2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season Closes Without Any Major Hurricanes

By Jillian MacMath, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
November 30, 2013; 12:38 PM ET
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Soldiers evacuate residents from an area flooded by heavy rains caused by Tropical Storm Barry in the Ursulo Galvan municipality, near Veracruz, Mexico, Friday June 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)

As the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season ends Nov. 30, it marks the season with the fewest number of hurricanes since 1982, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Overall, 13 systems spun up in the basin since June 1, one more than average for the season.

Hurricanes, however, were in short supply. Only two, Ingrid and Humberto, formed this season, compared to the average of six.

Of those two, neither became major hurricanes. A major hurricane is defined as a storm that reaches Category 3 or higher. Typically, the Atlantic yields three major hurricanes per season.

Though the tropics looked prime for an active season back in June, several factors developed which inhibited the strengthening of the storms.

"Above normal shear across the Gulf into the northwestern Caribbean hindered development when it combined with a lot of dry air," AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist and Long-Range Forecaster Bob Smerbeck said.

Additionally, cold water nosing southwestward in the eastern Atlantic and a significant amount of African dust further stifled the set up for stronger, longer-lasting storms.

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"You can develop a tropical storm in a semi-dry environment but for a hurricane you need lights winds and a relatively moist environment," Smerbeck said.

According to the NOAA, based on collective strength and duration of named storms and hurricanes, the 2013 season is expected to rank as the sixth least-active Atlantic season since 1950.

"We definitely had struggling systems this year," Smerbeck said. "Dust usually settles down when you get into the meat of the season but dry air stayed around this season."

Over the course of the season, only one storm made landfall in the United States.

Named Andrea, it was the first Atlantic storm of the season and brought severe weather, including tornadoes, heavy rain and flooding to parts of the South, killing one.

Mexico, on the other hand, was buffeted by three storms which originated in the Atlantic basin.

"When you're fighting dry air and shear, you're fighting a losing battle. They are the two worst things for tropical development," Smerbeck said.

Forty-five hurricane hunter aircraft reconnaissance missions were flown over the Atlantic basin this season by NOAA and the U.S. Air Force Reserve. The flights totaled 435 hours, the fewest number of flight hours in any season since at least 1966.

According to NOAA, the 2013 hurricane season was only the third below-normal season in the last 19 years, since 1995, when the current high-activity era for Atlantic hurricanes began.

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