The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season officially ended on Tuesday, making history as the first time two consecutive seasons have exhausted the list of England’s 21 storm names.
The big picture: Above-average sea surface temperatures resulted in severe storms that left their mark on the Gulf Coast as well as the mid-Atlantic, when Category 4 Hurricane Ida swept across the coast of the Louisiana on August 29 and killed more than two dozen people in the Mid-Atlantic.
In numbers : This hurricane season was the third most active season on record in terms of named storms, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
- This was the sixth consecutive season of above-average Atlantic hurricanes and occurred during a longer period of above-average storm activity in the Atlantic, dating back to 1995.
- Studies have shown that a combination of natural climate variability and man-made global warming may be behind this trend.
- Climate change has likely contributed to a greater proportion of high-end Category 3, 4, and 5 intensity storms and an increased tendency for storms to intensify rapidly.
In a frightening display of rapid escalation, maximum sustained winds from Hurricane Ida increased by 65 mph over a 24-hour period before landing.
- The storm’s central air pressure dropped by 52 millibars during the same period. The lower the pressure, the stronger the storm.
- In total, five Atlantic storms have experienced rapid intensification this year, including Ida, according to NOAA.
Hurricane Ida hit near oil and gas industry facilities in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, making the state the first to see consecutive years with hurricanes that made landfall with sustained winds of 150 mph or more, according to meteorologist Steve Bowen, head of disaster analysis at Aon.
In a cruel twist, Ida’s death toll was greatest far from where it landed, when it interacted with a pre-existing weather front and dumped historic amounts of rain in a short period of time across the mid-Atlantic. More than 40 people died in the floods.
What’s new: Scientists at NOAA and NASA have gained new knowledge about Atlantic hurricanes by observing them from space, airplanes, the sea surface and underwater.
- Researchers at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory have deployed five new Extreme Weather Saildrones to improve their understanding of the processes that take place where the ocean meets the atmosphere.
- An unmanned Saildrone captured the very first video and the first measurements of the ocean surface during a major hurricane, withstanding winds of 125 mph and waves of 50 feet during Hurricane Sam.
- Data from Saildrones, NOAA and Air Force Reserve aircraft and other platforms have helped improve the accuracy of computer models used to predict the motion and intensity of hurricanes.
And after: The 2022 Atlantic season begins June 1.