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Bye bye, hurricane season

More like this next year would be nice.

The Atlantic hurricane season ended Monday with barely a whimper: Not a single hurricane came ashore in the United States.

Since June, when the season began, just nine named storms developed. Only three of them became hurricanes, and those stayed out at sea or weakened before passing over land.

[…]

The 2009 season was on target with the lower end of forecasters’ predictions. Before the season began June 1, the National Hurricane Center had anticipated nine to 14 storms, with four to seven hurricanes — a prediction that the Miami-based center scaled back slightly in August before the arrival of the season’s first storm, Tropical Storm Ana.

James Franklin, the center’s chief hurricane specialist, credited much of the quiet season to El Nino, the periodic warming of the central Pacific Ocean. El Nino, he said, produced strong winds in the Atlantic that cut down storms before they could develop into hurricanes.

Franklin said forecasters also noticed drier conditions in the atmosphere, which limited the potential for storms.

“Lately we’ve had busy seasons,” Franklin said. “To get a year this quiet, it’s a little bit unusual.”

As Eric Berger, who has a nice map here noted, the recent higher level of activity we’ve seen around here is more in line with historic norms than the long quiet spell we had in the 90s and first few years of this decade. If we’re really lucky, we’ll go back to that quietude for a few more years.

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