While we had a couple of very impactful hurricanes in 2022 in the Atlantic Basin this year, the number of tropical storms this year globally was less than average.
Above is a summary of the 2022 Hurricane Season globally from Colorado State University. Meteorologists use the ACE Index to measure the strength and duration of hurricanes and tropical storms. If you look in the far right column, you can see the ACE Index for each ocean basin with the average ACE in ( ).
The North Atlantic Basin had a total ACE this year of 95.1. That compares to an average total ACE of 121.5. That’s 78% of average. For the Northeast Pacific (mainly hurricanes that form off the West Coast of Mexico and move northwest away from land) the total ACE was 116.5, compared to an average ACE of 132.6. So, that was 88% or average ACE.
The Northern Indian Ocean had a very low ACE of 6.2, compared to an average ACE of 21.1. That was only 29% of average ACE.
Of all the basins, the Northwest Pacific Basin gets the highest number of hurricanes and tropical storms. This year, the Northwest Pacific Basin had a total ACE of 162.1, compared to an average ACE of 283.8. That’s just 57,1% of average.
In the Southern Hemisphere (which gets far fewer hurricanes than the Northern Hemisphere), the ACE this year was a paltry 4.6. That compares to an average ACE of 12.3, or just 37,4% of average.
The Global ACE for 2022 is 386.5, compared to an average annual ACE of 571.3. So, globally this year we’ve had 67.7% of average ACE (or about 2/3rds of average hurricane/tropical storm activity.
The official hurricane season ends Nov. 30. It’s possible that another tropical storm could form between now and the end of the year and add a small amount to this year’s ACE – but the bottom line is this was another year with below average ACE. It was not only below average globally, but was also below average in each basin.
During the year, there were 14 named storms in the Atlantic and that’s exactly average. Only two of those named storms became major hurricanes (average is 3.2). A major hurricane is one that reaches Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The Atlantic Basin storms caused 337 fatalities and an estimated 54.02 billion dollars in damage.
Here’s the path of hurricanes and tropical storms in the Atlantic in 2022. Two hurricanes stand out. Fiona produced quite a big of wind damage and heavy rain/flooding in Puerto Rico. There were 16 fatalities in Puerto Rico and up to 25″ of rain. The storm caused the power grid to fail, knocking out power for days to almost all of the island. The storm continued north and remained quite strong, resulting in 100 mph wind gusts and three fatalities in eastern Canada.
Hurricane Ian was the most noteworthy storm of 2022. Ian came intensified as it came through the Caribbean and crossed far Western Cuba. The storm moved north, with winds gusts increasing to a maximum of 155 mph. The center (or eye) of the storm came onshore north of Fort Myers, Florida. One hundred fourteen deaths were blamed on the storm. Most of the fatalities were in western Florida, many due to storm surge, which reached 7.5 feet in Fort Myers. Add to that 20-foot waves and you can see the destructive potential of the pounding surf. There were five related hurricane deaths in North Carolina. Of the five deaths, four were from traffic accidents on wet roads and the fifth was due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Here’s a summary of the named tropical storms in the Atlantic. The ACE numbers for each storm are in the far right column. You can see that Fiona (28.3) and Ian (17.4) were the two strongest storms of the season.
The map above shows sea surface temperature anomaly or difference from average. The blue color indicates water temperatures colder than average. The yellow, orange and red colors indicate areas where the water temperature is warmer than average.
You can see the La Nina – characterized by the colder than average water temperatures along the equator in the Pacific Ocean. This is caused by faster that average easterly trade winds that stir up the water and allow colder water from below the surface to rise to the surface.
We also have warmer than average water in the Gulf of Mexico and off the East Coast of the U.S. This is the 3rd winter with this La Nina. A three-year La Niña stint has only occurred three times since record keeping began: from 1954 to 1957, 1973 to 1976, and from 1998 to 2001. This pattern is consistent with forecasts of another push of Arctic air into the North Central U.S. and Great Lakes around the 2nd/3rd weeks of December.
The above graph shows the global frequency of hurricanes (top) and major hurricanes (bottom) for 1980-2022. I sometimes run into someone who claims that there are many more times the number of hurricanes today as in past decades. As you can see in the graph, that’s plain and simply not true. If anything, the number of hurricanes globally has been decreasing since the mid-90s.
Thanks for reading my blog – As of December, this blog is 17 years old. I’ve really enjoyed writing it and I hope that you have enjoyed reading it.