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What’s Up With All These Quiet Hurricane Seasons?

Nearly a decade has passed since a Category 3, or higher, storm hit the U.S.

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The Atlantic hurricane season of 2014 officially ended over the weekend without any seriously devastating tropical weather hitting the United States.

In fact, it’s been nine years since a major hurricane struck our shores.

So what’s behind this trend of quiet hurricane seasons?

As devastating as Ike was when it hit Galveston and Houston in 2008, it wasn’t a “major” storm — meaning Category 3, or higher. The last major hurricane to actually reach the U.S. was Wilma, which hit Florida in 2005. And since then, we’ve really beaten the odds, according to Chris Hebert, who manages the Tropics Watch Team at Impact Weather in Houston.

“We’ve had 25 consecutive major hurricanes, and not one has struck the United States coastline as a ‘major’ hurricane,” said Hebert.

Hebert says persistent dry air associated with high pressure near Bermuda has kept most hurricanes away from us. But the cause of that dry air pattern is a mystery. Hebert says not knowing what’s causing the dry air, or when that pattern might come to an end, makes it hard to forecast what’s going to happen in the coming season.

Right now, that dry air pattern isn’t letting up. That could mean another quiet season next year. Or not.

“Frequently, these quiet periods are punctuated by some very active seasons. I don’t see any sign of that happening in the 2015 hurricane season — meaning a very active season. But it’s still way too early to be confident about that,” said Hebert.

Hebert says it will be March or April before forecasters have a good idea whether wind patterns, or water temperatures, will mean an active, or quiet, season.

 

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David Pitman

David Pitman

Host & Announcer

David was HPM's local Morning Edition host from 2009 to 2020 — when he was moved to the position of Technical Director of Houston Matters with Craig Cohen, and Town Square with Ernie Manouse. David has extensive public and commercial broadcast journalism and production experience dating back to 1993 –...

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