The Atlantic Basin storm season began June 1 and ended on the first day of December. And miraculously, although there was a nearly average number of tropical storms and hurricanes overall, Louisiana was spared this year.
If you're a governor or mayor or any other official to whom people turn in a time of crisis, that is something very much to be thankful for.
The season ended with 14 named storms — tropical weather systems with winds of 39 mph or greater — including eight that became hurricanes. The latter have winds of 74 mph or greater. Two of those became major hurricanes, with winds of 111 mph or greater. An average season has 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
While our friends in Florida, in particular, suffered this year from Hurricane Ian, the weather patterns of 2022 tended to either mitigate the occurrence of Atlantic storms or drive them off the warming-pan of the Gulf of Mexico's waters.
Frontal systems passing across the United States dragged the few storms able to make it into the Gulf to the east.
During the middle and late months of the season, similar frontal systems in the Caribbean pushed the storms west into Central America or Mexico before they could enter the Gulf, said John Cangialosi, acting branch chief overseeing the National Hurricane Center specialists who develop forecasts for storms.
Helping reduce the chances of hurricanes along the Louisiana coast this year was an unusual two-month pause in the formation of any tropical systems in the Atlanticbetween July 3 and Aug. 31, the first time that happened since 1941.
Blame wind shear in the mid-Atlantic Ocean, in part caused by a long-lasting upper-level low-pressure system parked over the Bahama Islands that made it impossible for the tall thunderstorms that spawn hurricanes to form, said Phil Klotzbach, a climatologist at Colorado State University.
Another part of that pattern is a tropical upper-tropospheric trough, an upper-level trough of low pressure that was stronger than normally seen during active hurricane seasons.
In years when there is a strong La Niña, a phenomenon marked by lower-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean, hurricanes are usually more numerous. This is the third year in a row for more marked La Niña conditions, but without grave consequences for us.
No telling whether we'll get that lucky again.
Ask the governor or anyone else involved, and they'll tell you there is plenty of work to be done to continue to recover from the devastatingly strong storms of the past two years — Hurricane Laura in southwestern Louisiana, Hurricane Ida in southeastern Louisiana being the big ones. And the active seas and skies of recent years have contributed to a burgeoning property insurance crisis that remains a severe challenge for officials.
This year Louisiana and other states detailed teams to help Floridians and those in other Ian-hit states, as they have done for us in our trials in the past. We are all truly in this together.
Let's wish this holiday season for another big break in 2023. Louisiana, and the rest of the states in the hurricane zone, deserve it.