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NOAA REVIEWS RECORD-SETTING 2005 ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON
Active Hurricane Era Likely To Continue
[Editor’s Note: This story was updated April 13, 2006, to reflect the final totals for the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season.]

NOAA image of the records set during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season.Nov. 29, 2005 (Updated April 13, 2006) The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season is the busiest on record and extends the active hurricane cycle that began in 1995—a trend likely to continue for years to come. The season included 28 named storms, including 15 hurricanes in which seven were major (Category 3 or higher). (Click NOAA image for larger view of the records set during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. Please credit “NOAA.”) [News Conference photos]

News Conf. Audio (mp3)
Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr. (opening statement) 5:41
David L. Johnson (opening statement) 4:45
Dr. Gerry Bell (opening statement) 8:43
Max Mayfield (opening statement) 3:52
Q & A 21:38
Podcast 5:05 Podcast 3:49

“This hurricane season shattered records that have stood for decades—most named storms, most hurricanes and most category five storms. Arguably, it was the most devastating hurricane season the country has experienced in modern times,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “I’d like to foretell that next year will be calmer, but I can’t. Historical trends say the atmosphere patterns and water temperatures are likely to force another active season upon us.”

The Atlantic Basin is in the active phase of a multi-decadal cycle in which optimal conditions in the ocean

and atmosphere, including warmer-than-average sea-

Records set this season include the totals for:
* Named storms: 28; previous record: 21 in 1933
* Hurricanes: 15; previous record: 12 in 1969
* Major hurricanes hitting the U.S.: Four (Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma); previous record: Three, most recently in 2004
* Hurricanes of Category 5 intensity (greater than 155 mph): Four (Emily, Katrina, Rita and Wilma); previous record: Two in 1960 and 1961

surface temperatures and low wind shear, enhance hurricane activity. This increase in the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes can span multiple decades (approximately 20 to 30 years). NOAA will make its official 2006 season forecast in May, prior to the June 1st start to the season.

"Evidence of this active cycle was demonstrated this year as the Atlantic Basin produced the equivalent of more than two entire hurricane seasons over the course of one. Because we are in an active hurricane era, it's important to recognize that with a greater number of hurricanes comes increasing odds of one striking land," said retired Air Force Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, director of the NOAA National Weather Service.

NOAA scientists predicted this would be an extremely active hurricane season, forecasting near-record activity in early August. The 28 named storms topped the forecast range of 18 to 21, the 15 hurricanes inched above the forecast of nine to 11 and the seven major hurricanes fell within NOAA's forecast range of five to seven. Six hurricanes (Cindy, Dennis, Katrina, Ophelia, Rita and Wilma) and two tropical storms (Arlene and Tammy) directly impacted the NOAA image of the storm totals for the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season.U.S. (Click NOAA image for larger view of the storm totals for the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. Please credit “NOAA.”)

Letters of the Greek alphabet were used to name storms for the first time since storms began acquiring names in 1953, as Hurricane Wilma exhausted the original list of 21 names. Tropical Storm Alpha and Hurricane Beta hit the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, respectively. Tropical Storm Gamma brought deadly flooding to parts of Central America. Tropical Storm Delta largely stayed over open water then moved across the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa. Tropical Storm Epsilon formed on the next to last day of the Atlantic hurricane season over the central Atlantic Ocean. Tropical Storm Zeta formed on December 30 and dissipated in early January 2006.

NOAA image of the number of U.S. landfalling tropical storms and hurricanes from 2002 to 2005.With six months until the official start of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season, NOAA urges hurricane-prone residents to take proactive measures during this time. "The battle against the hurricane season is won during the off season. Winter and spring is the time to conduct hurricane preparations, such as stocking supplies, assembling a safety kit that includes a NOAA Weather Radio and preparing an evacuation plan," said Max Mayfield, director of the NOAA National Hurricane Center. (Click NOAA image for larger view of the number of U.S. landfalling tropical storms and hurricanes from 2002 to 2005. Please credit “NOAA.”)

"Amid this period of more numerous and more intense hurricanes, NOAA is focused on our mission of serving society's needs for weather information and supporting the nation's commerce," said Lautenbacher. "NOAA is there to provide accurate storm forecasts and also stays engaged after the storm to ensure safe commercial fishing and continued navigation of our nation's impacted waterways."

NOAA image of a comparison of normal versus strong tropical cyclone activity.
(Click NOAA image for larger view of a comparison of normal versus strong tropical cyclone activity. Please credit “NOAA.”)
NOAA image of current conditions producing current active Atlantic hurricane era.
(Click NOAA image for larger view of current conditions producing current active Atlantic hurricane era. Please credit “NOAA.”)
NOAA image of conditions conducive for active hurricane seasons from 1995 to 2005.
(Click NOAA image for larger view of conditions conducive for active hurricane seasons from 1995 to 2005. Please credit “NOAA.”)
NOAA image of record early season activity compared to normal conditions.
(Click NOAA image for larger view of record early season activity compared to normal conditions. Please credit “NOAA.”)

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Relevant Web Sites
Noteworthy Records of the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season

NOAA Attributes Recent Increase in Hurricane Activity to Naturally Occurring Multi-decadal Climate Variability

NOAA 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Outlook

NOAA Atlantic Hurricane Outlook and Summary Archive

NOAA National Hurricane Center

NOAA Climate Prediction Center

2004 Atlantic Hurricane Season

NOAA Hurricanes Page

NOAA 2005 Satellite Images (NOAA Environmental Visualization Lab)

NOAA 2005 Satellite Images (Operational of Significant Event Imagery, or OSEI)

Media Contact:
Chris Vaccaro, NOAA National Weather Service, (301) 713-0622 ext. 134