Busy hurricane season in 2010 doesn’t equal high losses

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So it’s the 30th of November, the final day of the 2010 Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane season, so time to take a brief look back at the season just gone. Despite being extremely active, with 19 named storms, the 2010 hurricane season will be best known for the lack of U.S. mainland impact.

The 2010 storm season has been the third most active on record for the number of storms and has broken records. By mid-September we’d seen the following:

  • Hurricane Igor and hurricane Julia were both major Category 4 storms. The last time there was two Category 4 storms in the Atlantic basin at the same time was on the 16th September 1926 when Hurricane #4 and the Great Miami Hurricane were both moving west.
  • Hurricane Julia become the most intense hurricane ever to be located so far to the east. Generally storms pick up speed once they are further west than Julia’s position.
  • Tropical storm Karl’s formation on the 14th September marked the fifth earliest date that an eleventh named storm of the season has formed.
  • We’ve now seen 4 storms reach Category 4 status this season, only two other seasons have had more than that so 2010 is third for really powerful Cat4 plus storms.
  • This season saw the earliest formation of a fourth Category 4 storm ever.
  • We’ve had four Category 4 storms in 20 days which is the shortest period on record for that to happen.
  • 12 storms in total became hurricanes; the second highest number on record (by the end of the season).

Average Atlantic storm seasons produce 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

Climate patterns helped to protect the U.S. coastline from storm damage this year. While conditions were perfect for storm development in the Atlantic, the wind shear and jet stream helped to keep them away from the U.S. coast.

The Caribbean was not so lucky with both hurricane Earl and hurricane Tomas causing enough damage to trigger an insurance payout from the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility. Catastrophe bonds escaped hurricane impact again.

You can see the paths taken by storms during the 2010 season on this chart from the NOAA:

2010 Atlantic storm tracks

2010 Atlantic storm tracks

“As NOAA forecasters predicted, the Atlantic hurricane season was one of the most active on record, though fortunately most storms avoided the U.S. For that reason, you could say the season was a gentle giant,” said Jack Hayes, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s National Weather Service.

We’ll bring you coverage next year of the 2011 Atlantic tropical storm season. We hope it will be as benign as this year has been!

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