Atlantic hurricane season, one of slowest in decades, draws to a quiet close

Suomi NPP satellite peers into Tropical Storm Andrea, the first storm of the season.
Suomi NPP satellite peers into Tropical Storm Andrea, the first storm of the season.NOAA / NASA

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By Daniella Silva, NBC News

Saturday marked the end of one of the slowest Atlantic hurricane seasons in recent memory, with Mother Nature churning out the fewest number of hurricanes since 1982, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Only 13 named storms formed in the Atlantic basin this year, with only Ingrid and Humberto reaching hurricane status. Still, neither became major hurricanes, the NOAA noted, referring to categories of 3 and above. Category 1 and 2 are listed by the NOAA as minimal and moderate hurricanes, respectively, with the latter reaching wind speeds of 96 to 110 mph.

While this season brought with it one additional named storm above the yearly average of 12, it still had the fewest number of hurricanes since 1982. Moreover, the number of hurricanes was well below the average of six hurricanes and the average of three major hurricanes in a season.  

Humberto was the year's first hurricane to form over the far eastern Atlantic on Sept. 11, with maximum sustained winds near 85 mph.

Ingrid followed soon after on Sept. 14, after a Hurricane warning was issued from Cabo Rojo to La Pesca, Mexico, bringing with her more rain and similar winds of 85 mph.

The NOAA said on Monday that the weak season was due to “persistent, unfavorable atmospheric conditions” over the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea and tropical Atlantic Ocean.

“A combination of conditions acted to offset several climate patterns that historically have produced active hurricane seasons,” Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said in the statement. “As a result, we did not see the large numbers of hurricanes that typically accompany these climate patterns.”

Bell said those conditions included an unpredictable atmospheric pattern that produced “exceptionally” dry, sinking air and dry vertical shear wind, both detrimental to the formation of tropical cyclones.

This year was also the sixth-least active hurricane season since 1950 in terms of the overall strength and duration of the named storms and hurricanes.

Tropical storm Andrea was the only named storm to make landfall in the United States this year, developing in the east-central Gulf of Mexico late on June 5 and making landfall a day later on the coast of Florida, bringing with it floods and tornadoes.  

Unlike the United States, Mexico was struck with eight storms, three from the Atlantic basin and five from the eastern North Pacific, according to NOAA.  Of the eight that made landfall, five were tropical storms and three were hurricanes. 

GOES East satellite tracks Subtropical Storm Melissa, the last storm of the season.NOAA