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2013: quietest hurricane season since 1982

Still five weeks to go in hurricane season, only Andrea made U.S. landfall

November 1, 2013

This is the quietest season for Atlantic hurricanes since 1982.

One year after Hurricane Sandy, the second-costliest hurricane in U.S. history, this year’s season may be best remembered by what hasn’t happened.

More then 100 people died in the U.S. as a result of Sandy, which made landfall Oct. 29, 2012. Some cities, and many families in the Northeast, are still rebuilding home and lives after the storm. As far as total damage, only Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was more costly.

Fast forward to 2013, and with less than five weeks to go to the end of the season: the first storm, Andrea, is so far the only one to make landfall in the U.S.

The 2013 season was kicked off with dire warnings from the National Hurricane Center and Colorado State University climatologists Philip Klotzbach and William Gray that there would be an above average number of hurricanes and severe hurricanes. Those storms have failed to materialize.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ) NOAA) said there would be seven to 11 hurricanes. Both the Weather Channel and AccuWeather also predicted an unusually active season.

Part of the reason the current season is comparatively weak is drier than usual air over the storm’s breeding grounds in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and increased vertical wind shear, which worked to offset the conditions that brew those storms, such as above average sea temperature in the tropical Atlantic and a stronger West African monsoon. Those mitigating factors are impossible to predict.

Forecasts and outlooks, however, serve one main purpose, said Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist and spokesman at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

“Outlooks are a reminder hurricane season is here and you need to be prepared,” he said. “In 1992, if I told you there will be only seven storms and only one hurricane to hit, would you prepare? The answer was no, that was a big mistake: that was Andrew, the last Category 5 hurricane to strike the U.S.”

Colorado State researchers, who had predicted an active season this year, are getting together soon to figure out the reasons for their miss, said Gray, a Colorado State professor and head of the university’s Tropical meteorology Project.

In his 30 years in this line of work, “this is the most unexplainable year, “ Gray said. “You live and learn. It just shows you that there are features of the atmosphere we just don’t know yet.

Hurricane season doesn’t officially end until Nov. 30, but forecasters say it would take a barrage of late-season storms to bring this season up to average levels, let alone above average.

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