Meteorologists with the National Hurricane center are watching a late-season system with a 30 percent chance of becoming a tropical or sub-tropical cyclone within the next 40 hours. Hurricane Season ended in the Atlantic Basin Nov. 30.
On the last day of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season, meteorologists were watching a broad area of low pressure with a medium chance - 30 percent - of developing into a cyclone as it moved north over the Central Atlantic Ocean.
Even if it does form, it most likely would not impact land. However, it does remind residents that hurricane season, June 1 through Nov. 30, is not absolute - storms and can will happen outside the specified dates.
Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noted in their season summary that "An interesting aspect of the season was its early start, with two tropical storms, Alberto and Beryl, developing in May before the season officially began."
The Florida Division of Emergency Management also commented on the season's end and reminded Floridians that emergency preparedness does not end with hurricane season. It is important for Floridians to remember that the end of hurricane season brings the beginning of Florida’s severe weather season, as strong cold fronts move through the state.
“This year, Floridians were reminded of the effects tropical systems can have on our communities and that it only takes one storm to have an impact,” said FDEM Director Bryan W. Koon. “As we move into severe weather season in Florida, I urge all Floridians to maintain emergency plans and disaster supply kits to ensure preparedness for all types of hazards.”
The 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season was more active than predicted, tying with four previous seasons as the third most active season in recorded history.
There were 19 named tropical systems, 10 of which were hurricanes. Two storms, Alberto and Beryl, formed before the official start of hurricane season, an occurrence not seen since 1908.
Four storms, Beryl, Debby, Isaac and Sandy, had significant impacts in Florida.
Tropical Storm Beryl made landfall in Jacksonville Beach May 28. Beryl's landfall was the strongest landfall in the United States for any pre-season Atlantic tropical cyclone on record.
Tropical Storm Debby made landfall in Steinhatchee June 26, bringing record breaking amounts of rainfall and flooding. Five Florida rivers reached major flood stage, including two rivers, the Sopchoppy and the St. Marys, that reached record breaking crests. Due to the impacts of the storm, a federal major disaster declaration granted 30 counties public assistance and 22 counties individual assistance.
Hurricane Isaac made landfall twice in southern Louisiana on Aug. 28 and 29, but not before impacting Florida counties. Areas of Florida experienced record rainfall and flooding, as well as tornadoes spawned from the storm. Preliminary damage assessments performed in 15 Florida counties revealed $48,345,637 in total damage due to Isaac’s impacts, and a federal major disaster declaration for public assistance was declared in 11 counties.
Hurricane Sandy developed as a tropical depression in the southwestern Caribbean Sea, eventually becoming a Category One Hurricane and making landfall in Atlantic City, N.J., Oct. 29. Tropical Storm Warnings were issued for all 13 Atlantic Coast counties in Florida, and tropical storm force winds were observed across coastal areas of southeast and east central Florida.
Increased surf and coastal flooding caused significant damage to Florida’s beaches, and preliminary damage assessments found total community damage of more than $44.9 million. Florida’s initial request for a federal major disaster declaration for public assistance was denied.
With the potential for more storms systems to affect Florida during the coming months, the threat for flooding and severe weather, especially in the form of tornadoes, increases across the state. Residents and visitors are encouraged to be prepared for the possibility of dangerous storms in the coming months.
“It is difficult to forecast when and where severe weather will occur this winter and spring, so the best course of action is to have a preparedness plan in place,” said FDEM State Meteorologist Amy Godsey. “It is important to ensure that your family knows in advance what actions to take in the event of severe weather and to respond quickly if a warning is issued for your area.”
To monitor potential weather conditions, residents and visitors are encouraged to have a NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio. This portable radio alerts listeners to warnings of possible tornadoes, severe storms and potential for wildfire. In addition, it is suggested that you have an alternate method to receive weather alerts, such as using a text message service that sends warnings directly to your cellular phone.
NOAA noted that this season marks the second consecutive year that the mid-Atlantic and Northeast suffered devastating impacts from a named storm. Sandy, and Irene last year, caused fatalities, injuries, and tremendous destruction from coastal storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, and wind. Storms struck many parts of the country this year, including tropical storms Beryl and Debby in Florida, Hurricane Isaac in Louisiana, and post-tropical Cyclone Sandy in New Jersey.
“This year proved that it’s wrong to think that only major hurricanes can ruin lives and impact local economies,” said Laura Furgione, acting director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “We are hopeful that after the 2012 hurricane season, more families and businesses all along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts become more “weather ready” by understanding the risks associated with living near the coastline. Each storm carries a unique set of threats that can be deadly and destructive. Mother Nature reminded us again this year of how important it is to be prepared and vigilant.”
This is the seventh consecutive year that no major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5) have hit the United States. The only major hurricane this season was Hurricane Michael, a Category 3 storm that stayed over the open Atlantic. Several storms this year were short in duration, weak in intensity, and went largely unnoticed by the public because they stayed out over the Atlantic. A persistent jet stream pattern over the eastern portion of the nation helped steer many of this season’s storms away from the United States.
The number of named storms and hurricanes was higher than predicted in NOAA’s pre-season outlook, in large part because El Nińo – which likely would have suppressed overall storm activity – never materialized as predicted by many climate models.
Hurricane forecasters remind us that a well-established climate pattern puts us in an ongoing era of high activity for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995. Since that time, more than 70 percent of seasons have been above normal, including 2012. Historically, Atlantic high-activity eras have lasted 25 to 40 years, with the previous one occurring from the mid-1930s until 1970. Several inter-related atmospheric and oceanic factors contribute to these high activity years, including warmer Atlantic Ocean temperatures, an enhanced West African monsoon, and reduced vertical wind shear.
NOAA will release its pre-season outlook for the 2013 hurricane season in May.