by Jim Hudgins

After seeing yet another very slow tropical weather season in 2009, the potential exists for an above normal number of storms across the Atlantic Basin this summer and fall.  This is partly due to much above normal Atlantic Ocean water temperatures currently being observed in the development region off the coast of Africa, and the forecast for a diminishing El Nino which caused persistent wind shear during last season. The current forecast from Colorado State University released in early April calls for 15 named storms, with 8 of these reaching hurricane status, and 4 being major hurricanes (Category 3 or stronger). The climatological normal is around 10 named storms including 6 hurricanes and 2 majors.

In summary, the 2009 hurricane season was comprised of 9 named storms with 2 additional tropical depressions that remained below tropical storm strength. This was the lowest number of named systems since the 1997 season. The first tropical depression formed on May 28th with the season coming to close with the dissipation of Hurricane Ida on November 10th. There were 3 hurricanes with 2 of these acquiring major hurricane statues. The inactivity was again linked to the strong El Nino which enhanced wind shear across the basin and limited storm formation.  The two most significant storms of the season, in terms of loss of life and damage, were Hurricanes Bill and Ida. Hurricane Bill was an unusually large storm and was also the season's strongest, attaining winds of 135 mph.  Tropical Storm Claudette was the only storm during 2009 to make landfall in the United States. As a result of the minimal damage caused by storms throughout the season, no names were retired and thus remain on the list of names for the 2015 season. Throughout the basin, six people were killed in tropical cyclone-related incidents and total losses reached roughly $77 million. However all impacts from these systems stayed well south and east of the local area.

The names for the upcoming 2010 season include Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Igor, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Matthew, Nicole, Otto, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tomas, Virginie, and Walter.  The season officially begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th.


2009 Tropical Cyclone Tracks
2009 Tropical Cyclone Tracks