Wednesday, November 30 officially marked the end to the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season. This year was another above average season due to factors, which will be the case for several more years. Therefore expect meteorologists to remain busy tracking and forecasting storms in the years to come.
This year 19 tropical storms developed (winds of 39 to 73mph), which is well above the normal of 11 per year. Of those, seven hurricanes (74mph winds or greater) churned through the Atlantic, which is only slightly above the normal of six. Of the seven, three hurricanes became major containing winds over 111mph. The most intense cyclone was Ophelia. At one time the storm had maximum winds of 140mph (a category 4 storm). Luckily this extreme hurricane stayed away from the US, remaining over the open Atlantic while having hurricane force winds.
We saw numerous storms develop, but only ONE hurricane hit the US. The hurricane was Irene. Most of us remember this storm in late August hitting the Outer Banks of NC, then moving north through eastern sections of our state. Winds of 74 to 85mph caused damage to coastal sections and heavy tropical downpours brought flooding to many. The cyclone then moved into the Northeast and New England, causing major flooding in that part of the country.
Tropical Storm Lee hit Louisiana in early September. This storm system moved into our state on Labor Day bringing severe thunderstorms and prompting tornado warnings. We also received a good soaking of rain out of Lee. Most locations saw one to four inches of rainfall.
While it was a very active year, luck was on our side as only one of the seven hurricanes, Irene, caused major flooding, damage and of course lots of headaches!