VERY ACTIVE TROPICS HAVE LESS LOCAL IMPACT IN 2005
After a very busy tropical season that produced a mix of flooding and tornado events in 2004, the 2005 summer and fall season has seen more storms in the Atlantic, but less in the way of direct effects to the local region. As of late October, there have been 22 named storms (Fig. 1) in the Atlantic compared to an average of around 10. Of these 22, 11 have been hurricanes with 6 reaching major hurricane status of Category 3 (111-130 mph) or stronger. This compares to a seasonal average of 6 hurricanes per season and 3 majors. The record number of storms in a season was 21 recorded back in 1933 before systems were named, with 19 named cyclones in 1995 having been the highest since naming started in 1953. More importantly, this was the first season in which the labeling of tropical systems spilled over into the list of names from the Greek alphabet with Alpha being the 22 nd storm of the season.
Although the impacts of many of the stronger hurricanes, namely Dennis, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma have been focused on the Gulf Coast and Florida, only weak residual low pressure systems have affected the local area. One of these systems, Cindy, which made landfall as a tropical storm in Louisiana in early July, tracked northeast along the Blue Ridge as a remnant low pressure system on July 7th. This system produced isolated rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches along the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge but little flooding. More importantly thunderstorms spun up tornadoes in Yadkin County, North Carolina near Yadkinville, East Bend, and Lone Hickory, as well as a weak short lived tornado just outside Ararat in Patrick County, Virginia. Most resulted in only tree damage with a few reports of barn and roof damage. The resulting area of low pressure with Katrina stayed well west of the region, tracking into the Ohio Valley on August 30th. Rain bands associated the remnants of this system produced 1 to 2 inches of rain, mainly along the southern Blue Ridge, but resulted in little known wind damage. A late season hybrid type system named Tammy, which made landfall along the southeast Atlantic coastline, indirectly caused the heaviest rainfall associated with any tropical storm of the season. This system produced 4 to 8 inches of rain along the Blue Ridge, and isolated 12 inch totals in Botetourt County, Virginia during October, 6-8, but resulted in only minor flooding due to very dry late summer antecedent conditions.
The outlook for the remainder of late October into November calls for the possibility of a an additional storm or two which could push the 2005 season farther into record levels as having the most storms in a season. However climatology suggests that the threat to the coastal U.S. quickly diminishes by early November, as much cooler air usually pushes south, allowing for a much less favorable tropical environment by the middle of November. The official end of the hurricane season arrives on November
30th and doesn’t resume again until June 1st of next year.
Fig. 1. Tracks of Named Storms (through late October) in the Atlantic.
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