Ten-Year Gap in Major Hurricanes Continues

Could the first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season break the 10-year “hurricane drought” record?

It has been a decade since the last major hurricane, Category 3 or higher, made landfall in the United States. This is the longest period of time for the United States to avoid a major hurricane since reliable records began in 1850. According to a NASA study, a 10-year gap comes along only every 270 years.

It should be noted that hurricanes making landfall as less than Category 3 can still cause extreme damage, with heavy rains and coastal storm surges. Such was the case with Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The National Hurricane Center calls any Category 3 or more intense hurricane a “major” storm. Timothy Hall, a research scientist who studies hurricanes at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York and colleague Kelly Hereid, who works for ACE Tempest Re, a reinsurance firm based in Connecticut, ran a statistical hurricane model based on a record of Atlantic tropical cyclones from 1950 to 2012 and sea surface temperature data.

The researchers ran 1,000 computer simulations of the period from 1950-2012 – in effect simulating 63,000 separate Atlantic hurricane seasons. They also found that there is approximately a 40 percent chance that a major hurricane will make landfall in the United States every year.

Research: The frequency and duration of U.S. hurricane droughts
Journal: Geophysical Research Letters, May 5, 2015
Link to paper: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1002/2015GL063652/full

For more information: http://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/no-major-us-hurricane-landfalls-in-nine-years-luck

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Joy Ng
Music credit: Climb the Ladder by Kurt Oldman from the KillerTracks Catalog

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