Today, residents of Florida and the Gulf Coast welcome the end to an atrocious hurricane season that has been one of the most costly and record breaking to date. Take a deep breath and let out a sigh of relief. It’s over – well, maybe.
While the last day of November signifies the end of the hurricane season on the calendar, the possibility of storms developing well into December is real. Tropical storm Epsilon, the fifth storm to take on a letter of the Greek alphabet, looms in the Atlantic Ocean, but is not threatening to make landfall.
According to a CNN report, the death toll in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina – the season’s most powerful storm – is more than 1,200. Rebuilding costs from the destruction are an estimated $200 billion, making Katrina the U.S. storm that left the most costly damage in its wake, the report said.
What is surprising but alarming about this hurricane season is the frequency of storms. The National Hurricane Center claims that the seasonal average for storms is 10, with only six of those storms developing into hurricanes. Out of those six, approximately two become major hurricanes.
The 2005 season brought more developed hurricanes than the national storm average. Of the 26 storms that formed in the tropics, seven became major hurricanes, three of which severely affected the United States. The hits keep coming, as well.
According to CNN, hurricane seasons ebb and flow. For decades, hurricane seasons will lull, as they did in the ’70s and ’80s. Obviously, the lull has ended. Over the past two years, the influx of storms can likely be attributed to warmer water and changes in the temperature at the sea surface.
While the Tampa Bay area has dodged bullets, never taking a direct hit from a storm higher than a Category 3, the onset of frequent storms could cause the Bay area’s luck to run out.
Seeing the recent trends and the effects a storm of Katrina’s magnitude can have on a city, residents in Central Florida should be wary of seasons to come. The hurricane season may almost be over, but with warm water in the tropics, the United States is not yet out of harm’s way as the holidays approach.