A new hurricane record set?
The National Hurricane Center said today it could not immediately confirm that this year's storm season marks the first time on record that that six consecutive named tropical storms or hurricanes have made landfall in the United States. The guy who searches the records for such things is unavailable until Thursday.
But Weather Underground blogger Jeff Masters, citing NOAA data, reported during Hanna's romp up the coast that its landfall tied the previous record of five consecutive U.S. landfalls. That mark had been set and matched five times before:
2004: (Frances, Gaston, Hermine, Ivan, and Jeanne)
2002: (Edouard, Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Isidore) (Familiar names? Atlantic storm names are recycled every six years, unless severe damage or loss of life prompt their retirement.)
1985: (Gloria, Henri, Isabel, Juan, and Kate)
1979: (Bob, Claudette, David, Elena, and Frederic)
1971: (Doria, Edith, Fern, Ginger, Heidi)
So it sure looks like we've established a new mark this year. Three of the last six named storms struck Texas. The others hit Florida, Louisiana and North Carolina. Get a better look at the above Weather Underground track map, here.
The assaults began on July 23 when Hurricane Dolly made landfall at South Padre Island in Texas as a 100-mph Cat. 2 storm. It spared human lives in Texas, but caused $1.2 billion in damage. At the time, it was the third costliest tropical system in Texas history. Flash flooding from Dolly's remnants killed two people in New Mexico.
On Aug. 5, Tropical Storm Edouard made landfall with heavy rains and 65 mph winds, near Port Arthur, Texas. Tropical Storm Fay drifted out of the Caribbean and made landfall on the Florida Keys, and then again in South Florida on Aug. 18. It crossed the peninsula, dumping huge amounts of rain that caused serious flooding before moving out into the Atlantic. Fay then turned west, crossed the peninsula again into the Gulf, and made landfall again on the Florida Panhandle. That made it the first storm in Florida history to make landfall there four times.
Hurricane Gustav made landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 31, with 110 mph winds after weakening from a Cat. 4 to a Cat. 2 storm. It caused more flooding and an estimated $15 billion in U.S. damage. Hurricane Hanna developed on Sept. 1 but weakened during a long period wandering in the Bahamas. It then turned north and moved up the East Coast as a tropical storm. It made landfall in North Carolina Sept. 6 with top winds of 70 mph.
The sixth storm to make landfall in the U.S. was, of course, Hurricane Ike, which crashed ashore in Texas, near Galveston over the weekend, a 110-mph Cat. 2 storm. It has already been tagged with causing an estimated $27 billion in damage in the U.S., the third most destructive U.S. storm on record, after Andrew in 1992, and Katrina, in 2005. Better numbers are likely as more time passes.
In the meantime, check out these amazing before-and-after photos from the USGS. This is why people need to obey evacuation orders.
With two-and-a-half months to go, the 2008 season has so far produced more than half of the storms predicted for this year.
Named storms: 10 (Colorado State Univ. forecast: 17. NOAA forecast: 14-18)
Hurricanes: 5 (CSU: 9. NOAA: 7-10)
"Major" storms: 3 (CSU: 5. NOAA: 3-6)
Maybe we'll get lucky and find we're done. For now, the tropics remain quiet.