As the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season draws to a close, there’s a lot of talk about how the hurricane forecasters got it right this year, due to a strong El NiÃ±o.
Over at the Capital Weather Gang blog, Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the Colorado State University (CSU) hurricane forecasting team, writes that all of the forecasting groups predicted a moderate to strong El NiÃ±o event this year, and this turned out to be correct.
In general, seasonal forecasts did a good job anticipating a below-average Atlantic hurricane season in 2015 due to a strong El NiÃ±o event. Most seasonal forecasts predicted a bit less activity than was observed, due to a surprising warming of the tropical Atlantic during the peak of hurricane season this year.”
So what are the key takeaways?
The final tally for the 2015 season was 11 named storms, four hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
No major hurricanes made U.S. landfall in 2015, which means the U.S. has now gone 10 years without a major hurricane landfall. Hurricane Wilma (2005) was the last, according to CSU’s report on the 2015 season.
Still, it’s important to point out that moisture from Hurricane Joaquin–the first Category 4-5 hurricane to impact the Bahamas during October since 1866–contributed to a weather system that led to catastrophic floods across much of South Carolina resulting in more than $2 billion in total economic losses.
The CSU team of Klotzbach and William Gray also reminds us that while the Atlantic has seen a large increase in major hurricanes during the recent period of 1995-2015 (average 3.4 per year) compared with the prior 25-year period of 1970-1994 (average 1.5 per year), the U.S. has been fortunate that few major hurricanes have made U.S. landfall–except during the two very damaging years of 2004-2005.
Consider this lucky statistic:
The Atlantic basin has had 27 major hurricanes since Wilma, with no major hurricane landfalls. The 20th-century average is that approximately 30 percent of all major hurricanes forming in the Atlantic make U.S. landfall.”
Check out I.I.I. facts and statistics on hurricanes here.