The 2009 Atlantic hurricane season ended Monday with just three hurricanes, the weakest of which killed the most people and did the most damage.
In all, there were nine named storms and two tropical depressions that didn’t reach the 39 mph threshold for being named.
In May, the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration predicted there would be 9-14 named storms, 4-7 of which would become hurricanes, 1-3 of which would be major. Last week, NOAA said 2009 was the ninth weakest storm season in the past 37 years.
The season that begins June 1 began early with Tropical Depression 1 on May 28, but there was no further activity until August, the busiest month of the season with four named systems. Among them was Hurricane Bill, which reached major Category 4 status on the Saffir-Simpson scale with 135 mph sustained winds.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Bill brushed the Dominican Republic, Bermuda and Nova Scotia as a hurricane, and crossed the southern tip of Newfoundland as a tropical storm. Two seaside drowning deaths were associated with the storm in Florida and Maine.
The second hurricane of the season was Fred, which developed Sept. 7 into a Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds over the Atlantic Ocean and eventually dissipated southwest of Bermuda without making landfall.
The final hurricane was Ida, which was named Nov. 4 east of Nicaragua. While its top winds were 105 mph, a Category 2 hurricane, Ida hit Nicaragua and moved north through Honduras. The storm moved north over the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall in Alabama, turned east and buffeted U.S. East Coast with rain and wind as far north as New Jersey.
At least 10 of the season’s 15 storm-related deaths were attributed to Ida, and damages exceeded $2 million, the costliest of all storms this year.
Two deaths were attributed to Tropical Storm Claudette and one to Tropical Storm Danny, both in August.
Various meteorologists said the Pacific El Nino effect this year was responsible for keeping a damper on major storm development. El Nino produces westerly high-level winds across the Caribbean and Atlantic that blows the top off storms in the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
The majority of Atlantic tropical systems begins with large masses of hot, dry air in northern Africa that move eastward and are fueled by warm sea waters that create cyclonic motions.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International