Hurricane Season Isn't Over

By Chris Mooney | October 31, 2010 9:16 am

600px-Hurricane_Tomas_2010-10-30_1429ZEven though we haven’t really felt it in the United States, it has been a hell of an Atlantic hurricane season. 19 named storms, 12 hurricanes–and now the latest, Category 2 Tomas, seems like it may become very intense in the Caribbean. Some notes on Tomas from Jeff Masters:

Tomas’ formation ties 2010 with 1995 and 1887 for 3rd place for most number of named storms in an Atlantic hurricane season. Only 2005 (28 named storms) and 1933 (21 named storms) were busier. Atlantic hurricane records go back to 1851, though there were likely many missed named storms prior to the beginning of satellite coverage in the mid-1960s. The intensification of Shary and Tomas into hurricanes… brings the total number of hurricanes this season to twelve, tying 2010 with 1969 and 1887 for second place for most hurricanes in a season. The record is held by 2005 with fifteen hurricanes, and I don’t think we’ll beat that record this year!

The formation of Tomas so far south and east this late in the season is unprecedented in the historical record; no named storm has ever been present east of the Lesser Antilles (61.5°W) and south of 12°N latitude so late in the year…

But hey, water temperatures are at a record warmth–so what do you expect? Marc Morano a few days ago made hay of the fact that no hurricanes have hit the US this year, but big deal. It has been extremely busy nonetheless, and of course this has much to do with the very warm ocean out there.


Comments (8)

  1. ChH

    “water temperatures are at a record warmth”
    So … the seven most active hurricane seasons in the past 150 years were 1887, 1933, 1969, 1993, 1995, 2005 and 2010 – with the caveat that the seasons before 1960 were busier than we realized…
    Does this correlate with SST’s?
    The question is not “what is the absolute water temperature”, but rather “what is the differential between water and air temperature?”.

  2. Yes, it caught me by surprise that there was an S storm and a T storm active in the Atlantic right now. But I still remember back when Hurricane Kate hit the Florida Panhandle in December ’85.

  3. Amanda

    We haven’t really felt this hurricane season? Are you kidding me???

    Just because there wasn’t a Category 3 hurricane that made landfall in New Orleans doesn’t mean this season hasn’t been destructive. Might I remind you Tropical Storm Hermine dropped 16 inches in Georgetown, TX! Not to mention some other cities were completely under water. That storm was absolutely brutal. Hurricane Alex also made landfall in Texas and was a record-breaking storm for hurricanes in June, and also dropped a large amount of rain and flooded the Rio Grande for WEEKS after it had dissipated. So, check your facts before you make stupid claims like that… it’s been a pretty bad season for Texas.

  4. Nullius in Verba

    Here’s some data on accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) which is how they tend to measure hurricane intensity nowadays.

    The Atlantic showed an above average season, mainly due to Igor, but the Pacific was at a historic low. It’s a very variable sort of weather, though, and such patterns in the noise don’t mean very much. It’s a bit of a Rorschach ink blot test, really.

    I’m impressed that you resisted the temptation to mention climate change. Very good!

  5. Jon

    Nullius– He’s no chimp. He wrote a book on the subject of hurricanes and climate change, and talked to scientists to write it… But I know your opinion of all scientists except for S Fred Singer and Steve McIntire, so that probably wouldn’t impress you…

  6. JMW

    I can’t read Marc Morano’s comments from where I am, but I’m guessing from the way you refer to them that it’s in the mode of “no major hurricanes hit the US, so the hurricane season wasn’t bad, so there’s no AGW. Nyah!”

    I hope I’m doing him an injustice.

    But if I’m not, it reminds me of the stand up comedian who parodied the American MSM with “…Something truly horrible happened today in Africa, but no Americans were involved. Moving right along…”

  7. Nullius in Verba

    Jon #5,

    I would hope I have never called anyone here a chimp. And in this case I was complimenting the presentation of the science.

    On other occasions, both here and in other venues, the subject of hurricanes has been most unfortunately linked to climate change – suggesting that they’re measurably increasing in number or intensity or something and that this is a SIGN. The reference to Morano above indicates that it is still hovering around in the background, but Chris was careful not to say it. So I was just giving some positive feedback – if you only hear from me when I’m complaining about something, you might get the impression that there’s no pleasing me. I liked this post. It just gives some genuinely interesting stats on Atlantic hurricanes and leaves it at that. So I thought I’d offer a few more, and say well done.

    And if he can manage it next time without mentioning Morano, I probably won’t bring the subject up at all. :-)

    JMW #6,

    Yes, it was something like that. Morano is a moderately useful news agregator, but his tendency towards over-dramatised, tongue-in-cheek polemic means that his commentary is not the sort of thing to be taken seriously, even by sceptics. Chris only cites him rather than somebody like Roger Pielke Snr because he’s popular and he casts sceptics in a bad light. (Which is fair enough.)

    On this occasion, Morano was alluding to all the past media hype portraying Katrina as a sign of global warming, of Al Gore putting pictures of hurricanes on the front of his video and books, of repeated (and misleading) the claims of increasing hurricane damage in the United States and the foretelling of even more to try to scare people, and noting that had this year’s hurricane season been bad, the media would have been filled with it, as it was a few years ago when there was a peak – but that on the subject of an equally unusual lack of hurricanes making landfall, leading to a record-breaking extreme of the opposite sign, the media is strangely silent. His point was to contrast the two responses.

    It’s arguably an unfair point, since it is a general truism in journalism that good news is no news, and since the ‘weather-is-not-climate’ message has by now percolated into the media’s mental sphere to the point where they quite possibly wouldn’t have gone nuts again over a bad season. But it plays well to Morano’s political base, and it’s as well to keep reminding people so there’s no backsliding to the bad old days of ‘hot-weather-is-a-sure-sign-of-dangerous-climate-change-but-cold-weather-is-just-weather’ reporting.

  8. Ozonator

    Before of reports of 20+ dying in Haiti, “Clean up begins on holiday island of St Lucia after Hurricane Tomas claims 14 lives” (, 11/3/10). With an EssoMassingill skeptic tank bank account for rape and pillage greater than BP, “‘We plead guilty … Climate Depot takes full responsibility for the fate of your children and grandchildren from any future man-made climate catastrophe”(“Australian PM warns skeptics ‘are too ‘dangerous to ignore’ and are ‘holding the world to ransom’”, By Marc ‘Eskimo cyst’ Morano, Climate Depot Editorial; editorial abuse by Joseph ‘da wang’ D’Aleo, CCM, IUD, IED, BMF, STD, H1N1, AMS PU jolly fellow, HIV, and ExxonMobil approved TV weather presenter aka another pseudo-scientist and executive dictator;, 11/6/09).


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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