NOAA: More hurricanes, fewer threats to U.S. in 2010


Today marks the official end of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season and it was one of the busiest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In the Atlantic basin, 19 named storms formed - tied with 1887 and 1995 for the third-highest on record. Of those, 12 became hurricanes - tied with 1969 for the second-highest on record. Five of those reached the major hurricane status of Category 3 or higher.

An average Atlantic season produces 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

Large-scale climate features strongly influenced this year's hurricane activity, as they often do, according to NOAA. This year, record-warm Atlantic waters, combined with favorable winds coming from Africa and weak wind shear aided by La Niña, energized developing storms.

The 2010 season continues the string of active hurricane seasons that began in 1995.

Despite the high number of storms, few posed a threat to the United States. The jet stream's position contributed to warm and dry conditions in the Eastern part of the country and acted as a barrier that kept many storms over open water. Also, because many storms formed in the extreme eastern Atlantic, they recurved back out to sea without threatening land, NOAA said.

Other parts of the Atlantic basin weren't as fortunate. Hurricane Tomas brought heavy rain to earthquake-ravaged Haiti and several storms, including Alex, battered eastern Mexico and Central America with heavy rain, mudslides and deadly flooding.

Although La Niña helped to enhance the Atlantic hurricane season, it also kept storms from forming and strengthening in the eastern North Pacific.

Of that region's seven named storms this year, three grew into hurricanes and two of those became major hurricanes. This is the fewest named storms (the previous record low was eight in 1977) and the fewest hurricanes (the previous record low was four in 1969, 1970, 1977 and 2007) on record since the satellite era began in the mid-1960s.