The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, which began on June 1, comes to a close tomorrow. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says the number of tropical storms and hurricanes that developed this year matched its pre-season predictions and “continued the trend of active hurricane seasons that began in 1995.”
There were a total of 19 tropical storms of which seven became hurricanes, including three major hurricanes (defined as Category 3, 4 or 5 with top winds of 111 mph and greater). Only one of the hurricanes—Irene—made landfall in the U.S., and it was not a major one at that. Nevertheless it did so much damage across such a wide area as to break what NOAA calls the ‘hurricane amnesia’ of not having experienced a major land-falling hurricane in the U.S. in three years.
“Irene was the lone hurricane to hit the United States in 2011,” NOAA reported, “and the first one to do so since Ike struck southeast Texas in 2008. Irene was also the most significant tropical cyclone to strike the Northeast since Hurricane Bob in 1991.”
NOAA’s press release on the 2011 season can be found here. It makes several references to the value of storm-predicting satellites, an allusion to threatened budget cuts in fiscal year 2012. Click here to view a four-minute animation of the entire season from one of those satellites (Irene appears just after the two-minute mark).
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