Whew! Stormless hurricane season ending

kwadlow@keynoter.comNovember 27, 2013 

While around the dinner table on Thanksgiving, Florida Keys residents may want to give thanks for one of the quietest hurricane seasons ever.

"None of the storms this year threatened the Keys," said Irene Toner, director of Emergency Management for Monroe County. "So this really is a good Thanksgiving."

The six-month hurricane season officially ends Saturday -- with nothing on the Atlantic tropical-storm front developing by then.

Only two hurricanes - Ingrid and Humberto, both Category 1 -- formed from among the 13 named Atlantic storms in 2013.

"This year is expected to rank as the sixth-least active Atlantic hurricane season since 1950," according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report on "collective strength and duration of tropical storms and hurricanes."

The two hurricanes was the lowest number in nearly 20 years.

On average, there are six hurricanes in the season, with three reaching "major hurricane" status of Category 3 or higher.

NOAA experts said Monday that "persistent, unfavorable atmospheric conditions over the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and tropical Atlantic Ocean" caused the weak season. "As a result, we did not see the large numbers of hurricanes that typically accompany these climate patterns," said Gerry Bell, hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

Dusty, dry air coming off the Sahara and persistent wind shear were among the main factors limiting the storm formation.

"There wasn't a whole lot of energy for them to really get strong," state meteorologist Amy Godsey told the News Service of Florida.

Early predictions called for an "extremely active season," with up to 20 named storms and three to four major hurricanes.

"This is why, when the early predictions come out, we really don't care," Toner said. "Even if it's a slow season, it only takes one. We have to be ready."

"We're glad they were wrong about this," Toner said. "It's another sign that this is Mother Nature at work, and she's going to do whatever she wants to do."

The season's first tropical storm, Andrea, dumped a lot of rain on North Florida. But it was an alert-free season for Florida after that.

Seven hurricanes raked Florida over the hectic 2004 and 2005 seasons. Now it has been eight years since a hurricane landfall on state shores.

"If the ocean currents and steering currents and the atmosphere were just shifted a little bit, those two [2013] hurricanes might have come to the United States," Godsey told the News Service.

"Storms can look like nothing but then get stronger or change direction, so we watch every one," Toner said. "But it would be nice if it stayed like this for the next 30 years."

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