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NOAA: Atlantic hurricane season lived up to expectations

Hurricane Irma hits Miami on Sept. 10, 2017.

Hurricane Irma hits Miami on Sept. 10, 2017. Credit: Getty Images / Joe Raedle

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season may be a wrap, but it’s not going to be forgotten anytime soon.

Extremely active this year — with 17 named storms, 10 of them hurricanes, and six of them major at category 3 or higher — the season brought systems that were calamitous for areas of the southeastern United States, Caribbean and Gulf Coast.

A normal season would bring 12 named storms, six of them hurricanes, and three of them major, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which in August had said this year’s had “the potential to be extremely active.”

According to a report from Bloomberg News, the hit to the U.S. was $202.6 billion in damages, with the death count in the “hundreds across the Atlantic basin.”

Long Island was pretty much spared this season, which marked the fifth anniversary of superstorm Sandy and the mayhem it brought.

Areas of the South Shore and East End did experience some high surf, coastal flooding and dune erosion in September from what had been Hurricane Jose, lingering for days just to the southeast.

“This was a hurricane season that wouldn’t quit,” said retired Navy Rear Adm. Timothy Gallaudet, acting NOAA administrator, in a Thursday news release, pointing to a string of 10 hurricanes in a row. Officially, the season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

Still, accuracy in pinning down storm tracks continued to increase this season, with about a 25 percent improvement over average in calls for the most damaging storms, Harvey, Irma and Maria, according to the NOAA release.

What stood out this year “was the record-breaking levels of hurricane activity that occurred during September,” with Harvey, Irma and Maria “the most notable storms of 2017, leaving paths of death and destruction in their wake,” according to a summary also released Thursday by Colorado State University, prepared by Philip J. Klotzbach, research scientist, and one of the authors of the annual outlooks for hurricane season activity.

The season saw two category 4 hurricanes — Harvey and Irma — make landfall on the continental U.S., the first such occurrence, he said, since records started being kept in 1851.

Conditions were ripe for the formation of so many strong systems, said Klotzbach, pointing to warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures and the tropical Atlantic’s lack of vertical wind shear, which can tear systems apart before they have a chance to form.

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