Hurricane season winding down

By: Brittany Bedi | WCTV Pinpoint Weather Team
November 28, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Hurricane season officially ends November 30. This season will go down in history for the United States, especially in North Florida and South Georgia.

The first named storm developed before hurricane season began. Subtropical storm Alberto developed near the Yucatan Peninsula on Friday, May 25, 2018.

Alberto made landfall near Laguna Beach, Florida around 5 p.m., eastern time.

Alberto had maximum sustained winds of 40+ mph. While it made landfall in the Florida Panhandle, local impacts were minimal across the Big Bend and South Georgia.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a record seven named storms were subtropical at some point during its life cycle. This means that the storm had both tropical and non-tropical characteristics. Those seven storms were Alberto, Beryl, Debby, Ernesto, Joyce, Leslie and Oscar.

Beryl, Leslie and Oscar eventually became hurricanes.

The graphic below shows the peak intensity for every named storm during the hurricane season.

Before hurricane season started, NOAA forecasters predicted that there would be 10 to 16 named storms, five to nine hurricanes, with one to four becoming a major hurricane of Category 3 status or stronger.

During their mid-season adjustment, NOAA lowered their numbers, predicting nine to 13 named storms, four to seven hurricanes, and zero to two major hurricanes.

There have been 15 named storms, eight hurricanes, two of which became major storms. Unfortunately, the two major hurricanes this year impacted the United States.

Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Catastrophic flooding plagued the Carolinas. More than 30 inches of rain was recorded in Elizabethtown, Swansboro and Gurganus, North Carolina.

Hurricane-force winds caused damage along the North Carolina coast. Thousands of downed trees and power lines caused widespread power outages. Storm surges of nine to 13 feet also pummeled the coast.

The second hurricane that hit U.S. soil caused devastation across the local area. Hurricane Michael quickly developed over warm Caribbean and Gulf waters on October 6 and 7. It became a tropical storm by October 7. Michael became a hurricane by October 8.

Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach on October 10. NOAA and Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft data showed maximum sustained winds near 155 mph with higher gusts around that time. Though Michael gradually weakened as it moved inland through Florida and into South Georgia, widespread damage occurred.

More than eight feet of storm surge flooding was recorded in coastal Franklin county. Debris and items from places like Alligator Point pushed across the Ochlocknee Bay and over land.

Mexico Beach suffered widespread damage to buildings. Several parts of Bay County suffered widespread damage. The Big Bend and South Georgia dealt with several downed trees and power lines. This led to widespread power outages across the region. Several trees in the Apalachicola National Forest were snapped and knocked over. Several communities are still rebuilding after the storm.

According to NOAA, hurricane Michael was the strongest hurricane on record to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle. It is the third-most-intense hurricane to make landfall in the continental U.S. with a central pressure of 919 mb. Michael's winds will go down in history as the fourth-strongest storm (in terms of wind), with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph.

After Michael, most named storms lingered in the Atlantic Basin and did not impact the U.S.

The 2018 hurricane season forecast followed NOAA's pre-season predictions, but was more active than the mid-season predictions. NOAA forecasters credit a warmer Atlantic Ocean temperatures, a stronger west-African monsoon, and the lack of an El Nino pattern to help suppress development, as the major causes for the activity.

While only two major hurricanes impacted land, both hit the United States. It serves as a reminder that it only takes one storm to cause major damages. This past hurricane season will go down in history for our North Florida and South Georgia communities.