This year’s Atlantic hurricane season is a wrap, delivering below normal activity as forecasters had expected.
From 11 named storms, four hurricanes developed, two of them major, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday, the day after the season’s end.
Long Island saw no direct impact from any of the systems, but tropical storms Ana, a May early bird, and Bill in June hit the coasts of South Carolina and Texas, respectively.
And Long Islanders may recall images of October’s massive flooding in the Carolinas, as a combination of factors led to record-breaking rainfall, including Hurricane Joaquin, which was actually tracking away from the coast.
In an August update to its May forecast, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center had called for a 90-percent chance of a below-normal season, which was technically slated to start June 1, but that did include May’s Ana.
The forecast had been for six to 10 named storms, with one to four becoming hurricanes and zero to one becoming major. Seasonal averages are for 12 named storms, six hurricanes, with three of them major, NOAA said.
The eastern U.S. and Gulf Coast states, anyway, can give thanks for the quiet season to El Niño, a climate pattern affecting weather worldwide, and “characterized by unusually warm temperatures” in the tropical Pacific, according to the NOAA.
El Niño produced “strong vertical wind shear combined with increased atmospheric stability, stronger sinking motion and drier air across the tropical Atlantic, all of which make it difficult for tropical storms and hurricanes to form and strengthen,” said Gerry Bell, the prediction center’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster, in a news release.
The same can’t be said for the Pacific where El Niño “fueled the eastern and central Pacific seasons this year with the weakest vertical wind shear on record,” he said. That contributed to record-breaking seasons, which included Hurricane Patricia, which NOAA called the strongest Western Hemisphere hurricane on record.