The Atlantic Basin hurricane season officially started yesterday, June 1st, and there are actually some signs of tropical activity over the Gulf of Mexico region beginning as early as late this week. The U.S. has been extremely fortunate in recent years to not have a single major hurricane strike (i.e. category 3, 4 or 5). In fact, the last major hurricane to hit the U.S. occurred in October 2005 when Wilma hit southwest Florida as a category 3 storm in that very active tropical season. There have been category 1 and 2 hurricane strikes in the U.S. in recent years including Humberto (Texas), Ike (Texas), Gustav (Louisiana), Dolly (Texas), Irene (North Carolina) and Isaac (Louisiana), but none of those reached the status of 3, 4 or 5 after landfall. [Sandy was not technically a hurricane at its New Jersey landfall (post-tropical cyclone) and, if it were, it would have been categorized as a 1].
Such a streak, or “drought”, in U.S. major hurricane strikes is unprecedented going back to 1900. As of the start of this hurricane season, the span will be 3,142 days since the last U.S. major hurricane landfall. The previous longest span is about 2½ years shorter! During an average tropical season in the Atlantic Basin (using 1981-2010 as a baseline), there are 12 named storms and, of those, 6-7 become hurricanes, and 2 become major hurricanes (category 3-5). By the way, just as a point of comparison, in 1954 the U.S. was hit by 3 major hurricanes in less than 10 weeks.
For more on the 2014 Tropical Outlook: http://thesiweather.com/2014-tropical-and-mid-atlantic-summer-outlooks/
Days between major hurricane landfalls in the U.S., 1900-2013. (Credit: Roger Pielke, Jr., University of Colorado)
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