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Hurricane season is half over and so far it’s one for the books

Hurricane season was half over on Sept. 10, and according to Dr. Jeff Masters, blogger for Weather Underground, so far it’s been one of the least active seasons on record.

Hurricane Season 2013

hurricane season on long cayeOnly one season on record (since 1944) has cleared the traditional halfway point (Sept. 10) without a single hurricane. That season was the El Niño year 2002. Apparently, hurricanes just can not abide a vacuum because the very next day, Sept. 11, 2002 Hurricane Gustav roared to life at 8 a.m.

This year, as the final hours of Sept. 10, ticked away, 2013 looked poised to beat out 2002 as the hurricane season to get its latest start. But then, just three hours shy of the record, at 5 a.m., Tropical Storm Humberto was officially upgraded to a hurricane, making 2013 the second latest-starting hurricane season in history.

Sigh….Oh well, no cigar.

Hurricane Season Facts

  • The average date the first Atlantic hurricane arrives is Aug. 10, and by this time in September most hurricane seasons have had three.
  • So far this season, 2013 has only had about 20% of the average general “storminess” as measured by something called accumulated cyclone energy or ACE. Basically, it’s the number of tropical storms multiplied by their wind speed. (Weather guys are statistics freaks — which is a good thing. They track storms the way sports writers track baseball stats. Apparently, if a hurricane season were like a baseball team, the ACE would be its batting average. And 2013’s batting average would be in the toilet.

hurricane season 2013

 

Outlook For Second Half of 2013 Hurricane Season

According to Masters at the National Weather Service, “Residents of Hurricane Alley shouldn’t assume the rest of the season will end with a whimper, though. All it takes is one bad hurricane to ruin an otherwise quiet hurricane season.”

He points out that Hurricane Sandy didn’t occur until the third week of October. He also notes that just like 2013,1988 had unusual quietness before September 10 and lacked an El Niño pattern. Also like this year, 1988 had above average ocean temperatures in the storm forming region of the Atlantic. For those that don’t remember, 1988 was the year of Hurricane Gilbert, which turned out to be the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever recorded up to that time.

Non-Hurricane Season Storm on Long Caye in 2003
Non-Hurricane Season Storm on Long Caye in 2003 (Photo by Franklin Seal)

Hurricane season is from June-November with September being the height.

  • The Caribbean region averages eight storms a year.
  • Hurricanes are rare in the southern Caribbean, most occur in the northern Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.

On October 31, 1961 Hurricane Hattie cut a path centered on the Turneffe Islands and reaching from English Caye to Rendezvous Caye with winds reaching 300 kph.

  • Almost all living corals in the immediate area were destroyed, and no signs of regeneration were observed four years later.
  • Some cayes were washed away completely.
  • It was concluded that it would take more than 30-75 years for a reef to recover to a mature stage after a catastrophic hurricane such as Hattie. (Coral grows at a rate of about 1 inch per year.)
  • Hurricane Hattie was not a direct hit to Glover’s as evidenced by the existence of the giant Gumbo Limbo tree on NE Caye dated to 300 years old and the pirate graves on the south end of the island.

There was a hurricane that hit Glover’s directly in 1971, but was not considered “catastrophic”.

  • With winds up to 175 kph, these gusts knocked over houses on Long Caye.
  • Statistically, the frequency of hurricanes is every 3-6 years with catastrophic hurricanes occurring in Belize every 30 years (we are due).