In the 2011 Farmers’ Almanac, we predicted that a hurricane would threaten the southeast during late August, and with Irene attaining tropical storm status last Saturday, we were right.
This makes the 2011 tropical Atlantic season the third earliest to have nine named storms, trailing behind the years 2005 and 1936. Considering that those two years saw a total of 28 and 16 tropical cyclones respectively, suggests that 2011 will also be an unusually active tropical season. Last year there were 19 tropical cyclones, 12 of which became hurricanes; four of these reached category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, the strongest being “Igor” with sustained winds clocked at 135 m.p.h.
Yet interestingly, despite 2010 being a very active year for hurricanes, all twelve of those storms somehow avoided making a landfall in the United States. In fact, the last hurricane to impact the U.S. was back in September 2008 — “Ike” — near Galveston, Texas. So Irene will likely soon break a nearly three-year interval in which no hurricanes have crossed the U.S. mainland.
And here’s another oddity: never before did we have to wait until the ninth named tropical system to finally get a storm that attained hurricane status.