Weather forecasters have been saying that we can expect more active hurricane seasons for at least the next ten years and 2012 was no exception.
Though the official hurricane season runs from June to November, it is not uncommon for storms to form before the start of the season, in May, or well beyond the end of the season right through to the following January. In 2012 both Alberto and Beryl formed in May.
Hurricane predictions for 2012
The team led by Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray from the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University made their first predictions for the 2012 hurricane season in April 2012. They forecast a slightly below average 2012 season with up to ten named storms, four of them hurricanes of which two would become major hurricanes (Category 3 or greater with sustained winds of 111 mph or more).
They predicted that there was a 42% chance that at least one major hurricane would make landfall on the United States coastline during 2012 (average is 52%) with a 24% chance (average is 31%) for the eastern Florida peninsula and a 24% chance (average is 30%) for the Gulf Coast.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) put out their first predictions in May and they predicted a near normal Atlantic hurricane season with a 70% chance of 9 to 15 named storms, of which four to eight were predicted to become hurricanes, including one to three major hurricanes. These numbers were similar but a little higher than those of Colorado State University.
Both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University team have over estimated named storms and hurricanes in recent years but in 2012 all predictions were on the low side as far as total storms was concerned.
In the end, 2012 resulted in 19 named storms of which ten became hurricanes and two became major hurricanes. Even so there were hundreds of deaths and damage estimated at over $75 billion in the USA alone.
Remember, at the end of the day these are just predictions. It only takes one storm to do untold damage, just remember Katrina in 2005 and Sandy in 2012.
Storm names for 2012
Each year a set of names alternating between boys and girls is chosen for all named storms. Names are often re-used but the names of particularly damaging hurricanes such as Katrina are withdrawn and never used again.
The names for tropical storms and hurricanes in 2012 were as follows: Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sandy, Tony, Valerie and William. Only Valerie and William were unused.
Thursday, October 25: Tropical Storm Tony formed on Monday east of the Eastern Caribbean and is no threat to land.
It originally tracked North but quickly veered towards the North East with wind speeds of 45 mph.
Monday, October 29: Hurricane Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City in New Jersey with wind speeds of around 80 mph causing widespread destruction and flooding in its path. Nearly 50 people have died in the Northern United States, mostly from falling trees on top of the 70 odd deaths in the Caribbean.
Sandy strengthened to hurricane status as it hit Jamaica with wind speeds of 80 mph. It then continued northwards and made landfall for a second time near Santiago de Cuba. Wind speed increased to 105 mph making is a category 2 hurricane.
Sandy had an impact of South Florida Thursday/Friday with strong winds and heavy rain. If was forecast to track up the eastern Seaboard with a real threat that it would make landfall in North Eastern USA which it eventually did.
Tropical Storm Sandy formed east of Nicaragua on Monday and started tracking northwards with wind speeds of 50 mph.
Tuesday, October 16: Hurricane Rafael is expected to pass just to the east of Bermuda and is the ninth hurricane of the 2012 season. It is currently a category 1 hurricane with wind speeds of 85 mph. It is forecast to veer onto a more Northeasterly track over the coming days and is not expected to strengthen.
Rafael formed south west of Puerto Rico on Friday, October 12.
Saturday, October 13: Tropical Storm Patty formed east of the Bahamas on Thursday but petered out within a couple of days.
Saturday, October 6: Tropical Storm Oscar formed west of the Cape Verde islands on Wednesday and is forecast to veer towards the North East.
Monday, September 17: After reaching hurricane category 1 status with maximum wind speeds of 80 mph, Nadine has weakened back to a Tropical Storm as it tracks eastwards in the Central Atlantic. Nadine became one of the longest lasting storms on record, having spent over three weeks in the Central Atlantic.
Tropical Storm Nadine formed in the central Atlantic and initially tracked north westwards with wind speeds of 70 mph. It strengthened to hurricane category 1 status but was not expected to make landfall as it veered towards the northeast.
Thursday, September 6: Hurricane Michael peaked at a category 3 hurricane with wind speeds of 115 mph and is tracking Northwest. It is well in the central Atlantic and is not a threat to land at this time.
Michael formed on Monday, September 3 and is the third consecutive hurricane. It is also the first major hurricane of the 2012 season.
Thursday, September 6: Leslie has strengthened to a category 1 hurricane and is expected to reach category 2 in the next 48 hours. It is currently tracking northwards towards Bermuda with wind speeds of 75 mph.
It is forecast to veer to the East of Bermuda but with wind speeds of 100 mph it could still cause significant damage.
Tropical Storm Leslie formed in the central Atlantic on Thursday, August 30.
Saturday, September 1: Hurricane Kirk has weakened back to a Tropical Storm with wind speeds of 70 mph as it heads northeast back into the Atlantic.
Tropical Storm Joyce formed in the central Atlantic on Tuesday and initially it tracked northwestwards towards Bermuda before veering away to the northeast, much like TS Joyce before it. At one point it reached hurricane category 2 status with wind speeds of 105 mph.
Friday, August 24: Tropical Storm Joyce formed west of the Cape Verde Islands on Wednesday and is tracking northwestwards towards Bermuda but it is forecast to veer to the Northeast.
It has already weakened to a Tropical Depression and is not expected to strengthen again.
Wednesday, August 29: Hurricane Isaac made landfall in Plaquemines Parish in southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday night with wind speeds of 80 mph and left half a million homes without electricity. With a storm surge, water came over the tops of the levees causing local flooding. It then drifted back into the Gulf only to make landfall again as it heads towards New Orleans, seven years after the devastating Hurricane Katrina.
A State of Emergency was declared in Florida as Tropical Storm Isaac approached the Florida Keys. It strengthened to hurricane category 1 as it tracked up the Gulf Coast and had been forecast to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle. It the end it veered to the west. Up to 12 inches of rain were forecast with significant storm surges along the coastline and at least two deaths reported.
Having passed by the Dominican Republic it hit Haiti on Saturday morning and at least 19 people have died. Isaac then headed for Cuba with wind speeds of 60 mph. Isaac was originally forecast to veer onto a more northerly track with the potential to hit southern Florida but it now looks like it will track up the Gulf Coast instead.
Tropical Storm Isaac formed in the Central Atlantic on Tuesday and was forecast to reach hurricane status as it tracked westwards through the Caribbean. Tropical Storm warnings were issued for Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands.
Saturday, August 18: Tropical Storm Helene formed off the Mexico coast north of Veracruz in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday and quickly made landfall near Tampico. By this time it had weakened to a Tropical Depression with wind speeds of 35 mph.
Sunday, August 19: Hurricane Gordon has become the third hurricane of the 2012 season peaking at a category 2 hurricane with wind speeds of 109 mph. It is currently tracking eastwards towards the Azores and is expected to weaken to a Tropical Depression as it approaches the coast of Portugal.
Gordon formed east of Bermuda as a Tropical Storm and tracked north and then eastwards away from the USA towards Europe.
Monday, August 5: Hot on the heels of Ernesto, Tropical Storm Florence formed on Friday, August 3, just west of the Cape Verde Islands with wind speeds of 35 mph tracking west at 16 mph.
It tracked WNW for a few days but weakened to a Tropical Depression.
Wednesday, August 8: Ernesto briefly strengthened to a category 1 hurricane as it approached the Yucatan Peninsula. It is now tracking westwards with wind speeds of 45 mph and is expected to make landfall again south of Veracruz.
It has taken a more southerly course than originally forecast as it passed south of Jamaica and Cuba.
After a quiet month, Tropical Storm Ernesto formed on Thursday, August 2 about 800 miles east of the Windward Islands, in the Eastern Caribbean with wind speeds of 50 mph tracking west at 22 mph.
Tropical storm warnings were issued for Dominica, St. Lucia, Martinique and Guadeloupe.
Wednesday, June 27: Tropical Storm Debby has now completed its traverse of central Florida and moved into the Atlantic Ocean north of Flagler Beach. It is now heading east with wind speeds of 40 mph.
When Tropical Storm Debby slowed down it looked more and more likely that it would hit the northern Florida Panhandle on Tuesday but instead it made a dramatic backtrack and then turned to the east. It came ashore at Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park on the Gulf Coast and then tracked across central Florida just north of Ocala.
It had already brought heavy rain to Florida’s Gulf Coast with localised flooding and over four inches of rain in places.
Tropical Storm Debby formed in the central Gulf of Mexico on Saturday June 23, with wind speeds of 40 mph, tracking north at 6 mph.
Friday, June 22: Hurricane Chris briefly became the first hurricane of the 2012 season before weakening back to Tropical Storm level.
Tropical Storm Chris formed on Tuesday in the far north of the Atlantic basin and strengthened to a hurricane category 1 storm on Thursday.
Wednesday, May 30: Tropical Storm Beryl has strengthened again as it heads back into the Atlantic. It is expected to continue in a northeasterly direction with wind speeds of around 60 mph.
After coming ashore in the Jacksonville Beach area on Monday, Tropical Storm Beryl weakened as it moved overland. It tracked north across Georgia with wind speeds of around 40 mph and then veered northeastwards towards Charleston before moving back into the Atlantic.
Like Alberto, Tropical Storm Beryl formed east of the Georgia coastline and started tracking WSW at 4 mph with wind speeds of around 45 mph. It was forecast to make landfall around the North Florida/South Georgia border early Monday morning.
Sunday, May 20: Tropical Storm Alberto has formed off the Georgia coastline with wind speeds of 45 mph. It quickly strengthened to 60 mph before weakening again. It is expected to turn towards the north east and track up the American seaboard.
Last year in 2011 NOAA predicted an above average year with 12 to 18 storms. By the end of the season there were 19 named storms.
In 2010 NOAA originally predicted anything between 14 and 23 named storms with 8 to 14 hurricanes or which 3 to 7 could be major hurricanes. In the end there were 19 named storms of which 11 became hurricanes and 5 became major hurricanes.
In 2009 NOAA originally predicted that there would be between 9 and 14 named storms, with six to nine becoming hurricanes, of which two to five could become major hurricanes. In August they upgraded their forecast to the number of tropical storms being between 14 to 18 named storms and four to seven hurricanes and up to three major hurricanes. They subsequently downgraded this to 7 to 11 named storms, three to six hurricanes and one to two major hurricanes. In the end, there were nine named storms of which three became hurricanes and one became major hurricanes.
In 2008, they had predicted up to between 12 and 16 named storms and in the end there were 16 named storms of which eight became hurricanes.