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration numbers were cast differently, but the ideas were pretty much the same – 13 to 20 named storms, and 7 to 11 hurricanes.

No one is quite sure yet what explains  the gentleness, and no one is complaining.