A fierce hurricane season is just about over - Brownsville Herald: News

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A fierce hurricane season is just about over

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Posted: Saturday, November 30, 2019 2:23 pm

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The ferocious 2019 hurricane season will end Saturday, having brought historic destruction to the Bahamas and sent storms roaring as far north as Ireland and Nova Scotia.

The season produced six hurricanes, of which three achieved major hurricane status with winds of at least 111 mph. Also produced were 12 tropical or subtropical storms and two tropical depressions. This was the fourth consecutive season to include a Category 5 hurricane, and in this case, there were two, Dorian and Lorenzo.

"This year marks the fourth consecutive above-normal Atlantic hurricane season," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a report issued Tuesday. "The only other period on record that produced four consecutive above-normal seasons was 1998-2001. Also this year, five tropical cyclones formed in the Gulf of Mexico, which ties a record with 2003 and 1957 for the most storms to form in that region. Of those, three — Barry, Imelda and Nestor — made landfall in the U.S."

The season runs June 1 through Nov. 30, although storms have been known to occur outside the official start and end dates. The remaining days of the season appear likely to be quiet. The Atlantic Ocean is clear of tropical storm activity, and the National Hurricane Center says none is expected through Saturday.

Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, said several factors produced favorable conditions for hurricanes. We remain in a multi-decade cycle of high hurricane activity that began in 1995. There was a stronger West African monsoon. There were warmer waters in the Atlantic and weak wind shear — the high-level crosswinds that can prevent hurricanes from forming.

Hurricane Dorian, whose name will be retired, joins the short list of historic storms, such as Andrew, Katrina and the storms that devastated the Florida Keys and the Lake Okeechobee region in the 1920s and '30s, whose memory will persist long after most hurricanes have been forgotten.

The storm devastated the Bahamas, reaching a near-record strength of 185 mph as it pounded the country's northern islands. It continued up the east coast, bringing violent weather to Nova Scotia.

"Hurricane Dorian is tied with three other hurricanes — the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, 1988's Hurricane Gilbert and 2005's Hurricane Wilma — as the second strongest hurricane on record in the Atlantic basin in terms of wind (185 mph)," the NOAA report said.

Hurricane Lorenzo, the other Category 5 storm, veered north quickly and caused far less destruction than Dorian. The storm sank the French tugboat Bourbon Rhode and brought to Ireland winds strong enough to cause flooding and power outages.

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