Nineteen Atlantic tropical storms 3 consecutive years: a very rare event

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:13 PM GMT on November 28, 2012

Share this Blog
46
+

The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season closes this Friday with another top-five tally for named storms--nineteen. This is the third consecutive year with nineteen named storms in the Atlantic, which is a remarkable level of activity for a three-year period. The closest comparable three-year period of activity occurred during 2003 - 2004 - 2005, when each season had fifteen-plus named storms. Since 1851, only two seasons--2005 (28 named storms) and 1933 (20 named storms)--have been busier than 2010, 2011, and 2012.


Figure 1. Preliminary tracks of the nineteen named storms from 2012. Image credit: National Hurricane Center.

How rare are 3 consecutive top-five hurricane seasons for named storms?
It is tremendously rare to get three consecutive top-five years in a database with a 162-year record. This would occur randomly just once every 34,000 years--assuming the database were unbiased, the climate were not changing, and a multi-year climate pattern favorable for active seasons were not present. However the database IS biased, the climate IS changing, and we have been in an active hurricane period that began in 1995. So, which of these factors may be responsible for recording three consecutive years with nineteen named storms? It is well-known that prior to the arrival of geostationary satellites in December 1966 and aircraft hurricane reconnaissance in 1945 that tropical storms in the Atlantic were under-counted. Landsea et al. (2004) theorized that we missed up to six named storms per year between 1851 - 1885, and up to four between 1886 - 1910. Landsea (2007) estimated the under-count to be 3.2 named storms per year between 1900 - 1965, and 1.0 per year between 1966 - 2002. Other studies have argued for lower under-counts. So, if we assume the highest under-counts estimated by Landsea et al. (2004) and Landsea (2007), here would be the top ten busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1851:

2005: 28
1887: 25
1933: 23
1995: 20
2012, 2011, 2010, 1969, 1936: 19

So, 2012, 2011, and 2010 would still rank as top-five busiest seasons since 1851, but the odds of having three consecutive seasons with nineteen named storms would drop from a 1-in-34,000 year event to "only" a 1-in-5800 year event. More recently, Landsea et al. (2010) showed that the increasing trend in North Atlantic tropical storm frequency over the past 140 years was largely due to the increasing trend in short‐lived storms (storms lasting 2 days or less, called “shorties”), after the 1940s (Figure 2, top). They did not detect a significant increasing trend in medium‐ to long‐lived storms lasting more than 2 days. They wrote that “while it is possible that the recorded increase in short‐duration TCs [tropical cyclones] represents a real climate signal, we consider it is more plausible that the increase arises primarily from improvements in the quantity and quality of the observations, along with enhanced interpretation techniques.” Villarini et al. (2011), in a paper titled, "Is the recorded increase in short-duration North Atlantic tropical storms spurious?", agreed. They attempted to correlate increases in tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures in recent decades to the increase in short-lived Atlantic tropical storms, and were unable to do so. They wrote: using statistical methods combined with the current understanding of the physical processes, we are unable to find support for the hypothesis that the century‐scale record of short‐lived tropical cyclones in the Atlantic contains a detectable real climate signal. Therefore, we interpret the long‐term secular increase in short‐duration North Atlantic tropical storms as likely to be substantially inflated by observing system changes over time. These results strongly suggest that studies examining the frequency of North Atlantic tropical storms over the historical era (between the 19th century and present) should focus on storms of duration greater than about 2 days. So, let's do that. If we look during the past three hurricane seasons at how many "shorties" were observed, we see that a large number that stayed at tropical storm strength for two days or less: six storms in 2010, six in 2011, and seven in 2012. This leaves the hurricane seasons of 2010, 2011, and 2012 with twelve to thirteen tropical storms that lasted more than two days. This doesn't stand out that much when looking at trends since 1878 (Figure 2, bottom); there are now 25 years in the 135-year record with twelve or more long-lived tropical cyclones. However, there are no previous occurrences of three consecutive years with at least twelve long-lived tropical storms, so 2010, 2011, and 2012 still represent an unprecedented level of tropical storm activity in the historical record, and we would expect such an event to occur randomly about once every 157 years. That's a pretty rare event, and it is possible that climate change, combined with the fact we are in an active hurricane period that began in 1995, contributed to this rare event.


Figure 2. Atlantic tropical cyclones between 1878 - 2012 that spent two days or less at tropical storm strength (top) and more than two days at tropical storm strength or hurricane strength (bottom.) Figure updated from Villarini, G., G. A. Vecchi, T. R. Knutson, and J. A. Smith (2011), "Is the recorded increase in short-duration North Atlantic tropical storms spurious?", J. Geophys. Res., 116, D10114, doi:10.1029/2010JD015493.

References
Landsea, C. W., C. Anderson, N. Charles, G. Clark, J. Dunion, J. Fernandez‐Partagas, P. Hungerford, C. Neumann, and M. Zimmer (2004), "The Atlantic hurricane database re‐analysis project: Documentation for 1851–1910 alterations and additions to the HURDAT database," in Hurricanes and Typhoons ‐ Past, Present, and Future, edited by R. J. Murnane and K. B. Liu, pp. 178–221, Columbia Univ. Press, New York.

Landsea, C. W., (2007), "Counting Atlantic tropical cyclones back to 1900," Eos, 88(18), 197-202.

Villarini, G., G. A. Vecchi, T. R. Knutson, and J. A. Smith (2011), "Is the recorded increase in short-duration North Atlantic tropical storms spurious?", J. Geophys. Res., 116, D10114, doi:10.1029/2010JD015493

Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 75 - 25

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18Blog Index

Quoting hydrus:
actually, drowning is painless and relatively tranquil..I know, I have drowned.:)
I rather take that then getting stab or feeling some burning.I would want to go out that way as well.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting washingtonian115:
Seeing this makes me upset as I was very close to snow on about Monday.But as usual something pops up.Either it's to warm or we're in some dry slot.
I know you really want some snow, you never know maybe some might turn up . I never get much snow ,tends to be either sleet or hail would love a few days of lovely white proper snow myself
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6842
Quoting hydrus:
actually, drowning is painless and relatively tranquil..I know, I have drowned.:)


Takes you out of your comfort zone, though.
Member Since: July 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2913
Quoting yonzabam:


Really? I can think of far worse ways of dying. Of course, I'm not talking from experience.


But I have...it's terrible, you feel like crap

I know many others too. This one kills you slowly and with so much frustration
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


Drowning...That is the worst way of dying...I think.
actually, drowning is painless and relatively tranquil..I know, I have drowned.:)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
He you go plutorising
that is how it looks right now (close-up) in powerpoint
I'm done with photoshop



if you want...click for bigger pic
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FunnelVortex:
When do you guys think I'm going to get a big blizzard? (I live in Wisconsin).

I'm still waiting for that low to come out of the rockies and develop into a cyclonic storm in the plains and track North North Eastward.


We already had our first blizzard in Wisconsin, you must've missed it!





Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


Drowning...That is the worst way of dying...I think.


Really? I can think of far worse ways of dying. Of course, I'm not talking from experience.
Member Since: July 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2913
Quoting VR46L:


Honestly I only really watch the Atlantic I an only following forecasts there is bound to be people who know real winter weather who could help

But here is the Snow probability through to Sunday but really you should pay attention to your local NWS site

Seeing this makes me upset as I was very close to snow on about Monday.But as usual something pops up.Either it's to warm or we're in some dry slot.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


looks terrible...I have to deal with sizes and proportions and layers

it's a process f'sure.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting plutorising:

only just writing it now and doing character studies. how's yours coming, can you show some of it?

sorry to be off topic here.


looks terrible...I have to deal with sizes and proportions and layers
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


wanna see it

only just writing it now and doing character studies. how's yours coming, can you show some of it?

sorry to be off topic here.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting plutorising:

i'm working on a graphic novel too. good luck!


wanna see it
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:




Drowning...That is the worst way of dying...I think.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
(off topic) I feel so upset about myself... failed my driving test...

how's everyone doing...Im updating my graphic now with some big changes.

i'm working on a graphic novel too. good luck!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FunnelVortex:


Are you sure thats not an upper level low?


Honestly I only really watch the Atlantic I an only following forecasts there is bound to be people who know real winter weather who could help

But here is the Snow probability through to Sunday but really you should pay attention to your local NWS site

Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6842
Quoting yoboi:



great link

this is my choice for the solution to opposing worldviews. but trolls deliberately derail this process in favor of the pessimistic form.

"The Consensus-Based Form involves a reasoned societal debate, focused on the full scope of technical and social dimensions of the problem and the feasibility and desirability of multiple solutions."
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MontanaZephyr:

Climate Science as Culture War


The public debate around climate change is no longer about science—it’s about values, culture, and ideology.

From: The Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Link


It's also about 'cognitive dissonance' and personal psychologcal comfort zones.
Member Since: July 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2913
Ryan Maue‏@RyanMaue

After lull, next wave of energy into CA/OR border coast will have winds > hurr force just above surface layer Thur http://twitter.com/RyanMaue/status/273863416538599 425/photo/1/large
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Does a T.C making landfall ever remind someone of a car crash?.You know how a car looks beautiful driving on the road(In this case a T.C over the ocean) and when it makes a crash into the poll(in this case land) its a ugly site to see and the outcome is not pretty..especially dealing with the insurance companies...

I thought I'd be a good analogy.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hydrus:
Dont sweat it, you will be on the road before you know it. Watching the computer models for next weeks severe weather event.


Staying in TN MS and AL as usual.....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
(off topic) I feel so upset about myself... failed my driving test...

how's everyone doing...Im updating my graphic now with some big changes.
Dont sweat it, you will be on the road before you know it. Watching the computer models for next weeks severe weather event.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
(off topic) I feel so upset about myself... failed my driving test...

how's everyone doing...Im updating my graphic now with some big changes.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting VR46L:


You have a good chance of getting that blizzard

Tomorrow HPC Map





Are you sure thats not an upper level low?
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2873
Quoting FunnelVortex:
When do you guys think I'm going to get a big blizzard? (I live in Wisconsin).

I'm still waiting for that low to come out of the rockies and develop into a cyclonic storm in the plains and track North North Eastward.


You have a good chance of getting that blizzard

Tomorrow HPC Map



Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6842
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2873
Um..hi..thanks Doc.Enjoying the cold here.Anyway I am kinda excited I got to experience this rare event of 19 named storms back to back over a three season span.Models want to add + one next week.We'll see.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MontanaZephyr:

Climate Science as Culture War


The public debate around climate change is no longer about science%u2014it%u2019s about values, culture, and ideology.

From: The Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Link



So THAT's why this blog is the way it is....had to be some sort of a war.... :D
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MontanaZephyr:

Climate Science as Culture War


The public debate around climate change is no longer about science—it’s about values, culture, and ideology.

From: The Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Link


An interesting read. What did you take from it?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CybrTeddy:


October 2005 with Hurricane Wilma, though to be realistic, both Ike and Gustav were 110mph Category 2 hurricanes at landfall, the border for Category 3 is 111mph. I consider them both major hurricane landfalls IMO.

Though clearly, as we've all seen thrown in our faces with Ike, Alex, Isaac, Irene and Sandy. Intensity matters not, size and surge does. And this is going to keep on happening again, and again, and again. There needs to be either a serious redefining in the SSHS, or a new scale entirely invented for hurricanes. People were outside running around during Hurricane Sandy because it was *only* a Category 1 while storm surge overtook many coastal cities.



i think after this season you will see some changes...also every storm is differ....most deaths from hurricanes come from water either thru storm surge or rainfall-flooding but as of now they go by windspeed...
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2333
I'd better not show my dad this blog post.....
He always laughs at me when I say a storm should be named and he says its not a "real storm" and they are just naming a bunch of swirls nowadays..
Back in the day, they only named "real storms" *cough cough* (which were really just the ones that hit him growing up in the caribbean)

That spike in storms lasting 2 days of less.....would only be ammo for him.

GA also got a small rain event....so November will finish off a fairly dry month again...

Meanwhile the local Lake Lanier is at its lowest level since the historic drought of several years ago, a 3 year low, and if much-needed rain doesnt arrive soon, metro Atlanta could revisit the days of sweeping water restrictions and recreational nightmares.
Monday's reading was 1,057.82 feet above sea level, 13 feet below optimum operating level or full pool.
The last time Lake Lanier was that low was March 2009, the waning days of a two-year drought that ravaged the state.

Now Its More Like No Water:


The difference this time is that the lake levels have not been consistantly low for a long period and the region is heading into vital winter months when rains traditionally recharge reservoirs in the Southeast.
(This) is a concern and will require above-average rainfall during the winter and spring to bring the levels back next summer, said Doug Hooker, Atlanta Regional Commission executive director. A dryer-than-average winter could be especially problematic for both metro Atlanta and our downstream neighbors if we are heading for another drought next year.
An abnormally dry November in Georgia has put strains on the river system including Lake Lanier.
Statewide, this is Georgia's 17th driest year on record, going back 118 years

We are coming to a critical time period when rains are needed in January and February to recharge the lake, Dobur said.If we don't get the rains, that will be a little ominous.
Measurements from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers show the lake level has dropped almost four and half feet over the past month. That's the largest one-month decline in more than five years.
The Corps has been operating in drought mode since May, meaning it releases only the minimum amount of water necessary to meet downstream needs, Corps spokesman Pat Robbins said.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting yoboi:


when was the last time a major hit the usa???

As a major storm? 2005. As a major that had since weakened between peak and landfall? 2011.

I'm sure I can find several other similar periods in the last 100 years or so.

I'm also sure that the people who experienced Gustav, Ike, Irene, Isaac, and Sandy can all tell you that it doesn't take a major hurricane to destroy lives, property, beaches, or be "felt".

Oh, and for the love of all that is holy, please stop beating that drum. The tune is getting tiresome. (not directed solely at you)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MontanaZephyr:

Climate Science as Culture War


The public debate around climate change is no longer about science—it’s about values, culture, and ideology.

From: The Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Link


With all due respect to the authors of this article, the climate war is about money.

And as long as we wander in the wilderness of all this mumbo-jumbo, the fossil fuel companies will continue on their business plan of first destroying civilization then the planet.

If we have to discuss all this stuff and get everyone on the same page before we do anything constructive, we're truly doomed.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
When do you guys think I'm going to get a big blizzard? (I live in Wisconsin).

I'm still waiting for that low to come out of the rockies and develop into a cyclonic storm in the plains and track North North Eastward.
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2873
Quoting MontanaZephyr:

Climate Science as Culture War


The public debate around climate change is no longer about science—it’s about values, culture, and ideology.

From: The Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Link


A loooong read to be sure but I found it to be interesting and it held my attention through the read..
A very good article IMO..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting yoboi:


when was the last time a major hit the usa???


October 2005 with Hurricane Wilma, though to be realistic, both Ike and Gustav were 110mph Category 2 hurricanes at landfall, the border for Category 3 is 111mph. I consider them both major hurricane landfalls IMO.

Though clearly, as we've all seen thrown in our faces with Ike, Alex, Isaac, Irene and Sandy. Intensity matters not, size and surge does. And this is going to keep on happening again, and again, and again. There needs to be either a serious redefining in the SSHS, or a new scale entirely invented for hurricanes. People were outside running around during Hurricane Sandy because it was *only* a Category 1 while storm surge overtook many coastal cities.

Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23626


Big percipitation event for the Northwest.
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2873
Quoting schwankmoe:


maybe they can haz truffle???


maybe so just did not see harvest reports....seen redfish pops go down yrs ago in the gulf of mexico due to over harvest they tighten the regs and had a good rebound....
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2333
Quoting yoboi:



they could have over harvest???


maybe they can haz truffle???
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 676
Quoting yonzabam:
After 'the world hasn't warmed since 1998', the next favourite 'baloneyfact' of the global warming deniers is 'there have been fewer hurricanes'. I'll be quoting Dr. Masters stats back at them.


when was the last time a major hit the usa???
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2333
Quoting MontanaZephyr:

Climate Science as Culture War


The public debate around climate change is no longer about science—it’s about values, culture, and ideology.

From: The Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Link



great link
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2333
Quoting hydrus:
Polar Vortex is growing fast. It is my belief that it will be very stormy soon for a lot of folks.
with the calmness and zonal flow over the CONUS in recent days, and deep troughs flanking both coasts, to me it feels ominous! ...especially with what's coming into the west right now, i think you're right about some major stormy set ups for many around the corner..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
12z GFS continues with the development of Valerie in Central Atlantic.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
Uh oh.... this is getting serious.

CLIMATE CHANGE THREATENS FRENCH TRUFFLE
Drier summers are killing the prized black truffle that grows on oak and hazelnut trees.

Wed Nov 28, 2012 09:30 AM ET

Scientists said on Tuesday they had proof that climate change was hitting the Perigord black truffle, a delight of gourmets around the world.


http://news.discovery.com/earth/climate-change-ki lling-truffle-121128.html



they could have over harvest???
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2333
Short hello to everybody from Germany! I didn't get much time to post in the last weeks, but I'm still alive :-)
Pretty unsettled weather in Europe for the moment. There has been a tornado with unfortunately 20 injuried workers today in southern Italy (look below). First amounts of snow should arrive in Germany tomorrow and the next days. Greetings, Barb

img src="">
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Uh oh.... this is getting serious.

CLIMATE CHANGE THREATENS FRENCH TRUFFLE
Drier summers are killing the prized black truffle that grows on oak and hazelnut trees.

Wed Nov 28, 2012 09:30 AM ET

Scientists said on Tuesday they had proof that climate change was hitting the Perigord black truffle, a delight of gourmets around the world.


http://news.discovery.com/earth/climate-change-ki lling-truffle-121128.html
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Polar Vortex is growing fast. It is my belief that it will be very stormy soon for a lot of folks.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MontanaZephyr:


The link goes deeper than your light-hearted remark betrays: There is at least one study out there that showed that people were more likely to donate to a hurricane relief fund if the storm's name's initial letter. For example, 'Karen' and 'Ken' would be more likely to donate funds to relief for victims of a storm named Kevin or Katrina.


Yeah, I can see that. I'd feel awful for wishcasting a named storm if there was a Hurricane Valerie that caused death & destruction, even though it's nothing anyone has any control of. Human nature.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SherwoodSpirit:
The season stopped just one short of my name. We couldn't have had just one more harmless little swirly in the Atlantic? I came so close.
*eyes Grothar's blob*


The link goes deeper than your light-hearted remark betrays: There is at least one study out there that showed that people were more likely to donate to a hurricane relief fund if the storm's name's initial letter. For example, 'Karen' and 'Ken' would be more likely to donate funds to relief for victims of a storm named Kevin or Katrina.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Nineteen Atlantic tropical storms 3 consecutive years a very rare event,and also is very rare the big amounts of tropical storms and huricanes and few majors....either ways minimun huirricanes with big amounts of energy....I don´t know what is happens but its seem to be a new tendency never seen before......with the majors hurricanes i think the problem was the instability, the last two year the a lot of dry air present in our hemisphere all the hurricane season..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 75 - 25

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy
76 °F
Partly Cloudy