The Atlantic hurricane season is past its halfway point this year and we have yet to see any major storms. In fact, it has been 8 years since we have experienced a major hurricane – which the National Weather Service defines as any hurricane classified as Category 3 (winds of 111+ mph) or higher. This 8-year period is the longest time between major hurricanes that we have witnessed since 1915. Despite the devastating $50 billion worth of damage that super storm Sandy caused last year, Sandy was not officially considered a hurricane. The recent lack of major hurricanes can be attributed to a combination of the development of relatively weak storms and luck.
Despite seeing few storms this year, there have been 11 named storms thus far – which is average for this time of year. These 11 storms have been relatively weak and only two have been classified as hurricanes. This weakness could be attributed to dry air over the Atlantic that is coming from Africa. The dry air does not allow the storms to pick up in strength while they are developing over the Atlantic Ocean.
Just this past weekend Tropical Storm Karen posed a threat to the Gulf Coast, which includes the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. However, on Sunday it was clear that storm had weakened and was not going to have much of an effect on land.
Despite our recent luck, we need to be proactive in finding ways to weaken the damage caused by storms. As we saw last year with super storm Sandy, even storms that aren’t considered official hurricanes can be devastating. If a storm of Sandy’s caliber had hit in the Midwest the damage would have been much less severe but due to water levels in the North East and the population density the damage was shocking.
Considering the peak of hurricane season has passed (August – September) our luck may very well continue through the rest of the season. We cannot, however, count on this luck to be consistent for the years to come. Two things that are certain are that the ocean levels are rising and population density along the East Coast is increasing. These two factors combine to make an environment for the “Perfect Storm.” As the year progresses we should appreciate our luck, but at the same time be proactive in the steps we take to reduce the risk of severe damage from storms.