P!Npoints: 2009 Storm Season in Review

P!Npoints: 2009’s Stormy Weather

Former hurricane hunter, meteorologist Jeff Masters summarizes this year’s storm season and explains the root of its low activity

The inconsequential Atlantic hurricane season of 2009 is in the books. Residents all along the Atlantic coast can give thanks for this year’s much-needed break after the pummeling Mother Nature gave in 2008. The 4 direct deaths recorded this year represented the lowest death toll since the El Niño hurricane season of 1997, which also had 4 deaths.

This year’s season featured only 9 named storms, 3 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes, according to the end-of-season summary posted by the Colorado State University hurricane forecast team of Phil Klotzbach/Bill Gray. Higher than average wind shear, and lower than average relative humidity at middle levels of the atmosphere were primarily responsible for this year’s reduced activity. These conditions are common during El Niño years, and this year’s moderate El Niño undoubtedly contributed to the low levels of Atlantic hurricane activity.

Klotzbach/Gray Report Highlights

The 2009 Storm Season was Notable for its:

Late Start:
Ana did not form until August 15.

Few Hurricanes: 3 hurricanes occurred in 2009. This is the fewest since 1997 when there were also 3 hurricanes.

No Major Storms: No Category 5 hurricanes developed in 2009. This is the second consecutive year with no Category 5 hurricanes. The last time that two or more years occurred in a row with no Category 5 hurricanes was 1999-2002.

Few Tropical Storms: Only two tropical storms (Claudette and Ida) made U.S. landfall this year.

No Hurricane Landfalls in US: 0 hurricanes made US landfall. This is the first time since 2006 and the 13th time in the last 66 years where no hurricanes made landfall in the US.

This article is an excerpt from a post on Dr. Masters’s blog, the Weather Underground at: http://bit.ly/4Z5YDg