FLORIDA, United States, Monday December 2, 2019 – The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, which ended on Saturday, was marked by tropical activity that churned busily from mid-August through October.
The season produced 18 named storms, including six hurricanes of which three were “major” (Category 3, 4 or 5). The outlook of the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had called for 10-17 named storms, 5-9 hurricanes and 2-4 major hurricanes, and accurately predicted the overall activity of the season.
This year marked the fourth consecutive above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. The only other period on record that produced four consecutive above-normal seasons was 1998-2001.
The three major hurricanes this season were Dorian, Humberto and Lorenzo. Hurricane Dorian is tied with three other hurricanes — the 1935 Labour Day Hurricane, 1988’s Hurricane Gilbert and 2005’s Hurricane Wilma — as the second strongest hurricane on record in the Atlantic basin in terms of wind (185 miles per hour).
The Category 5 Hurricane Dorian, the most intense tropical cyclone on record to strike The Bahamas, devastated the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, leaving at least 69 people dead and more than 240 people are still missing. Damage has been estimated at US$3.4 billion.
“This season’s activity ramped up in mid-August during the normal peak of the season, as we predicted,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “The above-normal activity is consistent with the ongoing high-activity era, driven largely by the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, which entered a warm phase in 1995. Conditions that favored more, stronger, and longer-lasting storms this year included a stronger West African monsoon, warmer Atlantic waters, and weak vertical wind shear across the western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.”
An average season has 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.
NOAA and NOAA-supported researchers from the US and Caribbean deployed 30 autonomous ocean glider missions in the Atlantic this season, and those missions provided more than 75,000 observations of ocean temperature and salinity to operational hurricane forecast models. Ocean temperature and salinity data provide important clues about hurricane intensification.