Hurricane Season 2015: A Season of Extremes and Records

Weather Talk
Hurricane Season Graphic

Today is the last day of Hurricane Season 2015 in the Atlantic Ocean.  America can celebrate an important milestone today:  It’s been 10 full years since a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) has hit the U.S. coastline.  Unfortunately, the Rio Grande Valley suffered greatly from a storm that originated in the Pacific Ocean.

Only two storms made landfall in the United States this season:  Tropical Storm Ana and Tropical Storm Bill.  Tropical Storm Ana was the second earliest storm to make landfall in history, coming onshore near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on May 10.  Tropical Storm Bill hit the central Texas coastline on June 16 and, though it was only a tropical storm, Bill was responsible for nine deaths and $17.9 million in damage.

This season was horrible for the islands of the Caribbean.  Hurricane Joaquin became a powerful Category 4 monster on October 1.   Joaquin persistently lashed the Bahamas for two days, resulting in disaster. A total blackout was reported on the three hardest-hit islands of the central Bahamas, and about 85 percent of the homes in one settlement on Crooked Island were reportedly destroyed.

The most bizarre highlights of Hurricane Season 2015 happened in the Pacific. 

Hurricane Patricia became the strongest hurricane in history in the Western Hemisphere on Oct. 23, 2015. Sustained winds reached 200 mph, and according to modern science, only a few typhoons in the Western Pacific have ever been stronger.  Patricia made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane near Cuixmala, Mexico before drifting across Mexico right toward the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.  Record rainfall and flooding affected the Central Valley from Weslaco to east of Raymondville for days.  Brownsville recorded 3.47 inches of rain on October 24, but Weslaco and surrounding towns received over 9 inches of rain in just hours.  The flooding was far worse than Hurricane Alex in 2010, which hit the Valley directly from the Gulf.

Finally, on November. 26, Hurricane Sandra strengthened into a Category 4 off the Pacific coast of Mexico. This made Sandra the latest Category 4 on record in either the eastern Pacific or Atlantic. The previous latest Category 4+ hurricane was Hurricane Kenneth on November. 22, 2011.

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