2018 Hurricane Season Wrap-Up: Here’s What Happened

  • Nov 29, 2018

This 2018 Hurricane Season Wrap-Up was authored by Earth Networks Meteorologist Rebecca Huff.

This Season’s Numbers

November 30 marks the end of the 2018 hurricane season. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the quiet season many people hoped for. Instead, the 2018 hurricane season shattered records and cost the U.S. greatly in damages.

Before the season started, forecasters were on the money when it came to projecting the number of tropical disturbances to happen during this season. Our Earth Networks meteorologists predicted 10-15 named storms, 5-8 hurricanes, and 2-4 major hurricanes.

If you looked at everyone’s forecast, the industry called for an average of 15 storms. This forecast also included an average of seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes (Remember, a major hurricane is a Category 3 or higher).

So what really happened? This season, the Atlantic Hurricane Basin, which includes the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, produced 15 named storms.  Eight reached hurricane strength while two became major hurricanes.

What’s more is a record number of seven storms became subtropical at some point in their lifetime this season. Subtropical means a system has both tropical and extratropical characteristics. These storms included:

  • Alberto
  • Beryl
  • Debby
  • Ernesto
  • Joyce
  • Leslie
  • Oscar

 

2018 Hurricane Season Wrap-Up Timeline

The Atlantic Hurricane Season normally starts on June 1 and ends on November 30. This time period marks the favorable time of year for a tropical system formation.

Although it is relatively uncommon, storms can still form earlier or later than those dates. We saw that this May with Alberto. In fact, this was the fourth year in a row where storms formed before the official season kickoff.

Alberto formed on May 25, east of the Yucatan Peninsula. It moved northward into the Florida Panhandle before dissipating in central Michigan.

After this storm, there was a long lull in activity before the next one. The second storm of the season would be become Hurricane Beryl. Beryl formed on the 4th of July holiday.

After Beryl, tropical storms continued to form one after the other but by August, the hurricane machine was switched to “off.” Only Tropical Storms Debby and Ernesto formed and dissipated during the month of August. Both of these storms did not impact the U.S.

Some may have felt safe after this relatively quiet month, however the peak of the season was on its way.

A Scary September

Historically, September is the busiest month for tropical formation. 2018 followed suit.

September had a total of six named storms and one tropical depression. For the first time since 2008, four named storms existed at the same time in the Atlantic Basin. These included:

  • Hurricane Florence
  • Tropical Storm Isaac
  • Hurricane Helene
  • Tropical Storm Joyce

 

Hurricane Florence roared ashore on the North Carolina Coast on September 14. Then Florence did something that caused a major headache for folks in North Carolina: It stalled.

While over North Carolina, Florence dropped record-breaking rainfall. How record-breaking? Here’s one number for you: 30 inches of rainfall fell in the small town of Swansboro, N.C. That’s nearly 3 feet!

You can watch a time-lapse of Florence making landfall below. These images our from our weather map software, Sferic Maps.

You can learn more about Sferic Maps and even get a free trial by clicking the link below.

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After flooding most of North Carolina, Florence moved up the East Coast and dissipates on September 19. When all was said and done, Florence caused 55 fatalities and more than $17 billion in damages. Flooding and impact were to blame for most of the negative impacts.

September also saw a record-breaking storm with Hurricane Leslie. Although it was no threat to the U.S., it was the first tropical cyclone to pass within 100 miles of Madeira. Madeira is an island northwest of the African country of Morocco. The island has only been keeping records since 1851. As Leslie neared Madeira, a tropical storm warning was issued for the first time in the island’s history. Leslie eventually dissipated in the Bay of Biscay, southwest of France, on October 13.

Onto October

October started with a bang thanks to Hurricane Michael. This system started organizing on October 2 and would become the third-strongest landfalling hurricane (based on pressure) in the U.S.

Michael became a hurricane on October 8 after rapid intensification. The next day Michael reached major hurricane status in the bath-like waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Then Michael set its eyes on the Florida Panhandle.

On the afternoon of October 10, Michael made landfall as a Major Category 4 storm. It had sustained winds of 155 mph and a minimum central pressure of 919 millibars. Before dissipation, Michael was the cause of at least 45 deaths and damage estimates between $8 and 11 billion for the U.S.

Tropical Storms Nadine and Oscar came and went in the open Atlantic during this month. They dissipated on October 13th and 31st respectively.

2018 Hurricane Season Summary

All in all, this near- to above-normal season accounted for more than $33 billion in damages with 154 estimated fatalities.

Two of these systems, Florence and Michael, reached major hurricane status and accounted for much of the damage and fatalities. These two hurricanes were very different in nature, however. Florence became stalled, much like Hurricane Harvey in 2017. It produced record amounts of rainfall.

On the other hand, Michael slammed the Florida Panhandle as the third strongest storm to make landfall in the U.S. It is common that the names for the most destructive and deadly storms are retired from future use. This will be announced by the World Meteorological Organization in the Spring of 2019.

2018 Hurricane Season Thank You’s

The Earth Networks marketing team would like to give a special shout-out to our meteorologists who helped us keep our clients and the general public safe during Florence and Michael.

Our meteorologists work 24/7 no matter what season it is, but hurricane season is especially draining. We’d like to give a special thank you to Meteorologist, Steve Prinzivalli, for presenting the MetOps Team’s forecast and warnings every day during the major storms on Facebook Live. His messages were seen by thousands of people in the path of these storms and we are very grateful that he jumped in to help us on top of his other responsibilities!

We’d also like to give a shout out to Rebecca Huff and James West for penning a lot of the updates. We appreciate the whole meteorological team – especially everyone behind-the-scenes. Thank you for all that you do!


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