Record Hurricane Season

The 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season will go down in the books as being a record setting year. 16 named storms formed this year. There were eight hurricanes and of those eight, five became major hurricanes with sustained winds of over 111 miles per hour.

According to Gerry Bell, Ph.D seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, he stated that “this year’s hurricane season continues the current active hurricane era and is the tenth season to produce above normal activity in the past 14 years.”

Okay, so here are some of the records:

  • Tied as the fourth most active in terms of named storms and major hurricanes.
  • Tied as the fifth most active in terms of hurricanes since 1944 (when the first aircraft missions flew into tropical systems).
  • First time on record, six consecutive tropical cyclones (Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike) made landfall on the U.S. mainland.
  • Record three major hurricanes (Gustav, Ike and Paloma) to hit Cuba.
  • First Atlantic season to have major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) form in five consecutive months (July: Bertha, August: Gustav, September: Ike, October: Omar, November: Paloma).
  • Bertha was a tropical system for 17 days (July 3rd-20th) making it the longest lived July storm in the Atlantic Basin.
  • Fay is the only storm to make landfall four times in the state of Florida and to prompt tropical storm and hurricane watches/warnings for the entire state’s coastline (at various times during it’s lifespan).
  • Paloma is the second strongest November hurricane with top winds of 145 miles per hour (Category 4). Hurricane Lenny in 1999 had winds of 155 mph

So why was this an active year? According to Dr. Bell there were some La Nina effects still in place which included light wind shear. If you have high wind shear it tends to “rip apart” a storm which causes it collapse. One of the other factors was the warmer tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures. Tropical systems need water temperatures of around 80 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer to sustain themselves.

Here in South Texas we were affected by Hurricane Dolly. Dolly made landfall near South Padre Island. One of the feeder bands produced a tornado on the southeast side of San Antonio damaging a Whataburger and some businesses. Ike hit the Texas coast at Galveston on September 13th at 2:10am and caused extensive damage along the coast and downtown Houston.

A special thanks to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Hurricane Center for providing this information.

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