The Columbus Dispatch
Atlantic hurricane season ends quietly
Featured 21 named storms, 3rd most of any year
The intense 2021 Atlantic hurricane season comes to its official end Tuesday, a season that saw 21 named tropical storms and hurricanes.
This was the third-most for any hurricane season, behind only 2020’s record 30 storms and the 28 storms that formed in 2005. A typical season sees 14 storms. And for the second year in a row, the entire list of names for the season was used up, from Tropical Storm Ana in May to Tropical Storm Wanda in November.
It was also a record sixth consecutive year of above-normal activity.
But despite the number of storms, 2021’s hurricane tally of seven was right in line with the average over the past 30 years, said Weather.com meteorologist Jonathan Erdman. It was only half of the nearly record-breaking 2020 total of 14 hurricanes, he said. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when its sustained wind speed reaches 74 mph.
Eight of those storms made landfall in the U.S. in 2021, beginning with Claudette, named just after its center moved ashore in Louisiana in late June, Erdman said.
Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach told USA TODAY
that “obviously, 2021 will be most remembered for Hurricane Ida, which caused both devastation to the central Gulf Coast as well as torrential rain to the mid-atlantic states.”
Ida smashed into the Louisiana coast with 150 mph winds on Aug. 29, the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s devastating landfall.
After battering the South and despite being downgraded to a tropical depression, Ida continued on a path toward the mid-atlantic and Northeast over the next few days, where heavy rains caused catastrophic flooding. At least 53 people died from drowning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In all, Ida killed 91 people in the U.S., according to the CDC. NOAA estimated Ida inflicted just under $65 billion in damage. That’s the fifth-costliest tropical cyclone in U.S. history behind only Katrina, Harvey, Maria and Sandy, Erdman said.
Klotzbach said, “Ida serves as a great reminder that hurricanes aren’t just a coastal problem.”
Other notable storms included Hurricane Henri, which became the first named storm to make landfall in Rhode Island since Hurricane Bob in 1991. (Henri was a tropical storm at landfall.) And Hurricane Nicholas was the first hurricane to make landfall in Texas in September since Ike in 2008, Klotzbach said.
In addition, coastal and inland damage from Hurricane Elsa and Tropical Storm Fred vaulted them into billion-dollar storms, according to NOAA, joining Hurricanes Ida and Nicholas, Erdman said.
Though the 2021 season ended above normal, the biggest surprise probably was the quiet end to the season, especially in the Caribbean, Klotzbach told USA TODAY. The Atlantic had no named storm activity from Oct. 3 to Oct. 30 – the first time since 2006 that the Atlantic had no such activity in that period.
The Atlantic had no named storm activity from Oct. 3 to Oct. 30 – the first time since 2006 that the Atlantic had no such activity in that period.