BOSTON (CBS) – Despite its quiet finish, the 2011 hurricane season is tied for the third most active since records began in 1851.
A total 19 tropical storms churned in the Atlantic, with seven becoming hurricanes, and 3 turning into major storms. In a typical year, 11 storms are named, with six becoming hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
In general, this was an above average season in the overall numbers. But, most of the storms were underachievers and stayed far away from the US mainland.
WBZ-TV Meteorologist Joe Joyce reports.
The season started off quiet as well. Eight of the first named storms did not reach hurricane status for the first time since record keeping began. Only one storm caused major issues: Hurricane Irene.
Irene became the first major Hurricane of the season and the ONLY hurricane to hit the United States since Hurricane Ike in 2008. Reminding everyone it only takes one storm to make a memorable season, Irene became a Category 3 hurricane with peak gusts to 140 mph, before making landfall as a minimal hurricane and moving right up the East Coast.
Along the way, Irene was responsible for 56 fatalities and $10.1 billion in damage, with homes, bridges and roads still in the process of being rebuilt from North Carolina to New England more than three months later.
The strongest storm of the season was Ophelia, which reached Category 4 strength in the Atlantic Ocean and moved east of Bermuda, remaining over the open water of the Atlantic.
As far as major land-falling hurricanes of Category 3 strength or greater… the lull continues. 2011 marks a record six straight years without one hitting the US.
This is part of a 30-year low occurring in the overall tropical activity around the globe, as tropical development remains very low in the eastern Pacific Ocean with cooler sea surface temperatures thanks to a cooler “La NINA” pattern.