It’s been a tough year for hurricanes in the Atlantic as the season officially comes to an unceremonious close.
In what was originally predicted in May by experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to be a near- or above-normal season, this year’s squad of storms was surprisingly plagued by inconsistency and, ultimately, failed to reach what it believed was its full potential.
“We just didn’t get it done. I blame myself,” said Tropical Storm Alberto, the first named storm of 2018. “I was the first to form, and maybe I wasn’t ready. But the bottom line is, as the lead-off storm it’s my job to get it started for the guys who come after me. And I didn’t do that.”
Coming into the season, expectations were especially high among experts.
Eric Norman, Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), stated that the preseason outlook called for a 70-percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 4 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes. Though, these predictions are not in line with the ones first released by the organization back in May.
“It’s obviously been hard on the storms this year,” Norman said. “While there were some memorable performances from a few storms it’s not at all how they wanted the overall season to go. But they’re a group of veteran weather patterns that have been around for over 4 billion years, so this isn’t their first bump in the road. They’ll be back.”
Norman noted that season predictions are not an exact science and are more of an estimate based on how much alcohol their interns can drink.
There were plenty of reasons the hurricanes didn’t get it done this season: lack of timely air currents, over-reliance on warm water, systems that couldn’t duplicate what they had done in previous years, President Obama, and bean-filled farts from the Central America caravan of immigrants that caused massive wind shear.
The bottom line, though, is the season fell well short of the expectations of the storms.
“We didn’t put ourselves in a position to be successful. The warm water was there. I guess we just didn’t want it bad enough,” said Category 3 Hurricane Florence, the first major hurricane of this season.
“I thought for the majority of the season we created a number of opportunities for ourselves and we took advantage a few times but we just didn’t finish. When you look at our overall production, the number of hurricanes and the strength of them, we fell short of our own goals. It’s disappointing.”
The season at first looked like it might be special with several storms, notably powerhouses Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael producing a combined $32.5 billion in damage and Tropical Storm Alberto, Hurricane Gordon, and Hurricane Leslie contributing $722 million in total. But everything took a turn when the storms just couldn’t finish the season strong with Tropical Storm Nadine and Hurricane Oscar at the end of the lineup, both of which completely whiffing and caused zero damage and no deaths anywhere.
“Look, since 1995, we’ve put some high-quality squads out there. We’ve had above-normal seasons in 12 of the last 22 years, but obviously, this just wasn’t our year,” said Florence.
The squad has a lot of work to do this off-season to get back into contention for memorable storms.
“We’d certainly like to start off stronger next year,” Hurricane Michael said, the second major hurricane of the season and the third-most intense hurricane to make landfall on the United States in terms of pressure, behind the 1935 Labor Day hurricane and Hurricane Camille of 1969.
“We have a challenging off-season ahead of us, but we’ve got a solid, hungry group here and I think we’ll learn from what happened this year and do whatever we can to avoid it from happening again. We’ll get these things corrected.”
Looking ahead to 2019 season, storms that reportedly have an interest in possibly joining the squad next year include Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand, Gabrielle, Humberto, Imelda, Jerry, Karen, Lorenzo, Melissa, Nestor, Olga, Pablo, Rebekah, Sebastien, Tanya, Van, Wendy, and Mitch Landrieu.