Nov. 18, 2005 – William Gray, Philip Klotzbach and their team at Colorado State University were right on target with their 2005 hurricane season predictions, the two said in a news release issued Friday.
"By the start of the hurricane season, we were predicting a very active season. However, we did not anticipate this season would break many Atlantic basin records," Gray said.
The Virgin Islands was spared this year, but V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency deputy director Steve Parris warned that we might not be so lucky next year.
"Never let your guard down," he said.
He said that hopefully there won't be any more seasons like 2005, pointing out that Gray and his team have warned we are in a 25-to-30-year period of increased hurricane activity.
In August, Gray's team predicted 20 named storms, 13 hurricanes and seven intense hurricanes.
He said that by mid-November, about two weeks before the 2005 hurricane season officially ends on Nov. 30, the Atlantic basin had 23 named storms, 13 hurricanes and seven intense hurricanes.
Just hours after Gray sent out his how-we-did report, Tropical Depression 27, which fizzled Thursday, regenerated into Tropical Storm Gamma. This brings the number of named storms to 24 making this the first hurricane season, Atlantic or Pacific, to use up the alphabetical list of names and resort to Greek letters for naming.
Gamma poses no threat to the territory and is pointed toward Honduras and Belize with sustained winds of 40 mph and gusts to 50 mph. However, forecasters currently predict Gamma will re-curve and head toward Florida after dumping heavy rains on western Cuba, Belize, Honduras, and the eastern Yucatan peninsula.
Gray also said very few season have witnessed tropical cyclone development after Nov. 17, which was Thursday.
Gray said this was the most active and destructive hurricane season on record. It broke the old record of 21 named storms set in 1933. The 13 hurricanes were one more than previous record of a dozen set in 1969. The seven intense hurricanes in 2005 tied the old record set in 1950.
And the 2005 hurricane season saw the most Category 5 hurricanes formed in a single season. There were three Katrina, Rita and Wilma. This breaks the record of two set in 1960 and 1961.
He and Klotzbach said that several major factors came together to make this happen. First, the Atlantic sea-surface temperatures were unusually warm throughout most of the basin. This factor enhanced tropical cyclone formation.
Additionally, strong low-level convergence, high low-level horizontal wind shear and low vertical wind shear combined in such a way to provide very favorable conditions for major hurricane development. The factor combined with middle latitude wind patterns in the Western Atlantic that were arranged in a way to drive these major hurricanes from the tropics across the Gulf of Mexico and the southeast coastlines of the United States.
Gray said that this year, as well as last year, saw hurricanes with long westward tracks not typical of the tracks of most major hurricanes during the past decade.
Between 1995 and 2003, wind patterns tended to create a trough over the East Coast of the United States, which deflected westward moving hurricanes to the north before they were able to reach the U.S. coastline.
By contrast, wind patterns in the past two years created a ridge over the eastern North American continent and western Atlantic. This prevented storms from re-curving to the north until they reached the longitudes of the southeast United States. As a result, only three of the 32 major hurricanes between 1995 and 2003 hit the United States.
In the last two years alone, eight major hurricanes hit the United States.
Hurricane Katrina, which is still in the news, was the most destructive of those. Gray said it caused over $65 billion in insured damage and up to $150 billion in total damage.
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