2016 hurricane season made history, ended with a bang

The tropics awoke early and furious in 2016, brewing up January’s Hurricane Alex, sending Hermine to shatter Florida’s unprecedented hurricane drought, and terrorizing coastal communities from Palm Beach County to the Carolinas with Category 4 Matthew.

And in the end, Otto reminded everyone why hurricane season lasts through Nov. 30.

Download the Palm Beach Post WeatherPlus app here.

Hurricane Matthew off the coast of Florida Oct. 6, 2016

Hurricane Matthew off the coast of Florida Oct. 6, 2016

The rare November hurricane grew in the only area left this late in the year for tropical development – the deeply warm waters of the southwest Caribbean Sea. Otto gained hurricane status on Tuesday, making it the latest hurricane on record to form in the Caribbean.

“I think this could go down in the record books as one of the longest hurricane seasons,” said Bryan Norcross, a hurricane expert with The Weather Channel, who is also known for walking South Florida through 1992’s Hurricane Andrew. “It is extremely unusual to have Alex so early in the year and have Otto so late in the year.”

Not since 2012 has the Atlantic produced an O-named storm, but seasonal forecasters predicted 2016 would be the year.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

With the exception of Category 4 Hurricane Joaquin, 2015 was a mostly forgettable season that was marked by a cyclone-suppressing El Nino of record strength. The atmospheric phenomenon of warming equatorial Pacific waters is typically followed by a cooling La Nina phase that can be more accommodating to tropical cyclones.

Hurricane Otto takes aim at Costa Rica and Nicaragua

Hurricane Otto takes aim at Costa Rica and Nicaragua

But La Nina was waffling as the 2016 hurricane season neared and climate scientists tried to weigh that uncertainty.

“I remember thinking there could be lingering wind shear from El Nino, but in the back of our minds we thought the water temperatures were so warm along the southeast coast and in the Gulf of Mexico that those could be the determining factor,” said Dan Kottlowski, a hurricane expert with the Pennsylvania-based AccuWeather. “The season kind of unfolded like we expected.”

Find out how the forecasters did with the 2016 predictions in the rest of the story. 

If you haven’t yet, join Kim on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Reader Comments 0

0 comments