TROPICS MORE ACTIVE IN ’07 BUT WITH LIMITED IMPACT TO THE LOCAL AREA

by James Hudgins

After a very sluggish 2006 hurricane season which saw only 9 named storms, 2007 has proven to be slightly more active with 13 named storms (Fig. 1) to date including 4 hurricanes. Of these 4 hurricanes, 2 (Dean and Felix) reached major (category 3-4-5) hurricane status and made landfall over parts of Central America as category 5 systems. This was of historical proportions as never had a couple category 5 storms made landfall in the same season. The remainder of the named storms consisted of mostly tropical storms, with Humberto and Lorenzo being weaker category 1 hurricanes, while Andrea was an early season (May) subtropical storm. Although most of the systems that made landfall were rather small in comparison to past storms, several exhibited rapid intensification in going from tropical depression to hurricane status in less than 24 hours.

Systems that did affect the local area were the result of remnant low pressure areas that combined with frontal boundaries to enhance severe weather or heavy rainfall. Tropical storm Erin, which was a weak tropical storm that made landfall on the southern Texas coast, moved slowly northeast and coincided with max heating to produce thunderstorms with damaging winds on August 19th. The remnants of Hurricane Humberto on the other hand brought beneficial heavy rain to drought stricken areas of the region on September 14th. Although some areas along the Blue Ridge experienced between 5 and 10 inches of rain, very dry soil conditions precluded any flooding with only minor rises seen on area streams and rivers. Otherwise the majority of the stronger tropical cyclones have remained well south of the region, mainly as result of strong blocking high pressure over the central Atlantic as well as the southeast U.S.

First system formed: May 9, 2007
Total named storms: 13
Total hurricanes: 4
Major hurricanes (Cat. 3+): 2
Strongest storm: Dean - 165 mph
Number of systems making landfall: 8
Total damage: ~$3.8 billion
Confirmed fatalities: ≥208
The updated forecast for the remainder of the tropical season which runs through the end of November calls for a few additional named storms of which a couple could reach major (category 3-4-5) hurricane status across the Atlantic Basin. A brief summary of the highlights of the 2007 season thus far follows below:

 

Storm Tracks through early October 2007
(Fig. 1). 2007 tropical storm and hurricane tracks (to date as of October 6).