Tyler Chalfant | October 24th, 2019
When Tropical Storm Nestor made landfall on the Gulf Coast this past weekend, it became the fifth named storm to impact the U.S. mainland this year. There are roughly five weeks left in the 2019 hurricane season, which lasts from June 1st through November 30th. Even though this season has been calmer than in recent years, it has already met the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s requirements for an above average hurricane season.
To be considered above average, a hurricane season must have an Accumulated Cyclone Energy (a summation of the duration and intensity of all named storms in a year) higher than the median value from 1981-2010. The season must also meet two of the three following: at least 13 named storms, seven hurricanes, or three major hurricanes. Nestor was the 14th named storm of the year, and while the Atlantic has only seen five hurricanes this season, three of them have been considered major hurricanes. NOAA’s estimation is that about 45% of years will be above average, but 2019 is the fourth year in a row to meet these requirements, and the seventh to do so since 2010.
While this season is comparable with recent years, it has been unusual in other ways. Most notably, Hurricane Dorian was nearly stationary as it wreaked havoc on the Bahamas, resulting in at least 61 deaths so far. Hurricane Lorenzo also set the record for the easternmost category 5 storm.
An early end to El Niño weather patterns caused conditions to be more favorable to hurricanes than predicted this year. Though late-season storms are less common, there is still over a month left, and an average year does see one more hurricane formation after October 21st, which would bring this year up to the thirty-year average of six hurricanes per season.