South Florida, you can exhale. The 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially ends Tuesday at midnight.
The National Hurricane Center will report it saw seven hurricanes, but only four became full-fledged Category 3 or 4 storms. A handful of tropical and subtropical storms of varying forces and brief hurricane status also formed. Some brushed Florida.
We were lucky this year. Not a single hurricane seriously threatened us. A scenario worthy of a horror movie would have been a Category 4 barreling down on us this summer as we dealt with the daily ravages of the Delta variant or the immediate aftermath of the tragic building collapse in Surfside. It didn’t happen, and we’re thankful.
Still, it was a hectic, if not impactful, hurricane season, the third busiest on record. We will end it with a total of 21 named storms, with all the names used up. The final regularly named storm was Wanda, and it wasn’t much of anything.
The last significant tropical disturbance of the season formed Nov. 11. It would have been named Adria, the first on the supplemental list of names.
Only eight of this year’s 21 named storms made landfall in the United States. Before the season began, Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project had predicted an above-average Atlantic hurricane season. The team had forecast 17 named storms, including eight hurricanes.
Hurricane Ida packed the most punch, striking Louisiana as Cat 4. It made its way all the way to New York, killing 100 people along the way. The others to make landfall as hurricanes were Grace, Larry and Sam.
Florida’s tropical storms were on the wimpy side.
Elsa reached hurricane strength on July 6, then moved up the western coast of Florida. It weakened to a tropical storm again before making landfall along the Florida’s northern Gulf Coast on July 7.
It was followed a month later by Tropical Storm Fred, which made landfall on the eastern Florida Panhandle on Aug. 16.
Late-season Tropical Storm Mindy came and went in hours, the short-lived storm making landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Sept. 8.
So the watch is now on for next year.
We suspect climate change will continue to play more of role. Warming waters have a significant impact on the number of storms we see each year and on their intensity.
Experts say the waters across the Mid-Atlantic have warmed close to 1 degree since 1901.
This may seem insignificant, but warming waters mean more fuel for a storm, producing heavier rainfall and a higher storm surge.
We’ll see how it all plays out next year, should Alex, first storm of the season, pay a visit.