Hurricane season ends Friday

by Kelly Corbett and Cole Dittmer
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The current hurricane season has seen more storms than recent years and about nine storms more than average.

The average hurricane season sees 10.1 named storms, with six becoming hurricanes and 2.5 major hurricanes.

The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, running from June 1 to Nov. 1, saw 19 tropical storms, with 10 hurricanes and one major hurricane.

Meteorologist Stephen Keebler of the National Weather Service Wilmington Forecast Office said the numbers differentiate this season from others.

Wrightsville Beach was the site of the highest winds with maximum gusts of 52 mph during Hurricane Sandy at 6 p.m. on Oct. 27.

Rainfall was the other most prevalent local impact. The highest rainfall recorded was in Wilmington at 3.21 inches, also a result of Hurricane Sandy.

Keebler said the beneficial rains brought several inches of rain in October, which is typically one of the area’s drier months.

“Those are very beneficial rains,” Keebler said. “… For us, it was almost the perfect storm.”

Dennis Feltgen, meteorologist and spokesperson for the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla., said it was an active season as expected.

“We had two storms that had impacts over a very large area, that was Isaac and Sandy,” Feltgen said. “And we had a tropical storm Debbie, which got into the Florida panhandle back in June with very significant storm surge and flooding impacts, proved positive that there’s no such thing as just a tropical storm. … If you weren’t impacted this year consider yourself very fortunate, and there’s no guarantee that your luck will hold out in 2013.”

Keebler said a late season hurricane, like Hurricane Sandy, is not unheard of but it unusual.

And now that the hurricane season is over, he said it would be odd for a storm to form out in the Atlantic Ocean.

“It could happen, but we’re really not looking at anything in the next couple of weeks,” Keebler said.

On Thursday, Nov. 29, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) will release the hurricane season report.

“Compared to last season we made out really well,” Keebler said. “We’ve been really lucky the last several years actually.”

As far as predictions for the 2013 hurricane season, Keebler said some private company predictions surface in December, but the predictions released in early spring or summer are more accurate.

“If we ever go into a sustained El Niño period, we will probably see a lower number of storms,” he said. “We’re kind of in a neutral pattern right now, and we’re supposed to be in more of an El Niño.”

As the season comes to a close, the National Hurricane Center will focus more on research and the local office will transition to working nor’easters.

“For us, it’s not that much of a change,” Keebler said. “We’ve always got some sort of weather phenomenon going on.”

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