2008 Hurricane Season a Record-Breaker

on the net
The National Hurricane Center: www.nhc.noaa.gov/

WASHINGTON — The 2008 Atlantic hurricane season, which ends Sunday, seemed to strike the United States and Cuba as if on redial, setting at least five weather records for persistence and repeatedly striking the same areas.

“It was pretty relentless in a large number of big strikes,” said Georgia Tech atmospheric sciences professor Judith Curry. “We just didn’t have the huge monster where a lot of people lost their lives, but we had a lot of damage, a lot of damage.”

Data on death and damage are still being calculated, but the insurance industry recorded at least $10.6 billion in losses this hurricane season. That includes $8.1 billion in insured damage from Hurricane Ike, which ranked as the seventh most expensive catastrophe in the United States history, according to Mike Barry of the Insurance Information Institute in New York.

Three records showed the hurricane season’s relentlessness. Six consecutive named storms—Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike—struck the U.S. mainland, something that had not been seen in recorded history.

It’s also the first time a major hurricane, those with winds of at least 111 mph, formed in five consecutive months, July through November. And Bertha spun about for 17 days, making it the longest lived storm in July.

Two records involve storms hitting the same places repeatedly. Rain-heavy Fay was the only storm to hit the same state—Florida—four times, leaving heavy flood damage in its wake. A record three major hurricanes smacked Cuba: Gustav, Ike and Paloma.

Upper air currents helped storms get bigger and focused them into a few places—Cuba and the U.S. Gulf Coast, said Gerry Bell, the top hurricane forecaster at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center.

Five of the six storms that hit the United States this season struck the Gulf Coast.

And that repeat-tracking of storms to the same place—and with it increased likelihood of landfall—is typical of years when the hurricane season is on overdrive, like this year, Bell said.

This year wasn’t the busiest ever. It merely tied for the fourth most named storms in history with 16. The 2005 season shattered all records with 28 tropical storms and hurricanes.

on the net:
The National Hurricane Center: www.nhc.noaa.gov/


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