November 29, 2010

12 Hurricanes steered clear of U.S. as hurricane season officially ends Tuesday

For the first time in recorded history, 12 hurricanes formed this year in the Atlantic basin without a single one making landfall in the United States, according to experts at Colorado State University. "The U.S. was extremely lucky," Colorado State meteorologist William Gray says.

"There was only a 2% or 3% chance of getting this many hurricanes and not having one hit the U.S.," according to Gray, who has been making annual forecasts since 1984. Basically, half of them went to the "right," curving out into the Atlantic Ocean, he says, and half went to the "left," into the Caribbean Sea.

"During the peak of the 2010 season, it turned out that the atmospheric steering pattern was as unconducive to U.S. landfalls as it can possibly be, but other places were hit hard," says Weather Channel meteorologist Stu Ostro. Tropical storms and hurricanes killed more than 250 people in the Caribbean and Central America this season, the Associated Press reported. The deadliest storms were Tropical Storm Matthew, Hurricane Tomas and Hurricane Alex.

"The pattern of low-pressure troughs and high-pressure ridges deflected most of the storms to the east of the U.S. toward Bermuda or the Canadian Maritimes or out to sea," Ostro says, "and south of here across the Caribbean and into Central America and Mexico."

According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, 19 named storms — tropical storms (which have sustained winds of at least 39 mph) and hurricanes (74 mph) — formed this year, including the 12 hurricanes. Five of the hurricanes were major, a Category 3 or higher, with wind speeds of at least 111 mph.

An average season sees 10 named storms, of which six are hurricanes and two are major hurricanes. Since 1944, only two other years had as many named storms: 1995 had 19 storms, and 2005 had 28. Just one tropical storm made U.S. landfall this year (Bonnie), according to the hurricane center.

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