Looking back at the 2022 hurricane season

From a quiet start to Category 5 Ian
Updated: Jun. 1, 2023 at 6:30 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - By the end of the 2022 Atlantic season, the U.S. saw 14 named storms, eight hurricanes, and two major hurricanes. This amount of activity was near-normal for the 1991-2020 climate period despite the slow start.

The season also ended up ranking as the sixth costliest hurricane season on record with $53.65 billion in damages left behind.

2022 Hurricane Season Tracks
2022 Hurricane Season Tracks(WVUE)

“It was interesting this season because it was quite a late start and it was interesting how much African dust was in the atmosphere keeping things stable,” National Weather Service director Ken Graham said. “There was an incredible amount of stability over the Atlantic.”

The first named storm, Tropical Storm Alex, formed five days after the official start of hurricane season - marking the first year since 2014 without a pre-season storm.

No systems formed during the month of August, making 2022 the first season on record to go without an August storm during a La Niña year.

2022 hurricane season
2022 hurricane season(WVUE)

It took until September for a hurricane to form - Danielle, the latest since 2013.

“It took a while for it to get going but when it did, it really did,” said Graham. “Think about Hurricane Ian.”

Hurricane Ian rapidly intensified offshore, becoming a Category Five before making landfall on the southwest coast of Florida near Fort Myers on September 28. The storm weakened slightly prior to landfall as a high-end Category Four hurricane. The storm brought extensive damage that hasn’t been endured in the region since Hurricane Charley in 2004.

Debris is piled up at the end of a cove following heavy winds and storm surge caused by...
Debris is piled up at the end of a cove following heavy winds and storm surge caused by Hurricane Ian, Sept. 29, 2022, in Barefoot Beach, Fla.(Associated Press)


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Ian is a reminder that it only takes one storm for the impacts of a hurricane season to be felt for years.

The storm also highlighted the importance of improving tropical messaging, including the cone of uncertainty.

“So remember the cone is basically about the track, it’s an error track based on the last five years. Two-thirds we think the center is going to be in the cone, but one-third outside the cone,” explains Graham. “How do you convey that so many impacts are outside that cone? Storm surge, wind extends outside the cone especially when you get to 12 or 24 hours out and the cone gets smaller. The better we do, the smaller the cone.”

Graham says the cone isn’t the most critical factor in decision-making.

“You’ve got to think about impacts. Impacts, impacts, impacts. It’s not necessarily about that cone, not even about that track. You have to look at what five to seven feet of water means. That could be a hundred miles away from the center. Think about that,” he said.

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