As hurricane Rick spins off the Mexican Pacific coast most Texans are pondering what do with the can goods in their hurricane supply kit. Texans and insurance firms around the country got a much needed reprieve this year.
The reason the season was so quiet was most likely due to El Nino. An El Nino is a warming of the southeastern Pacific waters. El Ninos vary due to the degree of warming in the Pacific. During El Nino years strong shearing currents cut the top off of developing storms in the Atlantic basin allowing fewer named storms to develope. In addition, during an El Nino there tends to be a seesaw effect in the number of storms. This year for instance the rapid development of a moderate El Niño was a major contributing factor to lessening the number of storms in the Atlantic while storms in the Pacific are running just above normal. So far this year the Atlantic has seen the fewest number of storms since 1999 when only nine named storms formed. Compare that with the Pacific where storms and hurricanes flourished in the warmer than usual waters of an El Nino year. An average hurricane season in the Pacific is usually 15 - 16 named storms, 9 hurricanes of which 4 to 5 become major hurricanes. Most recently the remnants of Hurricane Olaf helped bring some much needed rain to Texas.
This weekend also marks a milestone for Texas. This Saturday October 17 is the anniversary of the latest storms has struck the Texas coast. Only three storms have struck the coast this late in the hurricane season. This most recent happened when hurricane Jerry struck in 1989 and an unnamed hurricane struck near Corpus Christi in 1912. Another unnamed tropical storm also struck the Texas coast in 1938. The center of the hurricane Jerry made landfall near Jamaica Beach on the evening of the 15th as a category one hurricane. So while historically our chances of another hurricane are running very low, officially the hurricane season doesn't end till the end of November. I think you may find that can of tuna or chicken soup in your hurricane supply kit a little tastier today than later in the year. Don't forget local food pantries will also take donations as the holiday season approaches.