NOAA reports above-average hurricane season

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Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean this year saw above-average storm activity and marked the second consecutive year that the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast “suffered devastating impacts from a named storm,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“This year proved that it’s wrong to think that only major hurricanes can ruin lives and impact local economies,” National Weather Service acting director Laura Furgione said in a report. “We are hopeful that after the 2012 hurricane season more families and businesses all along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts become more weather-ready by understanding the risks associated with living near the coastline.”

Nov. 30 marked the end of the Atlantic hurricane season, one that produced 19 named storms, of which 10 became hurricanes and one became a major hurricane.

The number of named storms is well above the average of 12. The number of hurricanes is also above the average of six, but the number of major hurricanes is below the average of three.

Based on the combined number, intensity and duration of all tropical storms and hurricanes, NOAA classified the season as above-normal. Although 2012 was an active year, there were 10 busier years in the past three decades.

This season marked the second consecutive year that the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast suffered devastating effects from a named storm that was not a hurricane when it made landfall. Sandy, and Irene last year, caused fatalities, injuries and tremendous destruction from coastal storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding and wind.

“Each storm carries a unique set of threats that can be deadly and destructive,” Furgione said in the report. “Mother Nature reminded us again this year of how important it is to be prepared and vigilant.”

Storms struck many parts of the country this year, including tropical storms Beryl and Debby in Florida, Hurricane Isaac in Louisiana and post-tropical Cyclone Sandy in New Jersey.

An interesting aspect of the season was its early start, with two tropical storms, Alberto and Beryl, developing in May before the season officially began. Also, this is the seventh consecutive year that no major hurricanes have hit the United States.

Hurricane forecasters say that a well-established climate pattern puts us in an ongoing era of high activity for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995. Since that time more than 70 percent of the seasons have been above-normal, including 2012.

Historically, Atlantic high-activity eras have lasted 25 to 40 years, with the previous one occurring from the mid-1930s until 1970.

Several interrelated atmospheric and oceanic factors contribute to these high-activity years, including warmer Atlantic Ocean weather, an enhanced West African monsoon and reduced vertical wind shear.

NOAA will release its preseason outlook for the 2013 hurricane season in May.

Click here for the full NOAA report.

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