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Active 2011 hurricane season breaks ‘Hurricane Amnesia’

December 4, 2011

Active 2011 hurricane season breaks ‘Hurricane Amnesia’
Source: NOAA

The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season officially ends Wednesday, having produced a total of 19 tropical storms of which seven became hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. This level of activity matched NOAA’s predictions and continues the trend of active hurricane seasons that began in 1995.

The 19 tropical storms represent the third-highest total (tied with 1887, 1995, and 2010) since records began in 1851 and is well above the average of 11. However, the number of hurricanes and major hurricanes is only slightly above the average of six and two, respectively. This year’s totals include a post-storm upgrade of Tropical Storm Nate to hurricane status, and the addition of a short-lived, unnamed tropical storm that formed in early September between Bermuda and Nova Scotia. This unnamed storm, along with several other weak, short-lived named storms, could have gone undetected without modern satellite technology.

Irene was the lone hurricane to hit the United States in 2011, and the first one to do so since Ike struck southeast Texas in 2008. Irene was also the most significant tropical cyclone to strike the Northeast since Hurricane Bob in 1991.

“Irene broke the ‘hurricane amnesia’ that can develop when so much time lapses between landfalling storms,” said Jack Hayes, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “This season is a reminder that storms can hit any part of our coast and that all regions need to be prepared each and every season.”

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