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The 2013 Hurricane Season That Wasn’t

The 2013 Hurricane Season That Wasn’t

We’re not complaining.  We battened down the hatches at Houston's Severe Weather Station KTRH and were rigorously put through our paces at the KTRH 24 hour Weather Center, prepared to drop everything and return from vacations if necessary should winds shift and a tropical storm enter the Gulf, or should one of those multi-colored spaghetti lines aim toward Galveston/Houston.   Dr. Phil Klotzbach and Dr. Bill Gray of Colorado State University, two guys who really know this stuff, called for a 2013 Atlantic hurricane season with 18 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 4 intense hurricanes (cat 3 or greater).  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that the season would be above average and possibly hyper-active.  Weather Services International released their 2013 forecast in early April, calling for 16 named storms, 9 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes (cat 3 or greater).  And to a person the KTRH staff is, has been and will be ready 24/7.

Reality check: This year there have been 10 tropical storms, two hurricanes, and no major hurricanes.  Breath.

“”The 2013 hurricane season was characterized by a remarkable lack of hurricane activity,” Stu Ostro, chief meteorologist for The Weather Channel told KTRH News.  “It was one of the quietest seasons in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf on record.”

The 2013 hurricane season officially began on June 1, and – as if foretelling a turbulent season to come – on June 5 we already had a named tropical storm called Andrea.  Turned out she wasn’t much to write home about.  Andrea made landfall in Florida and brought rain and flooding in some areas of the southeastern U.S., but was fairly mild when you’re talking hurricane season.  We had the first hurricane of the year on September 11, Hurricane Humberto, which threatened the Cape Verde Islands off the western coast of Africa and no one else with 35 mile an hour winds.  On September 14 a mess of a system in the Bay of Campeche with little form finally came together long enough for the National Hurricane Center to declare it Hurricane Ingrid, a cat 1.  Like many of the year’s storms, she briefly tormented Mexico but left the U.S. alone.  Jerry, Karen and Lorenzo never mustered the strength to warrant much attention.

So should we pay any attention to those predictions?  “I once posted a blog on weather.com titled ‘Useless’ which pretty well summed up my thought about them from a public preparedness standpoint,” says Ostro. “There is scientific value to better understand how to try to predict seasons and what factors go into them.”  But, Ostro points out, even if you can predict exactly how many named storms there are going to be, and even if you are 100% accurate in predicting how many major hurricane cat 3 or higher hurricanes there will be, you cannot know where they are going to make landfall.  Galveston/Houston, Miami, or New York City?  We were not too much affected by Sandy here.  New York did not stop because of Ike.  Where they strike is the most important variable, not the numbers game.

Hurricane season officially ends on November 30, so we still may see Melissa, Nestor, Olga, Pablo or Rebekah.  But 2013 will go down in the history books as the first year since 2002 that did not have a hurricane in August.   With the exception of Andrea’s brief scrimmage before a downgrade in the southeast, no hurricane in the 2013 hurricane season made landfall in the United States.

 

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