2010 hurricane season spares U.S. ports
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, which ends Tuesday, was one of the busiest on record, but very few storms touched the coast.
In the Atlantic Basin a total of 19 named storms formed — tied with 1887 and 1995 for third-highest years on record. Of those storms, 12 became hurricanes — tied with 1969 for second-highest on record. Five of those reached major hurricane status of Category 3 or higher.
NOAA said the totals are within the ranges predicted in its seasonal outlooks issued on May 27 (14-23 named storms, eight to 14 hurricanes, three to seven major hurricanes) and Aug. 5 (14-20 named storms, eight to 12 hurricanes, four to six major hurricanes). An average Atlantic season produces 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
'This year, record warm Atlantic waters, combined with the favorable winds coming off Africa and weak wind shear aided by La Ni'a energized developing storms. The 2010 season continues the string of active hurricane seasons that began in 1995,' NOAA said.
The jet stream's position contributed to warm and dry conditions in the eastern United States and acted as a barrier that kept many storms over open water, minimizing impacts on East and Gulf coasts ports. Also, because many storms formed in the extreme eastern Atlantic, they re-curved back out to sea without threatening land.
'For that reason, you could say the season was a gentle giant,' said Jack Hayes, director of NOAA's National Weather Service, in a statement on Monday.
Other parts of the Atlantic Basin weren't as fortunate. Hurricane Tomas brought heavy rain to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, and several storms, including Alex, battered eastern Mexico and Central America with heavy rain, mudslides and deadly flooding.
The La Ni'a effect helped suppressed storms from forming and strengthening in the eastern North Pacific. Of that region's seven named storms this year, three grew into hurricanes and two of those became major hurricanes.
According to NOAA, this is the fewest named storms (previous record low was eight in 1977) and the fewest hurricanes (previous record low was four in 1969, 1970, 1977 and 2007) on record since the satellite era began in the mid-1960s. An average eastern North Pacific season produces 15 named storms, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes, the agency said.