The 2013 Hurricane Season has come and gone, but if you weren’t paying attention, you might not have noticed. What was predicted to be a well-above average season, with potentially devastating impacts on the east coast of the U.S., turned out to be just a footnote for the record books, with the lowest number of named storms since 1982.
Early forecasts from reputable forecasters called for an above average or even a “hyperactive” season, citing sea surface temperatures well above average in parts of the Atlantic as the reason for the forecast. NOAA released its official prediction on May 23, forecasting up to 19 named storms, 6-9 hurricanes, and 3-5 major hurricanes. This compares to an average of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes. NOAA’s predictions were mirrored in scope by those of other major meteorological organizations, including the UK Meteorological office, Colorado State University and Florida State University. In addition to above average sea surface temperatures, the low probability of an El Niño event in the Pacific Ocean was also cited as cause for concern. Colorado State’s Atmospheric Sciences Department gave the entire U.S. coastline a 72% chance of being hit by a major hurricane, compared to an average of just 52%.
Several factors contributed to a dismal hurricane season in the Atlantic. Authorities from NOAA noted that a prevalence of dry, sinking air, coupled with strong vertical wind shear throughout the Atlantic basin hindered the development of tropical storms for much of the season. Dry stable air also remained dominant over the coast of West Africa, where many storms form.
In all, the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season produced 13 named storms, of which only two, Humberto and Ingrid, achieved hurricane status. Both storms peaked at category one strength with winds under 95 mph.
Only one storm, Tropical Storm Andrea, made landfall in the continental United States. WRUF Weather tracked it as it quickly advanced toward the Nature Coast in early June, then made its way across the peninsula and into Georgia. The storm produced heavy rainfall, flooding and tornadoes across our state on the first week of the season. The remaining 25 weeks of the season were eerily quiet. As WUFT News’s Courtney McKenna points out in her recent story, emergency officials tell us the quiet season is not necessarily a good thing, especially from a pubic awareness standpoint.