As we look ahead to winter weather, we can at least take thoughts of hurricanes off the table.
The Atlantic hurricane season ended formally on Wednesday, coming in at above normal in terms of activity, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.
The year saw 15 named storms, including seven hurricanes — three of them major, NOAA said Wednesday in a summary for the season. The average is for 12 named storms, six of them hurricanes, with three of them major — meaning Category 3 or above.
while the season officially runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, Hurricane Alex — an outlier this year — jumped the gun, forming in January over the far eastern Atlantic.
Of this year’s named storms, one made a notable impact on Long Island, a reminder of the Island’s vulnerability.
There was considerable squabbling among computer models as to Tropical Storm Hermine’s track. The system, which made landfall in Florida as a hurricane, headed toward the mid-Atlantic shortly before Labor Day weekend.
As the storm approached, the potential for high winds and serious coastal flooding led to a tropical storm warning for Long Island, and a voluntary evacuation of Fire Island over the long holiday weekend.
The actual track, however, ultimately shifted, for the most part, in Long Island’s favor, avoiding the worst-case scenarios.
Still, some areas of the South Shore and North Fork saw significant beach erosion due to high surf, with reports of tropical storm force winds for areas of the East End, said Gary Conte, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Upton. Merchants in coastal areas also took a financial hit, as long-weekend visitors steered clear of the area.
Hermine “was a very complex storm to forecast,” Conte said, and a small shift to the north would have had more serious repercussions.
For a day or so in early October, computer models indicated that Matthew, described by NOAA as “the strongest and longest-lived storm of the season,” had the potential to steer up toward Long Island. Instead, the system, which remained at major hurricane strength from Sept. 28 to Oct. 9, took a sharp turn out to sea, after departing the Carolinas.
By then the storm had caused “extensive damage and loss of life” in the Caribbean, NOAA said, and set up “extensive fresh water flooding” for areas of the eastern Carolinas.
Matthew’s strength, as well as the above-average number of storms making landfall in the United States, “were linked to large areas of exceptionally weak vertical wind shear that resulted from a persistent ridge of high pressure in the middle and upper atmosphere over Caribbean Sea and the western Atlantic Ocean,” said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
In August NOAA’s hurricane outlook had called for 12 to 17 named storms, five to eight of them hurricanes, with two to four of them major.