2012 Hurricane Season Was Big On Numbers... Not On Power

The 2012 Hurricane Season is in the books.  While it was big on numbers of storms.... the overall strength and duration told a slightly different story.  Now keep in mind that it only takes 1 storm to hit where you live for it to be a 'bad' season.  Ask the folks in NY/NJ that.  2012 ended up being the 3rd year in a row with 19 named storms.  As we all know... not all storms are created equal.

So a quantitative measure was created called 'Accumulated Cyclone Energy.'   Here is the full definition from the website wunderground.com.

'Accumulated cyclone energy, or "ACE," is used to express the activity and destructive potential of individual tropical cyclones and entire tropical cyclone seasons. ACE is caluclated as the square of the wind speed every 6 hours, and is then scaled by a factor of 10,000 for usability. The ACE of a season is the sum of the ACE for each storm and takes into account the number, strength, and duration of all the tropical storms in the season. The caveat to using ACE as a measure of the activity of a season is that it does not take the size of the hurricane or tropical storm into account. The damage potential of a hurricane is proportional to the square or cube of the maximum wind speed, and thus ACE is not only a measure of tropical cyclone activity, but a measure of the damage potential of an individual cyclone or a season.'

As it mentions though... the storm size is not a factor in this calcuation and the size of big storm like Katrina or Sandy can be a factor in the amount of damage it creates.  Also, storms that are more powerful over a longer period of time count more than a storm that quickly intensifies near the coast.

Accoring to this method of calculation 'Nadine' was the strongest storm this year with Sandy coming in 4th.  While #'s wise 2012 ties for the 3rd most active season with 19.  But using ACE as the gauge it does not even come in the top 10 of all time let alone the top 10 of the past 30 years.

Still, we remain in this period of above average activity over the Atlantic basin although world-wide tropical activity is down.  While the seasonal forecast for 2013 from the hurricane experts is still months away expect for it to continue this trend of above average activity.

As always... the off-season is the time to prepare for hurricane season.  If you ever have any questions on how to prepare your home and family never hesitate to ask.  Also, FloridaDisaster.org is a great resource to put your plan together.


Until next time...


Chris Smith
Chief Meteorologist, WJHG-TV

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