From: Roger Greenway, ENN
Published December 2, 2009 08:50 AM

Atlantic Hurricane Season Ends With Few Storms

The 2009 Atlantic hurricane season officially ended at the end of November. This year there were the fewest named storms and hurricanes since 1997. NOAA forecasts tropical storms and Hurricanes and tracks those that form.  Their forecasts of the likely tracks of the storms that did form were very good, and Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes can be very unpredicatible. Good forecasts help people prepare their houses and businesses, and evacuate when necessary to limit casualties.  A big thank you to the forecasters at NOAA!

Only nine named storms formed this year, including three hurricanes, two of which were major hurricanes at Category 3 strength or higher. These numbers fall within the ranges predicted in NOAA's mid-season outlook issued in August, which called for seven to 11 named storms, three to six hurricanes, and one to two major hurricanes. An average season has 11 named storms and six hurricanes, including two major hurricanes.

"The reduced activity was expected and reflects the development of El Niño during the summer," said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. "El Niño produced strong wind shear across the Caribbean Sea and western tropical Atlantic, which resulted in fewer and shorter-lived storms compared to some recent very active seasons."

Two systems, Claudette and Ida, brought tropical storm force winds to the U.S. mainland. For the first time in three years, no hurricanes hit the U.S. There were 38 hurricane hunter aircraft reconnaissance missions flown by NOAA and the U.S. Air Force over the Atlantic Basin this year compared to 169 in 2008 – another indication of a less active season.

"El Niño is expected to reach peak strength this winter, and will likely continue into the spring. It is far too early to say whether El Niño will be present next summer," added Bell. NOAA will issue its initial 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Outlook in May, prior to the official start of the season on June 1.

Graphic show the tracks of the 2009 tropical storms and hurricanes.

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