The Atlantic hurricane season will officially end on Sunday November 30 and with winter seemingly well underway across the nation for much of this month, the 2014 season will be remembered as a quiet and relatively tranquil one as was predicted several months ago. The eastern Pacific on the other hand, was very active with many threats to western Mexico, Hawaii, and even the southwest United States, bringing soaking rains to the Desert Southwest on numerous occasions.
Much of the United States coastline was again spared this season with only one landfalling hurricane, which was Hurricane Arthur on July 3 along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. No other major threats were felt, other than Hurricane Gonzalo which struck Bermuda in October. The Atlantic season will finish with eight named storms, six of which became hurricanes and two of those became major hurricanes. Edouard and Gonzalo were the two major hurricanes this season, with Gonzalo the strongest of the year. Gonzalo was the first Category 4 hurricane since Ophelia in 2011 and the strongest hurricane since Igor in 2010.
In the eastern Pacific, it was a completely different story with the most activity in the ocean basin since 1992, and the fourth most active since reliable records began. The active season also resulted in numerous individual records, including…
- Hurricane Amanda, the strongest May hurricane and earliest Category 4 on record.
- Hurricane Cristina, the earliest second major hurricane.
- Hurricane Genevieve, the first tropical cyclone to exist in all three Pacific basins since Hurricane Jimena in 2003.
- Hurricane Iselle, the strongest tropical cyclone on record to strike the Big Island of Hawaii.
- Hurricane Marie, the first Category 5 Pacific hurricane since Hurricane Celia in 2010.
- Hurricane Odile, the most destructive tropical cyclone of the season and the most intense tropical cyclone to make landfall over the Baja California peninsula.
- Hurricane Simon, the record breaking ninth major hurricane and sixth Category 4 hurricane of the season.
Above normal activity was expected in the eastern Pacific, with a forecast of a 50 percent chance of an above-normal season issued by the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.
“A combination of atmospheric conditions acted to suppress the Atlantic hurricane season, including very strong vertical wind shear, combined with increased atmospheric stability, stronger sinking motion and drier air across the tropical Atlantic,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “Also, the West African monsoon was near- to below average, making it more difficult for African easterly waves to develop. Conditions that favored an above-normal eastern Pacific hurricane season included weak vertical wind shear, exceptionally moist and unstable air, and a strong ridge of high pressure in the upper atmosphere that helped to keep storms in a conducive environment for extended periods,” added Bell.