From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published November 30, 2010 01:00 PM

Hurricane Season 2010

There were no reported hurricane disasters like Katrina that hit New Orleans in 2005. So it is somewhat surprising to hear that according to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,) the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, was one of the busiest on record. In contrast, the eastern North Pacific season had the fewest storms on record since the satellite era began. In the Atlantic Basin a total of 19 named storms formed – tied with 1887 and 1995 for third highest on record. Of those, 12 became hurricanes – tied with 1969 for second highest on record. Five of those reached major hurricane status of Category 3 or higher.


These totals are within the ranges predicted in NOAA’s seasonal outlooks issued on May 27. An average Atlantic season produces 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

Large-scale climate features strongly influenced this year’s hurricane activity. This year, record warm Atlantic waters, combined with the favorable winds coming off Africa and weak wind shear aided by La Niña energized developing storms. The 2010 season continues the string of active hurricane seasons that began in 1995.

But short-term weather patterns dictate where storms actually travel and in many cases this season, that was away from the United States. The jet stream’s position contributed to warm and dry conditions in the eastern U.S. and acted as a barrier that kept many storms over open water. Also, because many storms formed in the extreme eastern Atlantic, they re-curved back out to sea without threatening land.

"As NOAA forecasters predicted, the Atlantic hurricane season was one of the most active on record, though fortunately most storms avoided the U.S. For that reason, you could say the season was a gentle giant," said Jack Hayes, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s National Weather Service.

Other parts of the Atlantic basin weren’t as fortunate. Hurricane Alex was a rare June hurricane and the first tropical cyclone to form in the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season. Forming from a tropical wave on June 25, 2010, it slowly developed in the Caribbean Sea and struck Belize as a tropical storm. After entering the Gulf of Mexico, Alex became very large and encountered conditions favorable for slow development. Early on June 30, the cyclone attained hurricane status as it approached northeastern Mexico, the first June hurricane in the Atlantic basin since Hurricane Allison in 1995; the storm rapidly intensified just off the coast of Tamaulipas, and struck near Soto la Marina as a Category 2 hurricane.

Hurricane Tomas was the nineteenth named storm and twelfth hurricane of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season. Tomas developed from a tropical wave east of the Windward Islands on October 29. Quickly intensifying into a hurricane, it moved through the Windward Islands and passed very near Saint Lucia. After reaching Category 2 status, Tomas quickly weakened to a tropical storm in the central Caribbean Sea, due to strong wind shear and dry air. Tomas later regained hurricane status.

Though La Niña helped to enhance the Atlantic hurricane season, it also 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. This is the fewest named storms and the fewest hurricanes 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 first storm of the eastern Pacific 2010 season, Agatha, formed during the month of May. It developed on May 29 near the coast of Guatemala. In the second week of June, a sudden spree of tropical cyclones developed, and between June 16 and 22, four cyclones formed, including the first two major hurricanes of the season, Celia and Darby. However, following the record active June, July saw no named storms, the first time this had occurred in the Eastern Pacific since 1966.

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