The mellow 2014 Atlantic hurricane season ended Sunday (Nov. 30), marking a record-breaking nine years since a Category 3 hurricane (or stronger) made landfall along U.S. coastlines.
The last was Hurricane Wilma in 2005 (Sandy was not a hurricane when it hit the northeast in 2012). The United States has never recorded a nine-year period without a hurricane touching its shores. The prior record for the longest stretch, from 1861 to 1868, was set during the Civil War, according to Colorado State University climatologists.
But in the eastern Pacific Ocean, tropical storm activity was busier than it has been over the past 20 years. Fourteen hurricanes and six tropical storms formed since May 15, including Hurricane Amanda, a Category 4 storm and the strongest May hurricane ever recorded in the East Pacific. [ A History of Destruction: 8 Great Hurricanes ]
At the same time, the Atlantic produced only eight named tropical storms this year, the fewest since 1997, according to the National Hurricane Center. Six of those storms strengthened into hurricanes, and two became major hurricanes. The overall storm activity was 75 percent of the seasonal average between 1981 and 2010, according to Colorado State.
Hurricane Arthur was the only storm to make landfall in the United States this season. The storm clobbered coastal North Carolina on July 4 with Category 2 winds of about 100 miles per hour (160 km/h), causing $21 million in damage.
Of the two major Atlantic storms, Hurricane Edouard reached Category 3 strength far out at sea, never threatening to touch shorelines. Hurricane Gonzalo was the season's most powerful storm at Category 4, but the tempest weakened to Category 2 before making landfall in Bermuda and causing more than $200 million in damage.
"The season was fairly quiet as we predicted," said Gerry Bell, the lead hurricane season forecaster at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center.