October Hurricanes

There are just seven weeks left to the official end of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season which runs from June 1 to November 30 and so far we have seen 16 named storms develop, of which nine have become hurricanes and five of those major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher).

The latest named storm is Paula, which intensified to a Category 1 hurricane early today and is heading to the Yucatan Peninsula as we write.

While this season still has a way to go, thus far the U.S. coastline has been spared a major storm, so what are the chances of a major hurricane making U.S. landfall in October?

According to Dr. Jeff Masters’ Wunderblog the odds of a major hurricane hitting the U.S. are rapidly dwindling.

Dr. Masters reports that in the past 50 years, the only Category 3 or stronger hurricanes to hit the U.S. after October 1 were Hilda (October 3, 1964), Opal (October 4, 1995), and Wilma (October 24, 2005):

Although we still need to keep a wary eye on developments in the Western Caribbean over the next few weeks, the odds are that 2010 will join 1951 as the only year to have five or more major hurricanes in the Atlantic, but no landfalling major hurricane in the U.S.”

This prognosis may well prove true. Still, history shows that October hurricanes can be costly.

I.I.I.  hurricane  facts and stats reveal that October hurricanes Wilma and Opal rank among the top 15 most costly hurricanes in the U.S.

Hurricane Wilma ranks as the fourth most costly hurricane in the U.S., producing insured losses of $10.3 billion, or $11.3 billion in 2009 dollars. Hurricane Opal ranks as the 12th most costly hurricane in the U.S., with insured losses of $2.1 billion, or $2.96 billion in 2009 dollars.

Not chump change.

Note: just two of 2010’s named storms – Bonnie and Hermine  Ã¢â‚¬“ have made U.S. landfall this season and neither caused catastrophic damage, as reported by Matthew Sturdevant at the Hartford Courant.

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