And with Beryl, the 2012 Hurricane Season is off to a busy start. The last time there were two named cyclones in the Atlantic in the month of May was 2007 (one was "extratropical"). And before that...1887. That's not a typo either. 1887. Ironically, the two May storms in 1887 were unnamed, but if they had been naming cyclones back then they would have had names. Therefore, I count that year.
Great. Two cyclones in May...that means it could be a hellish year for the tropics, right? Maybe. Looking at 2007, there were 15 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. Check the map below.
The two major hurricanes (rainbow tracks) in the Caribbean were Dean (landfall on the Yucatan and Mexico) and Felix (landfall in Central America). The two storms that affected the Texas coast were Humberto, a category 1 hurricane that made landfall just east of High Island, and tropical storm Erin that made landfall just north of Corpus Christi.
An average season usually sees 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. The 2007 season had just a few more named storms, an average number of hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. One major hurricane less than the average.
What about 1887? Thanks to shipping traffic back then, we know there were 19 storms worthy of names in 1887 - they were not naming them then. Of the 19 storms, 11 of them were hurricanes and 2 were major hurricanes. At least, as far as we know. It is doubtful that ships traversed the center of those storms back then (where the highest winds are in a hurricane) and doubtful they made it through if they did. It is quite possible that there were one or two more major hurricanes than what the records show. Without a doubt the 1887 Hurricane Season was a very busy season with 7 more named storms than normal, nearly twice the average number of hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. Only one of the 19 storms made landfall along the Texas coast. That was Hurricane 9 which made landfall as a category 1 Hurricane near Brownsville, TX. Please see map below showing the 1887 storms.
Now, there is one more season worth mentioning - 1969. In 1969 there were two tropical depressions in May. As you know, tropical depressions are not named until they become tropical storms. Therefore, I did not count it as a season with two named storms in May. However, out of curiosity I looked at that season just to see if the trend continued. Here is what I found...
In 1969 there were 17 named storms, 12 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes. Twice the average number of hurricanes and nearly twice the average number of major hurricanes in a year. Now, only 2 hurricanes hit the US that year. One was Hurricane Gerda that made landfall as a category 2 storm in Maine. But the storm that many remember and still talk about today is Hurricane Camille.
Hurricane Camille, a Category 5 storm at landfall, packed sustained winds of 190 MPH and a peak surge of 24 feet. It remains one of the strongest land falling hurricanes in the world. The true wind speed will never be known since all wind measuring equipment was destroyed before the highest speeds could be measured. The estimated wind gusts were in excess of 200 MPH. Camille made landfall near the MS/LA border, and Camille's surge caused the Mississippi river to back-up all the way to Baton Rouge, LA. The hurricane decimated the MS coast, and it remains the second most intense land falling US hurricanes with a minimum pressure of 26.84 inches (Normal pressure is 29.92 inches. The lowest recorded pressure in a tornado is 25.10 inches). In all, Camille was responsible for 249 deaths.
Here is the 1969 Storm Map
As a meteorologist and a person who lives in numbers, trends, and predictions, I look at this data and I say, "Wow. 2012 could be a very busy year." But what about El Nino? Everyone says if El Nino develops then the season will not be so bad. It is true that conditions will be less favorable over the Gulf for tropical storm formationif El Nino fully develops, which it has not, but 1969 and 2007 were both weak El Nino years. And that's when I say to myself, "We have no idea what Mother Nature will do." It could be a busy season.
Stay prepared and thanks for reading!