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Weather Blog: Hurricane Season Winds Down

by Gene Norman / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on November 1, 2011 at 9:44 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 6:37 AM

 

These are the favored areas for development in the final month of hurricane season and currently, there isn't anything happening.  In 29 days, the 2011 hurricane season will be in the history books.  And while this year won't set any records on its own, it will mark another busy one in recent history.  Over the last ten years, there have been on average 15 named storms, seven hurricanes and 4 major (category 3 or higher) hurricanes.  This year has continued that trend with 17 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major ones.  Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast, making it the first land-falling hurricane to strike the U.S. since Ike in 2008.

As expected, the well-documented climate phenomenon called La Niña played a key role in storm development.  That climate pattern results in weaker shear over the Atlantic Ocean allowing storms that form off the west coast of Africa to steadily grow as they travel west toward the Caribbean.  Additionally, Atlantic and Gulf water temperatures were higher than normal, allowing a fertile ground for storm development.  The same La Niña, by the way, had a hand in allowing the Texas-sized drought and heat wave, so its kind of a two-edged sword.  The same pattern that gave us record heat kept storms from visiting the Texas coast.  Even when two storms tried to approach (Don and Lee), they were kept away by the heat dome.

In November, there are likely to be fewer storms with a chance of forming as waters begin to cool and mid-latitude winds dip into the tropics, tearing any promising waves apart.  While we can breathe a sigh of relief in Texas, La Niña is expected to persist through next year, causing the 2012 season to be active as well.

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