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Many Unusual Aspects to the 2017 Hurricane Season


NC State Climate Office’s Applied Climatologist, Corey Davis says there were several unusual aspects to the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season:

“One thing that really stands out in my mind about this year is how quickly it started, and how quickly it finished.  We did have one pre-season storm, Arlene, that formed out in the middle of the Atlantic, but after that it was the middle of June when we had two storms form in just a matter of days, and it sort of kept up that pretty steady pace all through July and into August, where every week or two we were getting a new storm forming.  That’s a little unusual to see that early in the season.  Usually the June and July storms are few and far between.  But, then by the time we did get into late August and first of September, more of the peak of hurricane season, we were seeing storms form more regularly, at least one a week.  And it seemed that once we got to the middle of October, which that tends to be a pretty busy time, the pipeline for storms got cut off.  We stopped seeing tropical waves coming off of Africa, conditions weren’t as favorable for development, so really once we hit that mid-October period, all that activity came to an end, we had only a couple of storms after that in late October, early November. 

“But, again, it was a very compressed season in that sense, in the span of four, four and a half months, we saw all those storms, one after another.  So, it certainly kept the forecasters at the Hurricane Center busy, and certainly for anyone along the coast that was a little bit worried, it provided plenty of fuel for those worries, again, several storms looked like they were going to threaten the Carolinas at one point.

“Hurricane Harvey this year actually broke quite a drought, I guess more than one sense.  Any drought they had in Texas they had in that part of the state was wiped away with all that rainfall and flooding that Harvey brought.  But, also, Harvey was the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States in amost 12 years, since 2005.  That’s just an incredible stretch to go in the US without any major hurricanes making landfall.  I guess you can chalk that up to luck, more than anything, because I know we did have plenty of active seasons in that time frame. 

“Also, when it comes to North Carolina, the last major hurricane we had make landfall here was Fran back in ’96.  So, we’re now at 21 years and counting, since then.  In that same sense, you could think that we’re overdue, but also it’s not quite as common to see those Category 3 storms and higher make landfall here.  We’ll see some off the coast like Isabel in 2003. But, usually as they get a little closer to the coast, especially if they’re moving in from the south, they tend to weaken a little bit.  Again, that’s certainly no guarantee that North Carolina is destined to see a hurricane make landfall soon.  But, again this year, we had a couple that if they had come in our way, they could have been one of those really strong major hurricanes to make landfall here.

“So, again, just sort of an interesting stat to take a look at for both the US and North Carolina.”

For more from Corey Davis, NC State Climate Office Applied Climatologist, visit SFNToday dot com.'

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.