The 2008 Atlantic hurricane season officially comes to a close today. We ended up with 16 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes. These totals are in pretty good agreement with what the seasonal forecasters were calling for near the beginning of the season. The early April and early June forecasts from Phil Klotzbach and Bill Gray indicated 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes. Also at the beginning of the season, NOAA forecast 12-16 named storms, 6-9 hurricanes and 2-5 major hurricanes. I think most people would agree that these outlooks were good.
However, these seasonal outlooks are for the entire Atlantic basin and don’t tell us anything about where or when a particular storm or hurricane will hit. The only direct impact to South Florida was Tropical Storm Fay which will be remembered primarily as a rainfall event. Hurricane Ike developed into a Category 4 hurricane well northeast of the Leeward Islands and at one point was forecast to move over South Florida as a major hurricane. Fortunately for South Florida, the core of Ike remained over or near Cuba as it approached Florida. This was not good news for Cuba, unfortunately. Cuba and Haiti had impacts from multiple storms and were severely impacted. Some media reports have the loss of life as high as 800 in Haiti.
While Florida had minimal impacts overall, the United States had six landfalls: three Category 2 hurricanes (Dolly in South Texas, Gustav in southeastern Louisiana, and Ike on the upper Texas coast) and three tropical storms (Edouard on the upper Texas coast, Fay with four landfalls in Florida, and Hanna in the Carolinas).
Phil Klotzbach and Bill Gray will be issuing their first outlook for the 2009 hurricane season on December 10th. It is important to note that no matter what this forecast calls for, it should have no correlation with how we prepare. We need to prepare regardless of what the outlooks call for.
I’m always glad to see the end of the hurricane season. But I don’t just look at today, November 30th, as the end of the 2008 hurricane season. I also look at it as having six months left to prepare for the 2009 season.