Hurricane season 2021: a near miss and a recall

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The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season has officially ended.

There have been 21 named storms this season, which qualifies it as busy. The average number of storms in any given year is 14, according to NOAA.

In 2021, hurricane forecasters used all storm names for the second year in a row, with Tropical Storm Wanda completing the list. However, October and November were noticeably calm.

And no one complains.

Of the 21 named storms this year, seven became hurricanes, which is okay on average, and four of them (Grace, Ida, Larry and Sam) strengthened into major hurricanes, which are category storms. 3 or higher. (The average number of major hurricanes is three.)

One of those major hurricanes, Category 4 Ida, devastated southeastern Louisiana with peak winds of 150 mph on August 29, 2021. Ida killed at least 32 people along the Gulf Coast, then 53 in the northeast after incredible flash floods. Grace made landfall on the Gulf Coast on August 21, and Sam and Larry happily stayed at sea.

However, several other storms have made landfall in the United States.

The US coastline was also hit by Tropical Storm Claudette (Louisiana), Tropical Storm Danny (South Carolina), Elsa (Florida), Tropical Storm Fred (Florida), Hurricane Henri (Rhode Island), Storm Tropical Mindy (Florida) and Hurricane Nicolas (Texas). While these certainly had an impact, they were much weaker systems.

Ida was close enough to Alabama to put forecasters on alert, especially less than a year after Hurricane Sally, which made landfall on September 16, 2020 in Gulf Shores. Sally was a powerful Category 2 hurricane with peak winds of 105 mph.

In 2020, Alabama also had to deal with the effects of Hurricane Zeta, a Category 3 storm that made landfall in Louisiana but quickly swept across southern Alabama in late October, causing widespread power outages and wind damage.

“Fortunately for Alabama, the direct impacts for Alabama were nowhere near what they were in 2020, but there were impacts from a few storms, namely Claudette and Ida,” said Jason Beaman, the meteorologist. coordinating warnings to the National Weather Service in Mobile.

“Fortunately Ida was close, but she was far enough away that we did not experience the major impacts of Hurricane Louisiana. It’s interesting: it’s another active year in the Gulf. We have had seven systems that made landfall from the Gulf of Mexico, and that includes Mexico. But fortunately, locally, our impacts were not close to what they were in 2020. ”

Ida and Claudette both caused coastal flooding in Alabama, as well as beach erosion, high surf and rip currents. The two storms also brought bouts of heavy rain to parts of southern Alabama.

Ida’s outer bands also produced a few tornadoes.

Ida also recalled that things could have been a lot worse – the Alabama coast has been luckier than many over the past few years, even with Sally in the mix.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Sally. Sally may not have been a major meteorological hurricane, but it was a major impact on the region, ”Beaman said. “But that said, these other hurricanes have shown that there are stronger winds, a higher storm surge and we just need to make sure that we are constantly prepared to deal with these potential threats. won’t happen, but we need to prepare for it.

“I think for the Alabama coast, the simple realization that we had a high end Category 4 hurricane that made landfall just to our west that really devastated southeast Louisiana. Michael a few years ago was a Category 5 hurricane that we narrowly missed in the east. A high end Category 4 and a Category 5 very close to our region… I think it’s a reminder that as strong and as bad as Sally is, this is not a reasonable worst-case scenario for our region. A high-end hurricane is certainly possible, history shows us, and it’s just something we need to keep in mind as we prepare. We must be prepared.

There have been 21 named storms this season, which is above average.


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