(Please note: For a 4 min./59 sec. audio version of the season-end summary of the 2016 Atlantic tropical storm season, please see Virginia Water Radio Episode 345, 12-5-16.)
On December 1, 2016, the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, published its final monthly summary and its season-end report for the 2016 tropical storm season in the Atlantic Basin (North Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico). The Atlantic season runs June 1-November 30. The report is available online at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/text/MIATWSAT.shtml.
One named storm, Hurricane Otto, formed in the Atlantic basin during November 2016. The Hurricane Center’s report noted that during the period 1981-2010, a named tropical storm has formed in November in about 7 out of every 10 years, and a hurricane has formed about every other year.
Overall during 2016, 15 named storms occurred, seven of which became hurricanes; three of those became “major” hurricanes (Category 3 or above). The annual average seen during the 30-year period 1981-2010 is 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. The report also noted that the “accumulated cyclone energy” for 2016—combining strength and duration of storms—was about 40 percent above the 1981-2010 average. Three strong storms—Matthew, Gaston, and Nicole—produced over 70 percent of the seasonal ACE; many of the other Atlantic basin storms in 2016 were relatively weak, or short duration, or both.
Below is the Hurricane Center’s list of all tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes in the Atlantic basin in 2016, with their dates of occurrence and maximum wind speeds (H = hurricane; MH = major hurricane; TD = tropical depression; TS = tropical storm):
H Alex – Jan. 13-15 – 85 mph
TS Bonnie – May 27-June 4 – 45 mph
TS Colin – June 5-7 – 50 mph
TS Danielle – June 19-21 – 45 mph
H Earl – Aug. 2-6 – 80 mph
TS Fiona – Aug. 17-23 – 50 mph
MH Gaston – Aug 22-Sep. 3 – 120 mph
TD Eight – Aug. 28-Sep 1 – 35 mph
TS Hermine – Aug 28-Sep. 3 – 80 mph
TS Ian – Sep. 12-16 – 60 mph
TS Julia – Sep. 13-19 – 40 mph
TS Karl – Sep. 14-25 – 70 mph
TS Lisa – Sep. 19-25 – 50 mph
MH Matthew – Sep. 28-Oct. 9 – 160 mph
MH Nicole – Oct. 4-18 – 130 mph
H Otto – Nov. 21-26 – 110 mph
When completed, reports on individual 2016 storms (including tracks) will be available online at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/data/tcr/index.php?season=2016&basin=atl. The archive of advisories on these storms is available online at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2016/.
Below is the Hurricane Center’s graph of preliminary (subject to verification) tracks of Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes in 2016, as of 12-1-16.
A November 30, 2016, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) news release on the 2016 tropical storm season (“First above-normal Atlantic hurricane season since 2012 produced five landfalling U.S. storms“) noted the following about this year’s season in the Atlantic basin as well as the Pacific basin:
“For the Atlantic, this was the first above-normal season since 2012. The Atlantic saw 15 named storms during 2016, including 7 hurricanes (Alex, Earl, Gaston, Hermine, Matthew, Nicole, and Otto), 3 of which were major hurricanes (Gaston, Matthew and Nicole). NOAA’s updated hurricane season outlook in August called for 12 to 17 named storms, including 5 to 8 hurricanes, with 2 to 4 of those predicted to become major hurricanes.
“Five named storms made landfall in the United States during 2016, the most since 2008 when six storms struck. Tropical Storm Bonnie and Hurricane Matthew struck South Carolina. Tropical Storms Colin and Julia, as well as Hurricane Hermine, made landfall in Florida. Hermine was the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Wilma in 2005.
“Several Atlantic storms made landfall outside of the United States during 2016: Tropical Storm Danielle in Mexico, Hurricane Earl in Belize, Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas, and Hurricane Otto in Nicaragua.
“The strongest and longest-lived storm of the season was Matthew, which reached maximum sustained surface winds of 160 miles per hour and lasted as a major hurricane for eight days from Sept. 30 to Oct. 7. Matthew was the first category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic basin since Felix in 2007. Matthew intensified into a major hurricane on Sept. 30 over the Caribbean Sea, making it the first major hurricane in that region since Poloma in 2008. It made landfall as a category 4 major hurricane in Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas, causing extensive damage and loss of life. It then made landfall on Oct. 8 as a category 1 hurricane in the U.S. near McClellanville, South Carolina.
“Matthew caused storm surge and beach erosion from Florida through North Carolina, and produced more than 10 inches of rain resulting in extensive freshwater flooding over much of the eastern Carolinas. The storm was responsible for the greatest U.S. loss of life due to inland flooding from a tropical system since torrential rains from Hurricane Floyd caused widespread and historic flooding in eastern North Carolina in 1999.
“’The strength of Hurricane Matthew, as well as the increased number of U.S. landfalling storms this season, were linked to large areas of exceptionally weak vertical wind shear that resulted from a persistent ridge of high pressure in the middle and upper atmosphere over Caribbean Sea and the western Atlantic Ocean,’” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “’These conditions, along with very warm Caribbean waters, helped fuel Matthew’s rapid strengthening.’”
“The eastern Pacific hurricane basin, which covers the eastern Pacific Ocean east of 140 degrees West, produced 21 named storms during 2016, including 11 hurricanes of which 5 became major hurricanes. July through September was the most active three-month period on record for this basin. NOAA’s eastern Pacific hurricane season outlook called for 13 to 20 named storms, including 6 to 11 hurricanes, 3 to 6 of which were expected to become major hurricanes.
“The central Pacific hurricane basin covers the Pacific Ocean west of 140 degrees West to the International Date Line. This basin saw seven tropical cyclones (includes tropical depressions and named storms) during 2016. All seven became named storms, and included three hurricanes of which two were major hurricanes. Tropical Storm Darby made landfall on the Big Island of Hawaii, marking the first time in recorded history that two storms in three years struck the Big Island (Darby in 2016 and Iselle in 2014). NOAA’s central Pacific hurricane season outlook called for 4 to 7 tropical cyclones. That outlook does not predict specific ranges of named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes.”
For a news media report summarizing the 2016 Atlantic tropical storm season, see Several storms left their mark during 2016 hurricane season, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/30/16.
Other Water Central News Grouper tropical storm reports are available online at https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=tropical+storm.
October 5, 2016 (8:15 a.m. EDT) satellite photo of Hurricane Matthew (category 4 at the time), centered between Cuba and Haiti; and Tropical Storm Nicole in the Atlantic northeast of Puerto Rico. Photo accessed at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Web site at http://www.goes.noaa.gov/browsh.html, on 10/5/16, 9:00 a.m. EDT. NOTE: Z, or Greenwich Mean Time, shown on the photo is 4 hours ahead of EDT and 5 hours ahead of EST.