2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season Comes to a Close

December 01, 2011; 5:40 AM
Share |
NOAA GOES-13 satellites capture Hurricane Irene, making landfall at approximately 7:30 a.m. EDT, Aug. 27, near Cape Lookout, N.C., with maximum-sustained winds of 85 mph. (NOAA)

The 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season will end Wednesday on a quiet note, but not after going down in history as one of the most active on record.

On Monday, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials released a list of final statistics for the season, which included a post-storm upgrade of Tropical Storm Nate to hurricane status and the addition of a previously unclassified, unnamed tropical storm.

In all, 19 named tropical systems prowled the Tropical Atlantic Basin this season, with seven achieving hurricane status and three major hurricane status (Category 3 hurricane or stronger).

With 19 storms, 2011 goes in the record books as tied for the third-highest total since records began in 1851 (joining 1887, 1995 and 2010).

The unnamed tropical system, which formed in early September between Bermuda and Nova Scotia, was added to the list after an analysis of past satellite images by NOAA. The agency points out this storm could have gone undetected in the pre-satellite era.

Concerning the number of hurricanes, 2011 was fairly ordinary.

According to Tropical Weather and Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski, "Despite the high number of named systems, most storms were underachievers this year."

In a typical year, 11 storms are named, with six becoming hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

The strongest hurricane was Ophelia, which maxed out at 140-mph sustained winds.

"Most hurricanes formed well away from the U.S. and stayed away from the U.S.," Kottlowski said.

There were three tropical cyclone landfalls this season, which is about typical.

However, Hurricane Irene stood above the rest in reminding the east coast of the U.S. that it only takes one hurricane to make a memorable season.

On Aug. 27th, Irene became the first hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. mainland since Ike in 2008.

"Irene broke the 'hurricane amnesia' that can develop when so much time lapses between landfalling storms," said Jack Hayes, Ph.D., director of NOAA's National Weather Service.

According to Kottlowski, "A northwesterly flow of dry air and wind shear kept most of the storms away from the U.S. However, the flow backed off just long enough to let Irene, then Lee come ashore."

Irene was responsible for widespread flooding, 56 fatalities and $10.1 billion in damage, with homes, bridges and roads still in the process of being rebuilt from North Carolina to New England more than three months later. Extensive damage also occurred in The Bahamas.

Rainfall from Irene and Lee combined to set rainfall records in a number of locations in the mid-Atlantic and even topped record flood stages along the Susquehanna set during Agnes in 1972.

Both AccuWeather.com and NOAA's long-range forecast teams correctly predicted a busier-than-normal season.

You can view the original AccuWeather forecast, released this past spring, here, or take a look at stats from this season's storms in our Hurricane Center.

Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski contributed to the content of this story.

Comments

Comments left here should adhere to the AccuWeather.com Community Guidelines. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.

More Weather News

  • Severe Thunderstorms Threatening Florida

    April 18, 2014; 4:20 PM ET

    While heavy rain drenches the Southeast from Alabama to the Carolinas, portions of Florida will remain in the path of severe thunderstorms.

Daily U.S. Extremes

past 24 hours

  Extreme Location
High N/A
Low N/A
Precip N/A

WeatherWhys®

This Day In Weather History

Midwest (1880)
Tornadoes in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana. More than 24 funnels; over 100 killed. Sixty-five dead and $1 million damage in Marshfield, MO.

San Francisco, CA (1906)
Earthquake and fire. Infrequent easterly wind drove flames westward through the city rather than confining them to the downtown harbor area.

Wyoming, South Dakota (1966)
24" of snow and blizzard conditions in South Dakota. 20" of snow at Lander, Wyoming.