Thursday, September 08, 2005


In my last post, I had wanted to include some information about how busy this hurricane season has been, compared to previous years, but I ended up removing that part due to lack of hard data. This morning, I just happened to find an article that has precisely the sort of statistics I was looking for:
Season could break records

Just a week into September -- typically the most active month for tropical activity -- the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season has already seen 15 named storms, six of which reached hurricane strength with winds of at least 74 mph. Four of those became major hurricanes, with sustained winds of at least 111 mph.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the averages for a hurricane season are 10 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes. Those numbers have already been met or exceeded this season, which doesn't end until November 30.

The largest number of named storms ever recorded was 21 in 1933, a record that will be broken if just seven more storms develop in the next 12 weeks. And if that happens, the hurricane center will run out of names for the first time since it adopted the system of assigning names to storms in 1953.

The letters Q, U, X, Y and Z aren't used, because few names begin with those letters, so the 21st and last name on this year's hurricane list is Wilma. After that, Greek letters will be used to designate storms, beginning with Alpha.

According to the hurricane center, the largest number of hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic was 12 back in 1969. The largest number of major hurricanes was eight in 1950.
Global warming models predict a larger number of stronger storms each year (on average) as ocean waters get warmer, with the total number of storms staying roughly the same (due to some non-heat-related limitations on storm formation). The data above gives no indication of whether this is actually happening, but it is interesting, nonetheless.


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